The Washington Post

Where can I take an art class that isn’t one of those drink-and-draw deals?

We want to help you enjoy the Washington area to its fullest. That’s why we take reader questions every Thursday at 1 p.m. If you’re seeking a new happy hour spot, wondering which museums will entertain visiting relatives or trying to find a restaurant that can accommodate a crowd, we’ll try to help you out. (Submit a question now, or join us later today to offer your own advice.) Here’s one question we got this week:

Hi Gurus, I'd like to take an art class this fall -- something that's once a week and I can learn skills but not super intense -- just recreation. I see a lot of wine and drawing classes but fewer regular classes. Do you know of any reputable ones, ideally in D.C. itself? Thanks!

Yeah, there's really a difference between those "drink wine and draw a model" classes and a real, professional art class. Here are a few you might want to look into, across various disciplines.

Chef Barton Seaver paints during a class with local artist Dana Ellyn. (Photo by Juana Arias for The Washington Post)

Our art critic Michael O'Sullivan recommends classes with well-known local painter Dana Ellyn, which are held at her downtown studio. They're no bigger than eight participants, are targeted at all skill levels and cover whatever individual students want to learn. They cost $55 each or $330 for six sessions, which are held on Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. (You show up whenever you can make it.) All your brushes, paint and canvases are included.

Classes offered by the Smithsonian Associates take advantage of the museums. You might sketch pastels in the Haupt Garden, go on a photo safari on the Mall or find inspiration in drawings in the collection of the American Art Museum. They're designed for casual and beginning artists, but be warned that some of them stretch for up to eight weeks.

The Capitol Hill Arts Workshop offers a breadth of subjects taught by local artists, and they also have a focus on beginners. Classes on landscape drawing, oil painting, printmaking and documentary photography are among the options. Each one lasts anywhere from three to seven sessions, so you can choose how intense you want them to be.

Want less commitment? The hip Fridge gallery offers workshops based around its current exhibits, so it's worth keeping an eye on their calendar. To tie in with a series on "The Elements of Hip-Hop," for example, the gallery hosted a class on graffiti lettering last weekend, and will focus on Screen Printing 101 on August 18th. This could be a good way to try a couple of different, but related, disciplines.

Fritz Hahn has covered bars, drinks and nightlife for the Washington Post Weekend Section since 2003, but he also writes about everything from Civil War battlefields to sailing classes. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram.



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