List of Free Online Art Courses, Lessons and Tutorials
See our list of the top online art courses. Learn about what courses are available and what topics they cover to find the course that is right for you.
Online Art Courses for Credit
The internet abounds with free art courses, lessons and tutorials, though few of them can lead to actual college credit. Students looking for a low-cost alternative to completing traditional courses might want to consider education providers offering online instruction for a fee that's significantly lower than the expense of enrolling in a college or university.
Education Portal offers affordable online courses that can lead to real college credit. Students looking for instruction in art can find several art history topics covered in the History 101: Western Civilization I course. Each lesson includes written transcripts that can be accessed for free. Registered members can also view short, engaging video lessons taught by experienced educators and take self-assessment quizzes to test their understanding of the material. Listed below are just some of the chapters in this course that address art history:
- History of the Ancient Near East - Survey Sumerian and Assyrian art and architecture alongside the art of ancient Egypt.
- History of Ancient Greece - Explore the techniques and materials used to create pottery and sculpture in ancient Greece.
- Rise of the Roman Republic - Learn to identify the characteristics of Roman portrait sculptures, paintings and mosaics.
- The Early Middle Ages - Instructors cover the religious art and illuminated texts prevalent during the Carolingian Renaissance.
- The Medieval Warm Period - Examine Romanesque art's murals, stained glass windows and sculptures as well as art in the Dark Ages.
Free Online Non-Credited Art Courses
Appropriate for high school and adult learners, this series is presented through 9 videos. The hour-long videos trace Western art history from its roots in Classical Greece through the major movements of the 20th century and the contemporary international art scene. Recognized art critics comment on topics that include Romanesque churches, Renaissance artists, painters of the Baroque period, Romantic artists, Impressionism/Post-Impressionism, Modernism and Abstract Expressionists. Coordinated books are available for a fee.
Art Studio Chalkboard
Users may learn the fundamental techniques of drawing and painting through a website designed and maintained by Ralph Larmann, an artist and associate professor of art at the University of Evansville. Drawing covers topics such as perspective, shading and compositional models. Users may view the instructions in still or animated versions. Painting includes information about working with canvas, painting tools, the process of painting, pigment characteristics, oil/acrylic painting and egg tempera. A list of possible source books is included.
Also created by associate professor Ralph Larmann, these animated drawing tutorials address the many facets of drawing the human form, such as proportion, shading, texture and construction. A list of source materials and books about art and drawing are also available for these tutorials.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Art of Color
- Art Since 1940
- Composing Your Life: Exploration of Self Through Visual Arts and Writing
- Modern Art and Mass Culture
MIT OpenCourseWare makes available materials from a variety of art courses; however, these pages may not contain all the learning materials from the original courses. In the project-based course Art of Color, learners are introduced to the interactions between colors, the psychology of color and historical uses of color. Though lecture notes aren't available, students can access the syllabus, reading list and project descriptions with JPEG image examples.
Though the focus of Art Since 1940 is on post-WWII American art, the course also looks at art work from other world cultures. Readings, assignments and lecture notes cover topics like surrealism, the San Francisco School, happenings, pop art, identity politics and new media art. Some of the artists discussed are Joan Miro, Mark Rothko, Laurie Anderson and Maya Lin.
Composing Your Life: Exploration of Self Through Visual Arts and Writing is an interdisciplinary course in which students express themselves through both visual and written media tools. The materials don't include lecture notes; however, a substantial reading list and project descriptions are available, as well as examples of students' work and sample exercises.
Learners are introduced to theories of Modernism/Postmodernism in Modern Art and Mass Culture, a course that includes lecture notes, readings and writing assignments. The course critiques and examines the relationship between fine art (e.g., sculpture, painting and photography) and mass culture art forms (e.g., advertising, TV and fashion).
Open University, a provider of distance-education programs based in the United Kingdom, makes course materials available for many of its courses through its LearningSpace website. Art in Renaissance Venice is a 6-hour, advanced course unit that investigates how this art was affected by the diverse population and the geographical location. Learners can access printable lessons with several color images.
Making Sense of Art History is a 5-hour, introductory course that focuses on art since 1980 and assists learners in considering artists' messages. Presented through printable lessons with images and activities, course topics include elements of art, like color and composition, as well as meaning and interpretation. Users studying Musée du Louvre, a brief 4-hour unit, learn the history of the museum and explore its collections through videos. Napoleonic Paintings is a 16-hour, intermediate-level course that investigates specific artists of the period. Through printable lectures, images and exercises, students examine the relationship between politics and art, develop analytical skills and learn the complexities of art interpretation.
University of Oxford
These drawing courses are offered by the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology at the University of Oxford. In the 8 video lessons in The Elements of Drawing, works of the influential artist and poet John Ruskin (1819-1900) are used to explain topics that include line, tone, measuring, color, collecting information and working creatively. Through Ruskin's Eyes features drawing exercises based on Ruskin's teachings, using the themes of nature, architecture, landscape and narrative. Aspiring artists have the opportunity to view video discussions of artists' works housed in the museum that illustrate key drawing principles.