Virtual Art Academy

Online Painting Classes

A University Experience℠

Add Structure To Your Learning

Fill in the gaps in your knowledge with a structured and comprehensive Apprentice Program. Use my 9 skill Building Blocks℠ to master one simple step at a time. Learn more about the Apprentice Program Curriculum.

From Award Winning Artist, Barry John Raybould

Alumni Work

Many of my students have won awards, found galleries to represent their work, been elected as members of art societies, and become full time professional artists. 


Many members have now been with me for over 8 years, taking advantage of my Spiral of Learning℠ approach—a unique way of helping you continually strengthen your foundational skills, and improve the quality of your paintings.

Why Our Online Painting Classes Are Different

Many of our students after extensive search for online painting classes and online oil painting classes, chose our Online Art School for three reasons: Structure - Comprehensiveness - Professionalism.

No other online oil painting classes for adults gets better student reviews.

1. Structured

The Virtual Art Academy Online Art School

The Virtual Art Academy® online painting classes contain 192 painting lessons broken down into 16 workshops, and 350 focused assignments.

At our Online Art School you will systematically learn to paint in oils, acrylics or watercolors, one step at a time, and see your paintings steadily improve.

Our Structured Learning Experiences℠ give you the same training you would get if you took online oil painting classes at a prestigious Art School or traditional Art Academy. But with the added convenience that you can learn to paint at your own pace, and in the comfort of your own home.

In addition you get to learn from a top award-winning professional artist whose work is internationally known, rather than an educator or amateur artist. So you know you are getting quality instruction.

It is a real course that trains you in a structured way

The questions you ask yourself are,”Will it be worth the cost?” and “Will it be truly useful?”. After a couple of weeks working on/in Virtual Art Academy®, I can say

Jon Main

2. Comprehensive Curriculum

eLibrary for Online Painting Classes

The reading information that is the basis of the Virtual Art Academy® online painting classes is the result of a fifteen-year research project by professional artist Barry John Raybould. It contains information on how to paint you will not find anywhere else—all organized into our unique nine painting Skill Building Blocks℠.

Our comprehensive curriculum of oil painting classes is equally suitable if you are working in watercolor, acrylics, or any other painting media.

As a result, by joining the Virtual Art Academy, you will save yourself months of wasted time searching YouTube videos, blogs, art books, and tutorials for quality information on how to paint.

The most comprehensive, in depth and well-organized painting course available online

After a thorough research, my personal conclusion is that the Virtual Art Academy (VAA) is, by wide margin, the most comprehensive, in depth and well-organized painting course available in the

Bruno Villela

3. Knowledge You Can Trust

The Virtual Art Academy® online oil and watercolor painting classes were entirely authored by a successful professional artist, Barry John Raybould, MA Cantab with a long list of exhibitions, galleries, and top awards to his name.

Uniquely our Online Art School provides advanced online painting classes and lessons for professionals as well as beginners to raise your art to the level of museum quality. All students will take our Visual Music & Poetry℠ course for critiquing art to help you understand painting in a fascinating and unique way.

When learning how to paint you need to avoid getting into bad habits that will eventually slow down your progress. In our online painting classes you will learn the best working practices right from the start.

award winning online oil painting classes

Barry John Raybould, author of the Virtual Art Academy online painting classes has won many top awards for his art, as well as having his work exhibited in major exhibitions worldwide. See his bio here.

Author of online painting classes, Barry John Raybould

Learn More About Our Story

I started learning oil painting with VAA from scratch. Just one year later my paintings started to sell

The Virtual Art Academy program is really comprehensive and gave me all the information and directives to learn painting in one package. The material is very well organized, just beautiful

Thomas Ruckstuhl

What Medium Can I Use?

In our online art school and painting classes, you can use any medium you like to complete your online painting course. This is because at the Virtual Art Academy you will learn the important underlying principles of painting that are the foundation of all great artworks.

Other painting classes and courses teach you specific techniques for how to paint a tree or how paint clouds or rocks. But you will only be able to copy the style of the teacher.

oil, watercolor, or acrylic painting medium

With the painting lessons in our online art school, you will be able to paint any subject in any medium, using any style you choose. As a result, your creative possibilities will be endless!

Here are some different painting media and techniques you can use in our Online Art School.

You can change the medium you use at any time. Or if you like, simply stay with one medium throughout the online painting course.

Oil Painting Techniques

online oil painting classes

If you are looking for an online oil painting course you will find no other as comprehensive. Here are just a few examples of the oil painting techniques we cover in our online oil painting classes.

All the course content applies equally well if you want to learn how to paint in acrylics: see acrylic painting techniques.

Watercolor Painting Techniques

Watercolor Painting Techniques

If you are looking for an online watercolor painting course you will find all the important watercolor painting techniques covered in our introductory online painting classes.

The Virtual Art Academy® Foundation Program: An Online Art School for Beginner Painters

Our Foundation Program is a Virtual Art Class for absolute beginners. If you have no experience at all in painting, and want to see if you like it, this program will give you the very basic drawing and painting skills you need to get you started in painting. Expect to take about one or two months to do the program.

structured painting classes for beginners

When you have finished the virtual art classes in our Foundation Program, you can then join our structured 4-year Virtual Art Academy® Apprentice Program. You have complete flexibility to follow a 3/612/24/48 month program according to how far you want to take your art. When you have finished the beginner topics, simply move on to the more advanced parts of the program. Our online art school works on a simple monthly membership fee so you are not committed to study for any fixed time period and can stop your membership at any time.

In our early workshops you will learn these essential skills:

  • the essentials of notan – the underlying design structure behind all master-works.
  • all about values and how to see them accurately – an important prerequisite for achieving realism in your work.
  • the essentials of color and how to break it down into the three simpler choices of value, saturation, and hue – a critical skill for getting color harmony in your work.
structured painting classes for beginners

You will also learn:

  • how to develop an underlying concept for your painting that will make your work stand out from the rest.
  • the most important compositional skill you will ever learn, space division.
  • how to control saturation – a key skill for advanced color harmony.
  • best practices for doing color studies outdoors – the essential process used by the great colorists such as Joaquin Sorolla and the basis of Impressionism.

The Apprentice Program: An Online Art School for Intermediate And Professional Painters

online painting classes for intermediate artists
online painting classes for advanced artists

The Virtual Art Academy online art school provides the best online painting classes and virtual art classes for adults who want to build a solid foundation for their art in a structured way. You may be wanting to start a new career in art. Or you could be taking up art as a serious hobby on which you intend to spend a lot of time.

Our Apprentice Program virtual art classes contains all the information you would get if you attended a four-year program at a prestigious Art Academy or University, divided into 16 convenient workshops.

This has the advantage that you can work on each workshop in your own home and at your own pace. There is no time pressure to finish the workshop within a certain time frame. You can take as long as you like.

Our online painting classes contain comprehensive information for all levels. For beginners, for more experienced painters, and for professional artists who are already selling their work in galleries.

If you sign up for the Apprentice Program, you will also get the Foundation Program for beginner artists included with your membership.

If you don't want to waste your time, the best online painting classes are those built by professional artists. Although more expensive, lessons created by working professional artists will help you learn faster and ultimately get more out of your hobby. Barry John Raybould is a successful contemporary professional artist who has exhibited his work all around the world, been featured in many museums shows, and won many top awards. With our Online Art School you can guarantee you are getting a top quality education.

If you choose a course built by amateur painters (even if they market themselves as professionals), you will likely pick up bad habits that will ultimately slow you down and hinder your progress.

Remember you are investing in skills and knowledge that you will enjoy for the rest of your life. Choose wisely and invest in the best knowledge you can find.

In our online art school you will learn :

  • the skills you need to create incredibly beautiful color harmonies in your work.
  • how to create exciting compositions.
  • how to use expressive brushwork to bring your painting alive.
  • how to build your observations skills in drawing, form, and color to make your work look realistic.
  • how to create an underlying abstract design that will make your work stand out in a gallery.
  • how give your painting meaning as well as design to take it to museum level quality, and much more.

An Online Art School For Plein Air Painters

The Virtual Art Academy® Apprentice Program also is perfect for Plein Air Painters. Here you will get a solid grounding in the fundamentals that will take your plein air work to a new level. Barry John Raybould, author of the course is an accomplished plein air painter, and won many top awards in plein air painting competitions. In this online art school, Barry shares with you all of his secrets to success. Nothing is held back.

If you are interested in plein air painting, see also our 2021 Guide to Pochade Boxes and 2021 Guide to Plein Air Easels.

The Online Art School Campus

All registered members of our online art school get access to our members-only Online Campus. We have a wonderful group of students from all over the world that you will get to meet so that you will not be alone on your art journey, no matter how remote a place you live in. You will also get to participate in our unique Ladder Of Learning℠ courses which ensure you get feedback on your work at a higher level than you can get anywhere else on the internet.

Our online art school students tell us the encouragement and feedback from an enthusiastic and friendly community of like-minded artists will motivate you and help you learn faster. As a bonus, you can make wonderful friendships worldwide.

Need More Information On Our Online Art School and Virtual Art Classes?

Sign up for our Prospectus and Information Guides.

What Do Our Students Say?

You can read here why our students rate the Virtual Art Academy the best online painting classes they have found on the web.

See all reviews of the Virtual Art Academy


How can I teach myself to paint online?

The Apprentice Program Painting Classes Skill Building Blocks

Step One: Make a Plan
You need to have a clear plan for what you want to learn. Then set aside the time to achieve your plan.

Step Two: Build Your Foundation
You can't do something as complicated as paint a good painting unless you have a core set of foundational skills. There are nine Building Blocks of skills that you need to master to paint well.

Step Three: Find Your Instructor
The majority of master painters throughout history studied with the famous master artists of their time. There were very few self (amateur) taught great masters. So find a working professional artist whose work you like, and if you can't learn in person, take online painting classes from that artist.

What is the best online drawing course?

What is the best online drawing course

There are only two skills you need to learn in order to be able to draw reasonably well. These skills are important to learn because you can only paint as well as you can draw. The two drawing techniques you need to learn are the angular transfer technique and the triangulation technique. Here is a free online drawing video that covers these two skills.