If you’ve ever visited galleries around the city, or have found yourself wandering around the Leeds Art Gallery, you may have stumbled upon an artwork or two that made you think “Oh..Even I can do that!”

Artistic expression has always been a contentious subject. From the content of the paintings (like Dali’s 1933 “The Enigma of William Tell”), to the artists themselves – the history of painting has been riddled with controversy time and time again.

No matter how one feels about a particular piece, it’s hard not to feel something upon viewing it. For many, this is what leads them towards wanting to try out a painting class, and for those that want to learn the best way to get started, here’s a breakdown on  what types of art instruction you are likely to find.

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From graphic design to art history, taking painting classes can start your art journey

The Different Types of Painting Courses


Acrylic is a popular choice for both beginners and more experienced painters. Besides being cheaper than other alternatives, it is also one of easiest paints to handle. Acrylic paint itself is water based and only requires water as a solvent.

If you’re looking for art instruction, your classes will most likely involve learning to paint with acrylic if you’re a beginner. While you could head over to an open studio in Leeds for some inspiration, you can also head over to websites like this one to see some of the best contemporary work in acrylic.

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Watercolor painting, while calling back images of the rudimentary painting kits in the children’s craft aisle, is the oldest and arguably one of the most sophisticated painting method. Found in everything from the earliest cave paintings to the Sistine Chapel, watercolor is great for both quick or extremely detailed studies.

If you’re looking for art education in watercolor, you’re in luck. There is a copious amount of workshops and courses for watercolor in the Leeds area. Using this medium is great for all skill levels as well as it is both cheap and extremely fun to work with.

If you're based in London, find out where to find painting classes here.

Oil Painting

Most of the works that you would think of as masterpieces right off the bat have been done in, you guessed it, oil painting. The reason can be found in both the paint’s durability, being an oil based paint, and also its slow drying speed.

This is the type of paint you’re more likely to encounter in advanced courses, due to the materials’ higher price tag as well as the toxicity of the solvents used (the most common one being turpentine). While most tend to develop their painting skills with more accessible mediums first, you could also try to do so with oil paint.

One important note: before you even pick up a brush or start experimenting with color or mixed media, you should develop your drawing skills. While it might sound strange at first, drawing and painting are inextricably linked. Developing and improving your basic drawing skills will go a long way in improving your painting career.

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Paints that are safe for studios
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Common Painting Techniques

Starting to learn a new skill can come with a lot of uncomfortable feelings – namely, stressing out about whether your are or are not a “good” painter. While it’s always important to find techniques to combat this way of thinking, it can help you feel more confident by learning a bit about painting techniques.

There are a couple of different techniques in painting that will help you better and more accurately express your ideas regardless of the medium you use. The first isn’t so much a technique as it is a set guideline, and that is color theory.

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While color theory has a long history and has gone through revision after revision, it can be recognized today around the world as displayed on the color wheel.

Not only does this color wheel introduce the idea of complementary and supplementary colors, but it can also go a long way in improving your color mixing skills. Whether you’re painting a portrait of the human figure, or cartooning a political scene, understanding color will be indispensable to you as an artist.

Underpainting is an important technique most often used in oil painting, it is also widely used for acrylic painting as well. This technique is incredibly simple and can actually be a great way for beginners to practice their sketching ability with various paints.

Underpainting essentially involves coating your canvas with a layer of paint, normally a neutral color, that will serve as the base for your painting and help develop shadows and shading later on. Everyone from Leonardo da Vinci to contemporary painters use this technique to give their painting a more intense color range.

If you’ve ever or can imagine painting your nails, you can appreciate how important putting on a clear top coat can be for both helping bring out color and conserving the paint. Similarly, glazing, the technique used after the painting is done, involves the process of painting a transparent layer on the top of the finished work in order to both modify the appearance of the painting as well as protect it.

Whether you’re painting a still life or a rugged landscape, these are some of the common techniques you should familiarize yourself with if you want to learn more about how to improve your artwork, both in appearance and shelf life.

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Art Supplies and Materials You Will Need

While there are many art supply stores around the Leeds area, buying supplies can be pretty intimidating no matter your level. Before you show up to your first painting course or workshop empty handed, get in contact with the professor of your art school or the program organizers and find out what kinds of materials they will be supplying.

Generally, while each student should always have their own painting materials, teachers often have extra brushes and a palette or two lying around that can be borrowed by the students. If anyone understands the financial strain investing in art supplies can be, its your professors, so there’s no need to feel uncomfortable in asking them for help.

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Materials for art class
Finding materials for your art college or workshop can be stress-free

The type of canvases you will by buying for your course will, of course, depend on the medium the course will use. Both acrylic paint and oil paint can be used on traditional canvases bought from art supplies stores and they will be made of either cotton or linen.

Watercolor, on the other hand, is traditionally done on paper. If you’re taking a water color course, it can be helpful to get paper of various thicknesses in order to experiment in finding your favorite type.

If you’re thinking about turning your hobby into a lifelong pursuit, you’ll want to start investing, over time, in quality paints, an easel, and even your own art studio.

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Where to Find Art Classes and Workshops in Leeds

Young artists and experienced painters alike can have a hard time finding an open studio, painting classes or art workshops to attend and expand their craft. There are many different ways in which to find out where you can get art lessons in Leeds, below are some of the most common ways of finding them.

An Online Art Center

Whether you're looking for an art studio to start working on some major projects or simply want to find some kids art courses, starting by checking out some art lessons online can be an extremely helpful starting point. In fact, Leeds City College offers courses in oil painting that can be signed up for online. Clubs like the Leeds Drawing Club can help you develop the life drawing skills that will come in handy in your painting classes.

Art Class Institutions

If you're interested in finding an instructor with years of experience backing them up, finding an reputable art school or institution can be a great starting point in your journey to learn to paint.

Sites like Superprof house a large number of tutors and trusted institutions that give painting lessons ranging from adult art to plein air painting. If your curious about learning how to paint but want to be guided by a professional, this can be a great option.

Art lessons Through Workshops

Painting workshops, becoming ever more popular in big cities, can be a great way to learn art outside of an art studio. With websites like Obby and Everbrite, you can look up the next art workshops your local community has coming up. Not only is this a great way to practice and advance you skills, but it's also a great way of meeting people from your city.

Another great way of discovering workshops is to simply walk around Leeds itself. Many art supply stores and cafes actually advertise workshops with physical flyers, so make sure to keep you eye out for these opportunities.

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