Do you have any hobbies you love? The new year always feels like an opportunity to start fresh with fun interests. BUT! What do you do when it’s downright freezing out or you don’t have much free time? For the third January in a row, we dove into online learning with Skillshare, an awesome resource for building new skills from the ease and comfort of your sofa. Here are the courses we took and loved (plus a special offer from Skillshare)…
Illustration Inspiration: Keeping a Sketchbook (31 Minutes)
Ashley: I always wanted to become good at drawing and painting like my dad. Unfortunately, I inherited roughly zero percent of his artistic talent, and I really hate being bad at things, so I stopped drawing altogether in high school. In an effort to get over myself, and finally do something I’ve always wanted to do, I enrolled in Leah Goren’s course on how to keep a sketchbook. Leah, a Brooklyn-based illustrator and pattern designer whose clients include Anthropologie, takes you through her own history as an illustrator, then onto simple tasks like drawing objects, drawing from life, and even drawing the space around you. By the end, I had drawn more in a day than I did in all of 2017, and shockingly, I didn’t hate my sketches. If you’re a beginner, like me, there’s a good chance you’ll love this class as much as I did. [Editor’s note: Ashley also teaches her own Skillshare course on creative personal writing.]
Make Your Video Look Like a Movie (39 Minutes)
Stella: With the Academy Awards just weeks away, I was curious to take a deeper look at the work that goes into movie masterpieces. One great place to start is this cinematography class taught by Ryan Booth, a filmmaker I’ve long admired on Instagram. In the video, he walks you through his straightforward creative process, explaining how he maximizes a location, uses natural light to his advantage and creates cinematic moments without expensive equipment. If you’ve ever wondered, “How do I make my little iPhone video look better?” this class is for you.
31-Day Guitar Challenge (3 Hours and 36 Minutes)
Joanna: When Toby was a toddler, the idea of playing live music for him at home seemed like so much fun. Alex loaned me his guitar, and I searched a few YouTube videos, developed sore fingertips and… gave up. But when I found this great course, I felt completely inspired. I pulled out the guitar again and committed to learning more, without having to organize expensive in-person lessons. Nate Forrest, my Skillshare instructor, is a laid-back guy from Austin, Texas, who starts from the beginning, explaining everything from the anatomy of a guitar to tuning, chords, harmonics and scales. He has great analogies and tricks for learning guitar: “Glide your pick across the strings like it’s a paintbrush or broom,” he says; remember the order of your guitar’s strings by saying Eddie Ate Dynamite Good Bye Eddie; and use a free app on your phone to make tuning easy. The goal of the course is to watch one of the 31 short clips each day and practice twice a day, too. Within a month, he promises, you’ll be well on your way to really playing guitar. (Newly calloused fingers crossed.)
Creative Nonfiction: Write Truth With Style (1 Hour and 49 Minutes)
Lexi: I’m a huge fan of New Yorker writer Susan Orlean, so it was a special treat to see her and hear her voice in my apartment, teaching me how to be a better writer myself. In this course, Orlean challenges you to write a three-page piece about the most mysterious person you know. (I picked my neighbor, who has the most massive collection of bonsai trees I’ve ever seen.) She leads you authoritatively and boosts your confidence through all the steps of writing a great story, including idea generation, pitching and revisions. But, the part I enjoyed the most was listening to her overall advice for better writing: It’s “an ongoing process,” she says. “It’s a state of mind, it’s a regular daily way of being in the world. It’s something you can work on all the time even if you’re not sitting in front of a keyboard.” Her biggest tip: Read more. Yes!
Bonus for all readers: Skillshare is offering new students three months of Premium membership for only $0.99 (Ordinarily, a yearly Premium membership costs $8.25 per month for unlimited classes, group discussions, and more.) Go here through February 28th to sign up. Please note: A credit card is required to sign up and $0.99 will be charged at the start of the trial. But you won’t be charged the standard price until the three-month trial period is up, and you can cancel at any time. Thank you so much, Skillshare!
What class would you sign up for? Did you make any resolutions to learn something new this year? Skillshare’s broad offerings, taught by experts in their fields, include thousands of courses on running a business, art, cooking and much more. You can browse them all here.
(Photos of Ashley Ford by Christine Han for Cup of Jo. This post is sponsored by Skillshare, the site we depend on for learning new things. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Cup of Jo.)