A Progressive Curriculum

Our curriculum provides a clear progression and development for any artist interested in academic realism. Becoming a realist painter takes time, self-discipline, and focused effort and there is no substitute for any of these three elements.

Progression through the curriculum is dependent on each student’s mastery of the individual drawing and painting exercises. The year-by-year designations are only a guide and not meant to be a rigid sequence. Each student must demonstrate mastery over one skill before advancing to the next. A student’s natural aptitude, diligence, and self-discipline will determine the overall length of study and the time spent on each area of concentration.

Below is a general outline of what an incoming student with little to no back ground in figurative realism can expect from year to year.



Students reconstruct Old Master drawings and work from the 19th Century Charles Bargue Drawing Course¹. The emphasis is on accuracy, skillful technique, and representing form through line. Students then advance into cast drawing and figure drawing (or life drawing) by direct observation from models.



Students continue to develop their skills in drawing from life but the focus shifts to representing form through value and atmosphere. This is also known by the Italian phrase chiaroscuro, meaning light and shade. Students also begin painting in grisaille (monochrome painting) from the cast during this year as well as limited palette color studies.



The focus shifts from drawing to painting, specifically still-life painting and figure painting from life. An in-depth understanding of materials, mediums and pigments is also introduced. The study of portraiture through drawing and painting will also be added to the students curriculum as they progress.



Students attempt more complex compositions of figure, still-life and portrait painting. The focus is on design and composition, as well as the development of each student’s individual body of work, content and thematic focus.

1. Gerald M. Ackerman, Charles Bargue with the collaboration of Jean-Léon Gérôme: Drawing Course. Paris, ACR Edition, 2003, 336pp., incl. 196 plates of the Drawing Course.