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.
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.
Bridge House Art
Bridge House Art is a small, independent art school and studio established in 1995 by Eleanor White. It offers a rich and varied programme of courses in the visual and creative arts.
Courses: Re-inventing the Familiar, Documenting the Change, Painting the Poetic, Colour, Composition, Design, Expressive drawing with Colour, Experimental Mark Making and Surface Textures, Drawing into 3D.
Tutors: Tembe Gibbs, Eleanor White, Kittie Jones, Rosanna Dyke
Format: Videos and worksheets issued on payment of the course, the estimated time needed to work through all the material is stated in each course description.
Description: Courses are unique to Bridge House Art and teach techniques in expressive painting and drawing. Each course is led by an artist with years of experience in both teaching and making art.
Cost: Varies from free to £150 for a 5 day course.
Our recommendation: Eleanor White’s ‘Painting the Poetic’ absolutely looks worth trying. In the description trailer Eleanor has a friendly and down to earth delivery, and she explains that the course is all about making a triptych that is led by your own personal inspirations. A sure fire way to try something different, and step out of your comfort zone to reinvigorate your art practice.
Etchr Mini Workshops
Known for their range of unique and innovative art products, Etchr have launched an ongoing series of virtual workshops, taught by professional artists from all over the world.
Selected Courses: Shadows and Highlights: Dynamic Paintings in Oil Pastels, Urban Sketching with Soluble Wax Pastels, Simplifying Portraits with Ink and Watercolour, Spontaneous Landscapes in Watercolour, and many more to come!
Tutors: Tutors include Steve Mitchell, Hannah Mosley, Mirka Hokkanen and Kate Voronina.
Format: Each session takes place via Zoom, lasting approximately 90 minutes. A downloadable PDF containing the workshop link and other details will be sent via email after the course has been purchased.
Description: The workshops focus on water-based media such as watercolour, gouache, and ink, and each artist demonstrates their own unique approach. The sessions are interactive, allowing participants to ask questions throughout the workshop. As they are attended all over the world, Etchr give information for what time the workshops will begin in various time zones, which for the UK is usually 5pm GMT.
Cost: $5.50 (£4.15) per Mini-Workshop. Participants will have access to a recording of the workshop 2 days after the live session.
Our recommendation: There are only 300 places for each workshop and many are selling out, so if there’s a course you like the look of we recommend securing your place! Etchr also host live demonstrations which are available to watch for free on their YouTube channel.
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 Heatherley School of Fine Art
Founded in 1845 The Heatherley School of Fine Art is one of the oldest independent art colleges in Britain and is among the few art schools in the UK that focus purely on portraiture, figurative painting, sculpture and printmaking. The college offers both vocational and part-time courses to students aged 18 years and over.
Courses: Drawing from Paintings in London Collections, Mixed Media: Printmaking without a Press, Drawing – Imaginative Figurative Compositions, Observational Drawing
Tutors: Laura Smith, Joletta Thorburn, Carl Randall
Format: A series of weekly sessions from 90 minutes to 3 hours, delivered via Zoom.
Description: Live tutored sessions via Zoom which can be followed at home – you will not need any special facilities to be part of these courses.
Cost: From £110 for 6 x 2 hour sessions.
Our recommendation: At the time of writing, the only available class is Drawing from Paintings in London Collections (November 2020), which, according to the Heatherley’s website, ‘allows you to explore London Collections from home. Each week, we draw from paintings from different London galleries and museums. Examples include: The National Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum and Tate Modern. Beginning with an introduction to the artists and group discussion, you will draw from chosen paintings with guidance from your tutor. This course is open to all levels’.
The Henley School of Art
Henley School of Art are usually a small, well-equipped & welcoming, Art Studio, right in the heart of Henley on Thames. Whilst things are a bit different and whilst the good health of our community is paramount, HSA have decided to take their Art School online.
Courses: Animal life drawing and unguided life drawing sessions.
Format: 2 hour sessions at specific dates/times.
Description: A variety of observational drawing sessions, including with animals! All delivered at set times and dates, via Zoom.
Cost: All sessions are £10
Recommendation: ‘May I recommend the untutored life drawing on line twice weekly. Only £10 a session with models zooming in from around the world. Monday and Thursday 7-9pm. Really excellent’ – Ginger Sherriff
London Fine Art Studios
London Fine Art Studios was founded by Ann Witheridge with the aim of teaching the craft of drawing and painting to a community of dedicated artists. The Studios are based in Battersea and welcome students of all levels, providing a supportive learning environment in which to acquire new skills and a deeper understanding of the figurative tradition.
Courses: A 3-part series of representational art courses, comprising Drawing for Beginners (1), Transitioning to Oils (2) and Advanced Cast Drawing and Painting (3)
Tutors: Michael Gallone, Nneka Uziogwe, Ann Witheridge
Format: Each course consists of 10 units guiding you through 1-3 hours of drawing/painting time, as well as 1-3 individual sessions per week, and interaction with other course participants and individual feedback from your mentor.
Description: Art is a wonderful pursuit, helping people find internal rewards such as happiness and a sense of peace, and external rewards such as artistic recognition and an income.
Whether you are a complete beginner or a seasoned artist, this course will teach you the foundations of representational art.
With a step by step process, London Fine Art Studios will help develop your artistic skills and teach you the essential techniques of drawing and painting, re-instating the importance of tradition within contemporary art education.
This series of three 10-week courses will guide you through the fundamentals of drawing, oil painting and cast drawing.
Each week, you will unlock a new batch of video and practice-based sessions that take you step-by-step through the process of drawing and painting. With Workshop’s unique hands-on method of learning, you’ll be putting pencil to paper from day one with no need to read pages of theory in advance.
For each of the three courses, you will have access to the following through the Workshop app:
- 10 units, unlocked weekly, guiding you through 1-3 hours of drawing/painting time each week
- 1-3 individual sessions per week, totalling a suggested minimum of 3 hours practice
- Expert guidance and one-to-one support from your class mentor
- Collaborative group chat with your own private class and mentor
- Feedback on your artwork from your class and mentor via a private in-app feed of photo uploads
- An assessment to earn your course Certificate of Completion
In addition to the core aspects of the course, you will also get:
- Downloadable theory notes for you to keep
- Access to all video sessions for an additional 6 months after the end of each course
Cost: £350 per course, of £840 for all 3.
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.
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. The 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.
Norfolk Painting School
The Norfolk Painting School have been providing exceptional painting tuition since 2007. The school, lead by artist Martin Kinnear, provides live interactive, online and studio courses for all levels of ambition and experience.
Courses: Studio Talk is a subsciber service which allows you to access weekly demonstrations live from the Norfolk painting studio, and interact with the demonstrator and other subscribers via Facebook live. The new ‘Simply Oils’ channel on Facebook allows you to access the successful Simply Oils class, which guides you through how to get set up with oil painting. A series of videos based on the ‘in person’ class, available to view on Facebook once you have paid the class fee. ‘Masterclass’ videos examine the painting approaches of well known artists, such as Winifred Nicholson, Edward Seago and John Piper.
Tutors: Martin Kinnear, Bryony Reed
Format: Once you have placed your order via the Norfolk Painting School website, you will be able to access the videos you have paid for via their Facebook channel.
Description: Since 2007 Simply Oils has been NPS’s signature studio course for artists wishing to learn oils or transition to them from another medium. They say, ‘As we all need to work and study from home we’ve put together special 120 minute live interactive demonstrations to show you everything you need to start oils the right way, in four easy to join sessions, which you can take in any order to top up your existing skills.
The sessions cover everything from getting the right kit and equipping your studio, through the core classical skills which enable you to exploit the things that only oil does, to professional colour mixing and the best process you can learn for reliably creating professional paintings rather than hoping your work comes together each day.
It’s the complete ‘how to’ from professional oil painters which will save you hours of frustration and ensure you don’t waste money on buying expensive kit you don’t need.
Our fully interactive interactive lectures cover everything you need to know, and unlike a pre recorded video allow you to ask questions to ensure you fully understand the information on offer.
At £50 per session, you get the full tuition of a studio based Simply Oils course (normally £399), meaning you can have the tuition sessions and demonstrations, plus the materials you need from the School shop, for around the cost of Simply Oils Studio Workshop!
Plus your lecture is streamed directly to a dedicated private Simply Oils Facebook site (NPS Simply Oils Channel), so you can watch it on demand for 7 days after your class, and easily take part in our Simply Oils community by sharing your work and checking your understanding with our painting community. It’s a fantastic, and rewarding learning experience’.
Cost: Studio Talk from £2.50 a week on the 1 year plan, Simply Oils from £50.
Review: ‘The Norfolk Painting School is outstanding. Weekly studio sessions, Masterclasses and Simply Oils Channel for learning skills for aspiring and established artists. Martin Kinnear and Bryony Reed are inspiring, generously sharing extensive knowledge and technical skills’. – V.C.
The Renaissance Workshop
The Renaissance Workshop was set up by History and Philosophy graduate Jonathan Long in order to realise his vision of society having a real connection to the cultural roots of Western Civilisation. The Renaissance Workshop is underpinned by a passionate and robust affirmation of Western culture and its remarkable artistic and intellectual legacy. The Renaissance Workshop offers a variety of online content, from 6 week drawing courses to weekly life drawing via Zoom.
Courses: 1 year Old Master Drawing, The Expressive Nude (6 weeks), The principles and process of drawing (6 weeks), Inspiration and Meaning – the history and development of Western Art (6 weeks), plus one-off, 2 hour life drawing classes
Tutor: Jonathan Long
Format: Live teaching via Zoom at fixed times, further information on the Renaissance Workshop website.
Description: The Renaissance was a period of unbound cultural and creative efflorescence in Europe. The artistic legacy of The Renaissance can be interacted with by us and through doing so we can unlock our creative potential. The Renaissance Masters had used a multitude of methods that surprise and shock the students of The Renaissance Workshop. The principles embedded in The Renaissance approach to drawing enable you to draw intuitively and express your own unique vision. This remarkable historical method unlocks your potential.
These courses demystify the process of drawing used by the Old Masters of the Renaissance, especially in Renaissance Florence. Embark on a journey with The Renaissance Workshop and find out how Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Andrea del Verrocchio and Jacopo Carucci da Pontormo used the principles, techniques and process of drawing to affirm their vision.
Cost: £6.99 for a 2 hour life drawing session, £199 for a 6 week course, £1200 for 1 full academic year.
Our recommendation: Some of the UK’s best loved life models pose in The Renaissance Workshop’s 2 hour life drawing classes, which at £6.99 are a fraction of the cost of a regular life drawing class, with the ability to take part in the comfort of your own home.
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.’
St Ives School of Painting
Established in 1938, the St Ives School of Painting is still in the same studios where Leonard Fuller taught their very first drawing course.
Courses: The Luminous Landscape, Saturday Life Live – Inspired by Toulouse-Lautrec, Getting Started with Oil Painting, Saturday Life live – Inpisred by Jenny Saville, Sketch into Painting: From Near to Far & Back Again, Winifred Nicholson + the Window
Tutors: Amy Albright, Hilary Jean Gibson, Greg Humphries, Tom Rickman, Alice Mumford
Format: All via Zoom, from 1 hour webinars to short workshops with a small group, to longer courses spanning several weeks.
Description: Currently there are 6 online courses available to book although the website says that St Ives is hoping to expand their programme. The courses are well planned out and you will have access to the course content for 8 weeks after completing each course, as well as valuable individual feedback from the tutor.
Cost: Life classes are £10, 4 day courses start at £225
Recommendation: ‘I’ve been taking online courses and webinars from St Ives School of Painting, and highly recommend it’. – R.M.
Sky Arts Portrait Artist of The Week
At the time of writing we are into a second season of Portrait Artist of the Week. On Sundays visit the Sky Arts page on Facebook and watch a previous contestant of Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year paint a well known sitter. The process is both entertaining as you listen to the artist-sitter dialogue, as well as a fantastic opportunity to paint or draw along and submit your work to be considered by the expert judges, Tai Shan Schierenberg, Kate Bryan and Kathleen Soriano.
Format: on Facebook line on Sundays from 10am, but the broadcast is then recorded and available to view throughout the week.
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.’