Hobbies and projects to get involved with in Dorset for 2017

PUBLISHED: 12:44 04 January 2017 | UPDATED: 12:44 04 January 2017

Get mucky at the potter's wheel and come home with something you made

Get mucky at the potter's wheel and come home with something you made


Whether it’s sitting at the potters wheel, learning to paint or sketch, buying art or even investing in a movie, art teacher and writer Carol Burns suggested some interesting projects to get your creative juices flowing

Get potting

For the extremely tactile this discipline is a sure fire hit. It combines the fine arts with the joys of getting really mucky in a way you probably haven’t done since childhood. Ever since The Great Pottery Throw Down hit our screens, determined to do to pottery what The Great British Bake Off did for cakemaking (and let’s not forget what The Great British Sewing Bee did to swell the numbers of the stitch and bitch brigade), pottery has become a firm favourite with the craft-loving public. Want to give it a go? Woodside Pottery at West Moors in East Dorset (woodsidepottery.co.uk) offer a Have a Go Pottery Experience - morning, afternoon or day (prices start from £40 for two hours) for a maxiumum of four people. Grazyna Schweidler, who runs the course says. “I have met so many lovely people who tend to say ‘I’m not very creative’ and then make such lovely things.”

There’s also the marvellous Tradpots Creative Studio in Poole (tradpots.com) who, alongside their range of pottery classes and experience days including raku, built pots and painting pottery, from January will be offering classes in lino cutting. They also have glass making courses (stained glass, Tiffany and fusing) – always a truly unforgettable experience. Tradpots say they have seen an increased interest in pottery since the first Great Pottery Throw Down hit our screens - and are bracing themselves for the next series - so get booked in now!

Get sketching

Of course, a decision to get creative doesn’t need to be expensive or particularly structured. Treat yourself to a small sketchbook and get used to carrying it around and sketch whatever you see. But how do you know if you are any good? If you are someone who always has the camera on their smartphone pointed at something striking – the chances are you are a natural mark-maker. Of course, you can attend life-drawing classes, but as we say in art school, everyone ends up coming out drawing the same way, so it’s important to develop your own style. One of the best ways to begin drawing is to give yourself the 20-second test. Set your stopwatch and do some fast sketches that don’t give you time to think. Then look at what you’ve done, rip it up and do it again. It’s incredible how much you can learn about your skills this way – and if you choose portraiture, it’s pretty easy to get family and friends – or your pet – to sit still for under a minute. Good materials are important – invest in charcoals, soft drawing pencils and high quality paper. Give the coloured pencils and pastels a miss – drawing means making marks in black and white without hiding behind colour. Stick with it and you will be amazed at the result. For really high quality teaching – the Royal Academy offers courses taught by their members – check out royalacademy.org.uk/drawing_courses. More locally try Arts University Bournemouth which offer a fabulous range of evening and Saturday courses ranging from life drawing to creative writing aub.ac.uk. 

Get painting

Monet wasn’t born creating those beautiful paintings of his gardens in Giverny; he spent a lifetime learning to see the world and then - as he tells it - unlearning those lessons so he could actually paint it. As a teacher of art at night school, the most common thing I heard from novices was that they couldn’t paint or draw. The truth is that the hand has less to do with it than the eye.

Many artists will substitute their income with a little teaching on the side. Being taught in a working artists’ studio with a practicing artist at the helm will bring you on in leaps and bounds.

Be inspired by visiting art galleries and looking at lots of different types of paintings. While there, get up close to their canvases to look at the marks and the colour made. Consider different styles and materials – oil paint offers a brilliant opportunity for mastering the high drama of Chiaroscuro or scumble – but for many the clarity of colour, offered by fast-drying water-based acrylics are preferred. Try them both…When working in paint a spot of expert teaching can really boost your confidence. Head to dorsetartcourses.co.uk for more.

Become a buyer

This is an easy one – especially if you love art, but have no interest in creating it. Buy a proper piece of art to admire. Poole-based fledgling arts agency Maddens Artists have a growing roster of artists and can help you pick something right for you. Director, Andy Madden explains: “Few people are natural buyers of original art, most needing some form of encouragement. Bringing the pleasure of buying original art to new audiences is a joy in itself. Art galleries are often seen as stuffy, judgemental and unwelcoming places which are inaccessible to many. This is a great shame because often the only way that a potential buyer can view art is in a gallery and the only way an artist can show their art is through a gallery. In contradiction to this, online art sales are booming with buyers being far happier to buy art based purely upon an online image.”

Check out Maddens Artists current stable – which includes the marvellous Kathryn Thomas at maddensartists.co.uk.

Invest in a film

They say in every actor there is a director, and in every director there is a movie mogul – so how can you get involved in movies? Crowdfunding has become a popular place to raise cash for film projects – you’ll even find big movie stars on there trying to get a few million raised for their project. For just a few pounds you can get your name on the credits – head to crowdfunder.co.uk and trawl through the film projects and find one that’s either local or whose story interests you. Film makers will often give you incentives to make you feel part of the team – from t-shits and mugs to time on set. Check out the Dorset-based fund that’s trying to raise cash for a fictional short film about a Soviet spy who is coerced into assassinating Joseph Stalin (crowdfunder.co.uk/khrustalev-film).

You might not make any money out of it – but it’s a great conversation starter!

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