Do you take yourself seriously as an artist?
The new year is traditionally a time for planning hopes and dreams. It’s a time of big goal setting for how we want to shape our lives and the lives of our students. It’s that time of year where we can all take a deep breath and jump into new things. Like sky diving errr… or maybe something even scarier like taking ourselves seriously as professional artists.
Not too long ago, I remember feeling like I wanted to be a “serious” painter but thought I wasn’t able to because I was an art teacher. I felt that the whole upper echelons of the art world looked down on me, and that I had somehow ruined my chances of being taken seriously because I made the grave error of going into art education.
Boy was I wrong!
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Nearly 10 years ago, while I was teaching K-12 art in a small, rural school district in Montana, I read a book by Juliette Aristides titled Classical Drawing Atelier. This book opened my eyes to the idea that art can be taught at very high technical levels. That Rembrandt didn’t wake up painting like Rembrandt - he trained for many years in an atelier to achieve his technical proficiency.
What a revolution to realize that the painters I admired most – Rembrandt, Da Vinci, Artemisia Gentileschi, Augusta Savage – ALL trained in ateliers. Even more amazing is when I realized these schools still exist.
From that point forward, I did everything I could to acquire an atelier education and share this knowledge with other art teachers. In fact, I am very proud to share with all of you that the School of Atelier Arts has partnered with another contemporary atelier – The Florence Academy of Art – to create a Master’s Degree program designed with art teachers in mind. You can now earn your accredited Master’s in Studio Art in just 3 summers with both remote and in-person options available.
Where is YOUR journey taking you?
I hope this is the year that you take your own art seriously and start your journey with teachers from all over the country under the tutelage of atelier instructors. This is the year that, like Da Vinci, you can train in an atelier to master the craft of drawing and painting. Make this the year that you start earning your Master’s degree (and that pay bump!) and elevate yourself to the realm of “serious artist” with an astounding new skillset.
I’ll be cheering you on all the way!
What does your dream Master's Degree program look like? Let me know in the comments below!
Mandy Theis is the Director of School of Atelier Arts & Author of Department of Aesthetics Blog. Join her monthly newsletter for free art lessons and other delights.
As the popularity of our First Thursday Art Demonstrations continues to grow, we have decided to transition the class from a $15 fee to a pay-what-you-can donation system.
After receiving many requests from students around the world where $15 would be a barrier to entry, we decided to make this shift in order to bring equitable access to anyone seeking knowledge about how to draw and paint realistically.
We are excited that so many people have already signed up for our First Thursday Art Demonstration on January 7th from 7-9pm EST, and we invite you to be one of them! Join us for an international evening of honing your drawing and painting skills. Enjoy the peace of watching someone else draw and paint or create art along with Mandy and apply the skills being taught. All are welcome, so make sure to bring your art-minded friends.
What do you think about this change? Leave your comments below :)
What does "Atelier" mean?
"Atelier" is simply the French word for "studio". It is a place where artists train in order to master realistic drawing and painting skills. Today, this French term continues to be in use, as that is where most American painters acquired their realistic drawing and painting training throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries.
What about today?
Today, the term "Ateliers" refer to specialty art schools that train students in realism drawing and painting skills. Essentially, they teach you how to draw realistically, like the Old Masters. By mastering technical drawing and painting skills, artists are able to achieve on paper and canvas anything their heart desires.
Learning how to draw is the same as learning any other skill. There is no magic to it. It simply requires focused practice under the tutelage of a master. If you want to learn how to draw at a high level, you need to train with someone who has the skills you are looking for and devote time and effort to learning it. You can find people with high levels of drawing training willing to teach you how to draw realistically in places called "ateliers."
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How does Atelier training work?
Below, you can see an example of my drawing of a plaster cast before attending an atelier and after attending an atelier. Ateliers are VERY good at teaching you technical drawing and painting skills, and attending one is the best way to efficiently master the art of realistic drawing and painting.
The main idea behind Atelier training is to start students with very basic concepts, and build to more complex concepts. This is why many Ateliers will have students draw for a year or more before moving onto painting. This allows students to master shape, line, and form before adding in even more complex concepts that are introduced with color.
Where did Atelier Training come from?
The vast body of knowledge required to draw and paint realistically can be found in Ateliers. This collected body of artistic skills and ideas come from many different places.
For example, in Western art the primary mode of showing depth in a picture plane is to use linear perspective. But that is not the only way to show depth in a picture plane. In Japanese ink painting, artists developed a way of showing the depth of a picture plane by changing the hardness and softness of the edges of their subjects. For example, a mountain that was intended to look very far away would have a soft, fuzzy edge to account for atmospheric perspective. The Impressionists in particular adopted this technical idea into their work and it became part of the collective body of atelier knowledge within ateliers that trace their lineage through William McGregor Paxton, an American Impressionist.
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Just as the collected body of math knowledge has multiple origins (Arabic numerals and the Pythagorean Theorem just to name a few), atelier knowledge has multiple origins. The intent behind ateliers is to collect and share what is known about technical art skills with the next generation of artists.
The contemporary Atelier movement strives to provide equitable access to artistic knowledge so that all artists have free choice in what techniques and skills to utilize in their own artwork.
If your heart has ever pined to be able to draw and paint your ideas exactly the way you envision them in your mind's eye, Atelier training is for you! Don't wait, start your Atelier journey today by signing up for School of Atelier Art's First Thursday Painting Demonstrations.
Mandy Theis is a licensed art teacher and former Co-President of the Washington Art Education Association. She knows that anyone can learn to draw and paint realistically that as access to a teacher with these skills. Ready to improve your drawing and painting game? Join her newsletter for lesson plans, musings, & other art delights delivered right to your inbox.
Dept. of Aesthetics Blog
Mandy Theis is a licensed art teacher and atelier-trained artist. She is the former Co-President of the Washington Art Education Association and Director of School of Atelier Arts.