Currently teaching only on 1 to 1 basis.  Contact me for availability.

First lesson 2 hrs 120 euro.  Follow up 1 hour lessons 60 Euro.

From my Blog Talent is Toast

Painting Classes in Amsterdam, Some Practical Stuff

Somewhere in this page, I mentioned how learning to paint was mostly about problem solving. This holds true for what happens on the canvas, and also what happens all around it.

If like me, you are not the lucky owner of a large studio or atelier, chances are you will be doing some of your art attempts at home.  While you learn to paint in an Amsterdam house, things can get very messy and very smelly very soon, to the irritation of your family or partner. 

During my painting classes I will show you some of the practical tools that have helped me to create a compact and trouble free 'studio' right on my kitchen counter, which is easily stored away and produces all the art my hart could ever desire.

In my painting class I will familiarize you with materials that save space, reduce smells around the house and allow you to stack a large number of works without the need to start renting storage space for your canvases.  

I think there is something romantic about taking painting lessons in an Amsterdam canal house.  The setting is just right somehow, and if combined with good practical choices, this can a great hobby that doesn't invade your home completely, unless you want it to!

Drawing her hair and wrinkles would have been all but impossible if I did not know of the existence of a putty rubber.  This made the task possible and elevated the quality of the result to a different level.  Try as I may, it would have been impossible to do this by charcoal alone.

Therefore my Amsterdam drawing lessons include a discussion on materials, mediums, papers and tools which you will become familiar with to produce the best art possible

Other principles will include the idea of triangulation, horizontal and vertical alignment, and gestural sketches all which combine to help you assess the correct shapes and sizes of your subject, whatever this may be.

During the drawing lessons we can browse some of my own works, as well as those in art books I have and if you like, we can copy them. You can also bring a drawing or object that you are passionate about and we can work on it.  The best way to learn to draw, is to create art that means something to you as opposed to doing silly exercises on an egg or a vase or some other nonsensical object that bores you to death.

The drawing lessons approach will always follow a simple-to-complex logic as you can see in this progression.  (I know, it's a painting, but you get the idea!)  You can see the full process in my blog:

Amsterdam Drawing Lessons, Technique

For those who may be curious to know how my drawing lessons work in my little Amsterdam home studio, I thought to give a quick overview of the typical process.

Drawing lessons start with understanding the basics of the discipline.  We usually have rather incorrect ideas of how the drawing process works, which is why we end up with disappointing results.  These principles include the beginning approach, the timing and several observation and measuring techniques as you go along creating your draft.

One aspect that art lessons often include, and which I try to bring out fairly early is that of materials.  Luckily for us, Amsterdam has a fantastic range of good art stores where drawing materials are never scarce.  Perhaps even a joint visit to the art store is handy to learn about these, but I can also provide a simple shopping list for you.

Discussing materials at the beginning is a typical part of drawing lessons and one that I personally skipped on every book I ever read because I considered it boring.  I just wanted to put pencil to paper and get on with it.  And for some time this more or less worked.  If you do this, you will make progress but it will be limited by your lack of knowledge of your tools.  Therefore if you want to learn to draw, approach it as a craft and know your tools.  It will have an effect on your results.

Take this old lady's portrait for example:

Drawing and Painting Lessons from the Masters

In a sense, Amsterdam is an ideal city to learn how to draw and paint.  While the availability of classical art lessons in the city is not at its peak, we are surrounded by museums that have the works of the old masters ready at our disposal.  These works speak to us about the possibilities of art, and the techniques that we can learn to achieve them.

A technique that is long forgotten and some schools in cities others than Amsterdam still honor is the copying of master works as part of the process of learning to paint.  These art lessons require the student to create faithful copies of the works from a master in order to understand their thinking process and learn to adjust their handling of the medium and the materials to achieve the same result.

You may ask whether copying art is not a cheap and vulgar way to learn.  I asked myself the same thing, it certainly feels that way.

However the purpose of copying is that of an exercise.  When you want to learn to draw and paint like the masters, you must first learn to see like the masters.  Understand how the achieved the line and color that their works are so admired for.  Painting lessons that only focus on working from nature are robbing you of a very critical element in your artistic development. 

This is because the old masters already solved many of the problems that we encounter when we learn art, such as how to deal with light, how to turn form and give the impression of depth or distance, and so on.  Your drawing lessons should include master copies of great drawings, and your painting lessons should include master copies of great paintings.

If nothing else, this will show you that masterpieces are not created in a couple of days.  Some take weeks to really come to fruition. 

To learn art in Amsterdam you have the advantage of the open Dutch mentality.  For example, photography is allowed in the Rijksmuseum.  Something that would be unthinkable in the Orsay museum in Paris. 

Make the most of it!

Learning to draw and paint is learning to solve problems and go from the simple to the complex.  The academic method of art teaches you how to go from one easy step to the next, until you have created something you never thought was possible. The photo sequence below shows my first masterpiece attempt, just 6 months after learning to draw.  It took studying, time and dedication, but not talent.

- Materials

- Painting principles

- Color principles

- Brushwork

- Advanced color techniques

- Glazing

- Composition

- Materials

- Drawing principles

- Line Drawing

- Form, values and depth

- Tonal Drawing

- Composition

- Portraiture

The Talent Myth and the Academic Approach to Art Classes on Drawing and Painting


Why is the academic approach interesting if you want to learn to draw and paint?

For many people, academic art is stiff and boring.  They just want to throw paint onto a canvas and let their creative juices flow.  They think your creativity is killed the moment you start getting all formal and serious about things.  That you're not free any more and that the art spirit is so fleeting and subtle that the mere talking about it makes it disappear.

Nothing could be more wrong and limiting when it comes to joining an art class.  What ends up happening is that this initial freedom only makes you a prisoner to your lack of skill and knowledge.  Knowledge makes you more free and capable, not less.  The painting and drawing lessons I offer in Amsterdam, are based on the academic method, not because I like it, but because it works. 

It takes the myth of 'artistic talent' and 'creativity' out of the equation and replaces them with simple and longstanding methods that produce excellent results.  Nobody is born a creative genius and even if they are, they need to learn and master their skills before that genius can flourish.  You will not read of any great painter who didn't have to work exceptionally hard for it.

For that reason, an art class or painting lesson that relies purely on creativity and exploration, is ignoring everything we know about successful visual works, and dramatically stacking the odds against a good result.  Exploration is valid, but it works best after all we know has been exhaustively understood.  No need to explore what is already known. First you learn the rules, then you break the rules.

If in your artistic approach you work without the known principles and leave the results to chance, its no wonder you believe in the mysterious creative spark as the responsible force behind a good work of art. 

Another mistake is to confuse the strict method of the art lessons with a stiff result or style.  The method may be stiff, but the results can be very loose and relaxed.  For example, if your drawing skills are very solid, your brushwork can be loose to the point of careless, and still produce an excellent result.  The academic approach to art lessons will be extremely beneficial even if your goal is not to create representational art, but instead want to pursue the abstract genre. 

In abstract painting, composition is everything, color harmonies become very important as well, and knowing the power of line and texture is crucial.  Approach it in a trial and error manner, and all you will obtain are peculiar results.  Approach it with knowledge of the great masters and their works, and you will be building on top of their achievements.

Talking about the fundamentals of art, I cannot help but think about an interview where Eric Clapton confessed that his whole world changed when he met the members of the American rock band ZZ Top.  ZZ Top is characterized by long gray beards and a big funny dancing act that follows their music, while at the same time producing some of the most recognizable guitar sounds in Rock & Roll.  Clapton's surprise came when he discovered that behind all the fun and games, the ZZ Top members were keen musicologists whose knowledge of the great players of the past knew almost no limit.  Their loose and messy, yet excellent style of playing was only made possible because of this.

So I guess, I would recommend you give the academic painting and drawing lessons a chance regardless of your taste or artistic ambitions.  It is likely to work well for you as it has for so many in the past!

More about my Art Lessons in Amsterdam



- Observation

- Styles

- Master works

Typical Learning Topics:

Make Masterpieces in Simple Steps

Painting lessons in Amsterdam are not hard to find.  From single day courses that teach you how to release your 'creative self' to academies that focus on expressionist and abstract art, or just let you try whatever you like.

However, finding art lessons in Amsterdam is trickier, if you wish to learn realist classical art as a foundation for any kind of drawing and painting that you wish to do in the future.  Remember that even Van Gogh, Picasso, Mondrian and Degas, who produced highly expressive and often abstract pieces started by first learning the principles of the visual language.

My Painting and drawing lessons are offered in the center of Amsterdam, right on the canals. The approach is highly personalized and structured.  Each lesson is spent learning a specific principle and then applying it.  There is no fiddling around or experimenting, it is pure learning with a specific objective in mind. Progress is therefore very, very fast and results usually surprising.

These Amsterdam art lessons are best suited for total beginners until intermediate artists who want to go back to the basics or become stronger in a specific aspect of their drawing or painting skills.

 When the weather allows, we can work out in the open!

During our art lessons we can discuss the old masters and also go on visits to the museums to learn how to observe their work to understand their technique.


If you have the time and the ambition for learning, we can also agree on homework and part of this would be making master copies of work you admire, which we would criticize together.

Yes, you are an artist.

Contact Information

Painting and Drawing Lessons, Amsterdam