a woman at her desk with her sketchbook preparing for her online painting workshop

Online Painting Classes to Explore New Materials & Improve Technique 

10 min read

For both beginners and professional artists, online painting courses not only provide flexibility and a variety of teaching styles but also introduce artists to new materials and techniques that may not be readily available locally. From exploring the basics of oil and watercolors to exploring digital art and animation, online courses offer a spectrum of opportunities tailored to enhance skill sets and expand creative boundaries. From Schoolism to Masterclass, below are a few online painting classes to help you and other students in your course produce great artworks while expanding your horizons beyond typical collegiate programming.

Online Painting Courses for Professional Artists


Schoolism is an online education platform specifically designed for artists looking to refine their skills in the realms of illustration, animation, and concept art. Founded by Bobby Chiu, a respected illustrator and concept artist, Schoolism offers a variety of courses taught by leading professionals in the entertainment industry. Their curriculum spans a broad range of topics from character design and digital painting to storyboarding and environment art.

Each course is structured to provide in-depth, project-based learning, with feedback options available where students can receive personalized critiques from instructors. Schoolism is particularly beneficial for artists who aspire to work in animation studios, video game development, or any field requiring strong conceptual and illustrative skills. The platform suits both budding artists looking to enter these industries and seasoned professionals seeking to upgrade their techniques and creativity.

The Art Students League of New York

The Art Students League of New York is a venerable institution, renowned for its role in shaping American art through its progressive teaching methods and illustrious roster of instructors and alumni. Founded in 1875, the League offers a broad array of affordable courses in painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, and mixed media.

Its online offerings include workshops and classes that maintain the ethos of personal mentorship and direct studio work, adapted for a digital format. These online courses are designed to provide flexibility while ensuring rigorous artistic training that allows experienced artists to learn techniques and explore other painting media.

Artists of all levels can benefit from the League’s programs, but they are especially valuable for those who are looking to develop a strong foundational skill set in fine arts, as well as mid-career artists who seek to explore new techniques or refresh their existing skills. There is a learning curve if you’re a beginner, but the League’s commitment to accessibility and community makes it an incredible resource for artists seeking a supportive and challenging environment to grow their artistic talents.

New Masters Academy

New Masters Academy is an online educational platform designed to offer an extensive range of art instruction modeled on traditional atelier schools but accessible through a digital medium. The platform provides a vast library of courses covering various disciplines such as drawing, painting, sculpture, and digital art. These courses are taught by a roster of highly respected artists and instructors known for both their craftsmanship and teaching abilities.

The content is comprehensive, ranging from foundational skills in figure drawing and anatomy to advanced techniques in color theory and composition. New Masters Academy is especially beneficial for artists who seek rigorous classical training with the flexibility of a self-paced online environment.

The platform is ideal for aspiring artists who want to build a solid artistic foundation, professionals looking for detailed explorations of specific techniques, and educators seeking resources to support their teaching. Its in-depth and structured approach makes it a valuable resource for serious students of art at all levels.


CreativeLive is an online learning platform that caters to a broad audience of creatives, offering courses across various disciplines including photography, art, design, music, and business skills. What sets CreativeLive apart is its emphasis on live broadcasts, allowing students to interact with instructors in real-time, though courses can also be accessed on-demand.

The platform features workshops and classes led by renowned artists and professionals, providing insights and techniques on topics ranging from digital illustration and graphic design to handmade crafts and fine art. CreativeLive is particularly beneficial for artists and creatives who are not only looking to improve their technical skills but also to enhance their business acumen and entrepreneurial abilities.

It is ideal for self-starters and professionals who wish to dive deep into creative pursuits while managing their career growth, making it a great resource for emerging artists, designers looking to branch out on their own, and seasoned creatives seeking new insights and inspiration.

Painting Miles

Painting Miles is an online platform that provides a variety of painting classes and workshops designed to cater to artists of different skill levels, focusing primarily on techniques in acrylic painting, oil painting, and watercolor painting classes. The classes are structured to guide students through the process of creating art, from basic techniques to more advanced concepts like color theory, composition, and scene setting.

The instructors at Painting Miles are experienced artists who bring practical insights and personalized feedback to their teaching. This platform is especially beneficial for artists who are beginners looking to establish a strong foundational skill set, as well as intermediate artists aiming to refine their techniques and expand their artistic repertoire. Painting Miles offers a nurturing and supportive learning environment, making it an excellent choice for those who wish to develop their painting skills systematically and enjoyably.

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Rebecca Crowell’s Online Workshops

Rebecca Crowell’s Online Workshops focus on the unique technique of cold wax medium and oil painting, a niche but increasingly popular method that combines the richness of oils with the texture and versatility of cold wax. Crowell, who is a pioneer and an authority in this artistic technique, offers comprehensive courses that cover the fundamentals, advanced techniques, and creative explorations within cold wax painting.

Her virtual art academy is designed to not only teach the technical aspects of working with cold wax but also to encourage personal expression and conceptual development so artists craft their own painting styles. These courses are particularly beneficial for artists who are looking to expand their techniques beyond traditional painting media, as well as for those who have a particular interest in texture and layering in their artwork.

Rebecca Crowell’s online art classes offer a deep dive into a specialized area of art, making it ideal for professional artists desiring to add a distinctive touch to their repertoire or for serious hobbyists seeking to master a new artistic skill.

Watts Atelier of the Arts

Watts Atelier of the Arts, located in Southern California, offers a comprehensive online painting workshop program designed to emulate the rigorous training methodologies of traditional European ateliers. The atelier provides courses in drawing, painting, and sculpting that are grounded in classical techniques but are applicable to various contemporary artistic endeavors.

With a strong focus on fundamental skills such as figure drawing, portrait painting, and anatomy, the curriculum is structured to develop an artist’s precision and understanding of form. These programs are delivered by skilled instructors who are adept at both the craft and teaching of art.

Watts Atelier is particularly well-suited for artists who are serious about developing a solid foundation in the fine arts, as well as those aiming for careers in fields that require strong representational skills such as illustration, animation, and concept art. The atelier’s online platform makes these high-caliber teachings accessible to students worldwide, offering both self-paced and instructor-led options to accommodate different learning preferences.

Gage Academy of Art

Gage Academy of Art, based in Seattle, offers a wide array of online classes and workshops that cater to artists of all levels, from beginners to advanced practitioners. The academy is known for its commitment to classical training, providing a strong emphasis on drawing, painting, and sculptural techniques rooted in the traditions of the Renaissance and even abstract art.

Gage’s online offerings include courses in figure drawing, portraiture, landscape painting, and contemporary mixed media, all taught by experienced artists and educators who bring a deep understanding of both historical methods and contemporary applications. These programs are particularly beneficial for artists seeking rigorous academic training, those who wish to refine specific technical skills, or anyone looking to deepen their artistic practice through structured, mentor-led education.

Gage Academy of Art is ideal for serious students of art as well as professional artists looking to continue their education and engage with a community of like-minded individuals.

Artists Network University

Artists Network University offers a variety of online courses tailored primarily to painters and illustrators seeking to enhance their skills and knowledge in specific techniques and media. The courses range from beginner to advanced levels, covering subjects such as watercolor techniques, oil painting, pastel art, and figure drawing.

Each course is designed to be interactive, with expert instructors providing feedback and guidance. This platform is especially beneficial for hobbyists looking to take their art to a professional level, or for professional artists wanting to explore new styles and refine existing skills. Artists Network University helps artists connect with a wider community and gain exposure to different artistic perspectives and methodologies.

SmArt School

SmArt School, known as “A Smarter Art School,” offers personalized mentorship in fantasy, science fiction, and speculative art illustration through an online format. Each class is conducted live and allows for real-time interaction between students and renowned instructors who are professionals in the speculative art industry.

SmArt School specializes in helping students improve their portfolio with a focus on preparing for a professional career in illustration for books, games, and other media. This platform is ideal for artists interested in genre-specific illustration who value direct feedback and guidance from established artists in the field.

University of the Arts London (UAL)

University of the Arts London offers a comprehensive range of online short courses through its various colleges, including Central Saint Martins and London College of Fashion. These courses cover a wide array of creative disciplines such as fashion design, graphic communication, art theory, and photography.

UAL’s online courses are designed to reflect the same high standards of its on-campus offerings, providing students with creative skills, critical thinking, and industry insights. These courses are beneficial for artists and designers who seek to engage with cutting-edge creative processes and theories, as well as professionals looking to pivot or advance in highly competitive fields like fashion and media.

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Continuing Education

Rhode Island School of Design’s Continuing Education division offers online courses and certificate programs that cover a broad spectrum of art and design fields. These offerings include courses in graphic design, interior design, animation, and fine arts, among others.

RISD’s programs are known for their rigorous approach and are taught by professionals and educators who are experts in their fields. This platform is particularly useful for individuals seeking to advance their careers or pivot into creative roles, as well as for artists and designers who want to expand their technical skills and creative thinking within a structured and prestigious educational environment.

Virtual Art Classes for Beginners


Skillshare is an online learning community where members can explore thousands of courses in areas like fine art, photography, graphic design, illustration, and more. Courses on Skillshare are project-based and intended to be interactive, allowing learners to engage with the community and receive feedback on their work. This platform is particularly beneficial for creatives who are looking to learn new skills in a casual, self-paced environment. Skillshare’s classes are suitable for beginners who want to try out new art forms as well as for intermediate artists looking to enhance specific skills.


Udemy offers a vast range of online courses across multiple categories including an extensive selection of art and design courses. These courses can range from detailed tutorials on specific painting techniques to comprehensive guides on digital art software. Udemy’s strength lies in its variety, offering courses for all skill levels, and allowing lifetime access to purchased courses. This platform is ideal for self-directed learners who desire a wide selection of topics and the flexibility to learn at their own pace.


Domestika is known for its creatively oriented courses, focusing heavily on design, illustration, and craft-based disciplines. The platform features courses taught by industry professionals and artists who are leaders in their fields, often including a project that helps students build a portfolio piece.

Domestika is especially appealing to creatives who are looking to improve specific technical skills or gain insights into the creative processes of successful professionals. It’s suitable for those wanting to dive deeper into niche creative areas.


MasterClass stands out for its high-production online classes taught by celebrities and renowned figures in their fields, including art and photography. Courses such as those taught by Annie Leibovitz on photography or Frank Gehry on architecture, combine personal insight and professional wisdom.

MasterClass is ideal for learners who want inspirational insights and career advice from top-tier professionals in their fields, though it is less about hands-on skills and more about conceptual and high-level thinking.


Coursera partners with universities and organizations worldwide to offer a wide range of courses, including art and design. These courses often provide a more academic approach to learning, including peer-reviewed assignments, forums, and sometimes even university credits.

Coursera is suitable for individuals who want a more formal education experience online, with courses from institutions like the University of London or the Museum of Modern Art.


YouTube is a free platform that hosts an enormous variety of content, including educational videos on every art form imaginable. Artists and educators upload tutorials, process videos, and lectures that cover techniques ranging from beginner to advanced levels.

This platform is ideal for learners of all levels who are looking for easily accessible and diverse content. It caters well to visual learners who benefit from seeing art created in real-time, though the quality and depth of instruction can vary widely. Pick up some art supplies and host a virtual painting party with friends at home to make these YouTube classes even more engaging.

Final Thoughts on Taking Online Painting Classes

Whether it’s Schoolism’s focus on the digital arts, The Art Students League of New York’s heritage of traditional techniques, or CreativeLive’s blend of art and entrepreneurial skills, there is a program out there to match every artistic aspiration. These platforms not only facilitate skill enhancement but also foster a global community of learners and creators, breaking geographical barriers and bringing together diverse artistic voices.

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, resources available to artists will only expand, making it an exciting time to engage in continuous learning and artistic growth. Thus, embracing these opportunities can significantly propel an artist’s ability to adapt, innovate, and thrive in the ever-changing world of art.