Art is amongst one of the smallest words in the dictionary, but these three, unassuming letters open up a world of creative opportunity for anyone who wishes to grasp it. Perhaps art has been your life-force since the very first time you picked up a pencil in primary school; or you might have a nagging urge to take up a quilting or jewellery class. The wealth and breadth of art courses available are truly astonishing (there are 1,000 plus on offer) with every possible creative taste catered for. There are practical courses for hands-on arty stuff or really interesting, thought-provoking theory classes (like art therapy or history of art) to get your brain cells whirring with new ideas and concepts. Why not try out an art course that is totally different from your day-to-day working life – who knows where it might lead?
What instantly springs to mind when the label art course is read out, are practical classes in the traditional artistic sense: fine art, sketching, watercolours, pastels and oil painting for instance. While these are available in various sites around country with classes aimed at different abilities, the art world offers so much more to whet your creative appetite. How about making your very own Art Deco Fan lamp, where in just one day you learn the skills of Tiffany-style stained glass art and take your lamp home with you at the end of the day, to plug in and use. There are also a whole host of jewellery classes for making necklaces, bracelets and earrings using beads, textiles, paper, silver and wirework.
It's time to let your imagination run wild, with art courses in everything from patchwork and quilting to paper making and upcycling clothes, so you can transform worn-out skirts and dresses into fabulous new creations! At the other end of the spectrum, a thoroughly modern 'IT for Art' course is a great introduction to creating drawings on your tablet or Ipad. You need to take your own gadget but will be advised on the best applications to use.
Family workshops are perfect for honing your creative skills in art and craft play with children and grandchildren; and particularly useful for those who engage in creative play in the workplace.
A theoretical point of view
There is another side to the art world you might like to explore. As well as putting paintbrush to canvas and creating a masterpiece, art is also full of discussion and debate. This theoretical angle might just be what you are looking for to expand your horizons and get your teeth into something totally inspiring and thought-provoking. As just a taster of what's out there, maybe enrol on a course to analyse the relationship between creativity and madness; try a class on the explosion of American art in the 19th and 20th centuries; or others on Art and Faith where you will explore the symbolism of images, objects and buildings across a range of faiths.
Another option (combining practical and theory skills) is an art therapy foundation course which will introduce you to the value of art making in mental and emotional health. You will gain valuable insight into your own creative processes as well as providing a good grounding if you want to go on to further courses and train for a profession in art therapy.
Planning, preparation and performance
Forging a career as an artist is undeniably a tough one. While your passion is poured into creating beautiful works of art, you clearly need to make your business work and earn an income from all your hard graft. For more information, tips and advice check out our handy guide to artist careers.
There are courses that can help with this too. A workshop looking at how to develop a professional art practice will equip you with all the basics involved in setting yourself up as a professional artist, from promoting your work, networking, applying for funding and finding studio space. 'Funding and Global Networking for Artists' is another brilliant course if you want to make the challenging transition from the studio to an active and thriving artistic practice. Then there is the art law courses which focus on legal issues for artists including copyright laws and how to protect your work from commercial abuse – a crucial bank of knowledge in our ever-global internet culture.
For students just setting out into the world of art and who want to secure a place to study art and design in higher education, there are several courses available on portfolio presentation. These one-day, bite-sized classes show you how to optimise the presentation of your art and design portfolio including advice on content and how to compose your personal statement. These are brilliant confidence-builders leaving you with a full understanding of the relevance and importance of a succinct and effective portfolio.
A – A fabulous way to explore the world and express your thoughts and feelings through a wealth of medium, from paint, to chalks to pencil, computer and sound
R – Really anyone can have a go! Whether it's studying the work of the great Renaissance artists or creating beautiful jewellery to give away to friends for the best homemade presents
T –Try it now. Enrol on one of the many art courses taking place near you.
By Lara Sargent