Drawing has been part of human life for a very long time. People started drawing before they started writing. All societies in the world developed the art of drawing, unlike writing where many didn't. In fact, in some societies, the letters themselves are stylized representations of art.

The history of some societies in the world is determined solely based on the drawings they left behind. Drawing might involve the representation of real things such as humans (also known as life drawing or figure drawing), animals, objects, sculpture or could even include a representation of unreal things such as cartoons.

Drawing has had a big impact on humans and in the modern world, there is a big demand for drawing classes within the United States and all around the world. For this reason, many institutions have been set up all over the world offering drawing classes.

Choosing the Best Drawing School in Chicago

Before we get into the specifics of the school that might be best for you, there are some general guidelines we recommend you follow whether you're New York, Los Angeles or Chicago. When selecting a drawing academy, do not simply choose one based on reviews or what you might glimpse online. While reviews are undoubtedly useful and important, you need to know for sure that the school will meet your specific needs. Some of the things you can look out for are:

  • Cost - is the drawing school in your budget or price range? Make sure that you account for the cost of materials like pencils, brushes, and canvases when considering your overall cost. If the school is supplying all of the materials, are you able to rent or borrow them so you can practice at home?
  • Location - location is key when selecting a drawing school; if you have trouble getting to the class on time, it doesn't matter how good a drawing instructor is, you will not feel motivated to attend after a long day's work.
  • Class Size and Type - Whether you are new to drawing or a seasoned pro, if the classes are too large, your instructor will be unable to spend time helping guide you. Another thing to consider is the type of class you want - do you have a particular preference for nudes or still life, or are you simply interested in landscapes? Whatever class you choose needs to cater to this requirement so that you get what you want from it.
Image of a hands using a chisel to make a pattern in wood
Using a Chisel - Photo by Dominik Scythe on Unsplash

Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Arts

This school is housed in a building that shouts out the word ART! and is based at 1012 N. Dearborn. Gorgeous sculptures surround the facility. The academy exudes majesty with gorgeous historic architecture.

Palette and Chisel Academy is an old school, it’s been running since 1895. It was started by a group of students who wanted to study together and provide a friendly critic of each other's work while developing their unique techniques in art.

Here, you don’t just learn to draw but can also purchase artwork or just walk in and view the exhibition.

Easel Art Studio

Easel Art Studio focuses on kids. Here, kids do not only learn to draw but are taught art history and are encouraged to be curious and creative while having fun. Easel Art Studio is located at 1911 N Milwaukee Ave. and is owned by Kerry Warner and Shima Ghanemi. Kerry is an artist who graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

It offers classes from Mondays to Saturdays and on Sundays, hosts birthday parties for kids. Easel Art Studio offers classes to kids from 11 months old to 14 years old. The classes are set into age groups – for instance, a class known as Mommy and Me is for toddlers aged 11 months to 2 years, there is the Story Art and Easel class for 2-5-year-olds and then there is the oil painting and drawing class for kids over 5 years old.

The founder of Easel Art Studio, Kerry Warner, takes pride in noting that her studio uses recyclable materials and enables kids to think outside the box.

Color Wheel Art Studio

With branches in several US states, the Chicago location of Color Wheel Art Studio is at 2034 N Damen Ave. Color Wheel Art Studio offers drawing classes to kids aged 2 to 12 years old and operates on the philosophy that kids can attain self-empowerment through art. Exploring ones creativity encourages natural curiosity and independent thought with a great desire to learn.

The institution offers two programs for its budding young artists:

  • After-School Art Studios - The After-School Art Studio program is for kids over the age of 5. It runs on weekdays from 2:45 pm to 5:30 pm.  It also offers free after-hours art instruction in August – May running from  5:30 – 6:30.
  • Summer and School Break Camps - Targeted to cater to parents that want to give their children art education during the summer months, the school break camp offers full-day instruction for kids aged 5-12 years.

Young Rembrandts

This is a school where kids who are absolute beginners can learn drawing and art. The academy was founded in 1988 by Bette Fetter with a focus on young artists. She started the academy in her own house and now it has grown into an international franchise.

According to Bette, drawing increases the spatial reasoning and motor skills and kids who learn drawing are more likely to do well in class.

The academy partners with community centers, elementary schools, and pre-schools to provide art education programs. Young Rembrandts in Chicago is located at 1629 W Greenleaf Ave.

Art center hallway
Lillstreet Art Center - Photo credit: jasonpettus on VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-ND

Lillstreet Art Center

Lillstreet Art Center is located at 4401 N Ravenswood Ave and offers art classes for children and adult classes as well as classes for teens. Lillstreet Art Center works with students at all levels.

It was started by Bruce Robbins, a clay salesman, in 1975 in a renovated barn as a ceramics studio. It quickly grew and was relocated to a building that once housed a gear factory along Ravenswood Avenue in 2003. This is where it introduced drawing and painting alongside glass, printmaking, metalsmithing, digital arts, photography, and textiles.

On the first floor, they have a charming Gallery and Shop that serves coffee and some very delicious homemade pie.

Hyde Park Art Center

This is a visual arts organization. It is also Chicago’s oldest exhibition space and one of the best places to find drawing classes in Chicago.

It began in 1939 as Fifth Ward Art Center of Chicago and the name was later changed to Hyde Park Art Center in 1940. Located at 5020 S Cornell Ave, its vision is to stimulate vitality of visual arts in Chicago and sustain them. It fosters a collective spirit between the art teacher and his/her students.

The institute offers over 200 studio classes and unveils 20 exhibitions every year where artwork from around the world is showcased.

Vitruvian Fine Art Studio

Located a little bit outside the Chicago core, the Vitruvian Fine Art Studio is based at 901 Lake St Unit 424, Oak Park, IL. This location is ideal if you're not local to the city or even if you wan to keep your skills up while traveling. For residents of Chicago, workshops are on weekdays from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm.

Among the types of drawing they teach is figure drawing, portrait drawing, still life painting and life drawing classes. The focus is to make art and the classes are designed to turn absolute beginners into expert artists.

It’s definitely one of the best places to find drawing lessons in Chicago.

Painting of pink and yellow flowers
Art Institute of Chicago - Photo credit: Ed Bierman on VisualHunt

School of Art Institute, Chicago

With the acronym SAIC, the School of Art Institute, Chicago is one of the oldest art schools in the United States. It was founded in 1866 as the Chicago Academy of Design. In 1879, it became the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and later in 1882, changed to Art Institute of Chicago. It moved into the World’s Columbian Exposition Building in 1893 and is currently located at 36 S Wabash Ave #1201.

SAIC has produced very influential alumni throughout its long history such as Georgia O’Keeffe, LeRoy Neiman and Sarah Vowell to name just a few.

Unlike the other schools mentioned, SAIC offers degrees to its students. It is thus a fully fledged school with a high reputation and is actually one of the United States’ top graduate Art Schools. The school offers classes in a wide range of subjects which include:

  • arts administration;
  • art history, theory, and criticism;
  • art therapy;
  • art education;
  • ceramics;
  • architecture;
  • printmaking;
  • photography;
  • sculpture.

SAIC was named as the United States most influential Arts School by the National Arts and Journalism Program.

Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago has one of the largest and oldest art Museums in Chicago – it was founded in 1879. The institution has a rich collection of African Art, Indian Art, Asian Art, European Decorative Art and Architecture and Design.

It is open on a daily basis from 10:30 am to 5:00 pm and up to 8:00 pm on Thursdays.

Classes include Art history mini-courses where you engage in short lectures about art, classes and workshop classes where, as a beginner, you can develop your skills. Also offered is a road scholar program where alongside other adults you embark on weeklong adventures of the institute's collection. Explore the Art Institute of Chicago at is location on 111 S Michigan Ave.

Find drawing classes in Philidelphia and Houston, too!

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Hutch has a passion for learning and knowledge. He's a voracious reader and someone that loves to share new things with others. As a happily married father of two, Hutch has been involved with the internet and technology since the earliest days of the web.