Marina Bichinsky knows the importance of art education firsthand. She had her first art lesson at age 5, and, though it may have seemed like a childhood hobby at the time, art paved the road for her career path, a road that had perfectly straight yellow lines thanks to her artistic skill. She studied architecture in college, earned her doctorate in visual communications, and, today, funnels these skills into her position as director of Living Art Studio. Here, she teaches students of all ages and skill levels enlisted in the studio?s classes, in which instructors trained by Marina teach realist painting techniques.
The team generally starts first-time artists off with classes that teach gesture and proportion before graduating them to charcoal-drawing classes, color study, and, finally, painting still lifes and figures. For their younger crowd, instructors lead Mommy & Me classes, during which 2.5- to 5-year-olds learn techniques amenable to their age, such as how to turn baby-food splats on highchair trays into impressionist opuses that suggest Monet and Renoir, but with an underlying current of originality in the vein of a Pissarro. The school also offers a specialty curriculum for adults who are seeking further education in areas such as fashion design, photography, and advertising.
During three-hour classes at Art Social, instructors strive to foster an environment as lively as the paintings that inspire them. At various restaurants, wine bars, or galleries across the Bay Area, students begin the evening chatting with classmates against the backdrop of soft music and clinking wine glasses. Once students have settled into their personal painting stations, instructors delve into history, context, and scratch 'n' sniff features of the evening's chosen painting, which has included works such as Gustav Klimt's The Kiss or Van Gogh's Starry Night. Step-by-step instruction ensures students of all levels take home a personal masterpiece, whether it is a replica of the painting being taught or the bowls of fruit that haunt the student's mind.
Having shot more than 30,000 subjects throughout his career as a photographer, including many Silicon Valley business figures, Eric Gould understands how to create a good photo in any setting. His adeptness at communicating with subjects carries into his photography workshops, where he conveys difficult concepts clearly and methodically, saving students from such rookie mistakes as shooting with the lens cap on or turning the flash on while taking pictures of your imaginary friend's third grade graduation. In his own photo sessions, he frames professional clients in business portraits and headshots, high-school seniors in youthful poses, athletes in midaction, and a wide spectrum of people and places encountered on international travels.
The shelves at Color Me Mine’s studios teem with whimsical bisque-pottery pieces—pony and princess figurines, piggy banks, and kitty-cat mugs—each stark white and waiting for the brush strokes of a budding artist. That artist might be a birthday boy at a party or a grown-up unwinding at a girls' night out. No previous experience is required, as the studio staff dispenses plenty of painting tips, stencils, and artistic inspiration. Afterwards, the staff will fire the resulting pieces, which can then be used as décor or dinnerware thanks to Color Me Mine's lead-free, food-safe, paints.
For more than a decade, Team Bay Tennis's founder and director Igor Savanovic has fine-tuned the swings of athletes ranging from beginners to pros. Savanovic and two other instructors tailor their instruction to varying levels of play. They work with graduated court and racket sizes while forming a personal rapport and motivational relationship with students. Adults hone strokes in clinics or one-on-one lessons that focus on technical aspects of the game, such as how to deal with hecklers.
SkiMela.com facilitates skiing and snowboarding trips to seven of the areas best ski resorts, including Heavenly and Sugar Bowl. Charter buses pick up outdoor adventurers at six locations along San Francisco – East Bay and Silicon Valley – South Bay routes between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m., ensuring guests get a full day’s worth of recreation and snowman heckling. The trips, held in January, February, and March, include breakfast and a movie, and SkiMela.com schedules around 60 trips per season.