Looking for a New Passion Project in 2023? Try These
Whether your bliss involves birding, baking, painting or photography, there's a local club or creative workshop for you.
New year, new you. Whether you’ve been looking to hone your green thumb, learn to paint, sidle up to a typewriter or lace up those running shoes, there are seemingly countless ways to scratch that creative itch or try out a new hobby in 2023. Here’s a sampling of classes, workshops and clubs to check out in and around Arlington.
Jan. 7-April 1 | First Saturday of the Month, 9-11 a.m.
If you’re an amateur ecologist or want to help the environment in the new year, consider volunteering with Arlington County’s RIP (Remove Invasive Plants) program. Once a month, meet up with other volunteers and Arlington County staff members to learn about invasive plant species in the region and help with a number of measures that upgrade the local habitat, such as paring back vines to promote tree growth. RIP meetups are offered at 10 sites around the county, with several outings planned throughout the winter. // Haley Park, 2400 S. Meade St., Arlington. Free.
Jan. 10-Feb. 28 | Tuesdays, 9-11 a.m.
Who says craft scissors and colored pencils are only for kids? Learn how to create cool art with a variety materials at Falls Church Arts’ weekly Mixed Media Playtime for Grown-Ups. Instructor and 2D artist Molly McCracken will walk you through several projects over the course of two months, with an emphasis on the creative process. Registrants should bring along a few supplies, and amateur artists are most welcome: “If you have ever felt stuck, unsure what to make, or afraid to do something ‘wrong’ in your art,” reads the class description, “this is the class for you.” // Falls Church Arts Gallery, 700-B West Broad St., Falls Church. $225.
Jan. 12, 6-8 p.m.
Scrap that keto diet for the night and make space in your calendar for this Cookology course. The baking pros at this Ballston cooking school will lead you through the ins and outs of gruyere-and-herb buttermilk biscuits, ham-and-cheese palmiers, and za’atar monkey bread. Need a refreshment to keep you going? The bar will have for-purchase cocktails, beer and wine at the ready. // Cookology, 4238 Wilson Blvd., Suite 3110, $85.
Jan. 13, 6:30-8 p.m.
We’ve all seen them—those glorious, living, gravity-defying specimens of resplendent nature known as the moss wall. Now you can design one of your own without ever stepping foot in horticulture school. In this 1.5-hour class, PlantHouse—which, by the by, serves wine, beer and charcuterie boards at its onsite bar—will demonstrate how to assemble a framed menagerie of air plants to take home. If terrariums are more your speed, they’ve got workshops on those, too. (Want more plant-adjacent workshops? Check out offerings from Botanologica, Merrifield Garden Center and Rewild). // PlantHouse, 921 N. St. Asaph St., Alexandria. Ages 16+. $45.
Jan. 14, 1-4 p.m.
Been looking to step-up your skills behind the camera? Jim Seith, a former fighter pilot with the U.S. Air Force and professional photographer who has traversed the globe, will walk you through the basics of digital photography, including composition skills, exposure and camera controls. Be prepared to snap some photos while in this class, presented in partnership with Dominion Camera in Falls Church; participants should bring a DSLR or advanced point-and-shoot camera, as well as lenses and a memory card. // 112 W. Broad St., Falls Church. $95.
Jan. 19-Feb. 2 | Thursdays, 6:30-8 p.m.
About 15 years ago, Arlington writer and visual artist Sushmita Mazumdar started Handmade Storybooks, workshops that invite participants to tell their personal stories through carefully crafted mixed-media chronicles. Mazumdar, whose Studio PAUSE has helped lead dozens of community-based art projects in recent years, will guide workshop attendees in creating three distinctive books, marrying words and pictures using 2D and 3D methods. // Studio PAUSE, Rinker Community Center, 4108 4th St. N., Arlington. $75.
Jan. 20-March 24 | Fridays, 8:30-10:30 a.m.
So you’ve got a Birding Basics book on your shelf, or a couple of Discovery Channel shows saved in your queue, but you still haven’t fully immersed yourself into the world of birding. Take the plunge this winter with Arlington County Parks and Recreation’s free bird walks for beginners. Tote along a pair of binoculars and you’ll be all set for these weekly outdoor excursions led by birding pros. // Locations vary. Free.
Jan. 24-March 21 | Tuesdays, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
It may be 2023, but the ongoing plant craze just won’t quit. Can’t get enough? Try your hand at depicting landscapes and flora on canvas. The newly renamed Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington is offering an eight-week course in which participants can learn to paint from photographs, or bring in their favorite bamboo palms, fiddle-leaf figs and other house plants as a muse. Art supplies are not included. // Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington, 3550 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. $300.
Jan. 30-March 20 | Mondays, 8 p.m.
It’s portable, it produces a lovely sound, and you can play a mean Jason Mraz cover with it. The ukelele is the focal point of this virtual Levine School of Music class, meant for players with some experience. Here you’ll learn fingerstyle technique, an array of chords, strumming patterns and more. (Pro tip: Participants who register at least two weeks in advance will receive a ukelele they may keep.) // Virtual class. $248.
Feb. 12, Noon-2 p.m.
Been looking to add some color to your kitchen, living room or another space in your home? Want to give your grandmother’s sideboard or that curb-mined coffee table a new lease on life? Learn how to paint a multitude of furniture pieces with this two-hour class, which includes supplies for in-class use and a goodie bag of samples. // Stylish Patina, 450 W. Broad St., Falls Church. $125.
Feb. 25, 2:30-4:30 p.m.
Skincare expert Elodie Cally trained in Paris before moving to Arlington about five years ago, where she created Elodie’s Naturals out of the desire for customizable cosmetics with curated ingredients. In this workshop, learn how to create a face cream designed specifically for your skin type, as well as a plumping serum with age-fighting hyaluronic acid. All ingredients are vegan and plant-based. // Elodie’s Naturals, 5512 23rd St. N., Arlington. $85.
Join a Running Group
Ongoing | Dates and Times Vary
If you’ve got “train for a marathon or “get fit” on your New Year’s resolution list, now is the ideal time to join a local running club. Groups in the area abound (many with cheeky names such as I Run, You Run or Drinkers and Foodies With a Running Addiction), and are a great way to meet new friends, try longer distances and stay motivated. // Locations vary
Ongoing | Wednesdays, 7 p.m.
Maybe you’ve put off writing for a few years but still have a hankering to publish that poem, essay, short story or novel. Find a host of accountability buddies with this group, who’s been going strong for nearly 17 years. The Arlington Writers Group offers weekly virtual meetups (and some in-person ones) on all tools of the trade: technique tips, how to write a pitch or query letter, feedback sessions and more. // Most meetups are virtual. Annual dues $10.