Juliette Aristides, whose beautiful art is featured throughout her book, Classical Painting Atelier, is the instructor of the Aristides Classical Atelier at the Gage Academy of Art in Seattle, Washington, where she lives. Her work is exhibited at the John Pence Gallery in San Francisco and can be seen at the Art Renewal Center.
Neoteric Art: Why and how can the atelier educational model benefit an artist today?
Juliette Aristides: The world needs powerful new art. A dialog with great artists of the past enables us to speak with depth and clarity of our age. I recently finished a book by Eric Lui in which was written: “Once you get to a certain point of proficiency what you can and can’t do musically is directly related to what you can and can’t do as a person.” Technical skill is an essential prerequisite, not necessarily the culmination, of great art.
The atelier model seeks to bring students out of the classroom and into the studio to learn the way their predecessors have done. The goal is to equip artists with every tool needed to thoughtfully create fine art. The history of art is peopled with towering geniuses who devoted their entire lives to mastering drawing and painting. We do not have to reinvent the wheel. Most of these artists were trained in a workshop under masters. In every field, knowledge builds upon past accomplishments to form the foundation for future achievements- so too in art.
Not everyone has the time or resources to spend years studying, fortunately any solid training will be of some benefit. A key tenet of the atelier education is direct observation of nature which teaches a student how to see as an artist. The contemplation of masterworks encourages practitioners to think like designers. And the progressive building of technique fosters self discipline, allowing students to develop skills until they become second nature.
The crowing jewel of a civilization is often its art. A masterpiece of art is a vehicle for meaning, recording for posterity unique aspects of our humanity. It remains a lasting tribute to the culture that produced it and forms a bridge to the era that follows. In that light, it is time to rethink how we train our artists so they are equipped with the every available tool for their high calling.