I’m a big proponent of lifelong learning and always trying out new skills and hobbies. Learning new things and skills is such a great way to keep your mind fresh, and I find that you can often apply lessons learned from new disciplines to other things in your life. Plus, picking up a new hobby can be a fantastic way to spark creativity and inspiration. And even if you’re not looking for a new hobby, it’s a good idea to continue honing your skills – you’re always bound to pick up a new technique or learn something new. I’ve been feeling a bit uninspired lately, so I decided to take a few classes on Skillshare focused on a couple of my favorite hobbies, calligraphy and photography, along with something that was totally new for me – watercolor painting! Skillshare is offering Oh So Beautiful Paper readers two FREE months of premium membership, so it’s the perfect time to try something new! It’s usually $15 a month, but if you click here you’ll get two free months with unlimited access to stream their online classes.
Skillshare offers more than 16,000 classes on topics such as calligraphy and hand lettering, illustration, watercolor painting, and photography – even marketing and creative writing! – all taught by masters of their crafts. One of my favorite things about Skillshare (other than all the amazing class topics, of course) is that you can watch the classes anywhere, anytime: watch them on your laptop, on your phone through the Skillshare app, or download them to your phone or tablet to watch later without an internet connection.
Here are the classes that I took:
I grew up in an artistic home. We had an art room instead of a traditional playroom, and my mom signed me up for lots of art classes and summer camps as a kid. But I’ve never taken a watercolor class! My painting style as an adult has always trended towards modern abstract painting, and I’ve felt intimidated by the idea of trying to paint something with a lot of detail. I also have a deep love of flowers, so when I saw Fun & Loose Watercolor Florals, Leaves, & Butterflies with Yasmina Creates, I thought it would be the perfect way to combine my love of flowers with my more abstract painting style. This class was so much fun! I loved the way Yasmina taught me to break each flower down into its basic shape and loosely interpret that shape in the painting, instead of worrying about representing a flower exactly as it appears in a photograph. Yasmina also shares some fantastic tips and techniques in the class, like how to put different amounts of pressure on the brush to create different leaf shapes and sizes and when to new colors to wet paint as a way of adding dimension to the painting. The paintings in the two photos at the top of the post are what I created after taking this class!
With two young daughters and a slew of nieces and nephews, I’m always sending cards in the mail: birthday cards, holiday cards, feel better soon cards, etc. My envelope addressing game definitely needs some work, so I signed up for The Art of the Envelope with Bryn Chernoff of Paperfinger. This class is great for just about anyone, from an aspiring professional calligrapher to a bride or groom hoping to address the envelopes for their own wedding invitations. Young kids almost never receive mail, so you can just imagine their surprise when a fancy envelope with their name on it shows up in the mailbox! Bryn also teaches a fantastic Introduction to Modern Script Calligraphy class with foundational instruction on calligraphy tools and creating beautiful letterforms. If you prefer brush lettering over pointed pen calligraphy, I also highly recommend this Waterbrush Lettering Essentials class.
Photography and Visual Storytelling
Photography is one of those skills where I always feel like I have more to learn, no matter how many times I pick up a camera. Visual storytelling is such a large part of what I do online, from photographing our cocktail recipes to sharing images on Instagram, and there’s always room for improvement. I took a couple of photography classes with a focus on food photography, but I think there’s plenty of lessons to take away from these classes whether you’re a stationer looking to take better styled product photos or an artist looking to share a behind the scenes peek of your space.
Both of these classes focus on food photography, but the lessons are applicable to any type of lifestyle photography. In Food Photography: Shooting in 5 Styles, food photographer Leela Cyd talked about shooting the same subject (milk and cookies!) in five different styles: light and airy, dark and moody, bright and crisp, in progress, and lifestyle (aka with a person in the photo). She provided a bunch of really helpful tips on camera settings without getting too technical, and I loved her advice of drawing an image storyboard of each shot that I want to get BEFORE the photo shoot. In Lifestyle Photography: Visual Storytelling we get to see Marte Maria Forsberg’s process from start to finish: shopping at a local market to purchase ingredients and props for a photo shoot, working with a model, and styling the meal that serves as the focal point of the session. Marte Maria’s lessons taught me to think about each type of image that I want to get out of a photo shoot – similar to Leela’s storyboarding process – and a totally different way to use light to enhance my images.
Don’t forget! Skillshare is offering Oh So Beautiful Paper readers two FREE months of unlimited access to stream their more than 16,000 online classes. Click here to get started!
Top two photos by Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper. This post is sponsored by Skillshare. All content and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that make Oh So Beautiful Paper possible!