Recently, I read two books that were written by a contemporary classical realist painter, and she's honestly become one of my newest heroes in art. Her name is Juliette Aristides.
Her two books are Classical Drawing Atelier and Classical Painting Atelier, and as I understand she is coming out with another handbook later this year that I will certainly be reading as well. Both of her atelier books were written within the past 5 years and have been instrumental in helping me to learn and re-learn drawing and painting techniques and methods of the old masters of traditional, classical art.
Aristides had her start in 1988 working under artist Myron Barnstone, and later on at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, studying drawing and painting. Afterwards, she spent some time studying and working in the studio of Jacob Collins before becoming a founding member of the Water Street Studio in Brooklyn.
Today, Aristides has her own atelier program with Gage Academy of Fine Art in Seattle. The atelier (meaning studio) is a program that trains artists in the classical, academic method in the same manner that the old masters trained. A small group of students is trained in cast drawing and painting, figure drawing and painting, and in still life compositions over the course of a year under Aristides in her studio. Her books give a glimpse of the process and also provide small lessons in cast and figure drawing, and making master copies of old works.
Juliette Aristides certainly is not the only contemporary master to provide this atelier style of art education. One of the most rigorous academic art programs is located at Angel Academy of Art in Florence, Italy. As if the art capital location of Florence is not daunting enough, the program itself is easily one of the toughest, but most rewarding in the world. The video below gives a small glimpse of the program at Angel, that is a similar glimpse to the kinds of exercises and the disciplines in the atelier program that Aristides provides in Seattle.
In my own work, Aristides has certainly become my most recent influence in learning this classical style, and her books are more than simply "how-to" books on drawing and painting. They are both instructional and inspiring, and provide information on the history and the rationale behind the classical methods of drawing and painting. Her own work is also a great testament to the passion she has put in her craft.
"I have a simple belief that the goal of learning to draw and paint is attainable by anyone who is willing to pursue it. It is as accessible as learning to write or play a musical instrument. There is more than one path a person can follow to be a well-trained artist. What is necessary, however, is a passion for excellence, discipline, and an unflinching desire to pursue truth.
Traditional skills are necessary for developing a foundational base for the artist to work from. It is craftsmanship that opens the door to effective self-expression. I am excited about teaching the methods from our artistic inheritance. I know that once this knowledge becomes commonplace again, it can only enrich our cultural life." ~Juliette Aristides
oil on panel