Getting Started in Online Art Lessons: A Beginner’s Guide to Digital Creativity

Getting Started in Online Art Lessons: A Beginner’s Guide to Digital Creativity

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Embarking on online art lessons is an exciting journey that opens up a world of creative possibilities. With the vast array of digital platforms available today, learners can easily access a rich variety of courses tailored to their skill level and interests. Whether you’re looking to master the basic principles of drawing, explore different painting techniques, or dive into the intricacies of digital art, the internet has made it more accessible than ever to nurture your artistic abilities. Guidance from seasoned artists through video content helps in translating complex concepts into actionable skills.

Identifying the right medium is essential for any budding artist and plays a significant role in the learning process. One must consider the range of essential art supplies necessary to begin their practice. From brushes and canvases for painters to styluses and tablets for digital illustrators, having the right tools is crucial. As learners progress, mastering the fundamentals forms the backbone of artistic development, allowing for advanced exploration of techniques and styles. This pursuit is not just for personal fulfillment but can also lay the groundwork for a career in art, with various specializations to explore.

Key Takeaways

  • Online art lessons provide a flexible and comprehensive approach to learning art.
  • The correct art supplies and understanding of fundamentals are crucial for development.
  • A systematic learning path paves the way for personal growth or a professional career.

Choosing Your Medium

A table with various art supplies, a laptop open to an online art lesson, and a comfortable chair for the artist to sit and work

When embarking on online art lessons, one’s choice of medium is foundational, as it defines the aesthetic and practical approach to their artwork. Each medium brings its own set of properties and techniques that can influence an artist’s style and the execution of their creative vision.

Traditional Vs. Digital Art

Traditional Art:

  • Materials: Utilizes physical materials such as canvas, paint, and paper.
  • Tactile Experience: Offers a hands-on approach, allowing artists to manipulate materials directly.

Digital Art:

  • Tools: Involves software and devices like tablets and computers.
  • Flexibility: Enables intricate editing capabilities and easy duplication.

Deciding between traditional and digital art will influence the texture, depth, and interactive experience of the creative process.

Exploring Oil, Acrylic, and Watercolor Paints

Oil Paints:

  • Characteristics: Rich in texture, long drying time, which allows for detailed blending.
  • Techniques: Ideal for layers and glazes in works that require depth.

Acrylic Paints:

  • Characteristics: Versatile, dries quickly, can mimic both oil and watercolor paints.
  • Techniques: Suitable for a variety of styles, from thick impasto to delicate washes.

Watercolor Paints:

  • Characteristics: Transparent, requires a delicate touch, and offers a luminous finish.
  • Techniques: Often used for flowing, spontaneous works that capitalize on the fluid nature of the medium.

Artists may choose a medium based on the desired translucency, texture, or drying time, where each of these types offers distinct advantages.

The Versatility of Pencil and Ink


  • Flexibility: From soft shading to sharp lines, suitable for detailed sketches or fully-rendered drawings.
  • Ease of Use: Widely accessible and perfect for artists at any skill level.


  • Precision: Delivers stark contrast and clean lines, often used in comics and calligraphy.
  • Variety: Available in forms like pens, brushes, and markers, which can cater to different artistic styles.

Pencil and ink are excellent mediums for artists who are interested in precise line work and shading, especially popular among traditional artists and illustrators. Both are fundamental for creating intricate details in mixed media artworks as well.

Essential Art Supplies

Acquiring the correct art supplies is a cornerstone of any successful online art journey. These tools can substantially affect the final outcome of one’s artwork.

Investing in Quality Brushes and Paints

An artist should consider brushes and paints as their fundamental allies. For brushes, one desires a selection that offers versatility and longevity. Starting with a variety of shapes and sizes, such as round, flat, filbert, and fan, is advisable. Natural hair brushes often provide a smoother application, while synthetic brushes are durable and suitable for acrylic paints.

Regarding paints, the quality vastly influences pigmentation and ease of application. Professional-grade acrylics, oils, and watercolors offer better color intensity and blending capabilities than their student-grade counterparts. It is wise to begin with a basic color palette and expand as one’s skills develop.

Choosing the Right Paper and Canvas

The substrates used — paper and canvas — play a pivotal role in how mediums behave and are perceived. For paper, one should look for options labeled as “acid-free” to ensure longevity. Weight is another consideration; heavier paper can handle more washes and heavier media like gouache without warping.

When it comes to canvas, one has choices between stretched canvas and canvas panels. Stretched canvases are mounted on wooden frames and are preferred for larger works. Canvas panels, however, can be a more affordable and convenient choice for practice and smaller pieces.

An artist’s toolkit would also benefit from including items such as an easel to hold work at an ergonomic angle, a palette for color mixing, and various other art supplies to aid in the creation of their pieces. While an easel is not mandatory, having one can significantly improve posture and comfort during painting sessions. A palette, whether it’s a traditional wooden one or a disposable paper version, is essential for mixing paints to achieve the desired hues and shades.

Mastering the Fundamentals

Mastering the fundamentals is paramount for any artist venturing into online art lessons. These cornerstones shape the artist’s ability to communicate through visual media effectively. Two fundamental pillars for beginners are composition and value, for structuring artwork, and developing drawing skills, which are foundational for creating those works.

Understanding Composition and Value

Composition governs how elements are arranged on a canvas and is crucial for creating a harmonious and dynamic artwork. It involves an understanding of:

  • Balance: Ensuring that no part of the artwork overpowers another.
  • Contrast: Using differences in elements to draw interest and guide the viewer’s eye.

Value, on the other hand, is about the lightness or darkness of a color. It helps in creating:

  • Depth and Volume: Giving two-dimensional art a three-dimensional feel.
  • Mood and Atmosphere: Using light and shadow to evoke emotions.

Artists can explore the fundamentals of composition and value to grow their artistic skills.

Developing Drawing Skills

For beginners, developing drawing skills is essential and should be approached systematically. A learner should focus on:

  • Lines and Shapes: The building blocks of all drawings.
  • Perspective and Proportion: To render objects accurately in three-dimensional space.

Drawing also demands regular practice. Foundational exercises such as contour drawing and gesture drawing enhance one’s capability to observe and capture the subject accurately. Courses like Drawing Essentials with Glenn Vilppu offer structured guidance for beginners to develop these skills methodically.

By concentrating on these fundamental areas, artists lay a solid foundation for advanced techniques and complex compositions.

Drawing Techniques

Mastering drawing techniques sets the foundation for aspiring artists, enabling them to translate their vision onto paper or digital platforms. The journey begins with understanding the human form and effectively using colors to bring life to art.

Figure Drawing for Beginners

Figure drawing is a fundamental skill that requires attention to anatomy and proportion. Beginners often start with basic shapes to construct a human form before delving into complex poses and movements. Resources like offer comprehensive lessons that guide novices through these initial stages, ensuring they grasp the essentials of drawing figures.

  • Basic Shapes: Start with circles, rectangles, and triangles to form the head, torso, and limbs.
  • Proportions: Learn the rule of thumb for human proportions; the body is generally eight heads tall.
  • Anatomy: Study the muscle structure and bone landmarks to make figures more realistic.

Using Primary Colors Effectively

The use of primary colors—red, yellow, and blue—is crucial in creating a vast range of hues and tones. When engaging in drawing courses or portrait painting, beginners should practice mixing primary colors to understand color relationships and how light affects the perception of color.

  • Mixing Colors: Combine primary colors to create secondary colors (green, orange, purple).
  • Color Wheel: Use a color wheel to comprehend color harmony.
  • Shading and Tinting: Learn to shade with complementary colors and tint with white for depth and dimension.

Painting Techniques

Exploring online art lessons offers the chance to master various painting techniques through structured guidance and practice. As students transition from watching tutorials to active creation, they cultivate their unique style in mediums such as oil and acrylic.

The Art of Oil Painting

Oil paintings are recognized for their rich textures and versatility. Students will learn to manipulate oil paints, which remain wet longer than other mediums, providing a flexible timeframe to adjust their work. Techniques include glazing, where thin layers of paint create depth and luminosity, and impasto, the application of thick paint for texture. The Will Kemp Art School provides comprehensive instruction on these methods.

Below are fundamental oil painting techniques:

  • Blending: A smooth transition between colors
  • Scumbling: Lighter paint brushed over a dried dark layer
  • Alla Prima (wet on wet): Completing a painting in a single session

Acrylic Painting Methods

Acrylic painting is a popular choice for beginners due to its quick-drying nature and water solubility. Students will explore a range of acrylic painting methods, from layering to texturing, to create dynamic pieces. Tutorials often feature techniques such as dry brushing, where paint is lightly applied to emphasize texture, and washing, creating a watercolor effect with diluted acrylic. Sites like The Spruce Crafts often curate lists of top online classes, where these methods are taught.

A concise list of acrylic techniques includes:

  • Sgraffito: Scratching into the top layer to reveal areas of the underlying one
  • Underpainting: An initial layer of paint applied to set tones
  • Stippling: Using small dots to create patterns or texture

Both oil and acrylic painting can bring a subject to life, transform a blank gallery wall into a story, and are staples in any burgeoning artist’s learning path.

Digital Art and Technology

In the realm of digital art, advancements in technology have ushered in innovative tools and software that revolutionize the way artists create. Two pivotal elements define this landscape: powerful tablet devices like the iPad Pro and an array of digital painting software options.

Embracing the iPad Pro and Tablets

The iPad Pro has emerged as a staple for digital artists due to its portable nature and powerful performance. With its high-resolution touchscreen, Apple Pencil compatibility, and mobility, it enables artists to sketch, draw, and paint with a level of precision and freedom hitherto found only in traditional mediums. Tablets, by extension, have become more than mere consumption devices—they are dynamic creative studios that emulate the feel of drawing on paper or canvas.

Key Features of the iPad Pro:

  • High-resolution Liquid Retina display
  • Apple Pencil support for precision drawing
  • ProMotion technology ensuring smooth motion and drawing experience

Software Choices for Digital Painting

When it comes to software, artists are spoiled for choice. Each program offers a unique set of tools and capabilities tailored to different styles and techniques of digital painting. Adobe Photoshop remains a powerhouse with its comprehensive features, while Procreate offers a user-friendly interface and robust tools specifically designed for the iPad. Clip Studio Paint and Corel Painter are other worthy contenders, catering to artists who focus on manga and realistic digital painting, respectively.

Popular Digital Painting Software:

  • Adobe Photoshop: Feature-rich, versatile for any art style
  • Procreate: Optimized for iPad with an intuitive interface
  • Clip Studio Paint: Specialized for manga and comics artists
  • Corel Painter: Mimics traditional painting techniques digitally

By integrating cutting-edge tablets like the iPad Pro into their workflow and selecting from a range of digital painting software, artists can push the boundaries of what is possible in art creation. They can explore and execute complex artistic visions with the efficiency and flexibility offered by digital technology.

Creative Practice and Improvement

An artist's desk cluttered with brushes, paints, and sketchbooks. A computer displaying online art lessons. Sunlight streaming through a window, illuminating the creative space

Developing one’s art skills requires a balance between structured learning and personal exploration. Online art classes offer a comprehensive framework to guide learners through the creative process, while finding and honing one’s unique artistic voice ensures a personalized approach to art creation.

Structured Learning with Online Art Classes

Online art classes provide a foundation for learners to improve their technical abilities through consistent practice. Sites like Skillshare offer a variety of courses taught by experienced artists, which can help both aspiring and experienced artists to refine their skills. These classes often follow a curriculum that includes assignments and feedback, giving students a clear path to follow. A great advantage is the flexibility to revisit lessons, allowing learners to practice at their own pace and on their own schedule.

  • Key benefits:
    • Flexibility: Learn anytime, anywhere.
    • Variety: Courses available for all skill levels.
    • Community: Access to a community of peers for support and feedback.

Finding Your Unique Artistic Voice

Beyond the fundamentals, finding one’s artistic voice is crucial for creative development. It involves experimentation with different mediums, styles, and concepts to create art that resonates on a personal level. Aspiring artists are encouraged to take risks and make art that reflects their individuality. This self-discovery can be supported by online resources, but it is largely driven by personal intuition and the courage to express oneself through art.

  • Steps for exploration:
    • Play: Experiment with different media and subjects.
    • Reflect: Consider what themes or styles you are drawn to.
    • Evolve: Develop your findings into a distinct personal style.

By engaging in both structured online learning and personal exploration, artists can cultivate their creativity and improve their craft in a holistic manner.

Art as a Career

The art industry offers diverse pathways for artists to establish their careers and generate revenue. It includes prestigious opportunities like becoming a gallery-featured artist and leveraging various streams of income through online platforms and other means.

Becoming a Gallery Featured Artist

Artists often aspire to have their work featured in galleries, which can be a hallmark of success and recognition. Gallery representation not only validates an artist’s talent but also provides exposure to a broader audience, including collectors and art aficionados. Securing such a spot typically involves a rigorous selection process, where one’s portfolio must stand out in both originality and mastery of their medium.

Revenue Streams for Artists

Artists have multiple avenues to monetize their talent:

  • Art Sales: Selling original works or limited edition prints directly to buyers or through galleries.
  • Commissions: Creating bespoke pieces of art for clients.
  • Merchandising: Offering merchandise such as t-shirts, mugs, or notebooks featuring their artwork.
  • Teaching: Conducting online art workshops or courses.
  • Digital Marketplace: Utilizing platforms like Etsy to reach a global market.
  • Affiliate Marketing: Joining programs like the Amazon Associate program where artists can earn from qualifying purchases made through their referrals.

By diversifying their income sources, artists can achieve a more sustainable and profitable career.

Exploring Art Specializations

A colorful array of art supplies fills a well-lit studio space, with easels and canvases set up for painting, sculpting tools laid out for clay work, and a variety of drawing materials ready for sketching

In the realm of online art lessons, specialization areas like sculpture and mixed media offer targeted skill development. Each form requires a unique set of techniques and materials, and dedicated courses provide insights into the intricacies of these art forms.

The Craft of Sculpture

Sculpture is an art form that involves the creation of three-dimensional objects. Students learn from seasoned sculptors who guide them through the complexities of materials such as clay, metal, stone, or wood. Through courses found on platforms like Coursera, learners can explore different styles of sculpture, from the traditional to the contemporary.

  • Subjects Covered:
    • Carving techniques
    • Casting methods
    • Modern sculpting practices

Mixed Media and Experimental Forms

Mixed media art challenges the boundaries between different art forms. It is an exploratory field that enables artists to combine various materials – like paint, paper, and found objects – to create multifaceted, textured works.

  • Key Components:
    • Layering and composition
    • Integration of digital elements with traditional media

In these courses, participants get the chance to engage with experimental art-making, pushing the envelope of what is possible in visual expression.

Educational Resources

In the journey of learning art online, access to comprehensive educational resources is crucial to develop artistic skills. Whether one is seeking a knowledgeable instructor or free learning materials, the internet offers a wealth of options that cater to varied learning styles and stages.

Finding the Right Instructor and Mentor

When looking for an instructor or mentor, it’s important to choose someone who not only possesses technical skill but also excels in teaching complex concepts in an understandable way. Prospective students should explore portfolios and watch introductory videos to gauge a teacher’s style and expertise. Platforms like Davis Publications provide an array of resources to help connect learners with seasoned educators who can guide them through their artistic development.

Free Online Art Classes and Resources

For those on a budget, there are numerous free online art classes and resources available. One can find a variety of learning tools ranging from downloadable guides to video tutorials. The National Art Education Association offers an Art Educator Toolkit with strategies and lessons for different learning environments. Additionally, the National Gallery of Art provides free art learning resources that cater to different age groups and skill levels. These resources are valuable for individuals who self-study and for teachers looking to enrich their curriculum.


A colorful palette of paintbrushes and tubes of paint arranged on a clean, well-lit desk, with a blank canvas ready to be filled with artistic inspiration

Initiating online art lessons requires more than a strong internet connection; it also demands a concerted effort towards nurturing one’s talent and creativity. They provide a unique platform for artists to engage, refine their skills, and cultivate their artistic capabilities through consistent practice.

One benefit is the flexibility they offer in terms of schedule and location. Aspiring artists have the opportunity to learn and create at their own pace, which is crucial for balancing life’s other responsibilities. Furthermore, instructors have developed comprehensive guides and strategies designed to enhance both teaching and learning experiences in the digital space, like those for planning engaging art lessons.

Empowered by technology, artists can now explore a vast array of styles, techniques, and cultural contexts, thereby enriching their own artistic language. With a plethora of online resources and a supportive online community, an artist’s journey towards mastery is not a solitary one. Online platforms bridge the gap by connecting students worldwide with seasoned professionals, offering feedback, support, and encouragement.

Engaging in online art education requires discipline, but it also provides a rewarding pathway to artistic achievement. While the individual’s journey may be personal, the shared pursuit of growth in artistry is a collective one. Hence, starting with online art lessons is a launchpad for continuous learning, enabling artists to thrive in both their personal expression and professional development.

Frequently Asked Questions

Navigating the world of online art can be daunting for beginners. This section answers common inquiries to help guide budding artists through their digital learning journey.

What are the best entry-level online art courses for beginners?

For those starting, the Beginner’s Guide to Teaching Art Online provides a comprehensive starting point. Additionally, platforms like Painting Academy offer structured lessons to ease learners into the art-making process.

Can you really learn to create art through online classes?

Yes, one can develop substantial art skills through online courses. Courses are often designed by expert artists and educators, ensuring that the virtual classroom experience is enriching and effective.

What are some online art lessons targeted towards adults with no prior experience?

Providers like Pixical offer live online art lessons that cater to adults beginning their art journey, with the flexibility to accommodate different skill levels and schedules.

How do the outcomes of online art classes compare to in-person lessons?

Outcomes can be comparable as long as the student is committed and the instruction is of high quality. Online lessons provide more flexibility and can include a wider range of resources and community support.

Are there free online art courses that provide certification upon completion?

Yes, there are online platforms that offer free courses with certification options. However, these may vary in terms of the depth of learning and the recognition of the certification.

What are effective strategies for teaching art lessons over the internet?

An effective strategy includes a mix of live demonstrations, engaging assignments, and personalized feedback. Resources like Mirasee’s guide within the Ultimate Guide to Online Art Courses discuss these techniques in more detail.



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