Take your artistic talents to the next level this summer.
By Tanya A. Yacina
Whether putting brush to canvas to re-create a scenic landscape or molding clay into a mug or flowerpot, there’s something soothing about getting lost in a creative pursuit. And it can be rewarding to see the finished product hanging on your wall or displayed on a table, knowing you made it.
For those who aren’t sure where to start, or who want to improve their skills, a vast array of beginner to expert classes are presented by the local art community throughout the summer—and some year-round—allowing residents and visitors the chance to discover their own inner Van Gogh or Michelangelo.
Few cities the size of Laguna Beach offer as many art-making opportunities and exhibits to the public as this town does. Whether you’re interested in painting your first masterpiece or wine tasting while crafting, the classes and workshops offered throughout the city touch upon just about any creative modality you can think of, including painting, ceramics and mixed media pieces.
“It is important to offer classes in the community because crafting allows you to explore your creativity,” says Angelica Vogel, co-owner of Wine Craft, which serves up a variety of vino and art projects for guests to try. “… Being able to enjoy some great wine while crafting just makes it even more enjoyable.”
During the summer months, taking a class during one of the local festivals is a great way to add art to an afternoon in Laguna Beach. Visitors can explore the grounds, shop and experience art being made by exhibitors, then try their hand at making a piece of their own.
“Many of our classes are taught by professional artists who exhibit in the show,” says Franky Duschane, director of marketing and public relations for Sawdust Art Festival. “For an example, the head instructor of printmaking is master printmaker Hedy Buzan, who has exhibited at Sawdust over three decades and has taught on the grounds for nearly the same amount of time. Guests can learn wire sculpture from Shamus Koch, acrylic painting from Lisa Rainey, mixed media from Kate Cleaves, and even [making] paper flowers from Lupe Blanton, just to name a few of the many amazing Sawdust artists who also teach.”
Duschane notes that Sawdust classes are also led by AnnJo Droog, director of art education, and her staff, many of whom are alumni of Laguna College of Art & Design. Droog is the mastermind behind the Sawdust’s classes and pieces together more than 500 lessons by Sawdust artists and team members to create a summer schedule that is rich with education, variety and color.
Classes and workshops at the Sawdust are offered every day during the festival in three hands-on demo booths. Ceramics and wire sculpture, printmaking, painting and mixed media, as well as textile and sewing classes can be enjoyed by participants of all ages.
“Taking an art class at the Sawdust is a liberating and fun opportunity to be creative with your hands and make a special, tangible memory of your time spent with us and the loved ones you attend with,” Duschane says.
Festival of Arts also offers an array of classes on Fridays through Sundays for children (at 12:30 p.m.) and teens and adults (at 3 p.m.) during the summer, as well as wine and painting nights on Fridays, and daily workshops in ceramics, multimedia art and printmaking.
Laguna Art-a-Fair showcases 20 different art workshops with 62 dates to choose from throughout the summer months. Sessions are open to those age 16 and older (ages 12-15 are permitted if accompanied by a parent or guardian) and no experience is necessary. Classes focus on acrylic painting and pouring, paper collage, watercolor and oil painting, photo editing, jewelry making, pine needle basket weaving and more.
The city of Laguna Beach also offers art classes and workshops available to the public at various price points during the summer and beyond. Among these is Drawing and Watercolor (for adults at the beginner and intermediate level) with Bobbi Boyd, who provides step-by-step instruction on how to draw and paint flowers, trees and ocean waves with ease.
In addition, the city’s Knitting Salon with Judith Cortes allows participants to start or finish their own project or receive instruction on a new piece in a collaborative environment. And for those who would like a studio-type environment to focus on their own projects—from painting to pastels or mixed media—Art Salon provides a quiet setting to work in the company of others; students bring their own materials and no instruction is provided. The summer session is winding down, but these will all be offered in fall as well.
Also this fall, Reem Khalil will offer a series called The Art of Botanical Plant Dye and Eco Print through the city and at her studio, teaching how to bring nature and alchemy together to create plant-based color and prints.
Loca Arts Education is another organization that offers art workshops in various media throughout the year. From beginner to advanced, kids to adults, classes focus on teaching skills, material usage and concepts, and are instructed by Loca-certified educators. Rather than a set schedule, Loca’s Custom Art Escapes allow would-be participants to contact the nonprofit with a requested day, time and place and the instructor will respond to confirm the booking. Choose from courses in watercolor and ink travel journal painting, block printing, painting flowers with acrylics, working with pastels, sketching, photography, plein air painting inside small mint tins, making indigo sarongs with folded, tied and clamped resist dyeing, and more.
In addition to in-person classes and events and free online videos for various projects (learn to sketch and paint a hummingbird, decorate a tile and more), Loca offers sessions through partnerships with other organizations around Laguna Beach. One of those groups is the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association. Experienced painters and novice beginners are all welcome to join LPAPA and its artists for different levels of instruction throughout the year in group paint outs and workshops—both in person and online (pay to view videos on the website).
With grant support from the city of Laguna Beach, Loca collaborates with LPAPA to offer an annual series of landscape painting workshops taught by renowned plein air painters for all ages and skill levels. Coming up Oct. 18-20, Signature Artist Suzie Baker will lead a three-day plein air painting workshop.
If ceramics and pottery are a student’s focus, Artime Barro offers hands-on classes for all ages. (“Barro” means “clay” in Spanish.) Students are taught the basics of ceramics, good technique and how to make pottery like bowls, cups and plates. Memberships are only required for ongoing classes and the open studio membership.
“The classes are all one-on-one with an intimate setting of no more than four [or] five students at a time with one instructor,” says Nicole Peredo, owner of Artime Barro. “Our instructors commit their lives to pottery and ceramics; they are artists in their own right and love to work with clay.”
Peredo says the most popular classes include the One-Time Class and the Matcha Mixer Workshop because they both cover the basics, are good for both group classes and beginners who have never worked with clay before, or they incorporate local companies, like MoonGoat Coffee, for collaboration workshops. For the One-Time Class, students make a hand-built piece on the table and then move on to use the potter’s wheel for a second piece.
“Depending on the class, students will make the set projects. … For the ongoing classes, they start with the basic techniques to master and then they can make anything like cups, bowls, plates and then sculptures,” Peredo explains. “These classes are fun and students enjoy them because they are easy going, informative and therapeutic. We strive to have a Zen ambiance in the studio for optimal learning.”
Sip and Craft
Opened this past fall, Wine Craft is an outside-of-the-box art concept that pairs the creative process of crafting with wine tasting. A future class schedule is expected to be launched this summer, but anyone over the age of 21 who drops in for wine tasting can work on a craft at the same time.
“When someone comes in to do a craft, while enjoying a tasting flight or glass of wine, they can choose from any of the options available,” Vogel says. “We will set them up with all of the items necessary for the craft and provide some brief instructions on how to complete the craft. From there, guests are able to explore their creativity. We are always available to provide advice and help troubleshoot.
“There are a number of craft projects [that people] can choose from. These include creating items out of recycled corks, such as coasters, trivets, keychains, magnets and other home and holiday decor items; crafts using scrabble tiles, such as coasters or holiday decorations; small macrame items, festive bottle toppers, decorative gnomes made from various items and other seasonal items. Additionally, we have a selection of plaster and wooden items, as well as small canvases, available for guests who would like to paint something.”
Vogel says the great thing about crafting is that it provides you the opportunity to explore your creative side. And these kinds of creative outlets, she adds, are “a great way to bond with people, relax and enjoy time away from the grind of work”—something we all need.