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.

Our Virtual Art Academy® Apprentice Program is a structured four-year program of online oil painting lessons and watercolor lessons. Written and designed by a professional artist Barry John Raybould over a 15 year period, it is the only highly structured and comprehensive online art instruction program of its kind available on the internet written by a working professional artist. See our curriculum of oil painting lessons and watercolor painting lessons for more information.

Painting is a complex task that requires a high degree of skill to do well — there are no quick solutions. Barry has broken learning how to paint in oils or watercolors into 200 key skills, and has developed a series of online oil and watercolor painting lessons and 350 assignments for you to 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 program offers complete flexibility. You can learn how to oil or watercolor 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 online painting 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 oil online painting 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 oil and watercolor painting video tutorials from multiple artists. This is only possible if the program has been designed as an integrated program.

Many painting 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.

The Virtual Art Academy is endorsed by the International Artist Magazine, voted the best artist magazine in the world. Barry is a regular author for the magazine and has an article in every issue.


To learn more about the breadth and structure of our online painting lessons and course, click Curriculum (of oil painting lessons) 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  online 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, digital media, 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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