Between the Lines

Kathy Steffen

Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
—Pablo Picasso

Know anyone who could use a good dusting of the soul? Have a creative person on your holiday gift-list this year? How about someone who could benefit from relaxing and enjoying something new? What about someone who has everything? Give a gift of creativity! How? Glad you asked!
In-person classes are plentiful in the River Valley (check out listings and ads right here in Voice). Most places have gift certificates available so your giftee can explore whatever interests them. Whether a new art experience, awakening an old art-flame, or sharpening techniques for a much-loved art form, an in-person class will also connect someone with new friends who have much in common. Some of my favorite places for classes are Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts in Mineral Point (a beautiful, historical spot offering a breadth of subjects: fiber arts, jewelry, mixed media, painting, photography, pottery, writing, blacksmithing and more!), Kauss Art in Spring Green (jewelry), the Arts Lab in Spring Green (a new venue exhibiting artists and offering classes), Adamah Art Studios in Dodgeville (pottery, jewelry, fiber arts and more) and River Arts in Prairie du Sac. Not only will you delight your giftee, later the class will remind your recipient of your friendship and understanding of creative time needed.
A trick to finding art classes is to Google “art classes” or “art workshops” near whatever town you wish, or “near me” if your computer or phone has location services turned on. The University of Wisconsin-Madison has a plethora of art and writing classes available, but there are many offerings close by in the River Valley and your recipient won’t need to travel far to enjoy a creative vacation.
What if your giftee has a difficult schedule or likes “alone” time? There are plenty of online classes to choose from. Udemy and Bluprint both have loads of different classes to choose from.
DIY kits are all the rage. Everything you need to know in one box. I just did a search and found kits for making hot sauce, beer, gin or root beer, jewelry, candles, soap, candy, lip balm, posters, even a bonsai starter kit, and a kit to make a ukulele!
Creativity and story card decks are loads of fun and can be utilized solo or made into a game with others. I love decks to brainstorm. My brain says “game” and the ideas flow. “Story Slam,” “The Storymatic” and “The Writer’s Toolbox” are my favorite writing decks. For creative inspiration? I use “The Artist’s Way Creativity Cards” and “Creative Block.”
Art supply baskets are fun to make and easy to personalize for your creative gift-giving. Focus on painting, drawing or knitting with books and art supplies (paints, papers, art journals, watercolor and gel pens, yarn, etc.) from your favorite local stores.
The gift of creativity will last all year and reap many benefits, for you and your giftee.

Kathy Steffen is an award-winning novelist and author of the “Spirit of the River Series:” “First, There is a River,” “Jasper Mountain,” and “Theater of Illusion.” She writes from her home in Spring Green she shares with her husband and cats. Find out more at www.kathysteffen.com.