'If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.'
― Vincent van Gogh
The most expensive painting ever to have been sold is the oil painting and artistic masterpiece, Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World) by the world famous painter, Leonardo da Vinci. The painting, which is a representation of Christ as the saviour of the world, went for more than 400 million dollars (£304 million) when it was sold at Christie's auction house in New York in 2016.
Obviously, not everybody is able to whip up canvas paintings that end up being the most expensive on the planet, but that is definitely not a reason to forget about the idea of painting as a hobby - literally, anyone can paint and it is actually quite a therapeutic activity!
So, how can you learn to paint if you are not rolling in money?
Superprof suggests that you discover an alternative method of painting. Rather than an art school, why not try a local adult painting course through a painting society or association...?
Why Take Classes Through a Painting Association?
To learn to paint in styles such as oil painting, watercolour painting, ink painting and acrylic painting and progress in different painting domains and perfect different drawing techniques, it is almost obligatory to take painting and drawing classes (or an equivalent internship).
But taking up painting means already having a certain budget for painting materials, such as poster paint, pigments, paintbrushes, charcoal, canvases, an easel, sketchbooks, paint palettes, etc...
Starting out painting through a community painting association has its advantages, the most obvious being that prices for classes are much lower than those offered by a school offering specialised classes and allow you to work with a more limited budget.
You may also be interested in online painting classes...
The cost of classes is perhaps the first criteria to consider and is usually what makes people initially turn towards painting associations for drawing classes and watercolour lessons.
The hourly class fee is usually a lot more affordable than that of other structured learning centres.
Certain associations offer weekly 2h classes for less than £10.00 a week.
Moreover, some painting associations, such as The Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists of the World and the National Acrylic Painters Association (NAPA) offer financial aid, awards or scholarships for artists to further their studies in painting. Many painting societies also offer reductions for students, senior citizens and those registered as unemployed.
If you are really keen to try a painting course but do not have the means, you may also like to consider applying for an Advanced Learner Loan, which is a government scheme to encourage those aged 19 years or more to further their studies in a certain area. If you meet the eligibility requirements then this is quite an appealing option for many.
With so many painting societies and associations out there, you will definitely be able to find one that suits you!
More often than not, painting associations are known for providing courses that are more informal than those offered in art schools and professional academy of arts.
The friendliness, good-humoured atmosphere and sense of exchange are all part of the experience and embody the values of community associations and societies.
This why it is often very easy to approach and connect with the teacher and to be close and even make friends with the other students.
Painting associations often also organise informal activities outside of class time, such as meeting in a cafe or bar in order to allow students to meet more often and bond.
The ethos of helping one another is a fundamental idea at the heart of painting associations. Just as others may ask for your help in a certain painting technique, in the same vein, you will never be left behind as someone will always be there to support you in overcoming any artistic challenges.
A lot of painting associations give students the opportunity to bring their own personal art projects with them to class and ask the teacher for advice on how to improve.
This is a crucial benefit for beginner level students who are looking to eventually take part in an art-related apprenticeship and want to be lead by their own creativity right from the beginning of their artistic journey.
Whether you are looking to learn to draw or paint with a life model, explore abstract painting and produce abstract works of art or be inspired by classic impressionist painters like Monet and Pissaro, painting associations give students the chance to bang their heads together whilst collaborating on a project and to place their natural artistic sensibility at the forefront of their artwork.
Painting associations and societies are also an excellent way of perfecting painting skills or completing a portfolio for students who are already quite advanced. In essence, by bringing their own project with them, students can learn how to draw in a new way that they had not previously considered, extend their knowledge of a particular technique or learn new artistic techniques.
However, not everyone can become Rembrandt or Van Gogh just like that - Rome was not built in a day! Painting courses in associations provide more creative freedom than in art schools as they do not need to adhere to such a rigid curriculum - students are there to learn and improve at their own pace.
The advantage of community painting courses is that the art teacher is there to individually support you in your project, rather than focusing on a theme that applies to the whole class. Classes generally take place in smaller groups, which tends to encourage a kind of collective emulation whilst the painting teacher is there to give advice to students.
Are Painting Lessons in Painting Associations and Societies Poor Quality?
'Painting is a blind man's profession. He paints not what he sees, but what he feels, what he tells himself about what he has seen.' - Pablo Picasso
When we think of painting classes offered by societies and associations, what normally springs to mind is that the classes are of a lower quality and less serious than those provided by formal art institutions.
However, the friendliness and sense of camaraderie in painting classes like this does not at all detract from the quality of the classes students receive.
Very often, teachers in painting association and painting society classes are not just any old art teachers, but specialists in their field.
Teachers are chosen for their artistic talent as a painter and teacher and sometimes special guest teachers with a particular artistic skill are invited to instruct a class. Even if the teachers have not had any formal teacher training, their teaching method and style will probably still be informally assessed before and after they begin teaching.
More often than not, most art teachers are remunerated. Even if the organisation has charitable status, that does not mean that the teachers must work benevolently! When a society or association is set up, founding members normally allocate a portion of the budget towards reimbursing the teacher in order to provide quality painting lessons.
The fee for painting teachers is generally paid from an allocated budget obtained from the membership fee or hourly tuition fee. Associations are usually not for profit organisations, which means that they have to finish the year with a profit of £00.00. So rest easy, painting teachers are paid just what they need!
And as they say, paid teachers tend to provide better quality classes!
Forget your preconceptions about painting societies and associations! The best way to do so is to try out a painting class straightaway! Trial classes are often free and often take place at the beginning of the academic year in September. 😉
Examples of Painting Associations for Learning to Paint
To help you in your search for happiness as a painting pro, here are some examples of painting societies and associations where you can explore art such as still life, sketches, abstract art and realism!
Do not hesitate to find out more information, either via the search engines on the web or consulting your local library to discover which painting associations are near you.
Livingston Art Association
As the name suggests, the association is located in Livingston, West Lothian (Scotland). With a long history spanning almost 50 years, Livingston Art Association offers classes for members of the local community of all ages.
Classes are open to artists of all levels from beginners to professionals and cover the artistic disciplines of pottery and painting.
Pottery classes take place in the Howden Park Centre in Studio 2 whilst painting classes take place at Institute Hall, Mid Calder.
Classes generally last two hours and fall into two categories - teacher-led sessions and 'self-help' student-led sessions and members can choose to attend whichever lessons best suits them.
The association also offers a number of additional benefits that make it so much more than just a painting course provider, including workshops and demonstrations by artists from the area, the opportunity to exhibit one's work and the chance to take part in informal get-togethers.
Tuition fees are extremely affordable and much more budget-friendly than other art courses on the market.
- Annual membership fee of £45
- A visitor fee of £3.00 per session for visitors - that is just £1.50 an hour!
Want to know further advantages? Whilst you will need to bring most of your own material (paintbrushes, Stanley knives, paint, paper, canvas), members are eligible for a 10% discount at the majority of art stores.
Heswall Artists Association
Heswall Artists Association is based in the town of Heswall in Merseyside and offers subsidised art classes, workshops, demonstrations and exhibitions to local painting enthusiasts of all ages, levels and abilities.
The association brings local enthusiasts with a mutual love of art together to practice painting and other types of art in a relaxed and convivial atmosphere.
Members with an interest or experience in practising the following artist disciplines are welcome to join:
- Acrylic Painting
- Watercolour painting
- Pastel painting
- Gouache painting
- Oil painting
- Pen & ink painting (as both framed and unframed artwork)
- Jewellery making
- Annual membership fee of £15.00.
- Classes last two and a half hours and cost £3.50 for members, which is still a very affordable rate.
- The association also hosts one-off workshops that focus on different painting techniques for which a fee of £10.00-£12.00 is usually required.
Want to know further advantages? The association also offers the chance to exhibit and sell your artwork in seasonal exhibitions.
Arts Society Cambridge
The Arts Society Cambridge is a registered charity and is slightly different from other art associations as it focuses on the acquisition of academic knowledge relating to decorative arts and fine art rather than a more practical knowledge.
If you want to learn more about particular painting techniques as well as artists and painting styles from an academic perspective, then this is the association for you!
It is also a good society to join if you are looking for some inspiration and want to be influenced by impressive painters and artists throughout history from across the globe.
The society arranges the following events and activities to promote awareness of art:
- Extensive lecture program - lecture topics include arts of the Mayan people, the magical art of Hollywood and revealing the beauty of nature (landscape art).
- Museum visits
- Gallery visits
- Old houses and other places of interest (viewing works of art on display inside).
Want to know further advantages? As the society is a registered charity and largely run by volunteers, most events are completely free!
If you have a passion for painting, then share your passion with like-minded people and join events of the Arts Society Cambridge.
If you are interested in becoming a professional artist, then put your trust in an art school!
Painting Associations - Definitions
Just because you are planning to learn to paint through an association rather than an art school does not mean that you should not develop a bit of painting related vocabulary!
What is Charcoal?
Charcoal sticks are a type of carbon used for drawing and sketching. Charcoal is a popular artistic medium among artists, particularly among those who specialise in figure drawing.
Charcoal drawings allow artists to express their ideas on paper through techniques, such as smudging and gentle charcoal stick strokes.
What is Sanguine?
Sanguine (also referred to as red chalk) is chalk, crayons or coloured pastels of an orange, blood-red, beige, maroon or colour that is used for drawing. The term comes from the French word, sanguine, which means blood.
By extension, the body of work created by using sanguine is also referred to by the same name.
Would you like to know where you can take painting classes anywhere in the UK?