Engage Your Creativity with Art Classes

Photo of two senior women in an art class

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By KATHLEEN MULROY

Can engaging our creativity help us thrive as we age? Ongoing research into the possible benefits of visual arts classes, singing group programs, and theater training for older adults suggests participating in the arts may improve health, well-being, and independence. 

According to the National Institute on Aging, older adults involved in the arts may experience better cognitive function, memory, and self-esteem. They will also benefit from reduced stress and increased social interaction. 

Several studies published in Today’s Geriatric Medicine magazine even indicate art can reduce the depression and anxiety, which are often symptomatic of chronic diseases. 

Non-profit organizations, Parks and Recreation Departments, and public colleges across Idaho, including some local businesses, offer art lessons to seniors.

North Idaho

The Pend Oreille Arts Council in Sandpoint has collaborated with two other nonprofits, Sandpoint Area Seniors and The Geezer Forum, to provide free art classes for older adults. Local artists teach the classes, which are whimsically called “The Geezer Gallery Project.” 

Classes are offered every Thursday from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Sandpoint Senior Center and may include drawing and mixed media, plein air painting, fiber arts, ceramics, and wire wrapping. Each class lasts about 90 minutes and includes the study of masters’ works, a hands-on lesson with guidance from the teacher, and reflection. 

For information or to sign up for a class (the fall session begins in October) contact [email protected] or call (208)263-6860. The website for Sandpoint Area Seniors is www.sandpointareaseniors.org. 

In Coeur d’Alene, classes are held at the Lake City Center on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Students provide their own supplies, and the cost for each class is only $1 for members, $2 for non-members. For more information, call 208-267-4628, or visit www.lakecitycenter.org. 

The Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Center in Coeur d’Alene usually offers one or two art classes for older adults and also holds a weekly knitting “club.” Recent art classes have included acrylic painting and t-shirt basket weaving. The classes and the knitting club are either free or require only a nominal fee. Go to the website for more information, or call (208) 667-1865l or email [email protected] (The Kroc Center also has an aquatics center, classes on wellness, and field trips for older adults.) 

Southwest Idaho

Idaho Falls Senior Citizens’ Community Center hopes to offer art classes at the Center this fall. Email them at [email protected], or call 208-522-4357 for information.

Southeast Idaho

In Pocatello, Idaho State University Continuing Education/Workforce Training offers art (and other) classes through a program called Friends for Learning. The FFL program is designed for Idahoans 50 years and older and provides, at a minimal cost, classes, activities, and special events for retired and semi-retired people. Check the website or call (208) 282-3372 for information on fall art classes. 

Southern Idaho

The Boise Parks and Recreation Department offers several art classes for adults, including drawing, water color and oil painting, and pottery classes. The current cost for art classes is $67.94 per class for residents; pottery classes are $130 for residents. Click here for information on the fall schedule.

Through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Boise State University, you can attend college-level, non-credit programs for adults 50 and over, including art history and other art-related courses. The Institute is a membership-based organization with an annual membership fee of $70. Classes may be offered virtually or in-person, depending on the Covid-19 Pandemic situation in the fall. For more information, call (208)426-6554, email [email protected], or visit the website.

The College of Western Idaho in Nampa has a wide range of art classes, including art history and foundations, drawing, painting, sculpture, and photography. The college offers a substantial tuition discount for district residents 60 years and older: 50 percent off per class credit hour. Visit their website at www.cdi.edu for information on available classes and their costs. You may also send email to [email protected], or call (208) 562-3000. 

Now, go on out there and let loose your inner artist! ISI

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