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Oil Painting Classes and Courses Overview

Oil painting classes are offered through the art departments of many 2- and 4-year colleges and universities. Read on to learn about some of the most popular oil painting classes.

Essential Information

Although degrees in oil painting are rare, oil painting classes are commonly offered as part of both undergraduate and graduate art programs. Oil painting courses may also be available for continuing education credits or non-credit, self-enrichment purposes through the continuing education departments of community colleges, 4-year colleges and universities.

Students generally encounter the following concepts while pursuing study in oil painting:

  • Gray scale
  • Complimentary colors
  • Still life
  • Chiaroscuro
  • Value scale
  • Palate
  • Imprimatura

List of Courses

Basic Design Course

This course covers the basic design concepts in the creation of paintings and drawings. Elements include line, shading, perspective and negative space. In addition to oil paints, students may use pencils, pens and pastels to create artistic representations of design elements. The basic design course is typically a prerequisite to any visual arts course for a degree program, including oil painting.

Beginning Oil Painting Course

Oil painting techniques and theories are introduced through practice and demonstration. Emphasis is placed on choice of materials, depiction of light and shadow, painting techniques, basic color mixing and composition. The course provides students with a foundation for creative expression in oil painting.

Color Theory Course

Color theory is a basis for all types of painting classes. Concepts such as light and pigment, the nature of color, color harmonies and emotional effects of color are addressed through studio assignments and lectures. Color contrast, spatial illusion, color mixing, perception and special color concepts related to art and design are also covered. Materials may include acrylic and oil paints, watercolors, pastels and mixed media.

Intermediate Oil Painting Course

Coursework covers advanced oil painting techniques such as glazing, wet-on-wet and working from sketches. While working with an instructor, students are expected to set thematic and practical goals and work toward them in pursuit of a cohesive body of work to use as a portfolio.

Landscape Painting Course

Students learn to paint outdoor scenery in this class. Both observed and imagined landscapes may be covered. Classes may take place outdoors, in urban, forest, rural, suburban, waterfront and mountainous settings.

Figure Drawing Course

A figure drawing course may be part of oil painting programs, particularly those that include a figurative component to instruction. In figure drawing classes, students are expected to sketch the human form, often from live, nude models. The skills learned in this class can help students make more accurate human representations.


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