Online Art Class Review

Updated: Nov 1, 2021

Have you been searching for an online art class? Are you longing for more guidance in your art practice? Do you need some accountability to get you painting again? Well, I have good news! I'm currently enrolled in an online art class, and I'll be sharing my experience here over the next few weeks. And, as someone who got their BS in Studio Art, I think I'll be able to give ample insight into this class as it compares to an in-person class.


I'm taking the Premium Painting Track offered by Art Prof. It follows the curriculum laid out in the Painting Basics Track, but the difference between the two is that enrolling in the Premium Track gives you direct access to the teachers, Professor Lieu and Teaching Artists Jordan and Cat. Professor Lieu taught at RISD for over a decade and has extensive knowledge of the arts and plenty of experience teaching. Jordan works in the animation industry, and Cat has experience as an Art Director. Other Teaching Artists may be more involved in future classes, but no matter who you work with, you'll be getting feedback from professional working artists.


Learning on your own is just fine, but some people enjoy a more structured class with tailored guidance. To see if this class would be a good fit for you, I'll be sharing my experience working on each project, the feedback I get in each class session, and my overall experience with the class. With all the details laid out, let's get into how Week One is going.


Week One

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Every week is dedicated to one assignment, and there are two voice sessions hosted through Discord. The voice sessions allow us to meet up online and actually to talk to one another. So when I'm presenting my work, I get real time feedback from Prof Lieu and the Teaching Artists.


On the first day, we all shared 5 pieces that we've previously made. We talked about our experience with art, what our short- and long-term goals are, and what we hope to accomplish over the course of the class. It seriously felt just like being back in the classroom. In art class, you basically pin your project to the wall, explain your goals, struggles, and thoughts about your work, and listen to feedback from your teacher and peers. That's exactly what this class is like.


Later in the week, we shared our first assignment: Painting a Master Copy. I chose to paint, "Pyramid of Skulls" by Paul Cézanne. I selected this piece for a few reasons. First, I haven't painted representationally in a few months now, and I wanted to switch it up. Second, I struggle with Impressionist and Post-Impressionist techniques. Third, it was perfectly spooky for an October project.


Overall, I think the painting went really well! I'm really pleased with how it turned out. And it got great feedback from the other students in the class as well as the teachers. My big points to focus on and keep in mind are to tone back the brilliancy of my whites and really lean into those darks. So in my next project, I'll be thinking more about value and how to use darks to make the lighter areas pop without using white as much.


For materials, I used Liquitex Heavy Body acrylics and Liquitex Matte Medium. For tools, I used filbert brushes on a 16"x20" canvas.


My biggest challenges while making this piece were trying replicate the effects oil paints achieve while working with acrylic paint. Oil paints are much creamier and blend easier than acrylics do, because oils have a much longer dry time. I've used slow-drying medium in the past, but I don't like the sheen it adds to my pieces. I haven't used open acrylics before, so I can't say if that would have changed anything in terms of blending. Lastly, trying to replicate glazing done with oils is very challenging when working with acrylics. They just don't achieve the same glow as oils, because the molecular makeup is very different between oil and acrylic. And light interacts differently with them.


In terms of process, I approached this piece like any other piece I make. I first blocked out the basic shapes and established some base colors. This stage always looks ugly. It doesn't matter if you're the best artist in the world (which isn't a thing), the beginning is always rough. Just push through, because this is how beautiful paintings start.

After I got my foundation set, I started fleshing out the forms. (Can I say that about skulls?) I really focused on the brush strokes used by Cézanne, and I tried my best to replicate them. While painting a Master Copy might feel like it needs to look exactly like the original, the purpose of the exercise is to get you thinking in a different way and experimenting with an unfamiliar process. It helps expand your artistic vocabulary and gives you a new perspective to think about.

I continued working on my painting, and, near the end, I found myself enjoying the process more than stressing about it. Once I internalized the point I made above, this became a really fun experience and project to work on.

As you can see, my version doesn't look just like Cézanne's piece. But it got me thinking more in line with how he might have thought. And it gave me some new ideas to bring into my own work! I count that as a success.


Next week's assignment is to paint a sky, and I've already been brainstorming a couple ideas. So keep your eye out for next week's post where I'll be sharing my next project and more info on how the class is going!

I hope you enjoyed a peek into what this class is like! I'm loving it so far, and I think it's a great option for anyone looking to work with an art professor one-on-one. If you want to see how week two went, just click here for the next post in this series.


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Thanks for reading and happy creating!