Ready to channel your inner Da Vinci? It’s time to get creative at the best London art classes.
Sometimes you just get that urge to say screw it, I’m going to quit my day job and become a painter. We’re here to say hold your horses; you might need a little bit of hands-on experience before you break into the art world.
Luckily for you, London has heaps of places where you can get creative. From evening events where you can sip wine and take to the canvas, to season-long courses in obscure elements of Renaissance painting. There’s even a stop or two at some major London artistic institutions.
Ready to brush up on your skills? Here’s our guide to the best art classes in the capital.
Best Art Classes in London
Creative Sessions at the National Gallery
If you’re looking to up your artistic game, there’s no better place to start than the home of art in London: The National Gallery.
They regularly host evenings where you can join an expert – and some fellow creative minds – on sketching tours of the galleries, or life drawing classes where models pose in the style of the subjects of the gallery’s most famous paintings.
You’ll be getting direction and recreating works from some of the masters of the history of art. Not to mention doing it all in rooms hung with iconic pieces of art. What more could you want for inspiration?
London Fine Art Studios
Looking for traditional london painting classes? Founded with the aim of teaching the crafts of painting and drawing to anyone that’s willing to learn, London Fine Art Studios run a variety of courses in all kinds of disciplines – so there’s plenty of choice to suit you.
You can choose to sign up for evening classes, online seminars, full-time study or even just weekends if you’ve already got commitments.
The choices don’t end there. You can choose which area of the fine arts you want to study in and specialise. They can teach you everything from the broad strokes (no pun intended) of painting and drawing, or help you get your portraiture down to a fine art (whoops, again).
Art Classes at the V&A
The National Gallery isn’t the only major London institution to offer classes where you can get creative, The V&A has also got a range of activities that you should have on your radar.
They’re not entirely regular and often require a little sifting through of the V&A’s busy schedule of talks, but we assure you that their classes are legit.
They usually revolve around a style of fine art such as drawing or watercolours and can range from long-course format to just a one-off session.
Neon Life Drawing
The fine arts may have a longstanding tradition in the art world but that doesn’t mean they aren’t sometimes subject to a bit of evolution.
At these Shoreditch-based art classes, you’ll be following in the long tradition of painting images of naked people, but you’ll be doing it with neon paint.
Yep, gone are your oils and acrylics, these guys crank up the UV light and get you started using glow-in-the-dark paints to create your artwork.
They meet pretty regularly but the spaces at the class fill up pretty quickly. You’ll have to keep checking back to grab a place.
Short Courses at CSM
London isn’t short of excellent art schools. One of those is Central St. Martins, an educational institution that’s turned out plenty of big names in its time – and continues to do so.
We’re not suggesting that you throw it all aside to sign up for art school full-time (as romantic as that sounds, you have a real life), but CSM does offer short courses, and weekend and evening classes for the budding creative.
What’s really great about CSM is the choice you’ll have on offer. Not only do they cover the bases of all the fine arts, but they also stray into the realms of stuff like film and sound, 3D product design and curation.
Sip ‘n’ Stroke
Art doesn’t have to be about sitting contemplatively in front of a canvas, or so say the folks at Sip ‘n’ Stroke. They organise a bunch of different events that mix creative pursuits with a touch of alcohol to get the creative juices flowing.
They really turn up the energy too. Their events can verge on the edge of becoming full paint-brush-down parties with decorations, cake, and obviously booze.
Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves though, these guys do provide a great place to get creative – that is, after all, the point here.
The Royal Drawing School
OK, let’s face it. Anything that’s got the word royal in its title must be doing something right. The Royal Drawing School doesn’t prove us wrong. They’re a registered charity that run heavily-subsidised courses to get you and other people with similar creative yearnings into the art world.
But what’s on offer? Well, only over 350 different courses in both full-time and part-time schedules, with levels ranging from beginner to advanced.
The above are taught by a faculty of practising artists, all keen to share their knowledge and expertise with those eager to learn.
Clearly painting and drinking go hand in hand because there are a million alcoholic artists in the history books to prove it. There’s also a slew of London companies that offer to put you at the whim of that very combination. Bottoms up!
Merriment Atelier is one of them. They’ll be around the city organising social painting and drinking events, or turning up to a location of your choosing to host private sessions for you and your collective of alcoholic artists.
It’s no secret that getting the creative juices flowing is great for the soul, and so the people at Master Peace founded a whole school of art around that very philosophy.
In doing so, they became London’s first mindfulness and art school. They then took the idea to Dragon’s Den and received a big old cash injection from the stone-faced Deborah Meaden and grew the school to include 20 passionate teachers.
They’ll show you how to do anything from painting in a photorealistic style to using inks to create the image you want, and much more – all with the added bonus of a little peace of mind.
Pop-Up Painting at the London Art Bar
Did you know London has an entire bar dedicated to art? Named in straight-to-the-point style, The London Art Bar provides a hangout for the city’s artistic community and a place to meet and socialise with other artists.
No art bar would be complete without a regularly rammed schedule of artistic events for you to get stuck into.
At the London Art Bar, these include tantalising prospects like classes on how to paint in the style of Monet and Van Gough, as well as options for sipping prosecco and painting – it is a bar after all.
The Art Academy of London
Founded in 2000 by sculptor Tanya Russel The Art Academy of London should not be overlooked for its young age. In the 20+ years of operation it has made itself into a low-key force to be reckoned with.
In that time they’ve received accreditation from the Open University and built a thriving community of artists that have gone onto some rather great things.
You can follow in their footsteps with some of the AAL’s evening, short courses and drop-in sessions that cover the full spectrum of fine art.
Practical Tips for Exploring the Best Painting Classes in London
- Most of the places we’ve included in our guide will offer classes to a wide range of abilities. Have a look around before you sign up to make sure you’re signing up for the right level of class.
- Choose the right class for you. There’s no need to sign up to a six-week evening course at a fine arts academy if you only fancy trying out a few painting ideas, and don’t be getting upset if no one at your drinks and painting class takes your work as seriously as you do.
- The art world can be a daunting place. Don’t feel shy just because you don’t know your Rodin from your Monet.