Not all painting classes are equal. There are on-line step-by-step cookie cutter approach’s that will result in paintings that look like something, but will teach you little about the basics. This is much like if you took a cooking class which suggested you buy pre-made sauces and entrees but did not teach you the difference between sautéing and braising. There are fine arts colleges that require you to already know a lot about painting, and show a portfolio, just to gain entry. In between these two extremes, you find adult education classes, university extension classes, and working with individual artists in their studios. Reading the description before you sign up might be helpful, but not if you don’t know what to look for. Visiting the class or talking to the teacher would be a way of feeling out the situation, but you still need to know what you are paying for. Here are some guidelines to help you choose a class: 1. Are you looking for a relaxing social situation or do you really want to buckle down and learn the complex skills of a painter? Ask to observe a class so you can determine the approach of the teacher. 2. What level are you? When the class is listed as intermediate or advanced, check out what this means. If you are not sure, visit the class and talk to the students in the class. You do not want to be either bored or in over your head. 3. Have realistic goals. Learning to paint well can take about 500 hours. Taking a three-hour class for ten weeks should teach the basics, but much more practice is needed to be competent 4. Understand that you will probably never make a living as an artist. From outward appearances, such as the price of paintings, it might seem like a possibility. But in reality most artists have other jobs and never make much money from their art. 5. Find out what materials are required and make sure you do not make substitutions and waste money. The type of materials can determine the quality of your paintings. 6. Try to determine if the teacher is an artist who teaches just to make ends meet, or is a devoted teacher who does make art, but loves teaching. 7. Be open and honest with the teacher and talk to him or her before you sign up. Do not try to pretend you know what you do not; it is better to have the teacher know exactly what you need to learn. Painting can be a hobby to keep busy and make friends, or it can be an engrossing activity that deeply changes your perspective on life, and adds enormous enjoyment to other aspects of living. If you learn to think and see the world as a true artist, you will see the world in a new way.