Getting Creative with Online Classes

I recently mentioned my desire to take some art classes and spend more time being creative this summer. In my hunt for the right classes for me, I found a lot of great online resources for learning new creative skills (and even some technical skills!). I thought I’d share some of the resources in case you, too, are looking to try your hand at painting, drawing, crafts or developing some other skills.

There are two big categories for online classes: the subscription-style sites that house diverse topics, instructors and courses and individuals who teach classes and workshops in a few select areas.

The Big Sites:

Skliishare screenshot

Skillshare: Skillshare is the first online learning site I tried. I started with Mary Kate McDevitt’s Hand Lettering class and I absolutely loved it. After that, I was sold. I bought a whole year subscription and added over 50 classes to my “to try” list. They offer a lot of creative classes and there’s a strong focus on digital skills or taking projects to a digital finish. There’s a logo design class with Aaron Draplin as well as classes on animation, business development and marketing, photography and a whole lot more. I have started recommending Skillshare to all young designers and creative folks. There’s a lot of practical information from a lot of highly respected talent in the industries they represent. Subscriptions are $10/month but there are discounted rates for purchasing a year membership. Skillshare also has mobile apps for iPhone and Android to easily access content. Lynda is probably the first online learning site for creative skills. Lynda got started publishing how-to books for Photoshop, HTML and CSS back in the 90s. Then went digital with video tutorials and set the bar. Classes range from step-by-step tutorials for using applications (from Adobe apps to Word to Evernote, QuickBooks and even LogicPro. The list goes on!) to steps to improving your business, marketing, programming and much much more. Subscription start at $24.99/month but discounts are available for a yearly subscription as well as bulk pricing for businesses and Pro account options.

Creativebug screenshot

CreativeBug: CreativeBug focuses more on art and craft skills but if you’ve been thinking about learning how to knit, crochet, sew, start watercolor painting or make jewelry, this might be the site for you. The classes are well-filmed and easy to follow. I started with Lisa Congdon’s Sketchbook Explorations course and then started adding sewing and other art classes to my queue. There are a few free lessons available to try before you subscribe but the cost per month is just $5 so its not a big leap to just subscribe for a month and see if you like it. CreativeBug also has an iPhone/iPad app and are currently working on a Android app.

Craftsy screenshot

Craftsy: Craftsy organizes its classes on a per-class basis. If you want to take the Pen & Ink Essentials class, you just purchase that class for $19.99 (current sale price) and you can access that class whenever, forever. The class offering range from sewing, baking, knitting and fiber arts, fine arts and even woodworking.

Free Online Art Classes: I found out about Free Online Art Classes from a NYTimes article. Its not the prettiest or most up-to-date looking web site but Lois DeWitt has put her 50 years of teaching experience behind the site and the classes are free. Topics range from traditional art materials lessons like Drawing with Colored Pencils to Fabric Printing and Jewelry Making. This would be a good place to start and get an idea about what creative pursuit might best suit you.

Individual Artists’ Sites:

Jane Davenport: I am currently taking Jane Davenport’s Supplies Me class which is the starter class for her mixed media art journaling classes. Her quirky style was very much to my taste so it seemed like a good fit. She totally enables my urge to buy all the art supplies which is a good and bad thing. I’m enjoying learning some new techniques and how to actually use a lot of the pens, pencils and art supplies I’ve collected in ways I had not considered. There are several more classes available to help build confidence in drawing and handling art materials. Classes start at $55 AUS and go up to the Entire Kaboodle for $775 AUS.

Kelly Rae Roberts: Kelly Rae Roberts offers a Mixed Media Mantras Workshop that focuses on creating meaningful visual messages. The course walks you through creating your own mantra and then guides you through the process of turning your mantra into a mixed media collage piece. The class is divided into three parts and costs $247. Access to the video and virtual classroom is available for six months from purchase date.

Christy Tomlinson: Christy Tomlinson, AKA Scarlet Lime, offers a variety of online multimedia classes. For beginners, she recommends the Behind The Art creative workshop that walks through her favorite materials and process from building multimedia backgrounds to laying in details using an array of materials to create art journals and multimedia pieces. The course is divided into five weeks and costs $64.95. Christy also offers a Creative Planner online course if your urge to be creative intertwines with your love of planners and staying organized. The Crative Planner course contains 25 videos and costs $34.95. There are several other classes to choose from as well. To get a feel for her classes, you can check out Christy’s YouTube channel as well.

Alisa Burke: Alisa Burke offers an assortment of mini classes as well as larger workshops for drawing and journaling. Cost per class is between $15 and $50 and you’ll have unlimited access to videos and content. You can get a feel for her videos on her YouTube channel or just purchase one of her online classes and jump in with both feet.

Have you ever tried an online class or are you considering trying one now?

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9 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I just started getting into drawing and art at the start of last year and was very happy to find online classes. So convenient and love being able to watch a technique more than once. I’ve done all four semesters of Sketchbook Skool which have been fab. I’ve done one Skillshare class and have more I want to try and the Lisa Congdon Creative Bug classes and Jane Davenport are on my list as well as Mary Ann Moss’s Sketchbookery class. I didn’t know about the Christy Tomlinson one so will check that out…and the planner one. I’ve done a couple of online more Project Life/Scrapbook type classes at Big Picture Classes and Studio Calico too. They have a variety of things some of which are more mixed media type stuff. I’ve also done a sketching class with Liz Steel online.

  2. Oh, Ana – thank you! To answer the question at the end of your blog post, no – I was not thinking of taking any online classes (it was just not on my radar at all), but yes – I am quite intrigued and will definitely do so now. I’m looking at that Pen & Ink Essentials class you mentioned, and think I will start there.

    I love your blog and look forward to your new posts!

    All the best to you,


  3. Would you recommend Alisha Burke’s sketchbook classes for absolute beginners? Which of her classes are best suited for beginners? Drawing is not my strongest skill right now. It’s characterized better as weak, lol.

    1. I haven’t taken any of Alisa’s classes but if her style speaks to you, you might get more out of her classes than someone else. I think the Sketchbook Delight class would probably be a good place to start.

      Alternately, Creativebug offers an assortment of intro level drawing classes and the subscription is only $4.95/mo. so you could try several different classes to get your feet wet before spending $50 on one of Alisa’s classes. If you go that route, Lisa Congdon’s Sketchbook Explorations is very step-by-step and the
      Introduction to Drawing might be a great place for you to start.

      (PS: I am not getting paid to recommend any of these sites. I just think they all have great content to help people be more creative.)

      1. Ana, you are a rockstar! Thank you for the advice. I was doing extensive research last night and your speedy response has just added to my assurance. I have been hovering over Jane Davenport’s “Draw Happy”online course. It’s her beginner’s class. How are you enjoying Supplies Me (the next class)? Thanks again for your thoughtful input.

        1. I love Jane’s classes but the Supplies Me class is definitely enabling my urge to own ALL THE ART SUPPLIES. Jane definitely focuses more on drawing female faces and forms so if that is something you’d like to focus on, her tips are excellent. Her “Beautiful Faces” book is also quite helpful. I also found Heather Ross’s Drawing & Illustration Basics on Creative Bug and she walks through her steps for simple quirky illustrations.

          I definitely plan on trying a few other classes and I’ll be sure to post more about my experiences. Let me know which class(es) you pick and how you like them!

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