Joining a class with others who have a similar interest could be something to look forward to each week. It could provide you with the opportunity to learn from an experienced tutor and fellow classmates. We all have varying degrees of talent so what better way to nurture it than joining a leisure class.

Whether you’re an absolute beginner or want to develop your skills, you have to find a course that’s right for you. So what’s on offer and where do you start?

Leisure classes or non-vocational courses are offered by most Local Education Authorities (LEA). They are also popular with providers like the Worker’s Educational Association (WEA; Or you may opt for privately run classes, ideally taught by an experienced painter.

It’s worth noting that unlike privately run courses, bigger organisations like the LEA and WEA, can offer learner support with concessions, funded grants, or in many cases free tuition for students who can provide evidence of low income.

Finding out what’s on offer can usually be found in local or free press. Leisure Painter and The Artist magazines, libraries, community centres, or by word of mouth. Don’t forget to look online too: painters-online has a huge selection of artists and tutors offering private classes and workshops in every area.

The right course

The course you opt for should be the best fit for you and offer a structured course of learning. For some students this may be the only chance they have to paint throughout the week so, as a dedicated time slot, it’s all the more important to get the choice right.

The best programme of learning includes finding the right course, a good tutor and a friendly group. You want to improve your painting skills and would like expert advice delivered in a supportive environment. So once you’ve found a course provider you should ask yourself a couple of questions.
What kind of class would suit you best? Many leisure courses are aimed at three types of painter: beginner, intermediate and advanced.

A beginner will have little or no experience. They want to learn how to paint and start at grass roots, indeed some beginners may never even have held a brush before. An intermediate painter will have some experience and could be anywhere along the path to calling themselves advanced. They have painted before but they want to polish up their act or learn new techniques.

A more advanced painter will probably have lots of basic experience and is probably looking for a course to take them to the next level or specialise in a particular medium.

Alternatively the course may welcome everyone where each person learns at their own pace. If you’re a beginner don’t let this deter you: you can learn just as much from the people in the class as they can from the tutor, and if those people are further along the road than you, it can be a bonus. This usually applies to whatever course you opt for in that most students agree that help and support from classmates is a common feature of adult education. This is one of the benefits of working with other learners as opposed to working alone.

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Structured learning

The guidance on technique that a class offers can be far superior to learning solo from a book. Why not practice at home what you’ve covered that week in class and add a little structure to your learning. When choosing a course, find out what will be covered by whom. If you know where you want to be, is this the tutor to get you there?
For instance, does the painter taking the class have any qualifications? What’s their work like? How long have they been painting or teaching? Will they help you develop your potential or just help you to paint like them? So be happy with the person responsible for your learning.

If possible ask past or present students about the class and try to see the work they’ve produced.

Another point worth thinking about is how many students are there in the class? While lots of students may mean great camaraderie and more of a support group, it will ultimately affect the amount of one-to-one advice that you will receive from the tutor.

Whatever courses you may decide upon most students agree that time spent in a class can be both enjoyable and rewarding. So go ahead and take the plunge, it may be the best decision you make this year.

Steve Strode runs workshops for local authorities. Find out more at and



We have details of many painting courses and art holiday and workshops in the community area of Painters-Online
Plus lists of art club and art tutors in the UK and overseas


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