Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Value of a Teaching Studio / Why Atelier Training is a Worthwhile Education

The Value of a Teaching Studio / Why Atelier Training is Worthwhile Education...

Atelier-style training is a worthwhile and practical education. In the teaching studio of a qualified artist (one whose techniques are desirable to learn and possible to market) students receive a combination of careful critiques, personal career-oriented attention, and time-tested technical advice.

In an atelier or teaching studio, a working artist (usually an artist who is established enough to make a good living through the sale of their work) sees to the education of a small, select group of students. In this environment, there is a significant level or commitment on the teacher's part towards the students' future careers which is rarely matched in other environments.

In my teaching studio, students progress from the making of copies of masterworks (to learn how other painters solve problems) to painting from life. These exercises continue and repeat, giving students an opportunity to dramatically improve their technique and observation from nature. My teaching relies heavily on the practice of outdoor (plein-air) painting during all seasons. In this way, students develop a keen ability for observation along with an appreciation of the myriad beauty and transcendent significance of nature.

An appreciation for art history is integral to learning about various modes of realist, impressionist, naturalist, and classical art. I discuss painting with both a reverence for its history as an aesthetic experience (connoisseurship) and also as a proponent of traditional methods.

I am an advocate of art students studying in various ateliers during the course of their careers. The methods of study I use with my students are not subject-specific to landscape painting, although American Impressionist and Tonalist landscape painting remains my current interest and area of focus. My teaching studio runs on a two-year schedule, as opposed to the four or five years necessary in a figurative-based atelier. I encourage my students to seek out figure and portrait painters they admire (including my close friends Dan Hemgemo, Henry Wingate, etc.) if their interest so dictates. I am also a supporter of university education based on its own merits. I believe that the opportunity I offer is ideally undertaken before or after a college education.

I pride myself on talking frankly with students about the business of art and about its viability as a full-time career. After helping refine their portfolios through years of study and attention, I am happy to help students approach galleries to exhibit their work. I have helped to found two exhibiting groups of significant contemporary realism, aided in securing commissions and exhibitions for other artists, and organized a variety of solo and collaborative exhibitions. As painter-in-residence at the Imperial Centre for the Arts and Sciences I take an active and practical interest in the creative life of the community.

I have been privileged to have this type of education. I am committed to offering/ sharing a similar course of study. In fact, I consider it as a vital part of my career as a painter.

Charles Philip Brooks

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