While we stay home in order to help flatten the curve of the Coronavirus pandemic, many fantastic resources have appeared online, to help us keep engaged with our practice and feel connected to others. Originally published at the beginning of the first UK-wide lockdown in March 2020, this post has now been updated with details of the most reputable online painting and drawing classes currently available. If you have suggestions of other resources that should be mentioned here please do submit them by making a comment at the end of the article.
Hampstead School of Art
Founded in 1946 under the patronage of Sir Henry Moore, Hampstead School of Art is a practitioners’ art school teaching essential practical skills that form the foundation of a career in the visual arts.
Courses: Portrait Painting Techniques, Painting from the Kitchen Table, Drawing and Painting, 1-1 Personal Mentoring, Watercolour, Chinese Brush Painting, Life drawing, Drawing and Contemporary Practice
Tutors: Desmond Healy, Jack Ford, Dolph van Eden, Mick Kirkbride, Xiaolan Gu
Format: Weekly 2 or 3 hour live sessions via Zoom
Description: HSoA Virtual will provide opportunities to continue to develop your talent and art making skills in your own home. Enjoy a live studio class experience with tuition and personal feedback while connecting with friends and sharing experiences. There are 3 ways to join in. Studio + Online Live allows you to participate and interact with live, studio-based 3-hour, weekly classes over 6 weeks. Join your class from home and interact with your tutor and colleagues, receiving tuition and personal feedback. Virtual Studio Live shares an interactive online art learning experience in your own home, with weekly classes over 6 weeks. The Virtual Studio offers an intimate, open studio approach with tutor engagement & mentoring. Finally Paint-along Live is an opportunity to paint–along or observe techniques from leading artists and educators in a 2 hour virtual session with intermittent Q&A. Single classes are available or join in over the whole 6 week programme.
Cost: from £20 per session
Our recommendation: Look out for the series of portrait painting sessions throughout November with Jack Ford (Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year participant).
The New School of Art
The New School of Art is an independent art school offering courses at The Rag Factory in London and in various venues in Sussex. Their courses celebrate excellence in figurative & abstract contemporary painting and drawing.
Courses: Portrait demonstrations in oils
Tutors: Andrew James, Tim Benson
Format: Pre-recorded video demonstrations, either 2, 3.5 or 4 hours in length.
Description: Andrew James and Tim Benson are two of the most well respected portrait painters and teachers of figurative painting working today. Thew New School of Art’s exclusive painting demonstrations by these esteemed artists offer a glimpse into their working practices.
Cost: £40 per demonstration.
Our recommendation: Both artists are fascinating to watch as they work and are excellent in offering insight into how they deal with issues such as colour, light and perspective.
The Royal Drawing School
The Royal Drawing School runs over 250 different full and part-time drawing courses each year for adults and children of all ages and abilities. Alongside their public courses they offer an MA-level postgraduate programme in drawing, a fine art foundation course, fully-funded international artists’ residencies and places on a Young Artists programme for 10-18 year-olds with an aptitude for drawing. Their courses are taught by a specialist faculty of over 75 practising artists, and they are committed to the continued training of future teachers of drawing. All RDS courses are heavily subsidised, with a wide range of scholarships, bursaries and concessions making them accessible to all, regardless of background or circumstance.
Selected Courses: Drawing a Head, Drawing Space (Interior and Exterior), Drawing from the National Gallery, The Studio Room in Colour, Where Drawing Meets Words, Drawing: Composition and Colour 2, Drawing from the V&A, The Drawn Print, Mindfulness and Drawing, Printmaking at Home: Woodcut, Lino and Monotype, Drawing a Story, World Imagery: Drawing from Life, Portraits and Self Portraits, Printmaking without a Press, Immersive Narratives.
Tutors: Ian Rowlandsm Sharon Brindle, Jeanette Barnes, Martin Shortis, Ann Dowker, Mark Cazalet, Andy Pankhurst, Sophie Charalambous, Sophie Herxheimer, Emily Haworth Booth, Harry Parker, Will Topley, Nicola Durvasula, Sam Marshall, Perienne Christian, Mathew Cunningham, Ethan Pollock, Helen Burgess, Jake Garfield, Thomas Newbolt, Constanza Dessain, Richard Ayodeji Ikhide, Aude Herail Jager, Dilip Sur, Harriet Miller, Rebecca Harper, Melissa Kime, Maggie Jennings, Susan Wilson, Robert Dukes, Marcus Cornish, Christabel MacGreevy, Leon Pozniakow
Format: 5 – 10 week courses, sessions are either full day (10am – 5pm) or 3 hours long at a fixed weekly slot.
Description: A whole array of Drawing focussed courses that range from observational drawing to drawing from imagination, illustration and portraiture.
Cost: from £195 for 5 sessions
Our recommendation: We particularly love the sound of Winter and Watercolour: Immersive Narratives. The description reads, ‘ We will draw inspiration from Winter, being the night-time of seasons, as darkness grows and the cold surrounds us, we are compelled to light the fire, presented with the opportunity to, come and sit together, sharing our stories in the warmth. This course is designed to develop your drawing into painting through narrative and storytelling, combining observation with imagination, thus providing a place for the inventions of the mind to take hold and expand the possibilities of image making. Making work as a catalyst from films such as ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,’ ‘Somersault’ by Cate Shortland, Hans Christen Anderson’s fairy tale ’Snow Queen’, and Carol Anne Duffy’s Christmas poetry amongst other literature; all with an emphasis materially on developing your drawings into a more painterly approach throughout the week utilising water-based mediums. We suggest watercolour but are inclusive of inks, gouache, acrylics and all fast-drying water-based paints as we are open and experimental in approach. Each day students may choose to create their own environment or still-life to work from, collecting relevant imagery or props, using themselves or those at home as models, or drawing from memory. Guided by the tutor, students will combine this with a poem or narrative to depict a moment in an ongoing story or as a sequence of events unfolding over time, from the nostalgic and the sublime, to the mysterious. Students will be encouraged with personal development inclusive of all abilities.’
The Art Academy
Art Academy London is a young and innovative art school, offering courses that are designed and delivered by expert, practising artists. It was founded in 2000 to offer something different: the best of an old-school atelier combined with the vibrancy and diversity of a contemporary art school.
Courses: Art History (Early European Modernism), Design a Children’s Picture Book, Fundamentals of Oil Painting, Fundamentals of Portrait Painting, 1-1 tutorials
Tutors: Daniel Greaney, Rachael Ball, Lucy Smallbone, Annabel MacIver, Kate Dunn, Benat Olaberria, Carl Randall, Eigil Nordstrom, Gail Seres-Woolfson, Jackie Smith, Jessica Wetherly, Lynne Abrahamson, Natasha Lien, Nevine Fathy, Nicholas McLeod, Zoe Toolan
Format: varies from 30 mins – 2.5 hours depending on the course.
Description: A range of online course all of which are taught by Art Academy expert tutors who are specialists in their respected fields. Art Academy Online Tutorials are designed to give students remote access to feedback and discussions about their work and advice on how to improve techniques and develop their skills. Tutors will be able to supply students with exercises and tasks they can then complete in their own time.
Each tutorial slot will last either 30 or 60 minutes, during which your tutor will talk to you remotely via Zoom. You can use this time to discuss through any ideas surrounding your artistic practice and how to develop your work. Once your session is booked the Academy will be in contact with you about the different options available to get in contact with the tutor.
Cost: £30 – 275 depending on the course
Our recommendation: The online tutorials are a unique opportunity to get some external feedback on your current practice, something that is often overlooked if you are used to working in isolation.
The Museum of Modern Art New York is one of the biggest galleries for contemporary and modern art in the world.
Course: In the Studio: Postwar Abstract Painting
Tutor: Corey D’Augustine
Format: 26 hours of tuition to be viewed in your own time.
Description: Want to know how some of the 20th century’s most celebrated artists made abstract paintings? This course from MOMA offers an in-depth, hands-on look at the materials, techniques, and thinking of seven New York School artists, including Willem de Kooning, Yayoi Kusama, Agnes Martin, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, Ad Reinhardt, and Mark Rothko. Through studio demonstrations and gallery walk-throughs, you’ll form a deeper understanding of what a studio practice means and how ideas develop from close looking, and you’ll gain a sensitivity to the physical qualities of paint. Readings and other resources will round out your understanding, providing broader cultural, intellectual, and historical context about the decades after World War II, when these artists were active.
The works of art you will explore in this course may also serve as points of departure to make your own abstract paintings. You may choose to participate in the studio exercises, for which you are invited to post images of your own paintings to the discussion boards, or you may choose to complete the course through its quizzes and written assessments only. Learners who wish to participate in the optional studio exercises may need to purchase art supplies. A list of suggested materials is included in the first module.
Cost: The course is available for free, or for $37 if you wish to receive a certificate on completion.
Sotheby’s Institute of Art
Sotheby’s Institute of Art offers educational programs for professionals, pre-college audiences, and graduate students seeking expertise in art business and an understanding of the $60 billion global art economy. Our course offerings cover everything from art history to key business skills from our campuses located in the world’s art capitals of London and New York, as well as online.
Selected courses: Presenting yourself in the Art World, Pursuing a Career in the Art World: Pathways and Opportunities, Building an Art Business, The Power of the Arts: Chronicler, Convener, Activist, Careers in the Art World: A Practical Guide, Curating, Museum and Galleries
Tutors: Renee Pfister, Dr. Amy Mechowski, Leo Crane among other industry experts.
Format: Varies from 1 hour sessions to fixed weekly sessions for 4 – 12 weeks.
Description: Gain valuable insights, dive deeper into a subject, or discover something entirely new. From one-hour live video lectures to 12-week in-depth explorations, Sotheby’s online courses are ideal for building your understanding of the contemporary art world, and how to look at art as a business, taught by the people who really know.
Cost: from £45 for 1 hour to £6550 for 12 weeks
Our recommendation: ‘The Power of the Arts: Chronicler, Covener Activist – The arts shape history. As the world adjusts to COVID and political shockwaves like the US election and Brexit, artists are stepping up their game. In this one-hour live conversation led by Leo Crane, guest speaker Alvin Hall will reflect on art as activism and how artists today are using their creative process to challenge established power structures and reshape our society’.
University of the Arts London
University of the Arts London is a collegiate university in London, England, specialising in arts, design, fashion and the performing arts.
Selected Courses: Introduction to Illustration, Intro to Modern Art History, Contemporary Drawing and Painting, History of Art, 100 Drawing Projects, Portrait Drawing and Painting, Watercolour for Beginners, Contemporary Oil Painting
Tutors: Roger Gill, Rod Judkins, Leni Kauffman, Guy Noble, Bettina Reiber, David Price
Format: Most are week long, full time courses (10am – 4pm) on fixed dates.
Description: UAL online short courses are designed to help creative people master new challenges, develop their skills, get inspired by new ideas and access the UAL learning experience wherever they are. Courses are taught in a “live studio” format, where you can chat and get real time feedback from our expert tutors and interact with other like-minded creatives.
All online courses include personal feedback on your work and a certificate upon completion.
Cost: £580 for 1 week intensive or £360 for 4 sessions spread over 4 weeks.
Our recommendation: ‘Contemporary Drawing and Painting – This short course is ideal if you want to achieve real progress in your paintings, and invest in yourself to learn new techniques and develop your own individual art style. It is also ideal if you are looking to create new compositions and to help find your response to contemporary life. This course is taught by weekly online sessions with dedicated projects each week.’