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.

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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 like offering pathways to credit through online instruction for a fee that's significantly lower than the expense of enrolling in a college or university. members can check out the course Art 101: Art of the Western World, which includes chapters such as:

  • Rococo Art - Learn about the effect of social and political events on Rococo art, William Hogarth, the migration of Rococo to the United States, and more.
  • Realism in Art - Topics include comparing realism in literature and art, lithography, the art of photography, and related concepts.
  • Byzantine Art - Review the Byzantine commonwealth, the styles of early, middle, and late Byzantine art, and more.

Students looking for instruction in art can also find several art history topics covered in the History 101: Western Civilization I course. Listed below are just some of the chapters in this course that address art history:

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Free Online Non-Credited Art Courses

Annenberg Learner

  • Art of the Western World 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.

Figure-Drawing Lab

  • Figure Drawing Lab addresses 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

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.

  • Art of Color introduces students 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.
  • Art Since 1940 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.
  • Modern Art and Mass Culture 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

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.
  • Musée du Louvre covers the history of the museum and 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.

  • The Elements of Drawing references the influential artist and poet John Ruskin (1819-1900) 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.
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