At the end of summer, I took Alisa Burke's online class, "Ode to Nature." I wanted to post a class review before I start my next class with her (Sketchbook Delight, Part 2), so here goes! Overall, I really enjoyed Ode to Nature, and I got a lot out of it. For me, it was the right class at the right time. It built on the drawing and sketching skills I've been developing this year and fed my love of photography. The class was scheduled over five weeks and cost $50 (although I enrolled at an early bird price of $40 or $45). The first week focused on journaling about nature. The second week featured photography prompts. The third week was all about sketching, while week four featured a wide variety of art (drawing, doodling, painting, collage, etc.). The focus of the final week was making crafts. If you check out Alisa's blog (here) and scroll back for the last several weeks you can see many examples of the type of projects featured in class.
The class was organized around an invitation only blog with written lessons supplemented by videos. The amount of content varied from week to week - the journaling lesson seemed particularly thin to me, while week four had a HUGE number of ideas and projects. I really like what I produced in weeks 2, 3 and 4. . . I feel like these things extended me in really good ways. Week 5 (craft and decor made with painted leaves, stick and rocks, etc.) was definitely not for me. The videos and lessons were both well done and provided different types of instruction. I like Alisa's teaching style enough that I decided to take another of her classes. Overall, I think the content was quite good, although $50 feels just a little pricey perhaps.
I have two small criticisms of the class. First, the class seemed to lack a sense of community. There were three different places to post your art work and comment on others work: the blog; a flickr site; and a yahoo group. Although this allowed participants to use a forum with which they were familiar, it led to a fragmented feel in my opinion. That said, I did make a few new blog friends (Hi Andy!). The other small issue I had was that Alisa never seemed to visit any of the forums. She certainly never commented on anything. She answered emails, but I'm used to instructors being more involved during the course. When I posted a question about this, people said this was typical. These things were small drawbacks, though, and overall I would give the class a B+.
I'd love to hear what other people thought about the class or other classes taught by Alisa Burke!