First, you must know what painting classes are out there. This can sound strange: all art is just art, right? Well, as with all things, the answer is a bit more complex. Art can generally be divided into three major categories: literature, performing arts, and visual arts.
What we will focus on is painting, which is classified under the visual arts category. If you want to learn more about the different kinds of visual art you can get involved in, you can also check out sculpture, printmaking, architecture, film or mixed media.
Learn to paint in the capital of England!
While you may typically imagine learning to paint as involving paint-splattered smocks or learning to the techniques of color mixing, painting actually begins with basic drawing skills. You don’t necessarily have to have taken drawing classes, but it is extremely important to attain and constantly improve sketching and designing skills.
Drawing and painting are inextricably linked, which is why it might be a good idea for a beginner to practice either figure drawing or simple sketching before starting art class.
Once you’re confident in your landscape and life drawing, you should focus on what types of art mediums interest you. Below, you can find some of the most common forms of painting you are likely to encounter in painting classes.
A favorite for many artists, both debutantes and experts, acrylics are paints with pigment mixed in a water based solution. This is probably the type of paint you will encounter in your first painting course, as they are easy to handle and less toxic than other paints.
Funnily enough, acrylic paint is actually relatively new – which is why you’ll find many contemporary art pieces done in this medium. Invented in the mid-1900s, you’ll find everything from landscape to portrait painting done in this versatile paint.
Before you learn to handle oil paint, you’ll probably have to take art lessons. Oil paint is one of the oldest mediums – in fact, the world’s oldest oil paintings, dating back to the 7th century AD, were found in 2008 in Afghanistan.
Part of the reason why so many masterpieces have been done in oil paint is not only because of its versatility, but also its durability. Oil paint is pigment mixed with oil, which is part of what makes it so slow to dry, as opposed to fast drying acrylic.
Being oil-based, however, also means that in order to thin it out substances like turpentine have to be used. Both the level of toxicity and price is normally what makes this a difficult medium to begin with – which is why you will normally find this type of painting class for more advanced painters.
Watercolor is the oldest medium, starting with the earliest cave paintings. These prehistoric paintings involved this type of paint, mixing some type of pigment, found in nature, with water. Some of the most historically important buildings in the world are actually done in watercolor, including the Sistine Chapel.
Today, water color continues to be one of the most highly accessible mediums in the world. If you think back to a figure painting or landscape painting you did as a child, chances are you probably did them in watercolor. This is because it is highly non-toxic and very inexpensive. If you think you might be interested in taking an art class in watercolor, make sure to check out paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe or Paul Cezanne for some inspiration.
Deciding on what you’d like to paint is a great way to start!
Before you put paint to canvas, get yourself acquainted with something called color theory. While it may seem like more of a guideline than anything, color theory argues an arrangement of colors that have come to be known as the color wheel. Whether your learning to paint a human figure, city or still life – knowing color theory will raise your artwork to the next level.
Keeping this in mind, lets take a look at some of the most common techniques in the most common mediums.
Starting with acrylic painting techniques, you’ll find are analogous to the ones you will find in other mediums. The first, called dry brush, is exactly as it sounds: applying paint onto your dry brush and painting onto dry canvas.
Washing, in contrast, involves thinning out the acrylic with water. The level of water you use will obviously depend on what kind of color and texture you’re looking for. It is interesting to note, however, that applying enough water to acrylic will give you a watercolor effect (only it will dry much faster).
Stippling is a method that involves nothing more than stabbing your canvas with your brush. This technique was employed by famous artists like Georges Seurat, and can give way to incredible detailing.
Scumbling is the oil paint version of dry brush. It simply means you apply some oil paint onto the canvas as it is, which tends to give paintings a hazy or unfocused atmosphere.
Alla prima is the wet on wet technique of oil painting. This means that you will have to apply the paint on the first layer without letting it dry. This tends to give the painting more texture.
Flat wash is what you typically think of as a general technique of water coloring. It means that you will dip your brush into water and then paint before applying it to your canvas. This goes along with the wet on dry technique, as you will create a flat wash on canvas, wait for it to dry, then apply another flat wash.
Wet on wet, however, is a technique that means wetting a segment of the paper first and then applying a flat wash onto it. This creates more of a dreamy effect that typifies watercolor paintings.
Whether your painting a portrait, still life or simply sketching out your preliminary ideas, every canvas normally should undergoes some sort of underpainting. This technique is when a layer of non-white paint is applied to canvases as a layer that will both deepen shading and add texture to your works. Note that this normally isn’t a technique applied to watercolor.
While creativity is at the heart of artistic creation, you will need to buy some basic materials and supplies in order to get started. Whether you take part in workshops or are part of a painting course at a university, it is important that you investigate what kind of materials will be available for you to borrow.
For example, many professors tend to have an extra palette or brushes that they won’t mind letting students use if they’re strapped for cash. On the other hand, workshops are likely to supply the materials that will be used during the session.
If you are taking part in a beginners course, you will most likely need to get some basic colors of acrylic paint. Luckily, either your instructor or the people at the art supply store will be able to give you some recommendations on what colors will be necessary for beginners.
Requirements for class don’t have to be stressful or expensive
While paint for watercolor painting is extremely important, the paper which you will be painting on is equally as important. Because watercolor is normally done on paper and not canvas, the type of watercolor painting your will be doing will effect the thickness of the paper you will need. A rule of thumb is to purchase several paper of a range of thickness to be able to experiment with.
Oil painting courses will require a bit more of an investment. If you’re a beginner, only buy a couple of the basic colors as oil paint can get expensive. If you’re a more advanced painter, consider getting an easel.
Searching for painting classes in London has its advantages. From workshops, adult classes, kids art courses, to finding an open studio – finding the type of art instruction you’re looking for is just a click away.
Many art classes in London, like London Art Classes, focus on everything from drawing classes to painting. If you’re looking for institutions that offer evening courses, the Art Academy of London offers both classes in studio art and for refining drawing skills. Finding tutors from these organizations, or from the many Superprof tutors available to you online, will enable you to develop your artwork at your own pace.
Another great option for people living in the city is not necessarily to enroll in an art school, but to take advantage of the art workshops that pop up around the city, all year long. Websites like Obby and Eventbrite can help you find an upcoming painting event close to where you live.
If you’re simply looking for places to develop your own self-practice, consider renting a part of or a whole art studio in the city. Many artists, in fact, choose to share a space with other artists as a way of both expanding their supplies and having a space to store all of their materials.
Other than that, practicing in the parks of London can be a great opportunity to practice plein air painting. The only downside being, of course, the weather!
No matter where in the UK you live, you can find a painting tutor with Superprof.