Learning to draw and paint the Atelier way

Charcoal drawing of cast model
Charcoal drawing of a cast at London Fine Art Studios.

Even the most skilled artists are always learning, and continue to develop their art. I thought it might be interesting to share my experiences, particularly for those who already draw and paint or those who maybe want to start drawing.

With improving my drawing and painting in mind, I went looking for ways to do this with some focused tuition. Obviously constant practice is essential, but sometimes you want more advice and guidance. My answer was to go to an Atelier workshop.

What is an Atelier? Sounds highbrow and slightly daunting? Not really, an Atelier is a workshop and process where an artist acts as a tutor teaching by example and demonstration to a number of students. The idea behind this is that groups of artists learn a process together, and learn how to use this process utilising their own individual styles. Everybody is different and has a different way of working, but there is a straightforward process on how to learn to see and draw.

Still confused? Well what I’m learning at the London Fine Art Studios (http://londonfineartstudios.com/) is the importance of working from life, not photographs. Although I already knew this and practised it, I’ve learnt about classical techniques such as encajar and sight-size (http://www.painters-online.co.uk/techniques-and-tips/view,encajar-and-sightsize-learn-classical-drawing-techniques_5232.htm). Tutors emphasise the quality of line to construct images, the importance of values with darks and lights, and the treatment of form, edges and the use of colour. All of these processes are critical in creating a realistic drawing and transferring that drawing into a painting if required.

Now, for some of you, the above techniques might sound and seem totally alien but you probably use some of them already, and if you want to really develop your drawing I would seriously recommend just finding out more. Ateliers are centuries old, used by the Renaissance painters, Rubens, Van Dyke, Singer Sargent etc, and their methods are tried and tested. They also dispel the myth of the solitary artist struggling away and demonstrate a more inclusive way of learning to draw and paint.

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