The 7 Best Online Art Classes of 2020

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Online Art Class

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: New Masters Academy

"Instructors have worked for the likes of Disney, Sony, and Marvel, and you’ll also be able to receive one-on-one coaching."

Best Variety: Art Production Fund's Digital Art-Making Workshops

"From famous artists like Ryan Flores, Angelica Hicks, Lakela Brown, Lucy Sparrow, and Portia Munson, you'll learn to paint, draw, or sculpt."

Best for Art History: Courses at MoMA

"Each lesson dives deep into its subject, using artists and designers, as well as works in the MoMA’s collection and exhibitions."

Best for Ceramics: The Ceramic School

"You can choose from a robust archive of workshops that explore throwing, decorating, hand building, glazing, and firing ceramics."

Best for Life Drawing: Love Life Drawing

"There is a whole series devoted to strategy and thought processes, drawing habits, and managing self-doubt."

Best for Watercolors: Beginner Watercolor Exercises

"Meredith breaks down the methods in a way that is clear, precise, and easy to follow—and also sets you up with a strong foundation."

Best Photography: ICP Online Courses

"You can choose from an array of classes that focus on specific areas of the photographic medium—including composition, video, and lighting techniques."

Best Overall: New Masters Academy

New Masters Academy

New Masters Academy

With New Masters Academy, you'll get a top-tier art education online, refining your skills with instructors who have worked for the likes of Disney, Sony, and Marvel. You’ll also be able to receive one-on-one coaching critiques and portfolio reviews and make connections with other students with their social media groups.

Your membership tier (Standard or Premium) will dictate which materials you have access to. The Standard membership allows you to choose from courses in drawing, sculpture, oil painting, watercolor, Adobe programs, and many more. (There's even a course on how to design movie posters.) With a Premium membership, you'll get access to everything in the Standard one, plus you can view thousands of images of 3D models so you can use them to draw or sculpt from.

A Standard monthly subscription is around $39, while a Premium monthly subscription is about $49. You can also save on the monthly cost with an annual membership. Curious? The site offers a free trial.

Best Variety: Art Production Fund's Digital Art-Making Workshops

Art Production Fund

Art Production Fund

Co-founded by Yvonne Force Villareal and Doreen Remen in 2000, Art Production Fund is a nonprofit organization that commissions and produces public art projects such as Elmgreen & Dragset’s cheeky Prada Marfa in Marfa, Texas, Jeff Koons’ Seated Ballerina in New York’s Rockefeller Center, and Ugo Rondinone’s staggering outdoor installation, Seven Magic Mountains, located outside Las Vegas, Nevada.

Their latest effort brings their work online. In collaboration with Rockefeller Center, Art Production Fund has launched a series of Digital Art-Making workshops designed to reach you at home.

Whether you’re interested in recreating a still life, learning to make papier-mache or homemade play dough, crafting a felt strawberry, or creating your own mixed-media sculpture using on-hand household items, these approachable tutorials will guide you through the process from start to finish. Among the instructors for these are artists Ryan Flores, Angelica Hicks, Lakela Brown, Lucy Sparrow, and Portia Munson.

All the videos are free to watch on the Art Production Fund site.

Best for Art History: Courses at MoMA

MoMA

MoMA

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) opened its doors in 1929 and has long served as one of the world’s top destinations for modern and contemporary art lovers. Officials at the New York City museum recently unveiled a sweeping renovation, and among the upgrades is a lineup of online art courses.

Browse from a range of topics, including What is Contemporary Art?, Modern Art & Ideas, Seeing Through Photographs, Fashion as Design, and Postwar Abstract Painting, and choose which area of study piques your interest.

Each lesson dives deep into its subject, using artists and designers as well as works in the MoMA’s collection and exhibitions to shape the overall instruction. Not only will you gain a deeper understanding of art historical movements, conceptual ideas, design techniques, and the studio practices of artists throughout history, you’ll also be able to join a new community with your fellow students.

The courses, which are free of charge, are also designed to work with your schedule—you can enroll at any time and complete the course at your own pace.

Best for Ceramics: The Ceramic School

The Ceramic School

The Ceramic School

Interested in taking a crack at the pottery wheel or molding your own forms in clay? The Ceramic School—an authority on all things pottery—has you covered. Its goal is to bring together ceramic artists from around the world into one centralized online forum for ceramics education.

Getting started is simple. Before signing up and purchasing a course, you can choose from a robust archive of workshops that explore throwing, decorating, hand building, glazing, and firing ceramics—as well as those devoted to developing your own pottery business.

The instruction is hands-on: Expert pottery artists will lead you through each workshop step-by-step, from how to throw a donut vase on a pottery wheel to how to make handles for your vessels.

Along with its online workshops, The Ceramic School has its own online shop with a vast variety of pottery tools and stencils—everything you’d need for your at-home practice. They’ve built a big audience on Facebook, with regularly posted tutorials and instructors teaching via Facebook Live.

Prices range depending on which type of class you choose, but non-business courses cost around $39.

Best for Life Drawing: Love Life Drawing

Love Life Drawing

Love Life Drawing

If you can’t draw from a real-life model in the studio, Love Life Drawing is the next best thing. You’ll get a crash course in replicating the human form on this site created by mother and son duo Kenzo and Mayko.

The pair has a self-described “fun, accessible, and expressive” approach when it comes to figure drawing, and the site features simple and concise tutorials categorized into easy-to-navigate topics.

At Love Life Drawing, the lessons are also free—including a Beginner course (10 lessons), Gesture series, and in-depth videos on the anatomy of the figure (including faces, arms, backs, and midsections), plus more difficult techniques like foreshortening and rendering shadows and highlights.

Another area that Love Life Drawing explores is that of the artistic eye and mindset—there is a whole series devoted to strategy and thought processes, drawing habits, and managing self-doubt while nurturing your artistic practice.

Love Life Drawing has also built a community on its YouTube channel, which hosts a variety of live sessions. Join one of their livestreams and improve your skills in real-time.

Best for Watercolors: Beginner Watercolor Exercises

Beginner Watercolor Exercises

Beginner Watercolor Exercises

If you're looking to try your hand at watercolor painting but are not quite sure how to use the materials, this video series is a good place to start.

Created by Meredith from The Witty Gritty Paper Co (a mother-daughter-led indie stationary company based in upstate New York), this three-part series that is accessible for free on YouTube outlines beginner techniques for the sometimes difficult medium.

You’ll start with the basics and really understand how to use the paint to its potential. Meredith starts off with transparency (aka color control), demonstrating how to create intensity of shade, and how to control the paint pigment-to-water ratio in your watercolor brush.

She then moves on to Mark Making (the second video in the series), focusing on creating patterns and shapes with your brushes (and making the most of your supplies). Finally, she demonstrates wash techniques, the somewhat tricky-to-execute building blocks of all watercolor paintings.

Meredith breaks down the methods in a way that is clear, precise, and easy to follow—and sets you up with a strong foundation for your own painting explorations.

Best Photography: ICP Online Courses

ICP

ICP

Founded in 1974, the International Center of Photography is one of the world’s most renowned institutions for photography and visual culture.

Along with museum exhibitions, community outreach, and public programs, ICP also offers photography education for every level. While it is a bigger investment (with cost varying by course), signing up for an online course will further your photography education and technical skills.

A wide range of disciplines is available to study online. You can begin with Photography I, a digital photography course for beginners, or you can choose from an array of classes that focus on specific areas of the photographic medium—including composition, video, lighting techniques, portraiture, developing your portfolio, shooting on iPhone, and more.

Courses include weekly, live webinars with instructor-led lectures and critiques. All you’ll need to participate in a course—aside from the necessary photography equipment detailed by your instructor—is a computer with high-speed internet, a web browser using Java 6.0 or above, a webcam, and headphones.

You'll need to inquire about certain course prices, but they generally start at $100 and increase from there.

How We Chose

We considered several factors in selecting the best online art classes; variety of artistic media, affordability, site reviews and social media comments, expertise of the instructors, and the quality and clarity of online tutorials informed our top picks.

Art Production Fund, the Museum of Modern Art, and the International Center of Photography are major art world institutions with dynamic programming led by decades of scholarship and expertise, and this extends to its online education offerings. The MoMA courses and Art Production Fund workshops are free to access.

While the online courses at The Ceramic School are a bit more of an investment, what stood out was the collective mindset of its educational offering, which brings together ceramic artists from across the world to share their skills.

Live Life Drawing, with its free lessons and tutorials, also allowed people to share their artistic craft with others interested in developing their skills.

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