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  1. #1
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    The Atelier Method

    The other day I went to an art exhibit at an Atelier in Boston (http://www.academyofrealistartboston.com/) and I had the chance to get a tour of the school with the organizer. She talked about the program and how the students were taught at the school. When I told her that I did figure drawing in art school she said:
    "A difference between our method for drawing the figure and the one that is most likely taught at your school is that we treat gesture in a very different way. While you probably do 5-10 minute short poses, a short pose for us is about one hour long. There is an emphasis on proportion and getting it to look like the model and not so much in making an expressive drawing. Our program starts with bargue drawings, making sure that the drawing is a perfect reproduction. When the student is ready, he/she applies this concept to still lifes and figure drawing."
    I wonder if this an effective way to learn. I understand that after 2 years of doing this it is inevitable that the students will become extremely skilled. To be honest, the student work BLEW me away. The quality of the renderings and oil painting were far superior than anything my school or most schools ive looked at does. But at the same time, some drawings looked uninspired.
    Here is an overview of the program:http://www.academyofrealistartboston.com/index.php?id=2

    Does anyone here have experience with this type of education?

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  3. #2
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    In my figure drawing classes they teach us both, gestures quick poses and long detailed poses. Each has it's own purpose.

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    Yeah...no direct experience in an Atelier...but as much as I admire the technical skill...you're right on the money about an uninspired, or even in the words of your guide, less expressive work. Bargue reproductions, 20+ hour drawings, just not my kind of thing to be honest. For some people it is, and I think they find a zen in it...you'll discover whether you like it or not. I will say one thing...and just an opinion/observation...I think you can be fairly successful in today's traditional gallery market with atelier training.

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  6. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    Yeah...no direct experience in an Atelier...but as much as I admire the technical skill...you're right on the money about an uninspired, or even in the words of your guide, less expressive work. Bargue reproductions, 20+ hour drawings, just not my kind of thing to be honest. For some people it is, and I think they find a zen in it...you'll discover whether you like it or not. I will say one thing...and just an opinion/observation...I think you can be fairly successful in today's traditional gallery market with atelier training.
    I personally really like doing that kind of stuff. I certainly find it meditative. I wish I had more time to do those sort of things.

    Watch this video if you're interested in learning about 19th century academia. They would basically start by doing Bargue studies (much like many artists start by drawing from photos now,) and then they'd move to drawing casts (perfectly, or else they couldn't move on,) and then finally they'd study a live model (but with ideal statues from classicalism in comparison.) They'd also study poses from pose books, all of which, although subtle, had distinct narrative meanings. I guess after that they'd start composing actual paintings, which they would do using line as opposed to color (which was a big debate among artists.)



    There are ten parts here, and it's a good talk.

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    That's cool Jake - that stuff you've been doing at the Academy is great. Like I said I think there are folks geared that way, I'm just not one of them.

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    you're right on the money about an uninspired, or even in the words of your guide, less expressive work.
    I can agree that a lot of people coming out of those schools can make pretty boring stuff, but in my mind at least that's only if you actually chose for that education to be the be all end all of your art education. I'm sure you could learn a lot by studying at one of those ateliers and then use whatever you learned to do your own thing.

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    Yeah, cast drawings and academic life paintings can the art in itself, but I think they are better use as learning tools. When I look at a Gerome painting (or at some Bouguereau's) I certainly don't think they are uninspired.

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  13. #8
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    I've done some cast work and other academic drawing and I'm extremely glad that I did. I'm also glad that's not the only sort of education I got. The expressive, emotional side of art is fairly important as well.

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    Yeah...no direct experience in an Atelier...but as much as I admire the technical skill...you're right on the money about an uninspired, or even in the words of your guide, less expressive work. Bargue reproductions, 20+ hour drawings, just not my kind of thing to be honest. For some people it is, and I think they find a zen in it...you'll discover whether you like it or not. I will say one thing...and just an opinion/observation...I think you can be fairly successful in today's traditional gallery market with atelier training.

    jeff did you mean without atelier training?

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    I completely agree with you guys. It has been a bit of a mystery to me as to why people woould develop their skills to such a high degree but then not use them in more imaginitive or expressive directions and themes. Like painting a bitchin' Thark for example. I mean, wouldn't you?

    I've kind of come to a few conclusions about that over the years, and these are just my feelings or opinions on it...

    1) Such focused effort on technique, observation and technical ability can become a trap and dominate or wash out the creative impulse. Achieveing the highest level of fidelity and rendering becomes what it is about, rather than having anything to say.

    2) The techniques are not that difficult in and of themselves. With proper guidance and training over a few years in the methods, as well as spending 30 hours on a single drawing, pretty much anyone can learn to execute such work, regardless of creative vision.

    3) Artists with a bit too much going on in their heads would rather, or feel more comfortable producing and getting their visions down and out of their heads, so they just don't tend to go in for the super long pose stuff and academic approach.

    Not saying any of that to diminish academic effort or training, it's just what I've kind of come to in my own process. I'm actually really inerested in trompe l'oeil work and its cousin, really highly rendered still life. The artists I'm drawn to use cademic techniques but their composition, or subject makes a strong, or at least interesting statement.

    Edit: Yeah, so to follow up...I think experiencing a taste of it is a really valuable thing...then you know if that is the direction you want to go. Plus it gives you a great foundation which certainly will be of value in your journey.

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  18. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    2) The techniques are not that difficult in and of themselves. With proper guidance and training over a few years in the methods, as well as spending 30 hours on a single drawing, pretty much anyone can learn to execute such work, regardless of creative vision.

    3) Artists with a bit too much going on in their heads would rather, or feel more comfortable producing and getting their visions down and out of their heads, so they just don't tend to go in for the super long pose stuff and academic approach.

    Not saying any of that to diminish academic effort or training, it's just what I've kind of come to in my own process. I'm actually really inerested in trompe l'oeil work and its cousin, really highly rendered still life. The artists I'm drawn to use cademic techniques but their composition, or subject makes a strong, or at least interesting statement.

    Edit: Yeah, so to follow up...I think experiencing a taste of it is a really valuable thing...then you know if that is the direction you want to go. Plus it gives you a great foundation which certainly will be of value in your journey.

    To add to point 2... During my tour I asked if there was an admission process to their full time program. They said no because they are confident that they can teach this to anyone. I guess if a person spends enough hours using a single medium to paint things to perfection, in a couple of years its hard not to be good at it. She said that there is a very clear step by step approach to the way they paint with oils.

    I am pretty busy with my work for school, but I am thinking about taking some classes at the atelier. Seems like it would be a nice kick in the butt in my drawing and painting foundations.

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  20. #12
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    What they teach us in my foundation classes it that 'right now you're learning the craftsmanship and techniques' Artistry and expression, you will be working on later (3rd and 4th year for example, if one is working on a BFA.

    They do allow for some artistic expression and creativity right now too, but majority of the emphasis is to acquire a decent level of craftsmanship.

    Part of what may be happeining is that students don't always pay enough attention to fully grasp what they're doing and why. I'[m amazed, in my classes there's maybe 20% of the people who actually follow closely (if that many)... Others, I don't know what the heck they are doing. I'd hate being a teacher ... they can explain something 3-4 items and people will still go... umm, huh?

    Last edited by Conniekat8; December 8th, 2011 at 04:50 AM.
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  21. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by haljarrett View Post
    Yeah...no direct experience in an Atelier...but as much as I admire the technical skill...you're right on the money about an uninspired, or even in the words of your guide, less expressive work. Bargue reproductions, 20+ hour drawings, just not my kind of thing to be honest. For some people it is, and I think they find a zen in it...you'll discover whether you like it or not. I will say one thing...and just an opinion/observation...I think you can be fairly successful in today's traditional gallery market with atelier training.

    jeff did you mean without atelier training?
    Actually no hal...I meant I think it can give you a decent leg-up...at least in the traditional galleries. There is a real resurgence and interest over the last few years in very academic work. Either way I do think it provides a great foundation...as long as one keeps in mind that art is about communicating vision, ideas and expression...whatever that means for the individual. But, if you're vision is just another highly rendered figure slouched in a big chair...eh, yeah, nicely done...but boring.

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