Do you like to draw with crayons?
I do. I’m not very good at it…but it doesn’t matter. It’s just the fun of doing it that’s important.
Two things happen as our children get older (well, a lot more than two things happen, but the rest of the things are for another day). One is that the children get very busy and also start to get themselves around–and you go from being a Mommy to an unpaid Uber driver to a lady who goes around, looking for your children and trying to get them to do things with you.
The other thing that happens is that you get older too. And you find that a lot of the advice that you hear–about just doing things that you enjoy and learning things that you want to learn– are right on the money. So you decide be open to All of the Things–especially if they’re recommended by others. Your comfort zone starts to expand into something that you wouldn’t have recognized ten years ago.
And if you’re like me, in this spirit of learning without regard to your natural abilities, you may find yourself in an art or design class, wondering what you have gotten yourself into. And if you’re lucky, you might coerce one of your children to do it with you. And if you’re really lucky, as I was, said child might be game for the experience, no coercion necessary.
Recently, I got to combine two things that I love–learning something new and spending time with my 19-year old–at RISD, jumping into the basics of design. The RISD Continuing Education Not a Designer class is a 12-hour, weekend-long class for the uninitiated. Beginning at the most basic level of design, the course starts by defining and demystifying design–and then takes students through an individualized process to the completion of a concept that the student can then go out and actually create.
The instructor brought a wealth of knowledge and a complete lack of judgment to the course. And it’s a good thing, because I brought no skill whatsoever (Girl-child, on the other hand, brought more than a little bit of ability and comfort with this). Through a handful of exercises, we were able to let go of a lot of our preconceptions and hangups about design and just get to work.
The most stressful part of the weekend was when we were asked to identify something we might want to design. I had no idea what I wanted to design. I had never spent one second thinking about this before. Design what? I pulled one idea out of nowhere and drifted onto another over the course of the first day. And once the second design idea took hold, I knew that I was onto something. Project ideas in the class ranged from a personal brand, to a piece of jewelry, to a patterned textile, to my daughter’s padded bicycle seat cover. It was very late on the first day of the course that the idea came to me–a dual language (Arabic/English) book of middle eastern poems for women who are learning English.
As valuable as the direct instruction was (and this instructor really was terrific), the forced carving out of time and space to think and to create something was just as important. It took hours to calm my buzzing brain and begin to develop an idea, and hours more to change my mind, revise, start over, and develop the design idea that I now very much want to produce and distribute.
Who knew that I could do this?! Well, RISD knew. They know that given the time, the space, the great instruction, and the supportive environment, people can find out that they are creative and that they can pursue art and design on their own terms.
As it turns out, I do have some skill. I still can’t draw, but I can envision, create, and yes, design something that can be used and enjoyed by others. I can give a beautiful gift to some amazing women who I know would really appreciate it. I could maybe even get some of those women to collaborate on the project.
Mr. Rogers speaks wise, and the sooner we realize this, the better. If you’ve ever contemplated doing something creative, but you think it’s just not your thing, RISD Continuing Education is the perfect way to find out. RISD offers classes for teens and adults in subjects from Fashion Design, Art Appreciation, Ceramics, to Furniture and Woodworking (the course offerings are too many to list). They also offer full certificate programs with flexible schedules and fees.
Taking these courses alone or with a friend is a great way to get your not-just-mom on. But taking them with your young adult child is even better. I asked Girl-child to take a glassblowing class with me and she said YES (actually, she texted me back, “yeah, sure” but I’ll take that as a YASSSS).
I can’t wait.
RISD Continuing Education educates students of all ages in art and design with high quality, accessible programs, courses, lectures, and workshops. Registration for winter classes opens on Monday, November 6, 2017 and classes will begin on January 6th, 2018.
RISD CE offers courses for adults in the fine and applied arts and design at beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels. You’ll find a range of options to explore the world of art and design and RISD’s flexible course schedules meet the needs of today’s adult learners and their busy lifestyles. Options include 3-hour and weekend workshops, 6-12 session courses, and full certificate programs.
RISD’s Young Artist Program (ages 6-17) helps students make their mark as they create, build, make, and dream big through courses in 2D, 3D, digital art and design, as well as STEAM courses.
Saturday courses are offered year-round, and week-long vacation camps are offered in the winter, spring, and summer. Teens can enroll in one of four certificate programs to broaden their skills or prepare for a future in art and design.