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Studio Arts

Smithsonian Studio Arts has offered hands-on art classes for over 50 years. Designed for individuals aged 16 and up, our courses cover a range of subjects, including drawing, painting, fiber arts, photography, digital media, sculpture, jewelry, calligraphy, and more. Most of our classes are designed for beginners or are designated for all levels, and many can be repeated for an ongoing experience with a particular instructor or medium.

Several offerings do require some previous experience and are perfect for intermediate-level participants. The goal of each class is to help students develop their own artistic style and progress as artists. This involves learning new or different ways of thinking about art and exploring a variety of tools and materials.

Our Studio Arts classes are easily accessed online via Zoom, or in person at the S. Dillon Ripley Center, centrally located on the National Mall. We offer over 300 classes and workshops per year and pride ourselves on the quality of instruction fostered within our intimate classroom settings.

All courses and workshops are taught by professional artists and experienced teachers, with a focus on both skill-building and creative exploration. We have over 30 active instructors from around the country, as well as special guests and visiting artists.

Whether you're interested in diving into a new artistic medium or just want to keep your skills honed, our diverse selection of courses is designed to keep you challenged year after year. We invite you to connect in a creative setting and become part of a community of artists and makers that extends 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 classes in the March issue, and summer classes in the May issue.

Course Subject Areas

Art Theory & Practice

The principles of composition, thinking critically about art, color theory, and boosting creativity are all topics that can explored through Studio Arts. These classes and workshops engage both the right and left brain—and are designed for artists and art enthusiasts alike.

View upcoming art theory and practice classes


From the first-time sketcher to the experienced artist, Studio Arts offers a range of drawing classes suitable for students of all levels. These courses focus on working with a variety of materials, including charcoal, graphite, colored pencil, and pastel. Emphasizing the importance of line and shading in rendering an array of forms and compositions, our classes cover still-life, landscape, portrait, and figure drawing.

View upcoming drawing classes

Fiber Arts

Knitting, quilting, felting, embroidery, and weaving classes are all encompassed within our fiber arts subject area. Studio Arts 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 create alongside other participants.

View upcoming fiber arts classes

Mixed Media

Classes include collage and assemblage, explorations of the encaustic medium, and an in-depth study of abstraction that uses non-traditional ways of handling familiar materials and subject matter. Also offered are a variety of classes in paper arts such as bookmaking and binding, handmade greeting cards, and crepe-paper flowers.

View upcoming mixed media classes

Other Media

Depending on the season, Studio Arts offers a range of classes in different media, including jewelry making, mosaic work, calligraphy, and flower arranging. These courses provide rewarding opportunities for students looking to explore new artistic outlets and can be a great place to make a unique gift for a friend or loved one.

View upcoming other media Classes


Whether the medium is oil, acrylic, or watercolor, our painting courses integrate lectures, demonstrations, direct observation, and hands-on exploration to provide a technical background that allows participants to develop their own artistic style.

View upcoming painting classes


Studio Arts offers digital and film-based photography classes geared toward all levels of experience. We offer long-form introductory courses as well as shorter classes and workshops that provide in-depth instruction on how to master camera and digital- editing techniques. We also have an array of special-topic courses that include portraiture, flash, landscape, and on-location photography around the Washington area. Lectures, demonstrations, assignments, field trips, and hands-on experience all play a role in expanding participants' knowledge and skill in photography.

View upcoming photography classes


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.

View upcoming sculpture classes