No matter how many years you've been out of the classroom, September's first crisp breezes always smell like chalkboards and freshly sharpened No. 2 pencils. Itching for a little fall enrichment? We say skip straight to the electives and get in touch with your inner artist at classes around the city. (Or, sure, just carry around the syllabus and look interesting — we won't tell.)
The Clay Studio
Whether you're an experienced ceramic artist with a storage unit full of flower pots or a total clay newbie, the Clay Studio's fall semester has something for you. Taught by professional local artists, the roster includes wheel throwing, handbuilding, specialized workshops and, for the indecisive, variety pack sampler classes. If you're ambitious, you'll leave with handmade holiday gifts for everyone on your list. If you turn out to be clay-impaired, you'll still get to play in the mud every week. The way we see it, you can't lose.
Fall classes begin Sept. 25; 137-139 N. Second St., www.theclaystudio.org
The Philadelphia Photo Arts Center
Tired of hiding behind Instagram filters? The Philadelphia Photo Arts Center is offering a range of contemporary photography classes this fall, from DSLR 101 (yes, they will show you how to turn it on) to advanced classes in lighting, printing, documentary and portraiture. If you're not quite ready to commit to a class, stop by their Kensington studio for artist lectures, discussions, exhibits and other events that will make you a more interesting dinner party guest. On our radar: Nov. 2's book signing with Jason Fulford, whose "Hotel Oracle" documents people searching for that pesky "something more" while navigating this world's big box stores, dentist appointments and 3 p.m. phone conferences. The $65 ticket will get you an autographed copy of the book and a "joy ride" on the Hotel Oracle shuttle; for $5, you can ride the shuttle and still absorb a considerable amount of joy.
Second semester fall classes begin on Oct. 29; 1400 N. American St., www.philaphotoarts.org
Fleisher Art Memorial
You know what we like better than lifelong learning and engaging with Philadelphia's vibrant arts community? Free stuff. The good people at Fleisher Art Memorial have been offering tuition-free classes in everything from figure drawing to dark-room photography to printmaking for 115 years, as well as low-cost workshops. While you do have to be a member, it's more than affordable at $90 per household or $60 per adult, and memberships include perks such as free admission to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and discounted supplies.
Fall workshops run through Nov. 16, registration for winter term begins Nov. 11; 719 Catharine St., www.fleisher.org