“With the composition of our faculty and curriculum, we endeavor to place each student on the razor’s edge between that of being challenged and that of experiencing frustration. Throughout this process we acknowledge and respect the artistic voice and personality of the individual student. We feel that these objectives and considerations will ignite the skills within a student that will enable him to express his vision with clarity.” - Craig Blietz,Â The Academy of Fine Art
The Academy of Fine Art facility, formerly a flour mill built in 1909, has been remodeled inside to specifically accommodate all aspects of our curriculum. The facility is in a continuing state of flux as we find ways to improve and better facilitate our curriculum.
Our faculty has been carefully assembled to address the specific exercises of the curriculum. Each faculty member comes from a different educational background and artistic aesthetic preference. Each has his own unique teaching style, assuring a student the availability of a voice to which he can relate. Through our faculty we present the opportunity for each student to access the very best and unique aspects of his own artistic personality. We are an approved academy through the Art Renewal Center.
To watch a short clip of Scott Gigstead creating this piece,
click on the photo of this cast painting:
The Curriculum is designed primarily to heighten a studentâ€™s visual skills and acuity. In addition, through the efforts made by the student to achieve successful completion in each exercise, the student becomes accomplished in his use of Charcoal, Graphite, and Oil Paint. The exercises have been selected for their merit in accomplishing their desired objectives. They have been used throughout history, past and present, with proven results.
The critical path that each student follows begins with him working in charcoal on paper, carries them through monochromatic oil painting, limited color oil painting, and concludes with full color oil painting. The method used to apply these materials is typically referred to as “Direct”. This process of Direct Painting best allows the faculty to coax and challenge a student by enabling them to see what the student is perceiving in no uncertain terms.
Working from nature, or from “life”, as opposed to photography or other visual references, is paramount in each exercise. While these other visual references are, and will be, of great value to the student in their work as an artist when they leave the Academy, they are better served in their training to work almost entirely from “life”.
The exercises that a student will confront during his tenure begin with copying “From the Flat” utilizing the Charles Bargue plates, moving on to “Charcoal Cast Drawing”, “Monochromatic Oil Cast Painting”, ” Still Life and Portrait Studies”, and finally essaying into larger and more ambitious still life and portrait work in full color oil paint.
Throughout a studentâ€™s training, they are subjected to rigorous Life Drawing and Figure Painting while working from the nude model. The medium which they use during these sessions parallels that which they are using at the time in their studio work.
Each and every exercise is stationed sequentially on the critical path, to challenge a studentâ€™s visual faculties in the areas of seeing shape (commonly referred to as ‘the drawing’), value (the lightness and darkness of things), edges and transitions (primary factors in establishing form and space in a two-dimensional plane), and color (with its multiple constituents).
While a student is working through the critical path of exercises it may become evident that he may need additional exercises aimed at resolving an area of struggle. In these cases they are given focused exercises to assist them in breaking through the specific difficulty.
Often overlooked and underappreciated in the ‘Academy’ training process is the value of the “Student Community”. Support, empathy, and inspiration are all provided from one student to another. The experience and knowledge that can be passed between students provide an intangible and very valuable aspect to an ‘Academy’ style learning environment.