The painter will produce pictures of little merit if he takes the works of others as his standard.
~ Leonardo da Vinci ~
The record for the most expensive painting ever sold is held by Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi, which sold after a 19-minute bidding war for over US$450 million at the Christie's Auction House in 2016.
While we can't all expect to create record-breaking masterpieces, we can all experience the joy of being creative, the relaxation and the pride when we point at a painting on our wall and say, 'I am the artist who painted that.'
Indulging in creative pursuits, like painting and other forms of art, can be expensive, so how can we learn to paint when we're on a budget?
Let us remind you that you don't need to enrol in art school or fancy studio courses to learn painting, drawing or sketching techniques. There are plenty of local community associations that offer painting workshops and other art classes for a lot less money.
Benefits of Community Painting Classes
If you are keen to explore different types of painting styles, such as oil painting, watercolour painting or ink painting, you should probably first enrol in drawing or sketching classes to develop your techniques, then try out some general painting workshops so you can experience the different styles until you work out which one gives you the greatest joy.
The important thing to remember is that it is not just a matter of the cost of the classes. The list of materials you need for painting, even when beginners are just starting out, is quite long and paint and other art materials are not exactly cheap.
Even if you decide to look for online painting classes or go it alone with YouTube — you still need the materials to work with.
This is why we recommend the low-key, informal painting workshops and classes, run by your local studio or community centre. They are not only advantageous for keeping the costs down but there are other positives as well.
Friendship and Connection
A community class is, more often than not, filled with people who want to:
a) learn a new skill for a hobby
These classes are more informal and more friendly because there is less at stake than in a formal art class at an art school or academy where everything you do is graded.
Community workshops and classes are as much about the friendly atmosphere, the fun and the social connections as they are about the 'creative experience'. For the same reason, the teachers often seem less formidable so you're more inclined to approach them for extra advice and, therefore, learn more.
Helping each other out is all part of the experience, as is the support and the ability to learn from each other as well as from your painting or drawing teacher.
Freedom to Create
One of the best things about community-based drawing and painting workshops is that you are encouraged to bring in your personal art projects, share them and ask the teacher, as well as the other students, for their advice.
Sharing your painting or drawing with your peers may be a bit daunting for beginners at first, especially those who are prone to comparing themselves unfavourably, but after a while you will see that nobody is critical and their advice is genuine. You will soon find yourself confident enough to join in providing advice of your own too.
Beginners can mix with the more experienced artist and everyone will still learn of others in the class. You might have experience with abstract painting techniques, and the person next to you might have just finished a life drawing class — why not join together on a project and share your skills and experience? Think creative and allow yourself to be inspired, rather than intimidated, by others in the class.
The beauty of an informal workshop is the opportunity it gives you to explore new techniques and materials at your own pace, or work on completing your portfolio or another project in a focused environment.
Help and Support
Be kind to yourself, enjoy the experience and remember you are there to learn and improve but you are also there to have fun. Don't expect to be able to paint like Picasso or Monet after one session but if their style is one you admire, aim high and push yourself to achieve.
Having an informal structure, with no set curriculum and totally guided by student interest, means that the teacher is there to support you with your project or your goals. Painting workshops are typically small, so take advantage of this to snag some time with the teacher or with other students with more experience — that's what they are there for.
The concept of the 'starving artist' takes on a whole know level when you start to realise exactly how much it costs to be an artist.
Cost is an important factor for most people but it is possible to engage in all sorts of creative pursuits without having to take out a loan. Community hubs and art associations sprung out of the need and desire to get more people involved with art as the therapeutic benefits are well documented.
Many community centres throughout Australia, particularly those outside of major cities, hold workshop style classes run by volunteers, where you have to bring all your materials but only need to pay a gold coin donation. However, most art associations charge a small fee per session, with a discount if you pay in advance for a full course, a full term or short series of classes. Often, basic materials are provided with students asked to bring other, less common materials they would like to use.
Art workshops such as these range in price from $10 a session up to around $40 or $50 a session. A 'session' is usually at least two hours.
Discounts are usually offered for school students, seniors, unemployed people or people with a disability.
Once you start looking for painting workshops and drawing courses, you'll be surprised how many you can actually find.
What about kids? Have a look at the range of classes and tutors who teach kids' painting lessons on Superprof.
What's Better — Community Art Courses or Art School Workshops?
I dream of painting and then I paint my dream.
~ Vincent van Gogh ~
In Australia, people are often heard saying 'you get what you pay for' — meaning that if something is cheap, then the quality is also cheap, or bad.
This is a rash generalisation, which does not usually apply to art classes in the broad sense — you can join art lessons having paid a huge amount in fees and still walk away with a less than satisfactory experience.
Just because a class has a flexible, informal session structure and is housed in a warehouse that's a bit breezy, does not mean the class is not worth it. In fact, often the best quality courses are the ones that look the shabbiest.
In fact, community associations go out of their way to attract the best art teachers, many of whom are specialists in at least one field — watercolour work, life drawing, spray paint techniques and so on.
A guest presenter who is an artist in their own right will often be sought out and is more than happy to share their experience and knowledge with enthusiastic students.
At the end of the day, an art course or painting workshop is only as good as the teacher and the students — and you can find good and not so good at any price.
If you're still wary that your $150 for a 10-week course, with each session spanning three hours, is going to be a waste of time and money, ask for a trial lesson. This is a one-off class that is either free or has a nominal fee only to cover your share of room hire or materials. If you enjoy the experience, you might be more inclined to join the full course.
Where to Find Small Independent Studios and Online Painting Classes
Word of mouth is often the best source of advertising so ask your creative friends for their recommendations. You may be surprised to hear they have a private online tutor, or attend all of their art workshops online — or they may go to a Meetup meeting once every 4-5 days. If it sounds enjoyable, ask how you can join.
If you're searching online for 'online painting classes' or 'budget friendly painting workshops', you'll probably come up with a whole list, but in the meantime, have a look at just a few of the courses we found.
And remember Superprof — maybe you're keen to try your hand at oil painting classes in Melbourne?
Canberra Art Workshop
The Canberra Art Workshop started out nearly 70 years ago as the Canberra Art Club — the group comprising of artist lobbyists whose goal was to spotlight the arts scene in Canberra and get the government to create and fund a stream of visual arts centres in the capital. They were successful.
Now, they are a thriving studio centre for the arts, located in the M16 Artspace in Griffith. They hold exhibitions, workshops and courses for everyone from kids and complete beginners to the professional artist. Courses include watercolour, sketching, painting and printmaking, among others.
Workshops generally span over two days, while courses usually run over 8-10 weeks for two hours each week. The Canberra Art Workshop also runs 'art groups' including portraiture, experimental and explorative art for 2-3 hours once a week, which anyone can join on a casual basis.
Prices are very affordable and include all the equipment (easel, paper etc) and some base materials but require the participant to bring any extra materials they may wish to use.
- Yearly membership is $100 (discounted for students and pensioners).
- Class fees start at $10 for a casual visit.
Pepper Street Arts Centre
Pepper Street Arts Centre is based in the town of Burnside in South Australia and offers a wide range of classes for adults and kids at very reasonable prices.
Adult classes include:
- colour theory workshop
- drawing workout
- intuitive watercolour
- oil painting
- general and botanical drawing
- panel knitwear workshop.
Courses for kids include:
- clay work.
In addition to their popular classes, Pepper Street also holds regular exhibitions featuring local artist work, artists talks and demonstrations, artist of the month display, coffee shop, gift shop and the 'Connect Art' project bringing together community members, aged care residents and people with disabilities to collaborate on joint projects.
- No membership fee and entry to exhibitions is free.
- Classes and workshops start at $125 for 5 weeks, each weekly session lasting 2 hours.
Artable's philosophy is that anyone can learn how to paint or draw with the right teaching and materials.
Artable offers art retreats for periods of 2-5 days, weekend art workshops and single or term-based art classes.
Classes and workshops include:
- beginners drawing and learn to draw lessons
- oil painting
- watercolour portraits
- expressive acrylic painting
- abstract botanica painting.
They are situated in Kingscliff in NSW and the Gold Coast in Queensland.
- $27.50 per lesson, 10-week block paid upfront.
Online Painting Classes
Online painting classes and other online art workshops and guided lessons are a dime a dozen at the moment. Some are live, like Superprof online lessons with your private tutor, whereas others may be prerecorded and not interactive. Either way, work with the method that suits your lifestyle, and the way you learn, best.
A few online painting classes I personally have enjoyed have been:
- Yasmina Creates (watercolour techniques and projects)
- Nina Rycroft (drawing and 'painting' through Procreate)
- Tamara LaPorte (intuitive and whimsical painting with watercolour, inks and acrylic).
Get inspired to create by visiting your local art gallery for a few hours.
Find a range of online painting classes here on Superprof.
Beginners, get ready for a huge learning curve — there's a whole new language out there in the world of art, just waiting to be discovered.
What do you use charcoal for?
Very messy and difficult to use, charcoal is nonetheless very popular among artists, especially those who do figure drawing. Charcoal comes in sticks and is generally used for drawing and sketching.
Skillfully used, charcoal techniques such as smudging, are highly effective.
Superprof has a wide range of painting courses in Melbourne — take a look.
Sanguine — what's that?
Sometimes called 'red chalk', sanguine is a drawing done in blood-red, orange-ish or 'flesh' coloured chalk or clay containing a form or iron oxide. The term 'sanguine' actually comes from the French, meaning blood-red.
Sanguine refers to the colour, the material and the art technique.
Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.
~ Pablo Picasso ~
Would you like to know where you can take painting classes anywhere in Australia?
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