Virtual Art Academy

About Barry And The Virtual Art Academy

Barry John Raybould, creator of the Virtual Art Academy
Barry John Raybould

Before the Virtual Art Academy

Although I have been painting on and off since I was quite young, it wasn’t until the late 90’s that I finally made the move and decided to make a full time career of art. 

This was a major life change from my previous career in Engineering, computers, and latterly, in research into how people learn. So, even though I had had some instruction in my 20’s in the landscape painting methods of John Constable, I had to effectively start from the basics.

The learning process was very difficult, and it took me many years to gather the information I needed. I sought out some of the best contemporary painters I could find, attended many specialist courses at various art colleges, and devoured dozens of books I found in their studios, many of which are now out of print.

The hard work paid off though. After a few years I was juried into the Carmel Art Association, followed shortly after by being juried into the California Art Club, one of the oldest professional art organizations in the United States, and the heart of the now worldwide Plein Air Painting art movement. 

I became a member of the group of Central Californian Coast artists known as the ‘Informalists’, and began to win awards in plein air painting competitions. Over the following years I was invited to participate in many juried exhibitions, solo and group shows with other professional artists, and found representation in art galleries in the US, the UK, Italy, and more recently in China (you can read the details of my Awards and International Exhibitions on the bio page of personal website.) 

I was invited to author a column for many years on how to paint for the International Artist Magazine, as well as many articles on understanding master paintings for the Plein Air Magazine. 

How the Virtual Art Academy came about

I started to run workshops in California in the early 00’s, but one thing struck me. It seemed to me that artist workshops were an inefficient way to learn painting. In one week, I could only teach my students a tiny fraction of what I knew.

That was when I came up with the idea of documenting all the knowledge I had learned on my journey to becoming a full time artist, into what was to become the Virtual Art Academy Reference Library, which I first published in 2003.

Over the following 20 years, this library evolved into the Virtual Art Academy: an Online Art School with a full four-year program, now consisting not only eBooks, but assignments, video lessons, and in 2013, an integrated Online Campus, where my students could interact with each and discuss their assignments together. 


With this Online Art School, I can now give my students in two to four years, what took me 15 years of research and taking courses.

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. They all say that with the Virtual Art Academy they can learn something new every day. 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.

Take a look at the Curriculum of online painting classes, and if you are not ready to begin your journey on the path to learning how to paint but would rather like to stay in touch then feel free to signup for the email newsletter and follow the Virtual Art Academy on the social media.