Updated: Apr 25
Ready to try something new or take your skills up to the next level?
There is no shortage of free art classes available online. Youtube, artist websites & newsletters, blogs, and social media all offer a spectacular choice of creative pursuits.
Starting with a free class is a great way to get your feet without opening your wallet. Whether you're looking for something specific or have no idea what you're even interested in, take a look at these resources and see what resonates.
Full disclosure, I have not taken all of the classes listed here, but I have checked many of them out personally or had a quick scan. This list isn't exhaustive, but just a small taste of the wonderful resources that might spark your creativity.
1. Karen Abend / Sketchbook Revival
This is currently running and continues until April 30th, 2022. This is my third year participating, and while I don't do all of the classes daily, I cherry-pick whatever interests me and I'm never disappointed, Karen brings together some amazing artists. Hurry and hop in here!
2. Carla Sonheim / Presents
Carla's artwork and style of teaching are very loose and easy to follow. Both new artists and seasoned pros will get something out of her classes. Carla teaches her own courses and also has other artists show up regularly with new classes (paid).
Like other sites below, she has an extensive freebie selection of quick classes that are suitable for all. She even has classes for kids (that are fun for grown-ups too) so already know she's a patient instructor.
3. Jenny Grant
Inspired by Doing & My Magic World are 2 mini-classes that take a peek into the art journaling process of Swedish artist Jenny Grant. She's the hipster artist that I always imagined myself as. Must get me some leather pants! Anyway, a very soulful artist with a wealth of tips on mixed media processes. You know the kind of people that just love to share for the sake of happiness? That's her.
4. Ivy Newport / Studioworks
This site is a host for many different classes and instructors as part of a creative community membership. It's easy to spend some time looking at all the offerings, they really do have something for everyone.
In addition to offering a 30-day free trial, they also have a bunch of mini-classes available for free. I haven't watched nearly as many as I would like, but the ones I've seen have given me an instant creative boost.
5. Tamara Laporte / Willowing Arts
I've seen a few of her videos and she has such a great style for creating lots of fun paintings, quirky animals, portraits, and journaling. This is for you if you totally love doodling, drawing, and illustrating. Offering both free & paid classes with easy-going instruction.
6. Robert Burridge / BobBlast
Bob is such an enthusiastic painter and he gets downright giddy when demonstrating his art process. This guy is super fun!
If you sign up for his newsletter, you'll get a weekly demo showing his painting techniques, how he uses collage, and paints abstract, figures, florals, pears, chickens, teacups, simple objects. I especially like his circus paintings.
He offers both online & in-person paid workshops and even makes it to Alberta at least once a year.
See the entire archive and/or subscribe here:
7. Louise Fletcher / Find Your Joy Taster
This was the first workshop I participated in that was real-time as opposed to pre-recorded youtube. Louise is an artist from the UK who puts on this really great (and free!) workshop every year.
Like the Art 2 Life workshop, this takes place in a facebook group with demo videos and live chats over the course of the week. It's all recorded so you can go back and watch in your own time (limited time, the videos come down after the workshop).
Posting your work in the group is optional, some people just check out all the stuff and stay quietly in the background while others post their life stories, you decide how much you want to be seen.
Her teaching style allows you to follow along and make some wonderful discoveries about what creates joy for you in your artmaking. Not only is she delightful to listen to, but her creative exercises are very easy to understand. Just her colour-mixing demo alone is worth showing up for.
I believe she runs the free workshop twice a year, check here for the next one.
8. Becca Courtice / The Happy Ever Crafter
Want to learn modern calligraphy? Check out Becca's free self-paced class that will have you on your way to beautifully hand-lettered notes, cards & artwork in no time.
9. Shayda Campbell
and..she's Canadian!! From Prince Edward Island, many of her tutorials are related to floral illustration & watercolour. Her hand-drawn flowers are beautifully simple and simply beautiful.
10. Artists & Illustrators
I can't remember how I found this source, no doubt from one of the many newsletters I subscribe to. This site is a companion to the magazine out of the UK. Their "how-to guides" are incredibly rich with detailed instruction.
Not videos, but written/pictorial information about techniques, artist practice, different media including acrylic, oil, watercolour, pastel, woodcutting...and on and on. You'll want to bookmark this site!
I included both Skillshare & Creative Live (see next) because while they don't offer full versions of free classes, they both have many free resources that are there to entice you into purchasing a full class or membership. However, if you're looking for top artists that are delivering real content, you will no doubt find something here.
They always offer a 7-day free trial available on the site but don't sign up for that... rather try this link to get their 30-day free trial instead. If the link no longer works, just google "skillshare 30-day free trial".
12. Creative Live
The same as Skillshare above, Creative Live is mostly dedicated to offering paid classes in many different areas, from photography to art & design, all sorts of craft making, business, and marketing, all by top industry names. While they don't offer free classes, they have small snippets of their classes online every day, called 'on air'
I have also purchased several classes from them and have been happy with the quality of instruction, layout, etc.
Like all the major players, they offer their own free classes as well that do not require a paid membership.
13. Nicholas Wilton / Art2Life
This is one workshop that I have taken 3 times now. I learn something new every time! His free workshops usually come out in February & September, but start watching his youtube videos to see if you're interested.
While Nicholas is an abstract painter, this class is for every artist, regardless of medium, regardless of experience, regardless of whether you like realism, loose florals, mountain scenes, pottery, weaving, whatever. His main focus is taking the mystery out of art principles and explaining them in simple words. Usually consists of 3 or 4 demo videos and then a live facebook call. His colour harmony lesson is useful to all artists and makers, as well as a solid explanation of contrast and value that will have you saying "ohhhhh...I get it now!"
a week-long workshop that does not require you to show up every day or watch the videos live (unless you want to), happens every year along with another free workshop called Spark.
videos available on youtube or facebook w/optional facebook group to join
all his workshops lead up to the bigger paid course, (coming in at around $2000!) but the free workshop is excellent and very worth taking.
If you didn't make it on time to sign up for the workshop, take a look at his youtube channel and social media and you will find many videos that share tips/techniques. If you join their mailing list, you'll receive advance notice for all of his workshops. **psst: all the ladies swoon over him, he's a California cutie!
Challenges, Taster's & Prompt Lists
These last few don't really qualify as classes but are still a great way to get creative with very little time commitments.
Este MacLeod - #coloricombo
Este is an amazing artist/illustrator who I follow on instagram. I'm not sure when her colour challenges first started, but this is a way to really challenge & inspire yourself to work with colours you wouldn't normally reach for or combine.
She releases a new colour palette every week and invites participants to create their own artwork using those specific colours + and neutrals (such as black/white). As part of the facebook group (totally optional), I have seen so many creative interpretations of her palettes. Not only in paintings, but also fiber arts, pottery, collage, photography, you name it.
Gentle Creative Invitations / Art is Magic Online
This looks like a fun little workshop and is next on my list to try. Often times creative people (or those that want to be more creative!), struggle with the "not good enough" thoughts in our minds. We forget that we're supposed to actually have fun and just play with our art supplies, just as we did when we were kids. I'll report back with a review!
It should be noted that most freebie workshops (especially those on facebook) will have a sales pitch at the end, so don't be shocked when they pull out the full course, usually costing somewhere between an arm & a leg. In another life, I would be a full-time art student, just bouncing around from class to class!
Art before dishes!
**Note** all opinions are my own, none of the links provided are affiliated or paid