Online Lessons a New Approach to learning : Classical drawing and painting atelier with Sadie Valeri

Learning how to draw is essential for an artist to develop the skills to create a work of art in any genre. There has been a blossoming of “ateliers” over the past couple of years and I think it is an exciting, new disciplined way to learn how to create a convincing three dimensional, representational image. An atelier is the French word for “workshop” or “studio”

“In 19th century Europe a student would spend four years in rigorous training. In France, only students who passed an exam and carried a letter of reference from a noted professor of art were accepted at the academy’s school, the École des Beaux-Arts. Drawings and paintings of the nude, called “académies”, were the basic building blocks of academic art and the procedure for learning to make them was clearly defined. First, students copied prints after classical sculptures, becoming familiar with the principles of contour, light, and shade. To learn to paint with a brush, the student first had to demonstrate proficiency in drawing, which was considered the foundation of academic painting. Only then could the pupil join the studio of an academician and learn how to paint”. So you had to learn how to draw first before you could even think about painting.

If you can enroll and attend a class that is the best way to learn, one on one in front of the model. If you can not physically attend a class, then there is another option open to the student through the miracle of the internet. This technology has made it so simple to communicate and even though there is no substitute for a one on one physical experience, it is definitely an alternative way to learn.

Learning how to “see” as an artist sees. Learning the skill of “rendering” and understanding how to control your medium is essential. I did not go through the academic training of an atelier, but I did have the opportunity to study with instructors at the Maryland Institute College of Art who really understood the importance of a solid foundation in drawing skills. We bypassed drawing from Bargue plates. In fact, it is only recently that I knew what they were. This is part of the atelier tradition which trains your eye to be very precise. You literally copy the image of a Bargue lithograph as precisely as possible using a strict method of rendering. We did, however, share the same tradition of drawing from plaster cast of sculpture by master artist which I found to be a great help in developing my drawing skills.

I have admired Sadie Valeri’s work for some time now and have recently enjoyed seeing a few of her online drawing and painting demos on youtube. If you are interested in learning how to work in the classical tradition of drawing and painting, then I think you should investigate Sadie’s online atelier. Her website is: you can see a complete description of course offerings and also view Sadie’s exquisite work. Painting: “Most art programs and ateliers teach one or two methods for oil painting. Sadie’s videos teach all three major methods:”Alla Prima (Modern Impressionist)Single-session, wet-on-wet, ​Direct (Italian Renaissance) Two or three layers applied over a dry under-painting. ​Indirect (Dutch Golden Age) Many thin layers of glazing and scumbling. Classical Drawing “Sadie’s experience teaching classical drawing to thousands of part-time adult students led her to adapt these rigorous historic training methods into accessible, highly effective video lessons”:Cast Drawing, Bargue Plates, Figure Drawing, with Graphite and Charcoal. “

“My atelier curriculum begins with drawing a sphere, in graphite, according to very specific standards. The sphere is always drawn in three stages: Contour, Shape, and Form.” When an artist takes the time to perfect the sphere, they find their ability to draw and paint any subject has significantly advanced.” Sadie Valeri

drawing by one of Sadie’s students

Good luck and keep drawing and painting!

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