Oil Painting Lessons & Watercolor Lessons

If you are frustrated with your progress in learning to paint, or if you are a beginner who wants to avoid picking up bad habits from the start, then read on.

Welcome to the Virtual Art Academy, a flexible and affordable alternative to taking a degree course in Fine Art and Painting at a prestigious Art University or Art Academy.

We believe anyone can learn how to paint well. We have these three core beliefs.

  1. There are scientific reasons why a master painting is a master painting. All great paintings follow certain design principles. This is true whatever style or technique the artist uses. If you can discover the principles behind what makes these master paintings work, then eventually you will be able to paint a good painting yourself.
  2. To paint well there are a lot of individual skills you need to master first.  This means that there are no quick fixes. That is why after watching an artist giving a demonstration, you still cannot paint like that yourself.  Trying to learn all these skills at once is a virtually impossible task. However if you learn and acquire these skills one at a time, it makes learning to paint far easier and more manageable. Anyone can do it, with some dedication and effort.
  3. Art knowledge is an evolution, not a revolution. In the late 19th and 20th centuries, a lot of knowledge built up over centuries about how to paint disappeared from our art schools. To make any progress in your art, you need to dig out this lost knowledge and not try to reinvent the wheel.


Professional artist Barry John Raybould spent fifteen years collecting all this information learned over the centuries on how to paint. This includes not only the knowledge taught in the great art academies of the world up until about the middle of the 19th century,  but also new theories of art developed in the various modern art movements of the 20th century.

He then rewrote all of this information using a scientific writing methodology called Information Mapping to make the information far easier to understand. The result of this effort was a large electronic knowledge base of knowledge on how to paint called the Virtual Art Academy® Reference Library. This library of 58 e-books contains everything you need to know about how to paint well.

See Reference Library to learn more about this knowledge base.

Barry then broke learning how to paint in oils or watercolors into 200 key skills and sequenced them into a series of painting lessons and created 350 assignments to help you learn and master each skill. Each assignment is simple and achievable. Complete all the assignments and your painting will rise to a much higher level of quality. The result of this effort is the four-year program of oil and watercolor painting lessons called the Virtual Art Academy® Apprentice Program.

See our Curriculum of oil and watercolor painting lessons for more information on the structure of the program.

This program is the only highly structured and comprehensive program of its kind available on the internet written by a working professional artist. Students tell us it is the most comprehensive course they have found on the internet.

The program offers complete flexibility. You can learn how to paint at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home. There are no time deadlines or timetables. If you are a beginner, you can take the full four years to complete the oil painting lessons or watercolor lessons. If you are a more experienced painter, you can complete the course in one or two years. The choice is yours.

Our Difference

Our students have told us that that they have found the Virtual Art Academy course of painting lessons to be more comprehensive and highly structured than anything else they have found on the web. They have often have tried many other courses before finally joining us, and were frustrated with their progress.

It is the structure, comprehensiveness, and the quality of the information in the Virtual Art Academy program that sets us apart.

You do not get this structure from a website with a confusion of painting video tutorials from multiple artists. This is only possible if the program has been designed as an integrated program.

Many art tutoring courses on the web are created by hobbyist artists who do not have a history of exhibiting in museum and gallery exhibitions, or professional awards. Barry John Raybould, the creator of the Virtual Art Academy course, has had his work shown in many museum exhibitions, had a large number of solo and group shows in professional galleries, and has won many top awards in painting competitions, some judged by his peers.  (See his biography). When investing your money in art courses or art books, this makes a big difference to the quality of the information you receive.

To learn more about the breadth and structure of our painting lessons and course, click Curriculum in the menu above. To learn how our online campus and community work, click on How It Works.

P.S. You can click on any image on our website to see a larger version. The artwork is by the author of this course, Barry John Raybould.

Are These Painting Lessons For You?

These oil, acrylic and watercolor painting lessons are for dedicated, committed, passionate, serious, goal driven students who are willing to invest their time in the best art education available on the internet and who are willing to put the time in to develop their skills. Whether you are beginning to paint with oil, acrylic or watercolor paints and you are dedicated to learning how to paint, or you are looking for intermediate level art lessons to improve your painting skills, then this art course is for you. If you follow the program and complete the assignments we set for you, you will soon start to see great improvements in your artwork.

This is not a course for anyone looking for a quick technique on how to paint a tree, how to paint a cat, how to paint water, and so on. Those kind of oil painting lessons and watercolor lessons will teach you a technique for one specific painting that will work. The problem though is that you will only ever be able to paint that specific painting. When it comes to painting your own subject you will find yourself struggling. Professional artists know that to become a master you have to put in the effort to learn the key foundational skills from the ground up. After you have that knowledge, you will be able to paint any subject you like.  And you will be able to use whatever materials you want: oils, acrylics, watercolors, pastels, crayons, or even house paint. It does not matter. It is mastering the fundamentals principles that is important. And that is what you will get with this course.

Reviews from our online campus students


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