A new year is like the first blank page of a journal or a fresh layer of snow. There’s the possibility of starting something new – like picking up a paintbrush or cutting up some magazines and gluing them into a collage.
Of course, because of the pandemic, we can’t take these classes in person. But the internet is full of creative opportunities…but how to find one that will really work for you? I signed up for a free class from MOMA called In the Studio: Postwar Abstract Painting, combining art history with studio lessons. But my interest stalled at back-to-back videos on stretching and priming a canvas.
There are many other creative classes online which, like MOMA’s, are pre-recorded. You’ll know the class is taped if a listing doesn’t list a specific time. This is fine if you don’t mind the absence of real-time human interaction. All you have to do is Google “free online classes” and whatever skill you want to pick up. Here’s some on collage, drawing for beginners and even birding. You can also type your interest into YouTube, which is rife with videos from artists, knitters and yoga teachers willing to share their know-how.
In Class and in Community
It’s a bit harder to connect with teachers and classmates in real time, for free or cheap. It’s worth the effort though – and the payoff will be getting a new skill or hobby, and meeting new people with similar interests…a real win-win.
The library: Libraries everywhere have stepped up to provide a virtual public square during the Covid crisis. The New York Public Library offers a slate of activities and interactive classes from Freestyle Arts and Crafts to Virtual Acting. The schedules and offerings change, so check their online listings calendar here. The NYPL sometimes offers suggestions to really expand your understanding of your new (or familiar) hobby. For instance, if you are a knitter you can learn about a group class – and much more, here – you can search the listings to see when the next class is offered.
Eventbrite: You can search for just about any live experience on Eventbrite, a platform that offers signups for concerts, classes or (for instance) the quirky, like this weekly live drum circle for CA$11.62. Or try “pup painting” with watercolors in this free class that just asks you to donate, if you can, to a project to support African parks.
Your local stores: Iconic New York bookstore The Strand offers ongoing and one-time events for you to join in, in real time, or watch later. You could learn podcasting with the Strand during a live discussion of Everybody Has a Podcast (But You) featured on Tuesday January 26 but available or viewing up to seven days after. Or join a Community Knit Night offered every Wednesday from 7 to 9 pm at Yarnia in Montclair, NJ – free and open to people from everywhere. Knitters, crocheters, and fiber artists can show and tell what they’re working on. But “some people just like to sit there and work and have the conversation in the background,” says co-owner Kathleen Vandervoort.
Host your own class: I offer free journal-writing classes from time to time, giving participants writing prompts and inviting them to read and listen to their peers. Write me if you’d like to join an upcoming session. But you can set up your own group using a tool as simple as Google Meet. Just come up with an idea, click on the green button and send the link to your friends!
And you can always check out “Creative Creations” sessions right here at Senior Planet.