By Wendy Terry
originally published December 2010
One very affordable way to explore your creative side is to take one of the General Interest courses at the Toronto District School Board. The calendar, Learn for Life, lists hundreds of courses being offered for the winter term. The courses are also on the website www.learn4life.ca. Classes begin in January and registration is open now.
Here are a few courses from Learn for Life that will help you express and develop your creativity. Under Art, there are beginner courses in drawing and painting at six different locations across Toronto and my favourite is at Overland Learning Centre, Drawing for People Who Can’t Draw.
If you are not a rank beginner, there are art courses for all levels and in all materials and forms. These include sculpture, metal work, acrylic, water colour, egg tempura, pottery, landscapes, still life, and portraits. For the more craft-oriented, there is the course Collage and Assemblage at Central Tech. Our editor, Anne, has made collages from magazines clippings, which framed make lovely pieces of art in her living room.
Creative writing courses are found under "Communications". You can learn how to craft a story or write your memoirs. I often think every person’s life is like a story and to write it down for the next generations is a wonderful gift. For instance, my Aunt Ethel wrote about growing up on a farm on Manitoulin Island in the 1920s, leaving behind a lengthy piece of family lore, for me and hundreds of cousins, nieces, nephews, and extended family members.
In the Computer section of the calendar, courses in graphic arts applications are listed. Check out Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and Fireworks for drawing, art and graphic arts applications and Flash for animation. Ask your kids to buy Digital Photo Album and Digital Video for Christmas this year, and next year you can give them an album or a movie that tells your family story. One student I know made a digital photo album from his old slides of a three year camping trip that he and his wife took in their 20’s to Australia, Asia, Europe and South America.
The Crafts section of the calendar lists classes in beading, jewellery, stained glass and many more. Mimico Adult Learning Centre offers award-winning and well-known courses in weaving, wood carving and sculpture. A new one for me was Bunka Shishu, Japanese embroidery which is a seniors’ day time course. Then there are the traditional knitting, crocheting and calligraphy crafts.
Under Dance, you will find that you don’t have to be a performance artist to use dance for self-expression as well as exercise. Everyone can get into it and for many courses you don’t need a partner. There is everything from the Rumba to the Tango to Ballroom to Bollywood dancing. There is Egyptian Belly dancing, Hip Hop, Swing, Night Club and Line Dancing. Jack, one of the founders of Citizens for Lifelong Learning, met his second wife Alice in a TDSB dance class 22 years ago.
In the Music section, many courses in guitar and keyboarding from beginning to intermediate are offered in many locations across the city. The Harmonica Workshop in the Blues caught my attention, as my favourite picture of my Aunt Helen is of her playing the Harmonica. She puts her all into it and it shows in this picture. If you are a singer who has always wanted to try opera, check out the renowned opera courses held at the TDSB’s Bickford Centre. If you just want to sing, then try Let’s Sing.
Like music but not into doing it? Then under Computers there is a course for you in Digital Music, CD/DVD Creating. If your wife buys you this course for Christmas, then next year you can give her a CD comprised of her favourite songs.
Under Theatre, Film or TV, at Danforth Tech you can find a class to turn that idea for a show into reality. There are courses on cinematography, creating a TV series, producing a short film, visual directing and at Central Tech there are ones on Screenplay Writing and Stages of Production. It has always been my idea to write a sit com about living in housing co-op. I have ample material; these courses would provide the skills.
Under Games and Hobbies you will find photography courses. Add one of these to the Matting and Framing course found under Art. Then you can give your family nicely framed portraits or pictures of a favourite family setting, a creative way to express your caring.
Under Sewing you can find classes in sewing and tailoring that would make your clothes express your one of a kind style, instead of trying to make off the rack clothing and store bought accessories express this. .
In several sections there are courses to help you show your creativity in your home. Under Sewing there is one on window treatments and quilting. There is an Interior Design section in the calendar. Under Crafts there is a course on Floral Design. Under Games and Hobbies, there is a course on Gardening Design. Under Handiwork, there are courses in Upholstery, and Furniture Refinishing. Under Food there is Cake Decorating. Inviting your friend over for coffee and cake decorated just for him or her to celebrate their birthday is a creative way to show your appreciation of the friendship.