Phil Shemanski & Ashleigh Norman

Phil Shemanski & Ashleigh Norman, co-developers

Renewing the Renaissance™ (RTR)’s Beginner’s School was created to allow an individual anywhere in the world to learn online the basics of drawing, painting, and sculpting—for free, no registration required. The internet is filled with numerous painting and drawing videos that assume an introductory understanding of art that most people don’t have. We have designed each course of the Beginner’s School to teach students starting from the very basics up to the point where they can comfortably use videos and advice to further their own development. The Beginner’s School provides a comfortable venue for seniors to help maintain their cognitive skills through art, for young students to foster their creativity, and for parents to introduce art to their children and grandchildren. For those who want a quick video tour of the website, click here (and use the Closed Captions feature if you want!).

Each course—drawing, painting, and sculpture—consists of a series of lessons that includes subject matter text, artist videos (with edited closed captions), and video commentary to guide the student. The lessons include exercises we’ve tried to keep to about an hour, making it easy to fit conveniently into a busy life. Google Translate allows the student to translate the text, videos, supply recommendation lists, and budgets into the student’s spoken language (see here for information regarding translation limitations).

You can view the lessons for each course by clicking on the course title you’re interested in on the Course Topic Summaries under Home. Going beyond “how-to,” lessons include topics such as the tools required and their cost, and what to consider in choosing a workspace or studio, all supported by brief art history lessons. We have a lesson, Being A Successful Student, that will help you do just that…and our FAQs are organized to give you the answers quickly to your general questions. Check out our lesson Choosing Your First Course for a quick guide on getting started.

The first Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned the 14th to the 16th centuries, beginning in Florence, Italy in the late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe.  As a cultural movement, it encompassed a flowering of literature, science, art, religion, and politics. It is perhaps best known for its artistic developments and the contributions of such multi-talented artists as Leonardo de Vinci and Michelangelo. Artists during the Renaissance learned from older, Master artists in the Master’s studio or Atelier (ah-tell-YAY). Some Ateliers would have many young artists learning from and helping out the Master, and students influenced and helped each other as well.

It’s this sort of artistic community we want to recreate here at RTR’s Beginner’s School and connect artists all over the world. We want students to submit and share their work using our submission form and encourage each other in their artistic journeys by contributing to the student galleries (see an example here). Students can also communicate with each other by posting in the Leave A Comment section of each lesson, like the one below, and also by using Instagram to post images of their work (tag us! @beginnersschool). We appreciate all the positive testimonials we’ve been receiving on our courses–check out what people are saying about us

The Student Resource Center (SRC) is another place for artists to share. As a searchable database, the SRC allows experienced artists to submit their tips and techniques to guide the next beginning student along. The SRC also includes ideas such as how to flourish by getting your creativity unstuck, and nourish yourself to be a healthy student artist.

We believe supporting art is important for the world’s future, and that it’s important to ‘give back’. At Renewing the Renaissance, we strive to work with adult artists with challenges (such as high functioning autism, language and social impediments, and executive functioning disorders) to help their art careers. Take a look at the work of our talented painters and sculptors on our sister website www.RenewingTheRenaissance.com. Consider commissioning a painting (an interesting creative experience!), or acquiring their artwork.

Thanks to all for embracing the Beginner’s School spirit of the Renaissance!

Key Developers


Ashleigh Norman, MFA SFAI

The ‘right brain’ developer and lead writer of lessons.


Phil Shemanski, CPA MS (Tax)

The ‘left brain’ developer and Beginner’s School founder.

Screen shot 2015-11-05 at 10.58.03 AM

Video Artists

070e8ffDrawing: Sarah Ammons UMSS0LH5Watercolor: Christine Oliver

Oil: Cynda Valle


Sculpture: Kent Kidwell



Acrylic: Will Kemp & Will Kemp Art School

Contributing Artists

A really big thank you to the all the artists–living and dead–who have contributed to great vastness of art history and contemporary art. You inspire us to create our own art and to see the beauty in even the most banal. Thank you.

Renewing the Renaissance artists, without whom this site would never have been born. Thank you for your patience and support throughout this process and for continuing to create and share your artwork with the world.

Videographers & Support Staff

Shawn Darling

Mike Mahoney

Bryn Robertson

Tim Erskin, KMVT

Rene Mendoza, KMVT

Bobby Chastain, KMVT

Shelley Wolfe, KMVT

Website Creation, Advice, and Testing

Sarah Ammons Kaaren Marquez
Ryan Carr Oscar Ramirez
Mabisa Chhetry Jason M Rhodes
Cesar Karamazov Fernanda Rodriguez
Jay Mandyam Onur Yildiz
Shreyas Mandyam, MMediaWeb Tom Zephyrs

Our “Village” of Supporters

They say, “it takes a village,” and it couldn’t be more true. Thank you to our village of supporters out there–you’ve been with us through all the paint, sweat, and tears it took to complete the Beginner’s School and we are forever indebted to you. We value your advice, your opinions, your guidance, and most of all your open minds and ears as we’ve worked together to create this. Indiegogo crowdfunders, your contributions significantly impacted our development and we couldn’t have done it without you.

Maneeza Aminy

Jahye Aronson

Caitlin Becker

Gwen Behrstock

Janet Cahill

David Colvin

Laura Corben

Steven Crawley

Jane Ferguson

Susan Fink

Geri-Ann Galanti

Dee Gibson

Jeff Grabow

Laurie Green

Patricia Herzog

Daria Hodapp

Bette Houtchens

Claudia A. Howe

Carole Hunter

Harold Jaffe

Nancee Jaffe

Karen Jaw-Madson

Robert Kalof

Laurie Kasparian

Karen Kaye

Amanda Keating

Robert Kranz

KHRG Law firm LLP

Janet Loeb

Christina Ma

Amy MacDonald

Rahat Marfatia

Lydia Martin

Vicki Martin

Susan Mielke

Linda Naiman

John Norman

Kim Norman

Lynne O’Hara

Raymond Osofsky

Jennifer Pence

John Phelps

Safa Rashtchy

Bonnie Rickles

Richard Sasaki

Joan Shemanski

Naomi Shemanski

Sheri Shemanski

Laura Shumaker

Perry Simon

Cole Smothers

David Spector

Michael Teng

Mark Tramiel

Sanjay Uppal

Irma Velasquez

Sylvia H White

Ellen Whorton

Dennis Wilkins

Michael Wohler

Michelle Wohler

Pearl Wolffs

Nathan Zebedeo

Laurie Zoloth


  1. August 11, 2017
    • August 14, 2017
  2. January 1, 2018
    • February 23, 2018
  3. December 26, 2019
    • December 30, 2019

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