Classes & Workshops

The Old Town Art Center

About the Old Town Art Center

Small class sizes allow students of all skill levels to take part in any given class. Instructors provide each individual student the amount of attention required. The focus is entirely on the visual arts – through drawing with pencils/charcoal and painting with oils, watercolor, pastels or acrylics. Figure Studio is open to all (for a full session or as a drop-in).  

Sessions typically begin the first week of January, the last week of March and the first week of September. Short sessions are offered in the summer and toward the end of the year. Workshops are added periodically. Classes are offered during the day, at night and on weekends.  


Fall class registration is now open! 

Fall classes are offered for ten weeks with workshops and shorter classes provided as noted below. Registration is required. Scholarships are available. If you plan to pay for class at the first session, please call the office (312.337.1938) to place a registration hold for the class you would like to attend – this will help us to ensure minimum/maximum attendance. 

Art Class FAQs

  • OTTA membership is open to all
  • Up to two art classes can be made up within a session
  • There are no refunds after the 1st class
  • Classes with fewer than five students may be cancelled – class size is limited to sixteen students. (Note: if the City of Chicago Department of Public Health changes the guidelines, we will follow  their recommendation.)
  • Students provide their own supplies
  • Scholarships are available – please scroll down for complete information
  • Click here to print a registration form to be mailed or delivered


Suzanne Flavin Scholarships

The Old Town Art Center offers need-based financial aid through the Suzanne Flavin Scholarship Fund. Financial assistance is provided for the complete cost of a class and is offered to no more than two students for each full session – one watercolor class and another in any media. To apply, please complete the application found here or visit the OTAC (1763 N North Park Avenue) to pick up a copy.  Recipients will be announced two weeks prior to the start of the next session.



Drawing Basics

Douglas David

Thursday | September 30th | 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM | One Day
Fee: $180 non-members / $165 members

Register Here

This simple one-day workshop on drawing walks you through many of the “basics” of drawing. Whether a refresher or the first drawing class you have ever taken, it will make sense and help you have a better understanding of drawing.  This course also allows you to make your paintings better and correct problem areas that come up in your work. The basics of composition and general sketching are used to get shapes and proportions correct, massing-in large shapes, simple perspective for landscape/seascape, understanding and tackling the drawing of various ellipses on vases, pitchers, bowls, and plates for still-lifes, point-of-view, contour line, figure and building into a streetscape.  This class is done with pencil in your notebook/sketchbook.

Painting Seascapes in Oil 

Douglas David

Friday, October 1st and Saturday, October 2nd | 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM | Two Days
Fee: $350 non-members / $335 members

Register Here

This studio seascape painting workshop yields several waves and exciting seascapes over a 2-day period. The class covers the basic principles of oil painting with regard to seascape painting. Discussions and lectures on basic composition, massing, building form, light and shadow, near and far, capturing and developing atmospheric distance, and depending on your own style, knowing when a work is finished (learning how to not overwork your painting). Students work in their own style/technique so that the finished work is their own. Douglas will overview his palette and the concepts his work entails.

Art Classes 

Please note:  You can register for classes by visiting our secure member portal.  Membership is not required to register for art classes. If you have any questions or run into any problems please send an email to  

Figure Drawing Studio

Image by P. Renaud

Mondays | September 13th – November 15th | 12:00 – 3:00 PM | Ten Weeks 
Monitor: None
Fee: $145 non-members / $130 members or $20 drop-in fee

Artists hone their skills, working directly from a live model. Beginning through advanced students are welcome to advance their figure stylings.  One hour is devoted to quick gesture poses. The focus for the remaining time will be longer poses for finished drawings and paintings. We provide drawing benches, easels, tables, and boards. All media are welcome.





Oil & Acrylic Painting

Joe Taylor

Tuesdays | September 7th – November 9th  |  10:00 AM – 1:00 PM | Ten Weeks

Wednesdays | September 8th – November 10th  |  6:30 PM – 9:30 PM | Ten Weeks

Fee: $275 non-members / $260 members

Students take on projects of their own choosing.  Joe provides support in difficult areas; whether color, mass, shadows or any other technique that fails. His level of instruction is dependent on each individual student’s needs. This class is as challenging for experienced painters as it is exciting for those expanding their knowledge. 



Figure Drawing

Ruth Aizuss Migdal

Tuesdays | September 7 – October 5 | 2 PM – 5 PM | Five Weeks
Fees: $150 non-members / $145 members

Trained as a painter, Ruth became a sculptor exploring the human torso.  She worked with clay from 1971 to 1990. She continues to explore the female torso in its many complexities.

Ruth was a lecturer and instructor for the City Colleges of Chicago for more than 20 years and is excited to get back to a group class. For this session, Ruth will utilize both, dressed models and still lifes. Students can work in any media they prefer, but should plan to start with charcoal, pencils and pastels. This is an instructed class but will be individualized. Ruth will introduce each class and then students will simply start drawing. She will determine each student’s need and offer one-on-one instruction based on the individual need.


Pastel Painting

Kathleen Newman

Wednesdays | November 3 – December 15 | 10 AM – 1 PM | Six Weeks (No Class 11/24)
Fees: $165 non-members / $155 members

Explore your artistic expression through the exciting medium of pastel.  Award winning artist, Kathleen Newman shares her love of pastel painting through demonstrations during class, personal advice at your easel and working together to discover your own artistic language. Beginning with quick thumbnail sketches, learn to simplify your subject matter into a strong compositional design. Paper toning techniques,  pastel application, layering, and exploring color harmonies to set the mood are an integral focus in her teaching. Kathleen provides individual instruction as required and also specific assignments for those students that are wanting more academic exploration. Students are able to work on class assignments or explore their own painting themes with guidance during class. A group critique will also be part of the experience before the end of each class. 



Watercolor Painting

Kathleen Newman

Thursdays | November 4 – December 16 | 10 AM – 1 PM | Six Weeks (No Class 11/25)
Fee: $165 non-members /$155 members

Explore the beautiful fluidity of watercolor painting!  Kathleen will introduce setting up your palette, color mixing, properties of various paints (opacity through transparency) and demonstrate the many techniques of direct painting as well as controlling watercolor washes to build color mixing through layered transparency.  She will also demonstrate and encourage using a watercolor sketchbook as a means to record your daily observations as well as  practicing skills for future paintings.   Kathleen will provides individual instruction as required and also specific assignments for those students that are wanting more academic exploration.   Students are able to work on class assignments or explore their own painting themes with guidance during class.   A group critique will also be part of the experience before the end of each class.


Acrylics – Drawing to Painting

Vivian Visser

Thursdays | September 9th – November 18th| 1:30 PM – 4:30 PM | Ten Weeks (No Class 9/30)

Fee: $275 non-members / $260 members


Begin a new course of expression. This workshop encourages students to interact by exchanging ideas, visions, and knowledge about art. Vivian will take everyone through the basics of using acrylic paint as a medium. You will learn about techniques, styles, and composition. In addition, color-mixing, paint application, brush strokes, tools and more will be discussed in this workshop.  Everyone is welcome.



 Oil Painting 

Marie Kirk Burke


In this class, Marie creates a still life to work from. Students construct their painting focused on observations of color, light, and shadows. Marie guides your progress from a sketch to a beautiful finished painting; learning about composition, color, color mixing, light, shadow and how they all relate along the way. Beginners are welcome. 





Watercolor Painting 

Tom Francesconi

Saturdays | September 11 – November 20 | 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM | Ten Weeks (No Class 10/2)
Fee: $275 non-members / $260 members

Tom’s energetic teaching style and passion for painting combine to create a class that is enjoyable and informative. Any artist looking to break free of a careful, timid painting process will find Tom’s direct and representational approach very inspirational. Within this process, students learn how to create stronger, more effective visual statements. Expect discussions and demonstrations that allow you to see how Tom approaches work from start to finish. Ample opportunity is provided for everyone to paint with individual direction/guidance a priority. Students at every stage of experience are welcome.

Painting the Head and Clothed Figure in Watercolor

Tom Francesconi

Saturdays | September 11 – November 20 (no class 10/2 or 10/16) | 2:30 PM – 5:30 PM | Nine Weeks
Fee: $250 non-members / $235 members


The focus of this class will be a simplified approach to painting the portrait and the clothed figure.  Learn how Tom creates lively paintings that resonate with emotion.  Rather than relying on the burdensome task of duplicating exactness, Tom endeavors to interpret the figure through an insightful and expressive painting process with the aim of creating a work that delights and entertains the eye. Tom will demonstrate this process from the beginning drawing to the finished painting.  Students will work from their own reference photographs.  Painters of all levels are welcome.



 Open Studios


Open studios are available to current students and OTTA members only.