What’s this blog about?

With great excitement I am studying classical drawing and painting in the Aristides Atelier at Gage Academy of Art. This is a four-year training under master artist Juliette Aristides.

The goal of this blog is mainly record-keeping and thought cataloging of my experience in a classical atelier but I also want to share the journey for those who are curious. I imagine the scope and focus of these posts will develop with time, but initially I’m looking forward to keeping a record of insights about life in the atelier and showing progress from the beginning to the end of my atelier training.

What’s the duration of this training? 

Aristides Atelier training lasts four years, breaking for summer. All four years, students begin the day by drawing (first year) or painting (years 2 to 4) in the “life room,” the studio where a live model poses. for three hours in the morning. After lunch, students work on their particular focus of study in the main studio. First year students focus on charcoal, second years on grisaille (gray) painting, third years on full color painting and fourth years continue to flesh out their painting skills and develop a thesis project.

Why Classical Realism? 

I’m attracted to the strong foundation of drawing and painting that this style of art and the methodology of this training provides. I’m looking to build strong technical skills for getting what’s in my head out and dressed for dinner. Classical principles of design, use of light and shadow and anatomic study also strongly appeal to me.

What is a Classical Atelier?

To learn more about the Aristides Atelier visiting the website would be a great start. Here is a good informative blurb from that site:

Atelier training features an apprenticeship-like course of study in which students receive intensive mentoring from an artist over a period of years.  This teacher is committed to giving the student a secure foundation of knowledge upon which the artist could lay the building blocks of his or her artistic future.

Juliette also gave a wonderfully informative interview to the Huffington Post in 2014 about the movement of the atelier world in general. Here are a couple of great blurbs:

Juliette Aristides: Atelier education is like musical training at a conservatory — and much of the artwork produced in the first years are exercises akin to practicing scales. In past ages, a decade of intensive study was not unusual to become a skilled artist and we currently have only a fraction of the time to train students. Technical mastery is an important element of the education; how students later choose to apply those skills is up to them.

Remember, this is a new movement. The skill based aspect of arts education was utterly decimated and it took several generations to begin to turn this around. Twenty years ago, there were only a handful of Ateliers in the world. Now, I can’t keep track of all the new Ateliers cropping up. In those days, it was terribly difficult to piece together an education and technical concerns were all consuming. Then, to make something with skill and beauty was a philosophy. We are only now getting a large body of well-trained painters who are young.

Ateliers are monasteries of art keeping skill and technique alive while many schools dissolve their painting departments. Much information has been lost. However, we do have a core principles that were preserved from teacher to student and we have confirmation on the solidity of the principles through the many books which remain.



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