Creative Opportunities for the Absolute Beginner

If stick figures are the extent of your artistic ability, the process of improving your skills might seem intimidating – especially in Door County, where we’re surrounded by seasoned artists. But you can go from doodles to Dalí (well, almost) thanks to local stores and galleries that offer an array of classes for beginners all year-round.

Pottery Class
Clay on Steele, 221 Steele St. in Algoma
Six-week class: $220; two-day class: $65; one-day class: $40

Before you sign up for your first pottery class, Clay on Steele owner Ellen Levenhagen has a recommendation: Set realistic expectations. The learning process is more difficult than some people think, so “don’t come in expecting to make a beautiful vase,” Levenhagen said. Instead, her classes focus on the process of making pottery and how to manipulate clay. 

Although your first project may not be the prettiest, you’ll still leave with a small bowl or two by the end – and you may even get hooked on the medium and return for more practice, as Levenhagen has witnessed with many participants.

Succulent Workshop 
Bobbin & Bloom, 2653 S. Bay Shore Dr. in Sister Bay
$30 per person

Though you’ll be potting your own plants in this class, no green thumb is required, according to Bobbin & Bloom owner Barbara Perdue. Many succulents are notoriously hard to kill, and while you’re planting, you’ll learn what you need to do to keep your new plants kicking. At the end of the workshop, you’ll take home five small succulents, nestled in a planter with Door County rocks and driftwood as decorative elements.

Stamp Weekend
Door County Rubber Stamps, 751 Jefferson St. in Sturgeon Bay
$35 per person

Door County Rubber Stamps workshop. Photo courtesy of Oscar Hansen.

Nowadays, it’s easy to keep in touch with friends and family through social media and even an old-timey phone call, but sending (and receiving) a card in the mail always feels more special. That’s even more true if the card is handmade, such as the ones you can make during this workshop. 

Though many participants “go in thinking they can’t do it,” according to Oscar Hansen of Door County Rubber Stamps, they emerge with four high-quality cards they’ve watercolored, embossed and assembled themselves.

Leatherworking Camp
Turtle Ridge Gallery, 11736 Mink River Road in Ellison Bay
$125-$355 (prices vary by project)

Bag-making art camp at Turtle Ridge Gallery. Photo courtesy of Asta Zukauskiene.

Although the finished leather bag looks polished and professional, many people enter the leatherworking classroom never having even held a sewing needle, according to Asta Zukauskiene of Turtle Ridge Gallery. 

That’s no problem because sewing with leather involves a completely different skill set than sewing with any other fabric, she said, so even seasoned sewers will be starting from scratch during this workshop. In addition to learning how to work with leather, participants will customize a bag that’s perfect for them, from the fabric color to the pocket placements.

Try-It Programs
Peninsula School of Art, 3900 Cty F in Fish Creek
$55 for members, $60 for nonmembers

Drawing “try-it” class at Peninsula School of Art. Photo courtesy of Elysia Michaelsen.

According to Elysia Michaelsen of Peninsula School of Art, try-it programs are designed for “people who have any excuse in the book not to take an art class.” 

For a few hours each month, participants can explore different media, from drawing to acrylics to watercolors to metalsmithing. Newbies tend to gravitate toward ceramics because it involves materials that aren’t often available at home, Michaelsen said, but one of the easiest media to get into is drawing: It’s accessible anywhere and provides a gateway to other 2-D media such as painting and printmaking.

Paint and Sip
Zen Jen Art & Wellness, SWY, 231 N. 3rd Ave. in Sturgeon Bay
$50 per person

Paint and Sip class led by Jennifer Aldrich. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Aldrich.

You may not think you’re an artist now, but a glass of wine or two may change your perspective. Many Sip and Paint participants haven’t painted since grade school, instructor Jen Aldrich said, but they’re often surprised by how much they enjoy it. 

“It’s a great way for people to start discovering their inner artist,” she said. “It’s not just party and paint.” 

For those who want to paint without sipping alcohol, Aldrich also offers Mocktail & Monet nights. 

Drop-in Studio Sessions
Hands On Art, 3655 Peninsula Players Road in Fish Creek
$10-$40 average per project 

Even the most beginner-friendly classes can be a bit nerve-wracking if you’re uncomfortable with someone watching you. So if you’re looking for a more self-guided experience, look no further than Hands On Art. There, you can drop in to DIY a mosaic, glass, canvas or ceramic project with a full array of materials that the studio keeps on hand. Hands On Art also offers classes and take-home art kits.

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