Classical Studio Training for 2018 - 2019


About our Classical Studio Training

We are the only Art Academy in the East Bay and one of very few in the entire San Francisco Bay Area to make this level of training available to our students. To participate in these classes is a privilege and an honor that we wish to make accessible to students who have the passion for in depth Fine Art training but who will need to travel far and wide to find this elsewhere in the surrounding area.

Classical Studio Training focuses on the advanced training of mature teens (ages 12+) and adults (ages 18+) who are more serious about wanting to learn a more sophisticated way of going about creating more advanced and highly skillful art according to the Classical Tradition of the Old Masters like Da Vinci and Michelangelo.

The main focus is on traditional fine art making and immersive skill-building in both Drawing and Painting. The focus is not to produce finished art works, but on training extensively and with great focus to master truly advanced skills that we cannot possibly teach in depth in our less advanced classroom settings. Each Module focuses on an aspect of this (more academic) approach to Fine Art in a fun, student-friendly way. Aspects of this type of highly academic artistic process include learning to draw from observation in great detail and with great accuracy, learning how to paint a variety of subjects in very specific Classical styles like Classical Realism and much, much more.

Students need to be juried into these classes as we are looking to identify and work only with students who are truly gifted, disciplined and determined to create Classical Fine Art of a much higher caliber than their peers who do not have access to such advanced training. Students will be juried into these classes according to the following criteria:

  • Skill Level – Students will need to have mastered some level of basic artistic skill to be a good fit for this classroom. Those who have a natural feel, some post-basic skills and a deeply personal desire for excellence in their art making and who display the ability to absorb instruction methodically and intuitively will adjust to this class with greater ease.
  • Intentional Sincerity – A student needs to be passionate and serious about wanting to learn a more sophisticate approach to creating Fine Art of a high caliber. Students will have to be able to be responsible for homework assignments, being on time for class and managing their own supply kits also.
  • Concentration Level – The ability to focus and concentrate in a classroom means being able to quietly work without being disruptive or distracted easily and showing the instructor the respect that is required in an atelier-level setting. Students who cannot quietly work by themselves in a group setting are not a good fit for these classes.
  • Individual Maturity – students need to have the emotional level of development that ensures them being able to work with other sincere students in an adult-like, sophisticated setting and a level of emotional tenacity which enables them to work through challenging projects when needed.

Students are evaluated according to the above criteria after each module. Students who do not meet the criteria for starting these classes or who end up displaying unsuitable characteristics or behavior in this classroom will not be recommended to pursue these classes and we reserve the right to terminate classes in such cases as it is not in the best interest of our classroom or the student to pursue these classes unless they can self-regulate.

Parents are responsible for minor students and adult students are responsible for themselves in terms of showing up on time and remembering to bering relevant projects and supplies that they took home to class every week. Persistent absences or late arrivals or incomplete homework will make this class a poor fit for any student. Commitment and dedication are required for learning at this level.

Students cannot simply join any module as they wish throughout the year, they will need to have completed the prior modules or show competence on a level that the Academy feels is sufficient for joining a specific module at any given time throughout the course of the school year.

If you or your teen student are interested in being juried into our Classical Studio Training classes please complete the Application form on this page.

Here are the Module Themes for 2018-2019

Each module lasts 6 weeks and costs $290 per student for each 6 week module – fee includes materials.
There classes are only held in our Livermore location.

If you have questions please contact us.

Check the days and times here

Module 1: Foundations of Classical Drawing
Classical Drawing is the foundational skill that forms the basis of all art making when an artist is serious about developing their artistic ability to create with accuracy and imagination alike. Without in-depth development of advanced drawing skills, an artist will have a lot of gaps in their ability to create with ease and precision. This class will advance the student’s ability to create art on a far more sophisticated level than before and forms the basis on which professional classical artists are trained.

Our first module in our Classical Studio Training Classes is an in-depth study of classical drawing principles. The students will learn to render geometric forms. Emphasis is placed on careful analysis of light and shadow relationships. Through the use of line, tone, and modeling, students will learn to depict objects in 3d form.

Students will create drawings in charcoal and become well versed in charcoal as a drawing medium also. Different types of drawing tools and paper will be discussed and the student will be exposed to classical methods of using their tools. The focus will be on getting to learn how to utilize drawing media as much as how to create a desirable end result.
If the student is able to focus and stick with it, building a great drawing foundation like this will be detrimental for the student in becoming far more skilled than their typical peers normally are. It can be hard for a young mind to realize the value of pursuing skills beyond just copying what has already been done, but the holy grail of Fine Art making still lies within the cradle of superior drawing and observation skills.

Learning to draw really well, with great accuracy, detail and sensitivity, from observation is a huge part of what students will learn in this class. However, attention is also being paid to academic approaches and sight-measuring principles in drawing as developed and utilized by artists like Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci during the Classical era. Artists who study these methods significantly increase their visual literacy and ability to control the media to get the results they desire.

Understanding light and shadows, how to render it with a visually literate approach, even just how to observe and portray subtle tonal values in art are critical skills that can only be developed in a highly focused setting such as this. What is learned in this class will apply to color rendering as well when we reach those modules.

At our Academy we are looking forward to immersing students into this level of training to increase their love and enjoyment of being able to truly create on a level that reflects their artistic potential.

Outcomes in Fine Art refer to what students will be able to do on a far more advanced level once they have immersed themselves in this training:

  • Sight measuring to enhance observation and visual literacy will be studied.
  • The traditional 5-value system of tonal rendering will be instilled.
  • Creating dynamic and convincing composition, value pattern, subtleties and types of shadows will be explored.
  • Obtaining a basic understanding and application of perspective, proportion, gesture, and foreshortening as implemented in Classical Art making.
Module 2: Classical Still Life Drawing
Every prodigy or potential artist, however gifted, will find themselves never to be exempt from deeply studying the basics. And nobody creates amazing art without understanding (intuitively and logically) what Composition is really all about. Composition is a very important aspect of creating engaging Fine Art pieces. An in depth understanding of composition making will greatly increase the artist’s ability to come up with original and captivating art that can hold the viewer’s attention and lead the eye through the work. Composition in Fine Art functions the same way as Classical composition making in music: a classical musician would engage the music lover’s imagination with a piece of original, intricately composed music just as the Fine Artist would do visually.

The language of art works very much like the language of music: it has structure and principles than can be combined in endless ways, but to do so, the language must first be learned – a process that requires great commitment, focus and patience. As the serious musician needs to first learn how to read and write musical notes in order to compose deeply engaging pieces, so the Fine Artist must first learn to see and draw with deliberate intent and sophistication in order to compose truly incredible art.

The best way to learn engaging composition making is to learn how to draw intricate Still Lives in the truest of forms from structured observation. Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, Rembrandt and the Classical Masters were all extremely well versed in Still Life composition making and their famous works can be viewed in museums and art galleries all over the world, like the Tate Modern in the uk and the De Young Museum in San Francisco.

This type of skillset is not only built upon principles and rules though – as with most things in art making, a huge part of the equation is actually heightening the intuitive sensibilities of an artist to engage the subject, to create mood and juxtaposition, to play with angles and colors and perspective… these skills are developed by learning how to be creative and daring, dramatic or analytical with intent and confidence as part of the individual’s creative process.

We will learn compositional arrangement of the elements in the picture plane. Emphasis will be placed on drawing still life set ups from observation and analysis. Students will have the opportunity to set up and draw incredible compositions from real life and learn an enormous amount of Classical Skills in the process.

Our desired outcomes for this module are:

  • How to set up creative still life using bot the formal principles of doing so and the individual intuitive approach.
  • Students will learn how to make proportional thumbnail studies: a skill that is very critical in being able to environ compositional possibilities before tackling the actual creation of a piece.
  • Understanding the importance of the basic light/dark value pattern and how to use light. Chiaroscuro will be explained and analyzed visually.
  • Knowing the meaning of Line, Shapes, Space, and Direction and being able to observe and portray these elements accurately.
Module 3: Classical Cast Drawing
It is absolutely fascinating to learn how to draw the human head by being able to draw from real life, actual facial casts of the sculptures of famous artists like Michelangelo or the limbs of actual human models. The main advantage of drawing from casts is far greater than drawing from an actual model: casts can actually stand completely still.

An integral part of learning to create accurate form and value in Fine Art, with a solid basis in foundational art skills is learning how to accurately convey the human form in figurative art. From as far back as the existence of humans on our planet we see the human form depicted in everything from cave paintings to carvings.

Art History is rich with examples of the human form forming the basis of the art and cultural expressions of every tribe and civilization imaginable: from the Aztecs to the Greeks to the African tribes to the Asian civilizations and all the wonders brought to us by the figurative Classical Masters like Michelangelo’s majestic marble-carved wonders and even the elegance of elongated proportions in the works of Botticelli or the romantic depictions of Rossetti, even the crude portrait expressions of movements like Art Brut and the playful, Primitivist engagements of Picasso, sculptural expressions of Rodin, heart-wrenching portraits of Frida Kahlo or the fascinating abstract interpretation of movement by Marcel Duchamp in “Nude Descending the Staircase”, there is no limit to the styles and possibilities of utilizing the human form in Fine Art.

Figurative and portraiture exploration in Fine Art starts by in depth analytical assessment of the human head at length and learning to portray it accurately in all its 3 dimensional glory. Being able to convey mood and emotion via intense or subtle facial expressions are key in creating convincing portraiture.

The same holds true for drawing a human being than what holds true for painting an animal or sculpting a fantasy creature: the viewer is engaged by means of the artist’s ability to depict emotion that resonates with the viewer. People relate to human or animal based subjects in art by seeing it sub-consciously as a mirror image of their own emotions or experiences. The artist that is able to captivate the viewer with the subtle nuances of mood in their portraiture is the artist that goes way beyond making pretty pictures. This is not easy task and to push portraiture beyond being generic a deeply developed visual comprehension of the subject is required.

This module is mainly focused on drawing the human head and establishing a thorough understanding of individual features of the human head: nose, eyes, lips, ears, cheeks etc. Analysis of head structure and traditional techniques are combined to provide students with the skills necessary to accurately draw the human head. We will use the classical approach of drawing from cast models.
Outcomes for learning Classical Cast Drawing are as such:

  • Students will learn the proportions of the head and gesture by learning the proportions of individual facial features and how to accurately incorporate gestural drawing into the creative process.
  • Drawing individual features of the head: nose, mouth, eyes ears.
  • Understanding of value and form in art making with more enhanced precision.
  • Being able to render shadow shapes and their edges with refined precision.
  • Appreciate the differences between light and shadow and being able to actually be visually literate enough to see it as it truly is in nature.
Module 4: Paint Mixing & Color Theory
This module will introduce the student to words and terms of painting vocabulary as well as a very intricate comprehension of color in all its many forms and expressive qualities. The course will provide students with a visual, practical education in color. We will explore the color wheel and the meaning of hue, value, saturation and other qualities of paint and color. Several ideas of paint application and techniques will be taught.

A very big part of art has to do with observation and the ability to fuse observation with creativity and imagination in order to produce truly original, excellent and unique results. Learning accurate visual literacy and building up a seasoned visual memory are vital and take many years to develop. In fact, it takes a life time. These skills cannot be acquired by browsing the internet or watching how-to videos. These skills can only be obtained in a studio, spending time solving visual problems and learning how things like color and light work together.

People have very strong emotional responses to Color as Science has confirmed for us in a variety of studies over the years. Color can influence people’s moods or decisions in very significant ways. Since the language of art is a visual language, learning how to utilize a mature understanding of how color works is critical for the serious artist.

A monochromatic still life with a subtle light source will have a very different dynamic than a polychromatic street scene in high contrast. A figure painted in subtle tonal values is experienced very differently by the viewer than a red and green field of vibrant poppies. Using knowledge of color theory to their advantage, artists can learn to deliberately evoke, emphasize or neutralize certain subjects or themes in their art. Intent backed by a cultivated approach to color can bring any concept or subject to life in any type of art. But first the artist must learn the basic nuts and bolts of this way of creating.

The same rules that apply to gray-scale drawing, also apply to color work. Only in color it becomes more complex as the ability to observe slight changes in light and shadow becomes critical in creating a finished product that reflects color unity while dealing with things like object reflections, cast shadows, reflected light and contrast in terms of color. It is a very competent way of creating art that speaks volumes to the viewer simply through the colors used by the artist. Other things may be harder to achieve in a subject, but if the colors work, half the battle is won.
Famous artists like Titian and Monet were Masters at understanding how to use color in a variety of deliberate ways to make their subjects come to life. The subject matter or style of art doest really change the fundamental requirements for understanding how color works. From Impressionism to Hyper Realism, the foundational skills as we teach in our Classical Studio Training modules are the same.

We are looking for some pretty skillful and fun outcomes in this module:

  • Understanding different color schemes and being able to identify and apply them with intention.
  • Knowing the value of different colors and having the ability to create, using these values.
  • Increasing the student’s ability to make informed and optimal color choices in their art making.
  • Learn how to use a limited palette to mix a variety of colors.
  • Grisaille (Gray-Scale) Painting.
  • Techniques in brush control and paint application.
Module 5: Still Life Painting
Our last module for the school year will be the culmination of everything we have explored, analyzed and learned up to this point. The students will create works that showcase how far they have come in their skill development at this time. This is also the ideal time for the student to confidently create and develop their own vision for their own, unique creative process.

Moving way beyond just copying an Old Dutch Still Life Master, this module is a comprehensive, in-depth study of the principles of composition, value, pattern, tone, staging, mood, and color theories and how to apply those principles to develop one’s own unique style and approaches to creativity. The focus will be on the creative process from concept to finished art. Creative compositional responses of the student are increased through the experience of painting. The student will be working from various means of references to include live still life and photographs. This will be a studio course exploring the variety of organizational and compositional approaches.

From formal principles to intuitive creations – as part of this course we truly put the artist in touch with the subject. One of the biggest and most difficult bridges to cross for any serious artist is to truly know why we create and not just how to create or what to create. These practical projects, along with our emphasis on theory will start opening up that depth of artistic development to the artist.

The student will also be taught how to critically analyze their own work in a way to improve consistently. The artistic path is a lifelong path of personal growth and skill building that flows together into the choices an artist makes about their creative process, subject matter and potentially even a career path in the arts should that be the desired outcome overall. After having spent so much time building foundations skills, the artist will now be able to take some next steps in cultivating their journey moving forward.

Fine Art is a form of communication and the student / artist needs to start asking intelligent questions about what it is that they want to communicate via or achieve through their work? The approach in this module will be far more individualized than previously so that the artist may experience the deep joy of truly becoming in touch with themselves as an autonomous creative in their own right.

Outcomes will be as follows:

  • Using thumbnail compositions in painting to create the most optimal of compositions.
  • High and low key compositions to be created – learning to use light and color in a varied, yet sensible manner with intention and creative flair
  • Skill in paint handling will be developed – how brushstrokes and technique can make or break a painting and much more.
  • Students learn to indicate simple form with a single light source.
  • Learning to paint form using light and different types of shadows in a deliberate way.
  • Understanding color temperature and atmospheric perspective so that compositions are convincing and exudes artistic authenticity.
  • Calling forth the journey of the artist as a unique, skilled creator in their own right.
  • Setting the artist up for future success and having enough immersive skills and creative discipline to embrace future, more advanced courses and opportunities offered via our academy.
Please refer to the TIMETABLE for information about class dates and times.

Acceptance to attend Classical Studio Classes is not automatic; please complete and submit the form below.

Application for for Classical Studio Training
Should you be approved to attend the Classical Studio Training we will send you a link to the dedicated registration area.

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