Virtual Art Academy

Best Online Painting Classes for 2024: 9 Key Factors To Consider

best online painting classes

How To Choose The Best Online Painting Classes For You

The first thing when choosing the best online painting class for you is to understand the different categories of online painting instruction. The next step is to fully analyze your needs and what you want to get out of the classes.

Categories of online painting classes

There are several different types of online painting classes, that I categorize below. Each has its strengths and weaknesses.

Large ‘Supermarket’ Training Platforms

There are several large companies who sell online painting courses from lots of different artists, such as Domestika. These companies are like the supermarkets of training, aiming to sell millions of courses of various kinds, at very low prices. They generally consist of relatively small individual online courses or classes, each authored by a different person.


  • Very cheap


  • The majority of these online painting classes are created by amateurs, so the quality of the information taught is at a relatively low level. (Professional artists usually avoid these platforms)
  • There is very little structure to the learning since the courses are all created by different artists. This means that there can be a lot of duplicated content, and it may also be inconsistent in its approach. The result is your learning can be quite haphazard.
  • As there is no single comprehensive and structured curriculum, you will likely end up with large gaps in your art education.


  • Coursera
  • Domestika
  • Skillshare
  • Udemy

There are also smaller sites that focus on offering painting lessons from different instructors such as:

  • Princeton University Art Museum

Amateur/Semi-Professional Sites

There are many sites run by either amateur or semi-professional artists. In general the authors of the content on these sites spend 90 percent or more of their time running the site, and not on creating their own artwork. Thus the level of quality of these sites is not at the same level as the content taught by full time professional artists.

These sites contain content similar to that on the large ‘supermarket’ training platforms, but are generally more focused on painting, and with (sometimes, but not always) less overlap. Often some of their courses are also put on the large supermarket sites for marketing reasons. The are suitable for the hobby painter, as the content is more directed at the casual hobbyist.

There are a large number of sites in this category.

Integrated Professional Sites

These are generally offered by universities, and rarely, professional artists. They offer a more integrated program of art instruction, taught by professional artists. These are probably the best online painting classes or courses for serious hobbyists or people wanting to do art at a higher level. These are also probably the best online painting classes for artists who are considering selling their work. They can be run by universities, groups of professional artists in some association, and in rare cases, individual professional artists.




  • The Virtual Art Academy, an integrated and structured online painting course authored by professional artist Barry John Raybould. Focused on Fine Art. This site is somewhat different as it focuses on a community.
  • Kroll Roberts Studio, a series of online art courses by professional artist Peggy Kroll Roberts. Focused on Fine Art.

Best Online Painting Classes For Professional And Adult Artists

If you are either planning to dedicate a lot of your time on painting as a retired person, planning to sell your work, or preparing to become a full-time professional, one of the above offerings in the Integrated Professional Sites category will probably offer the best online painting classes for you.

Understanding Your Needs

The second thing you need to do when choosing the best online painting classes for you, is to understand your needs in detail.

Tailoring your selection based on your current skill level ensures that you’ll get the most out of the instruction provided, whether you’re a beginner looking for foundation knowledge, or an advanced artist seeking to refine specific techniques.

In this article we do not recommend or reject any online painting classes. Choosing what works for you is a very personal matter, dependent on so many different needs. What we endeavour to do is make you aware of the various needs of both beginner and more experienced artists, so you have the tools to choose for yourself.

As the old saying goes:

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.

This is also the motto for our online painting classes – we give you the tools so you can paint in your own, style, media, and put as much time into your art career as you want.

Here are the most important questions you need to ask yourself before choosing online painting classes.

#1 – How valuable is your time?

It doesn’t matter whether you are working full time and can only paint at the weekend, if you are retired and want to learn a new skill, or if painting is your career. For everyone, time is precious. It is important to find the best online painting classes that will get you started on the right track, and build on your skills in a structured way, so that you do not waste time or learn poor painting practices.

The best online painting classes will teach you everything from values, to notan and focal points, such as using the rule of thirds in art, to more advanced topics such as atmospheric perspective, the 7 elements of art, and using form to create a sense of three-dimensions in your painting, and more.

A comprehensive painting curriculum will cover all of these topics in detail:

  • Brushwork
  • Color
  • Composition
  • Concept and Focus
  • Drawing – 2 Dimensions
  • Form – 3 Dimensions
  • Notan
  • Observation of Color/Value/Form
  • Processes for Painting

#2 – What level do you want to achieve?

Leonardo da Vinci Virgin of the Rocks

As well as time restraints, understanding the level you want to achieve is important when you are choosing the best online painting class for you.

The best online painting classes will not only have information for beginner and hobby painters, but will also include all the information you will need to give you the skills to attain whatever level you want.

For example, you may want to sell your work, or even to make a full-time career out of painting.

If you do no know how far you will eventually want to take your art, it is best to choose online painting classes that offer you the flexibility of starting at a beginning level, but that also includes advanced topics for professional painters.

In fact, all levels of artists need the same information, from the basic principles, all the way through to more complex ideas and techniques used by the old masters. For this reason, it is best to consider this from the beginning when you are choosing the best online painting class for you.

#3 – How important is a community to you?

world online community

Painting can be frustrating at times. Most artists will tell you that it is extremely helpful to have a support group of artists to get you through your good and bad days. Whether you live in a large city, or just a small village, if you don’t have access to good art groups and schools, you will feel very isolated, and it may stop you from achieving your dreams. The best online painting classes will give you that sense of community.

When learning how to paint it is a great benefit to have other like-minded people to talk to about your successes and failures. In an active community there will be people who can point you in the right direction to help you to fix your mistakes, and applaud and encourage you when you do well. If the online painting classes you join do not have a supportive community with good feedback, you will find it much more difficult to move forward and sustain the effort needed to learn how to paint well.

Another factor when choosing your online painting community is the level of feedback you get from that community. If other students in the community are not seriously studying, it is unlikely they will be in a position to be able to offer much constructive support. This means that the quality of the online painting community is very important when choosing the best online painting classes for you. Decide whether you want the community members to tell you how wonderful your painting is, or if you would rather have them give you constructive feedback on how you can improve it next time.

If you are not sure, try to choose online painting classes where you can join the community for a month or two. This will give you a better idea of how the community aspect of the online painting classes actually works. It is probably one of the most important things to look out for.

#4 – Do you want to sell your art?

If you want to make painting your career, or just sell your art occasionally, you need to have the skills to make works that appeal both to galleries and to private buyers.

Although beginners and less skilled artists will be able to sell their artwork, there is a lot of competition in the market and you need to make your work stand out from the crowd. Paintings that stand out from the crowd are those that show a higher level of skill. For this reason you should seek out a high quality series of online painting classes to help you reach the right level of skill.

One way to check the level of quality of your online painting classes is to look at the work and bio/resume of the instructor or person who wrote the course. Key things to look out for here are exhibitions in which the artist has participated. The quality of the exhibitions can vary greatly of course, so pay particular attention to group exhibitions in which your instructor was clearly participating in a public exhibition with other professional artists. If other professional artists exhibited together with your instructor, that this is an indication that he or she is a genuine professional and respected withing the community of professional artists.

The best online painting classes, in terms of the quality of the information, as well as the comprehensiveness of the content, will generally be created by a professional painters, rather than amateur painters.

Quite often, online painting classes you find on the internet are created by artists whose full time job is running online art classes. Therefore, seeking out materials that have been written by a professional artist is an important factor to consider when choosing the best online painting classes. This is particularly the case now that there are so many people teaching painting on the internet.

One caveat however, is to not expect the same level of production values in the materials/videos created by professional painters. A truly professional artist will focus their effort on improving the quality and level of their own artwork, and not on creating flashy looking videos and tutorials. There is a fine line here that you need to be aware of when choosing the best online painting classes for you.

See also: oil painting for beginners

#5 – Do you want to just copy other works, or do you want to unleash your own creativity?

copying old masters

If you want to copy paintings by other artists, go ahead. It is good to practice to copy old master paintings and you will definitely learn something. However, if you want to master the underlying principles of painting, you will need to do much more than simply copy other artists’ work.

In the best online painting classes, the instructors do not just have you follow along step-by-step as they paint, or give you a painting to copy.

Although this sounds like an attractive and easy way to learn, it is not. You will learn very little this way, as you will only learn how to paint that particular scene, and only in the style of your instructor. You will never be able to be fully creative and develop your own style by learning primarily in this way. Many painters who learn this way just end up being a clone of their instructor.

Instead, you have to understand the underlying principles and techniques the master artists used in their own work. Armed with this knowledge, you will be able to express your own voice, and paint in your own style.

Remember that in traditional art schools and painting classes, the students copied master works for practice, but also spent many years studying the basic principles and techniques.

In fact, the majority of master painters had a structured art education, either at a traditional art academy or atelier, or they studied with a master painter in an apprenticeship relationship. There are no shortcuts. Therefore, if you want to learn to paint well, look for a structured program that will give you the equivalent training to that which the old masters had access to.

#6 – How much time do you have?

It is important when you are trying to find the best online painting classes, to find one that will allow you to work at your own pace, and in your own time. If you are forced into some schedule that you can’t maintain, you will soon give up, especially if you want to go faster or slower than they allow. So choose an online painting class that has the flexibility to let you work at your own pace.

palette clock

#7 – How good are the instructor’s credentials?

It is important to thoroughly review the credentials of the instructors to gain insights into their teaching style and the effectiveness of their courses. While university-level tutors may have strong teaching credentials, assess their art knowledge and painting style, and find out how their students review them.

Also, there are lots of artists out there who have created online painting classes, but how good are they really?

  • Do they have any painting awards?
  • Have the been in juried exhibitions, solo, or group shows?
  • Are they in any galleries?
  • How many principles and techniques do they teach?
  • How experienced are they at teaching?

#8 – How do past and present students rate the online painting classes?

Feedback from past students can provide valuable insights into the quality of instruction and the overall learning experience.

Average Rating: 5.0 stars (based on 24 ratings)

Looking for the best online painting classes in oils, acrylics, or watercolor? Meet our students. This is what they have to say about their experience of learning how to paint with the Virtual Art Academy.

#9 – Which materials do they suggest you buy?

Understanding the materials required for the course is also important, as it can impact both the cost and accessibility of the class. Some courses may require specialized materials or equipment, while others may be more flexible in terms of materials used. Knowing what materials you’ll need upfront can help you make informed decisions about whether a particular class is the right fit for you.

Some online painting classes are specific to a particular painting medium. Other online painting classes are designed more to teach the general principles of painting that apply to all media. The latter are the best online painting classes, because you can then easily switch between different media according to your preference at any time.

Here are some wikipedia links to different types of media you can use:

I suggest oil paints as they are the most forgiving. You can easily scrape off parts of the painting that are not working and start again. With the availability of water-soluble oils these days, you do not have to worry about solvents or cleaning up. You simply thin them with water, and clean up afterwards with soap and water. Here is some more information on water soluble or mixable oils if you are interested in learning more about them.


Overall, taking the time to research and consider these factors before enrolling in online painting classes can help ensure that you find the right fit for your skill level, preferences, and learning goals.

Take the time to consider factors like instructor credentials, student reviews, course content, and any additional features like downloadable resources or feedback options when choosing the best online painting classes for you. Explore multiple platforms and courses to find the ones that resonate most with your interests and learning style.

So here are nine factors to think about when choosing the best online painting classes for you. Have fun, and enjoy your learning!

You can get a high level overview of the Virtual Art Academy online painting classes here.

Best Online Painting Classes for 2024: 9 Key Factors To Consider


  • Barry, these are great questions to ask for anyone who’s shopping for online painting instruction.

    I would also add these:

    -How much money can you afford to spend? And what are the payment terms for the courses you’re considering?

    -How effective is the instructor in teaching you how to think, rather than just how to apply paint? You need to improve your judgment as a painter.

    -Is the instructor a clear and effective communicator?

    -Does the instructor show competence across the genres that interest you? (e.g., landscapes, portraits, figures, still life, etc.)

    -Do you like the instructor’s work? For example, if you think the instructor’s work lacks taste or uses colors you consider garish, this is obviously the wrong person for you.

    -How strong is the instructor’s library of courseware and other online materials?

    -Does the instructor provide learning materials in the media and formats that you prefer to learn from? (Many people like videos. But I think they’re often a waste of time because their information density is low. I would often rather read material from a well-written document.)

    • Thank you David, this is a good checklist for choosing online painting classes

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