Portrait and Figure Painting and Drawing
The Atelier Method of Instruction
The Atelier method of instruction was most popular in the last century in France, when various artists opened up their studios for private classes. Many of the students that were enrolled in the art academies attended the ateliers to learn more from a particular artist or to gain an edge in competition for the academy’s student awards. This method of instruction has continued over the years to the present. It has many advantages besides working in the environs of a professional studio: classes are much smaller and less expensive than professional schools, no application or enrollment fees, no paying for cancelled classes, payments are made monthly rather than by semester, and you can begin, drop out or reenroll at any time. (Degas is recorded to have attended a particular atelier on and off over a fifteen year span.) In like manner I teach these classes in my own studio. I enjoy passing along what I have learned from my former teachers as well as what I have learned on my own. So come early, get set up, and be ready. We start on time.
Painting a portrait or figure using a Model
The aim of these classes is to learn to represent, from practice, the head from all views, the structure, form, and character, and to learn to analyze the figure for gesture and proportion. I begin all students with drawing only, in order to establish a routine way of rendering the head and to develop a sense of structure to the drawing. The technique I use for developing the head may be used effectively with any subject.
A strong drawing makes a strong painting, and I encourage beginning students to stay with drawing until they are able to render a well structured head from any angle. Try drawing all views of the model, as well as working up close (sitting), and standing farther back. Valuable things can be learned from each distance. Don’t worry if you do not finish your drawing or your painting. The purpose of our class is to learn to see objectively and to do the best work possible at the time by studying the model—then future work becomes easier. You will be making yourself a foundation to build upon. Because drawing is so important, about once a month a drawing class is required all of students, even the most advanced. You may also choose to draw when the rest of the class is painting to further develop your drawing skills. I will never discourage anyone from choosing to draw—it is that important.
Working from Models
We try to have a variety of models posing for our classes so that the students are presented with a variety of challenges; different ages, races, sexes, complexions, builds, etc.
Talking to the model or carrying on a conversation with another class member while the model is posing will disturb concentration for yourself and others. Save socializing for the breaks. You will find that part of your learning comes from hearing the critiques I give to others.
It is also important that you do not photograph any model without their express consent. If you wish to photograph a model, you must ask their permission first. Take the photo when it doesn’t interfere with the other student’s painting time. Flash pictures are not satisfactory for capturing the shadow pattern.
I am continually looking for new faces. If you know a person with an interesting face, ask if he or she would like to pose for a portrait class. Give me their name and phone number, and I will make the arrangements. I interview the person and give them instruction on posing for the class prior to their scheduled class posing dates. That way, a person that has no experience modeling is able to comfortably pose for the class and is able to do a good job. Refer to “Models Wanted” in this website.
We work with experienced professional figure models for our figure classes.
Tuition is a flat lesson rate payable monthly on the first class of each month. Once enrolled, your place is reserved as long as you pay according to schedule. Credit or refund is given for any class that has to be cancelled. No refund or credit is given for classes you enrolled for but did not attend. However, an exception may be made if I am notified of the date of your expected absence and you or I am able to call in a substitute for you. I cannot guarantee that a substitute will be available. Model fees are included in your class tuition.
If I do not receive monthly tuition of the first class date and you have made no other arrangements with me, then I will assume that you have dropped the class. It is courteous to let me know when you plan on dropping, so that the next person on the waiting list is able to take advantage of the opening as soon as possible.
Material lists are available here online for oil, pastel and drawing. If you have any questions about the materials or where best to obtain them, please ask me during class, email or phone. I do ask that you come to class fully prepared and not plan on borrowing materials from myself or other students. Some easels and trays are provided, although you will find that in the long run, having your own easel that you become comfortable using is a huge advantage. You will want to acquire the right tools for the job and work with them enough so they become familiar to use—easy and automatic. Creating good art can be difficult enough without fighting inadequate or poorly planned materials. The most valuable thing you will invest in your art is your time, so give yourself every advantage by acquiring in the best tools you can afford. I cannot stress this enough.