The Studio Arts Department of the Smithsonian Associates has offered hands-on
art classes for over 40 years. Designed for individuals age 16 and up,
our courses cover a range of media, including Drawing, Painting, Fiber Arts,
Photography, Digital Media, Ceramics, Beading, Calligraphy, and more. For
most classes, students can come in as complete beginners, although some classes
do require more advanced knowledge of a particular medium. The goal of
each class is to help students develop their own artistic style and progress
as artists. This involves teaching new or different ways of thinking about
art, and allowing students to explore different tools and materials.
Primarily housed in the S. Dillon Ripley Center, our Studio Arts classes are
easily accessible and centrally located on the Mall. We offer over 200
classes and workshops per year and pride ourselves on the quality of instruction
fostered within our intimate classroom settings. Our courses and workshops
are taught by professional artists and experienced teachers, and focus on skill-building
and creative exploration. We have over 20 active instructors, as well
as special guests and visiting artists.
Our variety of course offerings keep people coming back year after year. Whether
you’re interested in diving into a new artistic medium or just want to
keep your skills honed, our diverse selection of courses varies from season
to season in order to provide refreshing opportunities to learn new mediums
and techniques. As well as offering continuing instruction, our classes
also provide a creative setting in which students can meet like-minded individuals
and make connections that extend beyond the classroom.
Courses are offered on a quarterly basis: Fall classes are announced in the August
Associate, Winter classes in the November issue, Spring in the March issue, and
Summer classes are announced in the May issue.
From the first time sketcher to the experienced artist, the Smithsonian Associates
offers a range of drawing classes suitable for students of all levels of experience. These
courses work with a variety of materials, including charcoal, pencil, and pastel. Emphasizing
the importance of line and shading in rendering an array of forms and compositions,
our drawing classes cover still-life, landscape, architectural interiors and
exteriors, portrait, and figure drawing.
Knitting, quilting, and appliqué classes are all encompassed within our fiber
arts courses. The Smithsonian Associates offers beginner, refresher,
and independent project-based classes for each medium. Learn to how
to use new tools and techniques, or simply sign up to meet and sew alongside
Classes include collage and assemblage, explorations of the encaustic medium, and
a study of abstraction that uses collage plus a series of drawing and painting
exercises designed to examine non-traditional ways of handling traditional materials
and subject matter.
Depending on the season, the Smithsonian Associates offers a range of classes in different
media, including beading, mosaic-work, calligraphy, bookmaking, printmaking,
art history and theory, and Japanese flower arranging. These courses
are fantastic opportunities for students looking to explore new artistic outlets.
Concentrating on either oil painting or watercolor, our painting courses integrate lectures,
demonstrations, direct observation, and hands-on exploration in order to provide
a technical background that allows participants to discover their preferences
and develop their own style.
The Smithsonian Associates offers digital and film-based photography
classes geared towards all levels of experience. We offer both
introductory courses and advanced open darkroom sessions, as well
as shorter classes and workshops that provide in-depth instruction
on how to master camera and computer editing techniques. We also
have an array of special topics courses that include portraiture,
flash, landscape, pinhole photography, on-location photography,
photo-trekking around the D.C. area, and photo theory. Lectures,
demonstrations, assignments, field trips, and hands-on experience
all play a role in expanding participants' knowledge and skill with photography.
Sculpture classes give both the beginner and more experienced artist
the opportunity to explore the history, materials, and methods of
sculpture. Lecture and gallery visits are combined with hands-on studio
work in a variety of media such as wire, paper and cardboard, clay,
wood, and found objects. We also offer a special neon light sculpture
class each spring, which takes place in the artist's Washington studio.