Need a creativity recharge? Local studios & schools offer inspiration galore

Image by Sean MacEntee via Flickr

Two years ago, I took a  “Round Robin” workshop at The Writing Salon in lower Potrero. It was fantastic. I wrote steadily every day for six weeks because I was paired with another writer who was depending on me for input and who I depended for their feedback . We were part of a class of about 20 people and each week we swapped writing partners. What did we write about?  Every day, round robin members received a writing prompt. It might have been a phrase (e.g. “the last time I…”) or a word (e.g. “green” or “broken”) or a mysterious photo that led itself to temptation. I wrote poetry, prose, essays, ramblings…but most importantly, I wrote everyday. The intimacy of these emails between partners who didn’t know each other was amazing. We could be open, frank and off the rails and our partner would only send supportive feedback in return.

Right after that class ended, after a six week writing jag, I stopped. I needed the push of the prompt and the partner to write. No prompt, no partner, no creativity. I just got an email that a new round of classes is coming up. Started by writer Jane Underwood, the Writing Salon offers a wide array of creative writing classes both in S.F. and in Berkeley.

It’s time to pursue another creative patch and I’ve discovered a few other creative “salons” around town that might do the trick for me…or you. is a creative community around food. There are cooking classes, lectures, films and more to feed the inner artisan, chef or foodie in you. They are located in the Mission area. Check out the August calendar.

San Francisco Center for the Book has long attracted those interested in the book makers arts from printing  to lettering and bookbinding and handcrafting personal volumes. They’ve been around for a long time and have a well established program of classes.

There are loads of places to take art classes, too, from the local community center to adult education programs at high schools and colleges. There’s also artists offering private or small class session in their studios. I’m looking for a class to help me overcome my fear of painting so I can recklessly fill large canvases and explore my inner Picasso. I’m currently lingering over the selection  at the Pacific Arts League, a lovely studio  in Palo Alto with classes in an array of media. I’m thinking about collage but might just get my nerve up to take acrylic painting and buy some big old canvasses to plunder with paint!

There’s a wonderful collection of quotes on the Art League’s website but this one from Picasso is particularly apt: “Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.”

Are you feeling the need for a shot of inspiration? Got a favorite place to learn new creative skills? Please share.



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