Frequently Asked Questions

I'm a complete beginner- can I be successful at the Academy?
The academic program has been designed in such a way to allow students of all skill levels to achieve success. It begins with fundamental concepts and quickly progresses to the concepts and techniques necessary to achieve an accurate finished drawing. While no initial skill level is required, students that are most successful are those who commit substantial amounts of time outside of class to drawing and study, and those who are willing to adhere to the advice and techniques presented in class. The students who face the largest opposition are those who have established set patterns and habits of drawing, and those who are unwilling or unable, for whatever reason, to work in the manner presented.

I'm a fairly experienced artist/student. Can I skip ahead to the advanced levels? or I don’t like to draw, I just want to paint. Can I skip ahead to the painting year?
Because of the manner in which the program is designed and information is presented, it is not advisable to skip ahead in the program. However, if the prospective student does wish to skip a level, he or she is welcome to submit a drawing of the subject intended to skip (analogous to the final project of that skill level), as well as complete an administered written exam. Provided the prospective student has met the requirements demanded of the students in the program (listed in the course competency sections of the textbook) as well as a final exam score exceeding 85%, the prospective student is permitted to skip that level. Those who wish to advance directly to the painting program may do so by successfully completing the 3 final assignments of the drawing program and scoring 85% or higher on the written exams.

Doesn't all of that measuring produce '"stiff" or "static" un-lifelike work?
The academic process has the potential to produce drawings and paintings that are very precise, which some people may interpret as stiff or static. The requirements demanded of the students suggest a 95% accuracy of shape faithful to the reference, which, in the early terms of the program, will create something very precise and photographic. The later terms of the program encourage the student to combine accurate perception with anatomical knowledge and theoretical concepts, affording a certain amount of gestural quality. This integration will depend largely on the student. An ideal historical example is the figurative works of Solomon J. Solomon.

Will everyone graduate the Academy with the same style?
This depends entirely on the student, but the short answer is unlikely. The beginning of the program will see all students working very similarly and precisely, and individual variations will be introduced and encouraged as the program proceeds from there, largely depending on the student’s likes and dislikes. The Academy will instead focus on 4 common measuring techniques (mechanical and estimated), a skillful handling of the charcoal medium, and a solid working method (which can ultimately be modified as the year progresses depending on the comfort and skill level of the student).

Will I get the chance to be creative?
The first term, focusing on the development of technical skill via copying, will involve no creativity, other than the selection of work to be copied. Following this term, students will be granted creative liberty in selection and arrangement of subjects and composition to make something unique to them, clear in the visual language of art.

I travel a lot and will probably miss a couple weeks at the beginning and some occasional weeks throughout the quarter- can I make it up?
With little exception, the Academy has a policy of no more than 4 absences per term (out of 20 sessions), especially if those absences occur at the beginning of the term (particularly the first term). If other absences are expected, it is advisable to view the weekly schedule to ensure you will not be missing a lecture or demonstration. It depends on the class size, but it is usually possible to get a repeated small demonstration/lecture if a day must be missed, though needed attention will be provided first to those who have attended all classes and are working forward at the expected pace. One-on-one lecture/demonstration will not be provided outside of class, though occasionally the instructor may attend an open studio or provide additional demonstrations on off days to the group.

I want to be an abstract artist- will I still get use out of the Academy?
We have had several abstract artists enrolled in the program who have found it very useful. Topics most focused on are mastering of materials, strong design with planned composition, and an understanding of the figure in order to integrate it into abstract works.

I'm enthusiastic about learning this approach to drawing and painting but don't have much time out of class- can I still do well in the Academy?
Students who have devoted little studio (non-studying) hours outside of class have progressed through some terms of the program, but do not achieve the same success and growth as those who have committed many hours. It should be expected the total amount of time required for the Academy grows each term. It begins with a minimum of usually 4 outside hours per week (10 total hours a week including class time), and progresses to an additional 15 per week in the last term (20 total a week including class time). Any less time devoted will most likely be insufficient to pass. This should be considered a minimum estimate, as most students will spend far longer to achieve the necessary results required to progress with the program.

What is the mood like at the Academy?
The general atmosphere of the Academy is typically intense, especially in the beginning of the program. It has been designed as a limited instructor interaction program, and as such time in class typically proceeds at a quick pace with copious amounts of information and high expectations. This can often translate into a stressful environment. It is advised students expect to work hard in class and arrive with materials prepared to begin working.

Do I have to bring my materials to class each day?
Students will have storage to leave drawing boards/paper and still life reference in the studio, but will be required to bring their drawing materials to class daily (charcoal, erasers, etc.)