When I entered the Studio Painting program in the School of Fine Arts at a very well know University here in North-Central Florida, I was under the impression that I would be taught how to paint in the style of the Great Masters of the 19th Century. I had it in my head that the Professors at the University had all this secret knowledge and were just sitting there waiting for me to fall into their clutches. Theywould empart to me all the technical aspects of painting in the Classical Realist style and life would be a journey into Elyssium Fields. I had taken all of my lower level drawing and painting courses and bounced into the program with a smile on my face. Boy was I dissappointed and ultimately disillusioned. The Professors at America's large University Art Schools can't teach you what they themselves have never been taught. Since the collapse of the great European and American Academy systems at the turn of the 20th Century with the advent of Modernism and the Gallery system, that kind of technical craftsmanship basically disappeared from our Schools of Fine Art. I really felt sorry for some of those kids in that program. One young man in particular during our Junior Painting Studio class, a really tallented and energetic artist, remarked that if he had known he would come all the way to this University to teach himself how to paint he would have stayed home. There was a point in my training at University that I knew the system I was in would not be able to teach me the skills I craved in order to do Classically themed and Contemporary Realist figurative works.
So, one summer I happened upon a summer studio in the Techniques of the Masters given at the Academy of Realist Art in Toronto, Canada. I sent in my reservation and was off to get a taste of what I wasn't learning at University. I came back from that two week course with a renewed spirit. I learned so much from that course and for the first time in my training I learned what the Fine Arts instructors at my University didn't know and couldn't possibly teach me. I learned about the sight-size method and drawing from plaster casts. I took home a greater appreciation of the Classical methods of teaching students how to draw and paint.
The current private Ateliers specializing in Classical Realism model their form of art instruction after the great Art Studio Academys of 15th to 19th Century Europe. Although the methods vary, most Atelier schools train students in the skills and techniques associated with creating some form of representational art. These skills include intensive sessions for drawing or painting from the nude model. Sight-size is the impliment modern and classical Ateliers use to teach a students drawing and painting an object exactly as it appears to the artist on a one to one scale. You are taught a form of realism based upon careful observations of nature with great attention to detail. If you would like more information on the sight-size method then the internet offers many sites where you can research the method in great detail. There are several books which also explain the method and show you how to set up your own drawing station for learning the technical aspects of the sight-size method.
I think what originally captured my attention about these mainly 19th Century drawings and paintings I have managed to collect is the artistic detail and obvious technical skills of observatrion exhibited by the artist using the site-size method.
I have listed several Modern Ateliers specializing in Classical Realism so if you would like to learn more please follow the links to their websites.
And, now let's start our journey into my collection......