Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Academic Methods, Part 1: John Michael Angel

The teaching methods of the ateliers and academies of the 19th century are undergoing something of a revival around the world. Various teachers have sought to recapture or preserve some of the classic approaches to drawing the figure and composing pictures.

The approach varies from school to school, and the methods are hotly contested among their aficionados. For the next two posts, I thought I would share two different approaches in the words of the teachers themselves.

First is Michael John Angel, whose studio in Florence I visited late last year. In a series of three short videos, he lays out his principles of academic pedagogy:

Here are a bunch of links if you'd like to learn more:
Direct link to YouTube videos:Part 1: , Part 2:Part 3:
Angel Academy of Art
Michael John Angel
Charles Bargue Painting Course (Book from Amazon)
Pietro Annigoni on Wikipedia
Wikipedia on the Atelier Method & Sight-Size Drawing
Off the Coast of Utopia, http://offthecoastofutopia.blogspot.com/ fascinating blog by Martinho Isidro Correia, an instructor at Angel. Note in particular his post on Bouguereau deviating from a pure sight-size method.
Related GurneyJourney posts:
Angel Academy
    Academy of Realist Art, Toronto
    Grand Central Academy, New York


Kyle V Thomas said...

Curious what approach #2 will be.

Alonso said...

curious what you will have to say about the counter arguement against sight size (http://www.atelierstockholm.se/index.asp?id=64&parentid=64&lang=1)

MrCachet said...

The link to Off the Coast of Utopia garners a Page Not Found. Perhaps because it's Utopia? ;o)

Please don't shoot the messenger. I like this place - and Utopia.

David Still said...

Alonso, I think there is some confusion regarding the definition of sight-size. Some use the term only to mean when you have your drawing and your object side by side and draw at life size, i.e. the size that you see it in, i.e. sight-size. They do that at Atelier Stockholm (I went there for a year). But the method which Mr. Szameit argues against is more what I like to call "measure first, then draw", in which you use measurements to plot out the figure or cast or what have you, instead of drawing the gesture of your object first, and then correct what you have drawn with measurements. I do agree that this approach sounds very counter-intuitive, and if it's the only thing you learn, will limit you severely. However, the fact remains that a lot of people use the much broader definition of sight-size, and in that sense it is a very helpful way of doing observational drawing.

Off the Coast of Utopia said...

Thanks for the recommendation James.
Mr. Cachet and others, here is the fixed link:

Off the Coast of Utopia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SCIBOTIC said...

What an absolutely glorious set of videos, thank you for the link!

Off the Coast of Utopia said...

At the Angel Academy we teach both sight-size and comparative measurement. Sight-size is basically a form of tracing and allows students to create a beautiful, accurate and atmospheric image . A student can learn a lot from working this way which in turn can be applied to work using comparative measurements, working from photos, drawings etc.

James Gurney said...

Hopefully the link to Utopia is working now. I've added another link to a particular post by Martinho, an instructor at the Angel Academy, just to show that the method advocated there is not purely an optical or sight-size method, as Martinho points out.

bval said...

great vids, James! So great they're distracting me from painting. Now, cut that out! ;)
Ever since I found out what an atelier was I've wanted to take part in one, maybe someday...

Michał said...

Sad thing is how (in Europe) hard is to find good teachers.
I think 90% of teachers I met were painting abstractions or silly "artistic" paintings - and... they are teaching figure drawing/painting.
This make me mad - as I can learn only from internet.
And I very often see people who are trying to learn/draw something and they have no one to help them with this.
Thank you for your blog and books Mr. Gurney:)

armandcabrera said...

Great stuff but where are all the academic landscape painters alla Monsted?

James Gurney said...

Armand, you raise a great point and yes: Hooray Monsted!

As you well know, landscape, as such was never a big topic in the 19th C academies, since so much of the focus was on figure painting, and at best, a kind of mythologized landscape a la Claude.

A lot of the great academic painters painted landscapes, of course. But to my knowledge, there wasn't much academic theory about landscape practice, and maybe that's a gap that modern academies can rectify.

My Pen Name said...

There's a difference between using sight-size to train the eye and an accomplished artist making a painting.

In the same way there is a difference between students practicing replicating color vs. making color choices during a painting.

One thing I think many the neo programs are missing is memory drawing, and copying, though that's picking up.