In-Person and Online Youth and Adult Fundamentals Programs at The Art Academy

Hybrid Hybrid Event

April 17, 2023 @ 1:30 pm April 22, 2023 @ 5:30 pm

Register Now

When registering for a class you will be asked for a Shipping Address during check out.

If you have struggled to find appropriate classes for your child or teen to learn the fundamentals of drawing and painting The Art Academy of Saint Paul offers an innovative option. You might be surprised to learn that:

  • It doesn’t take a hundred drawings to learn how to draw well. It takes one:

Please observe the accuracy of shape and sensitivity to line in these early drawings by our students.  Angie completed her first pen & ink of a rose at age 13 while Alex drew his Spanish Castle when he was 14. His picture went on to win a ribbon at the Minnesota State Fair. Naomi perfected her Fairy at 15, and Sophia finished her Toucan when she turned 14.

  • It doesn’t take repeated classes on color theory to learn how to mix color well. It takes an afternoon:

These three pictures were done by our students after they attended our one-on-one color mixing tutorial using a very limited palette. Ryan drew and painted his Tiger in ink, watercolor, and gouache at age 14; and at 16 Danielle drew and watercolored her Bird. Brittany completed her Horse in watercolor, gouache, and colored pencil when she was 16, also.

  • Furthermore, if you follow our program it takes at most 3 or 4 watercolors to experience a feeling of mastery in that medium:

Hannah’s Arabian Princess watercolor was completed when she was 18. It won a ribbon at the Minesota State Fair. Nathan painted his Soaring Dragon when he was 13, and at 16 Ruby painted her Forest Giant and Knight. Paige’s Flying Elephant won a Minnesota State Fair award, too. She was 16 when she painted it in watercolor.

  • And if you continue on with us your first color oil painting could be exquisite:

These paintings by three of our students display their first foray into oil painting. At age 18 Ellie was enraptured with French academic artist Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904). She used an indirect painting technique when she created Tiger and Gulls. Aftercompleting a cool underpainting she applied color utilizing glazes and scumbles. 18-year-old Erin, on the other hand, fell in love with American Impressionist Charles Courtney Currin (1861-1942). Her Lotus Lillies earned a Blue Ribbon at the Minnesota State Fair. Then Maggie finished Love and Light. She studied the work of French Orientalist painter Alphonse-Étienne Dinet (1861-1929) and competed her picture in three simple rounds of paint application. We were all thrilled when Maggie’s oil was declared a Grand Prize Winner at the Minnesota State Fair upon submission.

How can this be?

For over three decades we have examined and outlined historic teaching practices dating back to the 12th century, slicing through competing opinions which often cloud current theories of art education. What has emerged is insightful. While the modern understanding of creativity centers around boundless freedom and experimentation, art history tells another story.

Understanding Tradition – What We Discovered

Reading the treatises of Leonardo da Vinci and other celebrated artists throughout the centuries reveals that great representational artists followed set procedures to reach their full creative potential. The teaching methods of the workshops and bottegas of the Northern and Italian Renaissance were very efficient. Masters had little time to waste  training young apprentices as they were needed to contribute to the hectic production of studio commissions as soon as they were able. Now historic methods from the Middle Agesthrough the 19th century have been updated, refined, and patented to form the basis of The Art Academy of Saint Paul’s Virtual Fundamentals Youth Program.

From our experience teaching thousands of children how to improve their abilities using these concepts we can assure you that your child is already creative and talented; we have yet to meet a student who wasn’t. The problem with so many art classes today is that skills are not being taught to help foster that talent and creativity.

Our school’s offerings are designed specifically to remedy those inconsistencies. Accordingly, we have organized our Virtual Arts Program with a structure to pass on the hard-earned lessons of Art History in the most effective way possible.

As one of our primary objectives is to instill each student with a sense of pride for a job well done, it’s a program that always emphasizes quality over quantity. Completing fewer projects of superior quality helps achieve that goal.

Art Academy of Saint Paul student Fina Mooney took her time to learn our patented drawing method and then applied it to her examination of Russian painter Alexei Harlamov’s (1840-1925) charcoal technique. Fina completed her drawing (1) at age 13. Enlightened by her experience, Fina then finished her Charcoal Self portrait at Age Thirteen (2) just as she turned 14. Following that she moved into oil. Establishing the highest standards of quality over quantity, Fina kept refining her drawing and tonal arrangement to create a timeless Self portrait (3). The painting won 2nd Place at the Oil Painters of America 30th Annual National Exhibition and was exhibited at the Escondido Museum in California. By age 17 Fina was spotlighted by Southwest Art Magazine in their popular feature 21 Under 31  as one of the top young artists in America.

Your Supplies – The Finest Materials Recommended by the Wet Paint Staff

Finally, a word about your supplies. We never recommend the use of student grade materials. Instead, we consult members of the Wet Paint staff regularly to keep current of the best supplies available at the best price for our students. Know that when Wet Paint packages your items in kits and ships them to you at a discounted rate you are receiving materials which will last for years.

It Works!

Join us because our methods work!

Plein air painter Cheryl LeClair Sommer came to The Art Academy of Saint Paul to improve her understanding of traditional drawing and painting methods. Following a trip to the Louvre she fell in love with Vermeer’s Lacemaker“I located the painting in an intimate, quiet gallery and spent time studying the brushstrokes and subtle edgework of the master,” says Cheryl. “At The Art Academy, Jim suggested I use a verdaccio underpainting technique because I could establish a tonal statement quickly and create soft grayish-green undertones which are especially helpful when painting cool flesh. I then did two color studies to determine my limited color palette. Next I painted velaturas of vivid colors over my verdaccio underpainting to create a stained-glass effect.  The final stage utilized this underlying color-value structure as I worked on color harmony, placed final details and fused edges.  By copying The Lacemaker at The Art Academy of Saint Paul, I learned to plan my paintings in value structure, edgework, and in layers. I discovered that the underlying value structure of a piece should receive time and focus to create the greatest visual impact, and color harmony and unity are achieved by utilizing an underpainting and by repeating colors throughout a painting, while edges point the eye where the artist seeks the viewer to look. Finally, I learned that an artist must be creative and deliberate – yet remain spontaneous – in order for a piece to avoid feeling overworked.”

Visit our website at or call 651-699-1573 for more information.

651 Snelling Ave S.
St. Paul, MN 55116 United States
+ Google Map
View Venue Website
Community Enthusiast Students

Wet Paint’s Friends at the Art Academy

New location at 651 South Snelling Ave.
New location at 651 South Snelling Ave.

Once the Minnesota State Fair is over, Wet Paint, Grand Avenue and Saint Paul is buzzing with the excitement of the Back to School season. And after you settle into the fall semester routine, make sure you have set aside time for art classes. A favorite school for many of our customers is the Art Academy here in St. Paul. For 20 years, the Art Academy has leased space from educational institutions. Early in 2013, they moved into their own space at 651 South Snelling.

Sarah Jane Stowell Oil
Sarah Jane Stowell

We are raffling off free tuition for one class for the fall term 2013 which runs eight weeks from September 30th through December 8th. It is for any class (except the figure drawing class or co-op). This is a $180.00 value. The drawing will take place Friday, September 20th at 10 a.m… You will be notified by phone or email. Of course, this raffle is only open to anyone who can attend a class in Saint Paul.

The Art Academy opened in 1993 and celebrating its 20th year. Director Jim Robinson came to the Twin Cities from Chicago with a degree from Columbia College to study at Atelier Lack. As he read art history he questioned trends in kids’ art instruction. “When I was growing up, children’s art education had dwindled to craft-based “creative” exercises. Skills weren’t being taught. I wanted to create a program with a focus. I believe kids have an innate capacity to draw and paint exceptionally well, and I constructed a school so those natural abilities can blossom.” To support that idea, Robinson researched Renaissance teaching methods and has patented a method based on those ideals.

State Fair Blue Ribbon! Andrea Fields, Age 15
State Fair Blue Ribbon! Andrea Fields, Age 15

The Art Academy has taught thousands of children (and adults) drawing and painting skills. Although the school is structured with classes, it offers a Montessori model. Students work on individual projects at their own pace. Instructors teach 2 to 7 students at a time. The atmosphere is supportive and positive, fun and non-competitive. Similar to the Suzuki violin method, Robinson does not believe that the sole purpose of instruction is to train professionals. “In any art school, only a small fraction of students pursue fulltime careers. Equally important is to build confidence and an appreciation of art that fosters individuality and nurtures kids to become well-rounded adults.”

State Fair Winner! Malcolm Kelner, Age 7
State Fair Winner! Malcolm Kelner, Age 7

What also develops over time is a community of students and teachers spanning generations. Kids return year after year, forming long-term relationships with Robinson and his staff. Many have become apprentices and teachers at The Art Academy. “By structuring the school around a Renaissance studio we were able to help students acquire successful life skills to carry into any path.”

This is a great opportunity to learn or improve your drawing skills. You can see the proven results of their methods to teach representational drawing and painting skills at their website Get into the swing of the back to school season and add an art class.