When you have a little leisure, art is one of the most popular subjects to learn. This may be because you've retired, but at present many of us have time on our hands, and the best way to learn anything at the moment is online. On the other hand, the same reasons that have given you extra time might have left your finances tight. Art courses can encompass anything from practical techniques to art history, graphic design to the business of art dealing — the choice is yours. Here are ten of the universities or leading colleges, in the UK or worldwide, that offer free online art classes.
The Open University
The Open University was providing distance learning long before it became fashionable, so it's hardly surprising that they offer a wide selection of art history classes online. Many of these are free, and these range from art of Renaissance Venice and the Dutch Golden Age to the Mexican Revolution, and even a class on graffiti art.
Although not a university, the Courtauld is widely recognised as among the UK's leading institutions for art education. Besides their more formal courses, they offer free short courses on topics such as art history and art theory, given by leading art academics. In normal times, these are delivered face to face in London, but for the time being they're online.
University of Glasgow
The fourth-oldest university in the English-speaking world, the University of Glasgow offers short courses in art topics in addition to its undergraduate and graduate study. This includes a course on the murky world of Antiquities Trafficking and Art Crime.
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
If you're looking for online classes, you aren't restricted to the UK. Any English-speaking country will do, and of course there's plenty on offer in America. The Art Institute of Chicago offers a short course on Charting the Avant-Garde: From Romanticism to Utopic Abstraction.
The oldest and most prestigious American university, Harvard offers an eight-week online course on the Pyramids of Gisa: Ancient Egyptian Art and Archaeology, providing an insight into one of the ancient world's greatest art cultures.
Another prestigious US university, Duke University offers a seven-week online course on Public Art and Pedagogy. Students will not only study notable examples of public art and changing approaches over recent decades, but will also be encouraged to plan their own public art interventions.
California College of the Arts
Comics are regarded today as a legitimate art medium, and California College of the Arts' short course Comics: Art in Relationship studies aspects of comic art including the relationship between text and images, page layouts, and transitions between panels.
Michigan State University
Photography is now recognised as a fully fledged art medium, with photographers having won the Turner Prize. Michigan State University offers a seven-month online course on Photography Basics and Beyond: From Smartphone to DSLR.
On a par with Harvard, Yale is one of America's most prestigious universities. It offers a nine-week online course on Gothic architecture in Age of Cathedrals, including both the architectural elements of mediaeval cathedrals and an understanding of how the fitted into wider society.
University of Central Florida
If you're interested not just in the techniques and history of art, but also what it is and why it's so important to us, the University of Central Florida offers an online course on the Psychology of Art and Creativity, including the practicalities of art healing.
Online distance learning gives you an opportunity to study art at top institutions that might be impossible in person. However, valuable as these short courses are, they can't compare with having an art tutor. Register with TutorExtra to find the best art tutors