Seattle Painting Classes & Workshops

Looking for painting classes in Seattle? We have several classes now open for enrollment:

  1. Acrylic Painting for Beginners (1-day)
  2. Acrylics 102: The next step (1-day)
  3. Watercolor Workshop (1-day)
  4. Painting Portraits in Oils
  5. Oil Pastel Drawing

Not sure which painting class to take? Read this first!

I’m a total beginner! Which class should I take first? Oils, acrylics or watercolors? 

Most people who are exploring painting try all three, to see which they like best.  (They’re very different, so it’s helpful to to explore them one by one.) They’re all designed to be easy introductory classes. It’s fine to start with whatever class sounds the most fun, or best fits your schedule.  

“Can you tell me what’s different between oils, acrylics and watercolors, to help me decide?”  

Here are a few key differences:

Acrylic paints are bright and vibrant, and lend themselves to brilliant and striking images (but can also produce subtle gradations of color). Beginners tend to like them because they’re “forgiving,” i.e., if you make a mistake, you can just wait a few minutes for it to dry, then paint over it. They dry in just a few minutes to a beautiful permanent finish. (Or if you’d prefer to keep them wet and workable, you can just add a little slow-dri or retarder, included in the kit.)  Unlike oils, acrylics have almost no fumes. BELOW: Acrylic painting of a feather


Oil paints are a beautiful traditional medium used by artists for centuries. They blend more easily than acrylics, and have wonderfully subtle colors. The paints stay wet and workable for a long time on your canvas, so you can mix and blend the colors to perfection.  (However, they do have fumes. To minimize fumes in the class, we use water-miscible oils so students don’t need to use turpentine (which is smelly) to wash their brushes.)  Note: if you are pregnant, we do not recommend working in oils. Below: portrait painted in oils


Watercolors lend themselves to beautiful transparent effects in which the brightness of your paper or canvas shows through transparent layers of paint, which can give an almost luminous feeling to the painting. (See “Sketch of horses in watercolor,” below.) Like acrylics, they have no detectable fumes. They are not “forgiving” like oils; you can’t paint over mistakes; but they have a translucent quality oils and acrylics can’t match.  Below: Watercolor painting of horses


Our painting classes are designed to give students a chance to explore all three mediums without investing a lot of time or money. Both the classes and kits are inexpensive so you can try them and see which medium you like best.

Why is colored pencil drawing* listed as a painting class? Technically it’s a drawing class… we’re using regular colored pencils, not watercolor pencils… but in one of the sessions students will learn a blending technique using mineral oil, which can give your colored pencil artwork a “painted” appearance somewhat like an oil painting.  So some artists talk about “pencil painting” using colored pencils.

Where are your Seattle painting classes held?  Most of them meet on the University of Washington campus in Seattle. You’ll be given the exact location, room number and driving directions when you sign up.

Do I need to bring materials?
Yes, you’ll need to bring paints, brushes and something to paint on (like an inexpensive watercolor pad). You can use your own materials if you like, or buy a materials kit.  The store that sells the kits will even deliver them for free to the class. More info:

What should I wear to class?
Paint can splash on clothes, and some types (like acrylics) won’t wash out.  Even watercolors can stain some fabrics.  So wear something casual and fun, not your best evening wear.

Student Comments about our Seattle painting classes

I could not think of anything to improve, this was a perfect day for me.  (comment submitted online)

Instructor was patient and willing to help those who needed/wanted help, and he did not go to fast for the slowest in class (that would be me). Excellent intro to materials, ditto on the materials supplied.  (comment submitted online)

I’ve taken (Drawing for Absolute beginners), and liked it, so decided to try the painting class just for fun.  I liked it, it was a good start in learning to paint.  – Sarah T., Seattle

I just moved back to Seattle… yay! … and was looking for an introductory level course so I could get back into painting.  I just wanted to start with the basics again.  I love watercolors, but always had a hard time getting the results I wanted, so signed up for the Watercolor painting class.  It was fun and I learned a lot. I would recommend the class to others who are either just starting out or, like me, wanting to get back into painting after a break. – B.R., Lake Forest Park

Thanks for a wonderful, relaxing course. – Cheryl K., Seattle

Lots of hands-on time to apply the concepts we learned about. The instructor seemed interested in everyone’s experience and provided individual feedback and interaction. My favorite part, in addition to learning the content, was learning about this new medium, watercolor. All of your teachers are good…. I learned something useful in each of them.  I hope you’ll add oil painting classes soon. – Megan, Seattle

I’m amazed that we learned so much in one day… It was just fun, trying different things, mixing colors, the guided exercises, seeing the really surprising things that happened. I loved the information about mixing colors with their complements to create earth tones… – Mickey L., Bellevue

I took some painting classes from ______ …. they were good but a little too expensive. Your classes are affordable, and always seem to attract a fun group of people. – Shelly M., Tacoma

The instructor was organized, kept things moving at a good pace, covered all of the basics about color and answered all of the students’ questions. I would highly recommend his classes. – Terry L., Kent

The instructor seemed interested in everyone’s experience and provided individual feedback and interaction. My favorite part, in addition to learning the content, was learning about this new medium, watercolor.  – E.V., Seattle

An inspiring session for me…just what I was hoping for, and more!  – unsigned

Nils Osmar is excellent both with beginning students and with students who have some experience.   – J.C., Seattle

I liked the hands-on opportunities to play with paints and color- it really helped to understand how the colors work with each other and what happens when you mix two colors together. – S.J., Kent

It was fun, like all of your classes. – Maura H.

I took both the acrylic painting and watercolor painting classes in Seattle, from Nils Osmar and Robin Walker, in the spring of 2013.  Both classes were good.  I’ll be taking the collage classes next, if you offer them again. Thanks for offering them at such a reasonable price.  – J.L., Bellevue


  • We offer fun, affordable painting classes and workshops, held in Seattle on the University of Washington campus.
  • Classes include Acrylic Painting, Watercolor Painting and Oil painting.
  • Sponsored by and the University of Washington’s ASUW Experimental College
  • Non-credit courses for the general community – open to everyone



Acrylic Painting 101: Painting for Beginners

for class: Painting for beginners (Seattle campus) v. 1

Painting is fun! And acrylics are a great medium to start with. In this Seattle painting class, you’ll learn how to mix and blend acrylics, how to use brushes, and how to paint some simple objects and landscapes, step-by-step. Even if you don’t know an artist’s brush from a toothbrush, you’ll have fun, learn a lot, and get off to a good start.  NOTE: You can take this class as a five-week course or a one-day workshop. More info: CLICK HERE!

Oil Pastel “Painting” for Beginners!


Imagine having a drawing tool that lets you “paint” in rich, beautiful colors as if you were making an oil painting — anytime, anywhere — with no mess, no solvent, and no brushes. Oil pastels are a mixture of oil, wax and vivid pigment in stick form that is portable and clean. Take a walk, take a hike, take a drive in the woods and take ‘em along.  Come join us in exploring this wonderful and versatile medium. You will create some beautiful art to take home.  MORE INFO – CLICK HERE!

Painting Portraits


In this fun and focused Seattle portrait painting class, students will learn how to paint portraits with oils.  Students will learn how to paint quickly, making short monochrome studies, focusing on the large ideas first, then adding details.  We’ll then add in color, learning how the face can hold not just yellows, peaches and browns, but the entire spectrum of colors. More info – click here

Watercolor Workshop


Spend the day painting and exploring the wonders of watercolor! Watercolor Workshop is a pleasant and relaxing exploratory class for anyone who has admired this elegant and accessible medium. The instructor will move around the room as students paint, helping them individually with their paintings. Beginners welcome. More info: CLICK HERE!

Painting is fun, and short classes and workshops are a great way to learn.  Whether you just love playing with color (and would like to learn more about it), or are interested in how to paint realistic impressions of the world around you, you’ll enjoy learning a new medium and connecting with ways to express your moods and feelings on canvas.

In our Seattle painting classes, you’ll learn about:

  • Color theory
  • Color mixing
  • Brush strokes and techniques
  • How to work with a range of different media, such as acrylics, watercolors, oils, and colored pencil
  • How to paint simple forms
  • In some classes: how to paint simple landscapes

Other Art Classes: