Online Painting Course

Painting I

For centuries, artists have used paint to represent the physical world. Now you too can learn how to paint online. In this online painting course, you'll learn a traditional approach to oil painting or acrylic painting. Working with a professional artist, you'll study a time-honored approach to painting that enables you to capture proportion, perspective, and lighting in the world around you. You'll learn how to build a foundation with preparatory sketches and underpainting, find out how to mix your paints correctly, and gain control over value through monochromatic painting and color studies.

Online painting course image
Oil painting by student Joella Frahm

Master a traditional approach to painting

Instructor-Led Course

Feedback from design professionals

Creative Projects

Stretch your skills, grow your portfolio

Learn at Your Own Pace

Self-paced and scheduled programs available
Course Outline
Preview course topics and assignments.

1 - Preliminary Drawing

Every painting starts with a number of preliminary drawings. This lesson focuses on the fundamentals of drawing as they relate to painting. You'll look at methods for accurately representing objects in your sketches by using perspective for interest and depth, and applying believable shadows and highlights. Get your sketchbook and some household items ready for the first exercise, where you'll prepare a still life arrangement and explore your subject by drawing it from different perspectives.

Project - Still life

2 - Materials, Workspace, and Canvas

The range of paints, brushes, and surfaces that can be used by painters is almost infinite. In Lesson Two, you'll learn to sort through the options and choose the materials that are best for your needs. Solvents, canvas types, and equipment are explored, along with techniques for safely handling them. Then you'll learn to load up your palette and mix colors.

Project - Underpainting

3 - Light and Value

Value doesn't just mean how much your art is worth in the marketplace—it refers to the amount of light that is present in your subject. Painting is all about representing light values with color, and accuracy is key. In this lesson, you'll learn about the techniques artists use to represent light and dark with paint and how to capture depth through your color choices.

Project - Monochromatic still life

4 - Combining Color in Paint

This lesson takes your study of light to the next level, exploring the color wheel, color harmonies, and color contrast. You'll learn how colors relate to one another, and how to use these relationships to create interesting effects.

Project - Full-color still life painting

5 - Painting Techniques

Using color and value, you're on the right track to bringing your paintings to life, but you need another major component: technique. Painters use a wide range of practical and stylistic techniques to develop their signature works. You'll learn about some popular historical approaches and styles in this lesson and explore a start-to-finish process for creating a painting.

Project - Two still lifes

6 - Making a Painting

In Lesson Six, you'll wrap up the course with a look at the creative side of painting: How to communicate your ideas in paint. Three painting case studies are explored, teaching you about visual metaphors and how to create intriguing compositions as you explore the beauty in everyday objects. You'll also learn techniques for painting in natural and artificial light.

Project - Final artwork

Course Objectives
Building skills? Here’s an overview of what you’ll learn in this course:
  • Learn a step by step method for oil or acrylic painting that will provide a foundation for all your future work.
  • Use basic drawing skills as effective preparation for painting compositions.
  • Create preparatory pencil sketches demonstrating perspective, shading, and contour.
  • Select quality paints, brushes, and painting surfaces, and handle them safely.
  • Load a palette, mix paint colors, and hold a brush effectively.
  • Prepare a canvas and create an underpainting as a painting guide.
  • Identify value levels in a subject and accurately translate them on monochromatic and color paintings.
  • Use light sources to create various effects and tones on a subject.
  • Effectively brighten, darken, and adjust the saturation of a paint color.
  • Use color wheel relationships to create intensity, warmth and coolness, push and pull, and other paint effects.
  • Apply traditional painting techniques to create realistic and abstract effects.
  • Create paintings using the alla prima technique.
  • Choose and compose painting subjects to maximize contrast and visual interest.
Course Registration

Interested in this course? Scheduled and self-paced enrollment options are available. Ask Admissions about taking this course as part of a degree or certificate program.

Course LevelClasses startRegistration FeeTechnology FeeTuition
Degree course
3 credits, 15 weeks
Jan, May, Aug$200$50/semester$475/credit
Vocational course
60 clock hours, 3 months access
Enroll today, start tomorrow$50$25/course$534
* Registration fees are nonrefundable after 5 days from enrollment. All tuition includes a digital materials fee for updates to course or program content.

Software and Supplies

To take this course you'll need:

  • Computer with Internet connection.
  • Oil or acrylic paints, canvas, brushes, and other art supplies (full list provided in the course).
  • Basic experience in drawing.
  • A digital camera to submit your artwork.

Who’s Teaching

Course developed by Jordon Schranz

Student Feedback

The instructors have top credentials and experience and are always there to offer a new perspective, as well as valuable coaching and mentoring. - Myriam Keaton, Associate Degree in Graphic Design.

Student Gallery

Getting Started

Enrolling online is easy and convenient.
Chat with our knowledgeable admissions staff to select course and program options.
Complete your registration entirely online.

Related Programs

Did you know? You can take this course as part of an award-winning certificate or degree program.