COLUMN: Courses help with upgrading artistic skills

This weather is perfect for hunkering down a little bit and getting deep into the things that matter most, like creating.

If there’s an upside to the fact that the fall is quite suddenly upon us — I mean besides the fact that fall is probably my favourite time of year — it’s that this weather is perfect for hunkering down a little bit and getting deep into the things that matter most, like creating.

Last week I talked about some ideas for creative challenges that can help you shake off the cobwebs from a busy summer of running around and enjoying the warmer weather — how are those going, by the way?

This week I’m going to talk about something a little different.

I’m currently in the process of wrapping up my first skill upgrade since I finished university.

It’s been a strange experience, mostly because I’ve been writing for so long that I feel like I’ve gotten a pretty good handle on things and, more importantly, almost everybody I write for seems pretty happy with the work I do.

“So why the desire to upgrade my skill set?” I hear you wondering.

Well, part of it is that by taking a class, you end up going deep into the heart of your chosen art form and you end up taking it apart and putting it back together in a way that you probably hadn’t thought of before.

Habits form, either good or bad, and they can become something you rely on time and time again to do things.

This isn’t a bad thing, by any means, but the fresh perspective that comes from taking a class has a surprising way of breathing new life into the process.

For me, I found a slightly different way to structure my writing and, surprisingly, a new way of adding a bit of flair. It’s too soon to see if that new way will affect things in a major way or not, but I’m excited by the possibilities that have opened up as a result.

We’re lucky here in Summerland that there are classes, groups and lessons available for almost anything you might enjoy doing.

The Summerland Arts Council runs programs all year that cover interests from painting to whittling, and then some, and there are some truly fantastic music teachers in town if you’re looking to hone some of your music skills — my next foray in learning will be something along these lines.

I can certainly feel where there’s room for improvement there.

I’ll be sure to let readers know about any of these courses as I come across them (so if you do something like this, please let me know).

In the meantime, if you’re looking for a way to unwind and take a little break from your creative challenge, the Summerland Film and Conversation series will be showing the Elder Project on September 20 at Centre Stage.

Doors open at 6 p.m. and, following the film, there will be a community discussion and refreshments.

Douglas Paton is a Summerland writer and musician. If you know of a local arts and culture event, contact him at