During the first year of the Classical Atelier, you are immersed in learning to draw. You learn how to sight and measure the subject in order to reproduce it accurately. Exercises are designed to improve drawing skills, with an emphasis on contour, proportion, gesture, anatomy, modeling and the shape of light and shadow.

Once you have acquired the requisite drawing skills, you learn the art and science of painting. Painting projects are designed for the beginning painting student. Emphasis is on drawing accuracy, handling the paint and the careful observation of light and shadow. You go on to use a limited and then full palette while completing increasingly complex projects in cast and still-life painting.

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Curriculum Progression

It was common practice in the 19th-century academies to draw before painting. Students began by copying lithographs or engravings to learn technique and aesthetics. When comfortable with copying, students enjoyed drawing from the antique. Drawing these plaster casts, students learned directly from great works of sculpture, the aesthetic translation necessary to transform life into a work of art. The life-drawing room is where all the experience gained in copying masters would pay off. Everyone participates in a community environment, creating a common language and high level of competency from the beginning of the artists’ training.

Cast Drawing

Cast drawing is a way of learning the design systems found in the art of the ancient world through emulation. Atelier students work from classical statuary under unchanging light conditions. The light and cast set-up is designed to enhance form and clarify value relationships, to gain rendering skills and a command of the materials.

Cast Painting

A monochrome oil painting that carries the lessons of the cast into the medium of paint. You learn to address the problems of painting: dividing light and shade, blocking-in, handling the materials and finishing without the complication of color.

Figure & Portrait Drawing

Drawing the human form is the benchmark of a classical education and forms the focal point of the Aristides Atelier program. In working from life, you are not simply copying nature, rather in the spirit of the Greeks you seek to interpret nature, reconstructing it to convey the power of life. The average figure pose is two weeks. Throughout the year you focus on creating a strong block-in, understanding the gesture, separating shadow from light and then concentrate on understanding and rendering form.

Figure & Portrait Painting

Figure and portrait painting explore expression, mass and form. The goal is to become comfortable handling paint and to understand the procedures necessary to begin and finish a painting. Students complete a drawing and transfer it to a panel or canvas, then create poster studies and an underpainting in either monochromatic tones or full color. The process ends with the final layers of paint to complete a painting.

Still-Life Painting

The focus of still-life painting is one of composition (design) and color. This module of the Classical Atelier begins with methods for creating thoughtful, interesting arrangements and continuing the examination of relationships between masses of value, color and intensity. Paintings progress from poster studies to highly finished areas of turning form. You are introduced to color through studying several limited palettes, including how to mix neutrals and the concept of color keying.