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Why an Art Class is the Best Way to Treat Yourself in the New Year

New year, new you, new term of art classes!

With Winter term starting next week at The Art League, this is the perfect time to get a head start on a more fun, more creative, more you year. Here are four ways taking an art class can help you be your best self.

Be present

There’s no way to check your phone when you’re elbow-deep in clay. Practicing art is a way to break your routine, shoo away distractions, and clear your mind. Painting, drawing, weaving, photography, and even things like soldering can be very Zen.

Pablo Picasso

Exercise your mind

“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.” —Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

What do you see? It’s a surprisingly difficult question to answer. When you take an art class, you’ll learn things like white isn’t always white and how to see like an artist. Of course, there are plenty of technical skills to learn as well, but seeing comes first.

Wayne Thiebaud, Three Machines

Accept failure

It’s true that pencils come with erasers, but artists actually use several different types of erasers — they’re that important. (You can use erasers not just to refine your pencil marks, but as a drawing tool in its own right.)

Helen Frankenthaler (photo by Gordon Parks, 1956)

Part of creating art is confronting failure, that moment when you smush a so-so pot and start anew — or paint over a struggling canvas for a fresh start. Edit, rework, find the good parts, and leave the rest behind.

In art, you can always go back to the drawing board.

Art by Andy Warhol, quote by Marshall McLuhan

Challenge yourself

Just because anyone can take an art class doesn’t mean it’s easy. A good class will challenge you to think in new ways, to use your creativity differently, and to do difficult things. Some of our instructors even assign homework.

One of the most common remarks art students make is that teachers “make it look so easy” — and it’s true! Mastering any medium takes years, but every step of the way has its rewards.

Browse the catalog

Keith Haring, Untitled, 1987


Are you ready? Feeling inspired? Get signed up for a winter class!

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Visit our homepage for more information about our classes, exhibits, and events in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia.

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Did you know: The Art League's Art Camp is the longest running visual arts camp in the area! We've been here for more than 30 years! While sadly we can't find any photos from the '80s (please let us know if you have any lying around), let's take a look back at the last several years of burgeoning kid artists and eight years of fun at Art Camp!

Did you know?

You can support The Art League every time you shop through AmazonSmile!

Simply set The Art League as your chosen charity, and every time you shop at, a portion of your purchase will be donated to support our mission to share the experience of visual arts with the community.