Improve Yourself: Get Artsy (and Crafty)

Columbus Monthly staff
Ceramics class at the Cultural Arts Center

Gorgeous Glass

Art classes, Glass Axis, 610 W. Town St., Franklinton, $29–$725,

Stained glass, glass-blowing and other techniques are taught at this Franklinton art hub. Alex Fresch, social media director, gallery manager and instructor, says most first-time students have “never done glass before.” Fresch suggests starting with one or two of Glass Axis' one-time, project-based classes ($29–$69 for one hour), popular sessions that allow participants to complete a project in one sitting. Series classes in specific disciplines occur about every quarter and last for four or six weeks. Cost range is $225 for stained glass to $725 for an advanced hot glass class. Fresch says that many students with little to no history with art, let alone in glass, have come to the studio to learn a skill and now offer their wares in the gift shop alongside experienced artists. Once students are approved in a certain discipline, they can rent space and equipment when available.

Happy Little Painters

Bob Ross Painting Class, Bridge Gallery, 400 West Rich, Franklinton, $35,

On the third Saturday of every month, two to 20 fans of the late Bob Ross gather to learn how to paint the way Ross used to on television—and still does thanks to reruns. “Bob used to say, ‘Any day you paint is a good day,'” says Kathy Kelly, the class' teacher and one of more than 4,000 Certified Ross Instructors worldwide. Kelly provides all the painting tools (official Bob Ross paints, of course), and students create a work of art in three hours based on a Ross piece. “Bob Ross paints are a little thicker than normal oil paints,” Kelly says, adding that this helps artists utilize the wet-on-wet technique he championed: applying more paint before the previous layers have dried and finishing a work in one sitting. The class attracts beginners as well as more experienced painters. “Bob makes it look so easy, but it's really hard to learn how to hold the knife loosely and have it bounce down the mountain to get the breaks for snow,” Kelly says.

Turn the Page

Writing classes, Thurber House, 77 Jefferson Ave., Downtown, $45–$150,

Thurber House offers classes for both experienced writers and those who “have never written a page in their life and want to get started,” says deputy director Anne Touvell. Each spring, the nonprofit that celebrates the literary legacy of Columbus native James Thurber features seven distinct classes on such topics as grammar, plot and character development, and memoir writing. Classes are $50 each, though they drop to $45 each if you sign up for more than one. Classes meet for two hours on Monday evenings. For those who are ready to share their work with the world, Thurber House offers master classes in topics such as writing a children's book or how to pitch your book to an editor. These can run $100 to $150 and typically are held on weekends, allowing for a three- to four-hour class. Registration for the one-time Monday evening classes begins in March.

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Better Selfies and More

Smartphone photography, Columbus Printed Arts Center, 2000 S. High St., South Side, $45–$57 for members, $60 for nonmembers,

The fledgling Columbus Printed Arts Center—founded in 2018 by a group of artists dedicated to fine art print media—is located in a new South Side industrial park, The Fort. There, the organization offers a number of photography and printmaking classes and workshops, including a smartphone photography class that teaches attendees how to elevate their everyday photos or even use their phone's camera for their business. “The workshop is a mixture of learning the technical capabilities of each individual's smartphone as they relate to current photographic practices, looking at visual examples of techniques and styles, and walking around The Fort practicing principles discussed in the class,” explains CPAC director Eliza Smith. The three-hour class is on the schedule at least once a month in 2020, says Smith, and typically sees a group size of three to 15 attendees.

Fun with Paper

Printmaking and calligraphy classes, Igloo Letterpress, 661 High St., Ste. B, Worthington, $20 to $115,

Maybe you have an interest in the tactile nature of the press, of building something with your brain and your hands. Maybe you've inherited some equipment from a family member and want to carry on a tradition or at least honor a legacy. (Side note: That's how Igloo Letterpress owner Allison Chapman got started.) Or maybe you just want to have a fun experience with friends and create a cool set of cards or a book that you made yourself. In any case, Chapman is here for you, as part of what she calls a “culture in Columbus of cool places where you can go and do and make things.” The book bar is always open for bookbinding by hand. Project-based classes in card design using a traditional printing press and ink-mixing, book-making and the like are available by appointment, alongside regularly scheduled introductory letterpress, bookbinding and calligraphy classes.

Hooray for Clay

Ceramics, Cultural Arts Center, 139 W. Main St., Downtown, $60 for Columbus residents, $68 for nonresidents,

The Cultural Arts Center has long been a jewel in the city, one of its arts touchstones. Each year, thousands of students take classes from local artists and arts educators (often they are one and the same) to learn a new skill, explore their creativity or add a layer to already cultivated artistic expression. While a host of disciplines are available, including painting, drawing, jewelry and fabric, assistant arts administrator Todd Camp says ceramics is what many associate with the center. “It's innate to form things with our hands. With clay, you watch people and it's almost automatic—once someone picks it up, they start forming something in their hands,” Camp says. Of the 800 or so participants in any seasonal session, 250–350 are taking ceramics classes, he says, so prospective students need to be on their toes to register for the eight-week classes.

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Read the Improve Yourself series