Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Student Life: Julie, The new kid in school

This Student Life series of posts will chronicle what the average student experiences at the Academy for Realist Art, Boston. My name is Julie and just a short while ago I moved to Boston, and enrolled at the Academy of Realist Art.

In September, I began taking Bargue drawing classes at the Academy. I started part time with Bargue because I wasn't confident enough in my abilities to tackle the figure right away... plus that pesky WORK gets in the way.

One aspect of the school, that will instantly get you hooked, are the people. I was nervous on my first day, unsure of the kind atmosphere to expect. Should I wear my paint splattered overalls, or an uber chic black turtleneck and black beret? However, the moment I walked through the elevator door, the students and the teachers made me feel welcome, giving me a place where I feel like I belong. I also love the way the academy smells.

Saturday Life drawing classes are a hit!

Saturday, Jan. 29 - Mar. 19th - 10:00-1:00 and 2:00-5:00 p.m. - Instructor Emmy DeMusis

Our new Saturday morning figure drawing class has been so popular that we are adding an afternoon class to our schedule. Class will be mornings 10 - 1 and afternoons 2 - 5. Students will continue working to improve the beginning stages of construction, concentrating on accurately capturing gesture, proportion and body type. Some poses will be extended this session so that some students will be given the opportunity to work longer on some of their drawings. These 8 week sessions will emphasize proficiency in using our step-by-step method beginning with a basic block in, developing the figures specific contour and shadow line and then advancing to beginning rendering of form. Classes will consist of one three hour pose with some continuing for additional weeks. Students will receive individual attention and work at their own pace. New students at all skill levels are welcome. Cost is $300. Space is limited, we have lots of students already registered so call or email immediately to register.

Annual Art Exhibit and Open House

Friday December 10 10:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Please join us for our first annual Art Exhibit/Open House at the Academy. This large exhibit will feature the drawings and paintings of our students and instructors. We have been hard at work preparing for this show. We will be displaying works from plaster casts, still life and figure work. Come for a visit, learn about our program and meet some of our dedicated students. If you are interested in taking classes full or part time you can take this opportunity to have a tour of the school and ask any questions you might have. This is a great way to really understand the program and see the results you can achieve.

Our students come to us with a variety of previous art experience, some have been artists for a while and others are complete beginners. What all students have in common is that they are more skilled at drawing and painting because of their studies. You can master the skills of drawing and painting by enrolling in our ongoing classes. If you are unable to attend the open house and would like a tour of the studio call (617)426-3006 or send an email to

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ecorche Workshop: Week 2

Last week we solidified our knowledge of the 3 dimensional planes of the muscles and bones of the skull. Week 2 was all about putting that information into use in our drawings. We posed the live portrait model and the skull in the same positions with the same lighting and drew both from life. Andy demonstrated on his own drawing.

Throughout the two weeks Andy gave some great lectures on muscles, bones and facial features.

It was hard to say to goodbye to Andy, he was a great instructor and a lot of fun to have around. When he's back home in California we hope he remembers the beer, oysters and good laughs we had. We're going to try and schedule him to come back! It was a great 2 weeks.

Ecorche Workshop : Week 1

Finishing up the sculptures took more time than we thought. Some of the tips that helped were using lighter fluid to smooth and refine the form and inserting toothpicks to keep the measurements accurate.

Ecorche Workshop: Second half of week 1

After completion of the skull students moved onto applying and refining the facial muscles. Careful attention was paid to the origin and insertions of each muscle. Andy constructed his own ecorche in order to demonstrate to the students how to handle the clay and the tools. Always ready with a joke or funny story - Andy made this concentrated study fun!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ecorche Workshop: Day 2

Day two was spent further refining our skull sculptures. Andy walked around the room helping each student with their sculpture and gave demonstrations periodically throughout the day. During each of his critiques he stressed the importance of learning to draw the skull, having a deep understanding of how the skull looks in order to improve our sculptures.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Saturday Classes

The Academy of Realist Art Boston is now offering a Saturday morning class!

Life Drawing Class
Saturday 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Begins September 25th

This 8 week course will address the early stages of figure drawing and it's challenges. Working from the nude model, students will use a step-by-step system that stresses proportion, contour and shadow line. Students will draw from 3 hour poses. All levels are welcome. The cost is $300. Register now for this course! It will be taught by ARA instructor Emmy De Musis. Her beautiful figure work can be seen in the Student Gallery on our website.

Our students have been producing great work. I'm very proud of all of you. If you just can't get enough academy info be sure to check out our blog at

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ecorche Workshop: Day 1

Today we started our two week workshop with Andrew Ameral, the anatomy and ecorche specialist. We began by making an armature stand and massing in the skull with clay, blocking in the big proportions of the head. All of this is in preparation for the next step of cutting into the clay to further refine the structure of the bones of the skull.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Head Ecorche at Academy of Realist Art

Academy of Realist Art Boston is pleased to announce that Andrew Ameral is coming to teach a two week Ecorche workshop on the head and portrait in mid August. Andrew attended the Florence Academy of Art from 1998 – 2007 and was the schools Director of Anatomy from 2002 – 2008. He is currently known for giving anatomy and ecorche workshops and anatomy lectures at various schools and ateliers around the world.

Here are a few images from his previous workshops:

To learn more about Mr. Ameral and his Anatomy/Ecorche teaching please visit his website:

Registration for the workshop must be submitted by July 20th. To sign up for or receive more information about the workshop notify the Academy of Realist Art Boston.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Completed Figure Drawings May 2010

Emanuela DeMusis

Jonathan Lee

Joseph Pfeiffer-Herbert

Sarah Bird

Liz Beard

Stanislaw Piekielniak

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Brian's Bargue Line Drawing

During the last figure drawing session at the Academy of Realist Art, one of our students, Brian Krasinski, focused on trying to assimilate the characteristics of a Bargue line drawing. He made a line drawing from the figure using the style of the line drawings you see in Charles Bargue’s “The Drawing Course.”

Through methodical study, Brian developed a list of 21 concepts that he found consistently repeated in all of the Bargue line drawings from the book. This list contained observations about cast shadows, contour lines, interior form lines, line characteristics, and drawing procedures.

Brian was moderately general about the anatomical forms he drew – only showing the major forms. He tried to minimize the number of lines used by emphasizing longer flowing lines. This effective self directed study by Brian netted him a beautiful drawing and reinforced ideas about line that he can use for all of his future drawings.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Materials Used by the ARA Boston

I've received a number of requests from interested parties regarding the materials that we use at our School. Here is a run down of our supplies.

For Bargue drawings students use graphite pencil, Mars-Staedler being the most popular brand. The finished drawings are all done on the light grey version of the Stonehenge paper.

For our Figure Drawings we use carbon pencil (mainly Wolfe's Brand,) on Arches 140lb cold pressed watercolor paper. Some of the students have experimented with different types of paper like Artistico, Sommerset, or FA5, but the Arches is still the most commonly used.

For cast drawings we are using non-renewable materials. We draw on Fabriano's Roma paper, which is only printed in limited quantities. The drawings are done with Fusian Nitram Charcoal, a brand of charcoal now discontinued. We have a small supply of each Roma paper and Nitram charcoal so we aren't too worried about the shortages yet. Soon enough though we'll be forced to come up with an alternative. Any suggestions out there in internetland?

Along with these materials we also use kneaded erasers, knitting needles, plumb lines, mirrors, and black mirrors (glass from welder's masks.)

Garrett Vitanza Joins the ARA Boston

Garrett Vitanza is now a part time figure drawing instructor at the ARA in Boston. One day a week Garrett joins us to impart his knowledge of figure drawing acquired over years of study and practice.

Garrett says he first started drawing at the age of five. By the age of 13 he was taking his creations more seriously, drawing in a more recognizable fashion, and working towards building a career in the fine arts.

He began attending the ARA Toronto at the age of 17, and after graduation he spent a number of years teaching a variety of classes from portraiture to red chalk. Now he is settling down in Boston and getting a degree from the School of the Museum of Fine Art.

His top five artistic influences include an array of artists from realists to impressionists: Rembrandt, Goya, Van Gogh, Cezanne, and any early Netherlands artist around the turn of the 15th century. Some of his favorite contemporary artists are Lucian Freud, Yuqi Wang, and Francis Bacon.

If he had to lump his work into one descriptive category (which was required of him for this interview,) he would consider his work to be 'figurative in relation to narrative.' To see more of his work one can visit

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hand Lecture

Students at the Academy spent a week learning about the anatomy of the hand and foot. Lectures were packed with information about bones and muscles along with an analysis of morphological anatomy and some insights on constructive drawing principles. We looked at old master paintings and drawings to find evidence of what we learned. Examining works by Michelangelo, Andrea del Sarto, Raphael, Albrecht Durer and others we saw how they masterfully utilized a hierarchy of principles to beautifully render hands and feet.

One lesson that was learned was about the changing appearance of each section of the fingers. The first section closest to the knuckles has a rounded appearance, the center section a more rectangular block-like shape, culminating in the wedge-like shape of the end of the finger. This is clearly seen in this drawing by Albrecht Durer.

Monday, March 22, 2010

John Currin Comes to Boston

On March 10th the New York artist John Currin spoke at the Museum of Fine Art in Boston to talk about his career. The entire ARA Boston cohort took a field trip to see this presentation. Here are some of his more memorable / most discussed quotes from the evening.

"I wanted to show the compassion, sympathy, and love that can only be achieved on a woman's face." -- When explaining why he painted women's faces with beards.

"It was a fake version of a good idea that turned out better than the original idea. The one (painting) at the end of the idea, the rip-off, when painting the idea has lost its meaning, is often the most successful."

"You can't make a completely serious painting with a banana."

"I didn't want to be known as the porn guy."

"When otherwise good artists start painting from life their work always starts to turn dull and depressing."

If any of these quotes move you, feel free to comment.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Materials Lecture

Anyone who has worked with Juan Martinez knows that he is an encyclopedia for materials and procedures used by the old masters as well as the best practices used today. He gave us a three hour question and answer period to pick his brain. Here are the highlights of that lecture that stood out for our ARA students:

One point that was helpful to me was that he said house painters need several coats to get the correct tone and color so why should your figure painting's background, shadows, and lights be any different. --Elise Zoller

In the end you'll end up with your own process, materials related. I liked how he showed that he had tested different paints and materials over a long period of time. To work with and really learn any paint, medium, or material takes a great deal of testing and patience. --Liz Beard

I came in late and only saw the end of his demonstration process and I was impressed to see what can be accomplished in just three hours. --Brian Krasinski

I liked that he had a matrix of neutrals showing that varying kinds of neutral colors can be made using different colors of paint. I also liked when he said that the highlight on an object moves with the viewer, while the shadows remain in the same position. --Sean Krajnik

If you stand back and look at your picture you'll see that the shadows appear flat regardless of their level of rendering. Spend more time in the lights, because that is where the viewer sees the real three dimensionality of the form. --Emmy De Musis

If you care about your work you should try to do all of your painting on the best archival practices so that it stands the test of time. --Sarah Bird

As long as it's a good piece of work, someone will find a way to preserve it. --Cindy MacMillan

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Juan's Portrait Demo

This past week the portrait artist and ARA Toronto instructor Juan Martinez came to the school to teach a grisaille painting workshop. Along with this workshop he treated us to a painting demonstration. Here is a description of the procedure with a few of his painting tips accompanied by some photos of the experience.

  • He begins the painting process by blocking in the portrait with thinned down Burnt Umber.
  • He continues to use the thin Burnt Umber mixed with black to block in the shadow shapes.
  • Next he blocks in the darkest parts of the shirt until all of the shadow shapes have been described.
  • Then with gold and grey colors he blocks in all of the mid-tones.
  • Then a reddish midtone for all of the warm parts: nose, cheeks, etc.
  • He roughly blocks in the darker lights as well.
  • He advises not to use thicker paint when you're still trying to establish the drawing of the portrait.
  • Finally thicker paint is applied to finish off each of forms of the face: mouth, nose, eyes, cheek, forehead, ear.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Demonstration Pieces

This week we had our students start their drawings with a twist. Everyone in the class made what we call a Demonstration Piece. At each stage of drawing process (Block in, construct, articulated construct,) the students made tracings so that they could have a record of their progress/process.

These Demonstration Pieces let students spend extra time getting to know and fully grasp each distinct stage of the drawing, while helping to pinpoint any shortcomings that one might have so that it can be targeted for improvement. The final outcome was a series of drawings that chronicled the phases of this particular drawing.

Since these pieces were developed with the purpose of being demonstrated, we posted everyone's work on the wall. One student commented on this saying that it helped him to see what everyone else in the class was doing without having to circle the classroom and hover over easels.

Figure Painting in the New Year

The Academy of Realist Art in Boston started the new year with something different for the students who had up to this point only drawn from the Figure. Fernando Freitas came down from the Toronto school to teach a figure painting workshop. He reviewed all of the steps in the ARA's painting process to any of the students who had already painted in the past. To the students who had never worked in this method of painting before, Fernando blew their minds.

Here is a list of the ARA stages of painting for anyone interested:
Cartoon Drawing
Dry Brush
Dead/Local Color
First Painting (Thick application of paint)
Second Painting (fine blending/refinement stage)
Glazes and Scumbles

Fernando Freitas is the director and senior instructor at the Academy of Realist Art in Toronto and has been working to inspire artists of all ages for the past 15 years. The Boston school always enjoys Fernando's visits because we get a chance to hear his different perspective on the art world and get a taste for his alternative sense of humor.