Virtual Art Academy

Online Painting Classes

A University Experience℠

Community-Based Learning

Structured & Comprehensive Online Painting Classes For Adults

…brought to you by an award winning artist

Structured Community-Based Learning

The Virtual Art Academy is a vibrant community of painters, from absolute beginners to more experienced artists, that are working together on a structured program to improve our painting skills. The two key advantages of the Virtual Art Academy program are:

    When you join the Virtual Art Academy, you become part of a vibrant and friendly community of learners from all over the globe to help motivate you to learn to paint better. Our unique community software integrates discussion forums, reading materials, online painting lessons, and learning assignments, into a unique structure that guarantees you are all working from the same high quality knowledge base.
    The comprehensive program covers all the material you would get at a top Art Academy, and is based 9 key skill Building Blocks℠ (authored by Barry John Raybould) which include all of the information you need to paint well.

    If you are a Beginner Painter, you can take advantage of the highly structured Apprentice Program of Online Painting Classes to master one simple step at a time.

    If you are a more Experienced Painter, you can fill in the gaps in your art education that are holding you back from improving your painting.

    With my flexible self-study structure, you can systematically follow the program of workshops in your own time, and at your own pace. There are no fixed schedules to follow.

Make Art, Not Just Paintings

My online art school is not just about learning how to paint— it is about learning how to create art, using my unique Visual Music & Poetry® approach.

How It Works

Instead of committing to US$80,000-US$120,000 to go to a traditional art school or art academy for four years, you just pay a simple monthly fee to become part of our community. There are no commitments. You can cancel your membership at any time, and owe nothing more. You have absolutely nothing to lose by giving it a try for a month, to see if you like it. Read The Student Reviews.

Each week you get a new lesson from the Virtual Art Academy Apprentice Program Curriculum. I have included everything single item of knowledge I learned over my 30+ years of professional painting into the program, so you will never run out of new things to learn. Students tell me this is the most comprehensive knowledge base on painting they have found anywhere. You will never need to buy another art book!


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

Read all the Reviews

Professional Online Painting Classes For Adults From Award Winning Artist, Barry John Raybould

Very few (if any) professional artists have documented everything they learned into a comprehensive self-study format like this (the whole program contains over 1500 pages of reference material). In fact, the majority of online painting courses you will find on the internet are not created by full-time professional artists (check for yourself by looking for a professional website dedicated to selling their own work).

My virtual painting classes and courses capture all of the knowledge and skills that I have acquired over a period of 30 years on my journey to becoming a professional artist. You can see details of my awards, juried exhibitions, solo and group shows, and gallery representation on my fine art website

Why is this important.

  • If you learn from a professional full-time artist, you get a higher quality education, that ensures you will not get into bad painting habits that will hamper your progress in the future.
  • You need to study the key principles of art, and not follow a step-by-step procedures that, at best, can only turn you into a clone of your teacher. If you only learn by watching demos, you will only ever be able to make a copy of a particular instructor's painting, and will never acquire the skills to tackle any subject you want.

Here are just some examples of my own artwork.

Alumni Work

These online painting courses are principle-based, with the result that the Virtual Art Academy lets you to express your own style and creativity—as you can see from the wide variety of our alumni work below.

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. 

Choose Your Own Painting Style

At the Virtual Art Academy you will learn the important underlying principles of painting that are the foundation of all great artworks. 

This means that you will be able to find your own artistic voice and paint any subject matter that moves you, and in any style, realistic, impressionistic, expressionistic, or abstract.

Moody Evening Garrapata Big Sur, by Barry John Raybould, 16in x 20in, Oil on Canvas, 2016
Moody Evening Garrapata Big Sur, by Barry John Raybould, 16in x 20in, Oil on Canvas, 2016

Motivation And Support From A Vibrant Worldwide Community

A key part of my virtual painting classes are the assignment discussion areas where you can share your work and interact with students from all over the world, providing both motivation and feedback.  

Shall We Go Inside, by Barry John Raybould, 61cm x 61cm, Oil on Canvas, 2017
Shall We Go Inside, by Barry John Raybould, 61cm x 61cm, Oil on Canvas, 2017

Suitable For Absolute Beginners

The program includes online painting classes for absolute beginner painters. These painting lessons will give you all the basic painting and drawing skills you need to get you started.

Zoucheng Girl, by Barry John Raybould, 20in x 16in, Oil on Linen, 2010
Zoucheng Girl, by Barry John Raybould, 20in x 16in, Oil on Linen, 2010

Online Painting Classes That Will Take Your Work As Far As You Want To Go

Building Blocks Of The Structured Online Painting Classes

I have built a structured curriculum called the Virtual Art Academy® Apprentice Program. This structured program of online painting classes covers all the skills you need to paint well. Read more about the curriculum here.

After completing the lessons and assignments in these online painting classes, you will have the skills to create exciting compositions, incredibly beautiful color harmonies, and expressive brushwork that will bring your painting alive. In addition you will be able to give your painting a meaning, as well as a strong design, that will take it to professional and museum-level quality.

Insights Into A Professional Artist's Life 

Approximately each month, for my Spiral of Learning students, I run a special live online painting class via Zoom, based on actual art projects I am currently working on myself, as well as my own museum visits, to give you a deeper appreciation of art at a professional level — this way you get an inside peek into the life of a professional artist. 

Beijing Still Life, by Barry John Raybould, 15.5cm x 15.5cm, Oil on Linen, 2017
Beijing Still Life, by Barry John Raybould, 15.5cm x 15.5cm, Oil on Linen, 2017

Multiple Paths Give You Flexibility And Choice In Your Learning

The Virtual Art Academy online painting course is organized in such a way as to give you a choice of how you learn. You can follow a structured path and follow online painting classes sequentially on your own. Alternatively, you can work on one of the Building Blocks at a time, in a group, with the other students via the weekly community lesson.

First Light Over St. Marks Venice, by Barry John Raybould, 8in x 10in, Oil on Linen, 2009
First Light Over St. Marks Venice, by Barry John Raybould, 8in x 10in, Oil on Linen, 2009

Choose Whichever Painting Medium You Want

  • Online Oil Painting Classes
  • Online Watercolor Painting Classes
  • Online Acrylic Painting Classes

Since you are learning the important underlying principles of painting that are the foundation of all great artworks, my online painting classes work for all painting mediums. In my Virtual Art Academy online art school, I have integrated oil painting, acrylic painting, and watercolor painting classes, all into a single teaching system. You can also use other painting media such as gouache, pastel, mixed media, colored crayons, as well as digital painting tools.  The choice is yours.

Setting The Expectation

Do not expect this build up of skills to happen quickly. It takes time and effort to get to be a good painter. You have to put some work in. In these virtual art classes I am not offering any quick fixes. It is essential, if you want to paint well, that you systematically build up your foundational skills—that is what I designed this program for.

Many artists who have participated in my online paintings classes have said that they have seen significant improvements after just a few months. To get to a really high level though takes at least a year or two, and to reach a professional level you will need at least four years. The beauty of this program is that (a) it is structured, so the longer you work on the curriculum, the better you will get, and (b) it is very comprehensive, so you can go all the way from absolute beginner to top professional level in just one program.

Subscription Based Membership

With the Virtual Art Academy online painting classes, you pay on a monthly basis to access my virtual painting classes. You do not have to commit to taking the whole of the program of online painting classes up-front. You can stop your monthly payment at any time, and you will not owe anything. You need to have an active subscription in order to access the lessons.

The goal of these virtual art classes, is to provide you with a lifetime of learning opportunities at an affordable cost so that your painting will continue to improve to a professional level. Many members have been with my Virtual Art Academy for over a decade because they say they learn something new every day. The reason for this is that the knowledge base is very deep and comprehensive, and it is continually growing — everything I learn personally as part of my own artistic growth as a professional artist, I share with you. 

... and as a bonus, you can make wonderful friendships with our worldwide community of dedicated artists.

Frequently Asked Questions

Online Painting Classes For Beginners?

Are these online painting classes for beginners?

My Apprentice Program includes a special set of self-study virtual art classes that are designed just for absolute beginners who have never painted before. You will get all the basics here of learning to paint, and perhaps more importantly, a friendly community of other artists to give you support and encouragement whenever you need it.

Online Painting Classes for Adults.

Are These Online Painting Classes Suitable For Someone Who Wants To Pursue Painting As Just A Hobby? 

My Virtual Art Academy online painting classes are designed for adults who want to build a solid foundation for their art in a structured way. Even if art is just a hobby, by taking a structured approach to your learning you will get much more out of your hobby.

Are These Online Painting Classes Suitable For Experienced Or Professional Painters?

These online painting classes contain comprehensive information for all levels. Experienced painters will be able to take their work to a higher or a professional level using the more advanced information in each Building Block. 

Will I Have To Commit For The Entire Program?

Absolutely not. You can just join for a month and see how you like our online painting lessons. If it doesn’t work out for you you simply cancel your subscription and your monthly payments will stop.

How Much Time Commitment Is Required? 

There is no required time commitment. You can do the course at times that are suitable for you. Some students work on it just on the weekends, some work on it full time. The program is very flexible, and you can go as fast or as slow as you like.

What if I Don't Have Much Time?

I have built a 10 minute-a-day learning system. My Virtual Art Academy has an app for your phone or tablet that you can use on-the-go for those of you who are busy, and who don't have much time. Using this app, you can browse through postings in any of the 9 Building Blocks, and look at how the masters have solved a particular painting problem in that area.

This will build up your knowledge of painting and enhance your ability to understand master paintings on a daily basis. This means that when you finally have more time available to paint, you will be much better prepared. Think of it as your daily 10-minute virtual painting class.

How Long Does It Take To Complete The Apprentice Program?

The amount of information in the whole program is equivalent to a four-year university program. You complete approximately one lesson per week, for a total of 192 weeks. In addition, if you have a Spiral of Learning℠ membership, you get access to my more advanced Spiral of Learning℠ lectures to help you keep improving your paintings and understanding of art all the way to professional level.

Will I Get Feedback On My Assignments?

I designed the system as a self-study community program in order to keep the monthly cost low.

This keeps the cost considerably below the US$80,000-US$120,000 you would pay for a four-year program of instruction at a traditional art university.

However, I built into the system many special features to encourage a quality peer-to-peer feedback system.

First of all, I broke down the learning into small manageable chunks - in fact my online painting classes contain 350 of them in total. Each of these chunks is a small and easily manageable assignment that will help you improve your painting, one small step at a time. This makes learning fun and satisfying, since each step is easily managed.

Secondly, you can submit your assignments to the Online Campus where you can discuss it with other students and get feedback. In my experience, those members who engage with our community get a lot out of it, and learn faster.

Thirdly, I have also built into the system a place where you can read specially featured previous discussions on the assignments. These discussions will give you guidance for doing your own assignments. In this way you can build up your own experiences by learning from the previous efforts of other students, once again accelerating your learning.

All of these features are unique to the Virtual Art Academy, and according to what many of my students have told me, you will not find anything like the quality and comprehensiveness of this program anywhere else, unless you were to attend a full time university art program.

Do I Have To Post My Assignments To The Online Campus?

It is not necessary to post your assignments to the Online Campus. You can choose to work on your own if you wish. The system is completely flexible in this regard.

Are Drawing Classes Included In This Program?

Yes they are. In fact I can teach you how to draw quite well, in just about one week. That's all it takes if you follow my method. The method is covered in detail in the Apprentice Program.

Drawing is important to learn because you can only paint as well as you can draw. In the Apprentice Program you will learn the two most important drawing techniques, angular transfer and triangulation. You will learn techniques of line and mass gesture drawing, contour drawing, measurement techniques, as well as, many lessons on perspective and vanishing points. 

Are These Online Painting Classes Suitable For Plein Air Painting?

All the online painting classes are perfect for plein air painters. In fact, much of my own work is done plein air. Important topics in plein air painting are covered in the Apprentice Program, including the Alla Prima painting process, how to match colors in nature, and how to give your paintings depth using atmospheric perspective. 

What is the value of the information in the Virtual Art Academy online painting classes?

Over a period of thirty years, I have personally invested over $40,000 on my own art education. To this day I still continue to invest in acquiring even more advanced information. A good traditional art academy will cost upwards of $80,000 - $120,000 for a four year program. My vision with the Virtual Art Academy was to be able to share all of his information with you. In this way you get the same high quality art education, but at a fraction of the cost, and as a bonus, in a much more structured form. 

Our students have usually done a thorough search for online painting classes. They consistently tell us they have found no other online painting course as comprehensive or as high quality as the Virtual Art Academy program. You can see what our students say about the online painting classes on our student review page.

How does the Virtual Art Academy online painting course compare with attending a one-week workshop with a professional artist?

The Virtual Art Academy four year Apprentice Program has been divided into 16 workshops. Each workshop was designed to contain about the same amount of information that you would get if you attended an intensive 7-14 day workshop with a top professional artist. A single workshop with a top professional artist would cost you $3000 for just one week, including the cost of airfare, lodging, and tuition.

For the same price, with the Virtual Art Academy, you will get far more information for your money. The Apprentice Program is a highly cost-effective way of acquiring a lot of information that can take you all the way from an absolute beginner to a professional level. Plus you get the added benefit that you can fit your workshops into your own schedule. You have complete control over when you do the lessons and how long you take to do them.

How do the Virtual Art Academy® online painting classes compare with attending a four-year program at prestigious art school?

The Virtual Art Academy provides a much broader curriculum than you would get at a traditional art school or classical realism atelier. You will learn not only the skills of the traditional classical realism curriculum that were taught in the French academies, but also modern impressionist color techniques and the principles of modern art and design. This means you are not forced into painting in just one style. You will get the skills to follow your own creativity and path and paint in any style you prefer. (See: tips on choosing oil painting classes)

If you still have questions then feel free to Contact Me.