The Atelier School of Classical Realism

Oakland, CA



David Hardy's Atelier


Word continues to spread about these classes. One of Hardy's students from Hawaii heard of the Atelier and came to Oakland and enrolled for two weeks of trial studies. Convinced that there was a lot more to be learned, she then flew back to Hawaii and cleared herself of unfinished business (she shows professionally in two galleries there). Returning once more to California, she decided to give the Atelier studies intensive involvement for the next six months: "I have reached a level in my work where I can hold my own professionally. Now it is time to reach out and seek personal artistic growth so that I can climb up to the next level."

Images from left to right: "Portrait Study of Young Woman", charcoal drawing on Kraft paper, 9 x 12 inches, student drawing by Scott Iverson; "Ball, Pear and Cup," charcoal and chalk drawing on French paper, 16 x 14 inches, student drawing by Mario Delogu; "Glass Still Life," charcoal and chalk drawing on French paper, 12 x 19 inches, student drawing by Sven Jensen

"I feel it's worth it," says another student. "In my other art classes, I was told to express myself. Good solid information was hard to come by. Basically, I was expected to teach myself. I could already do that at home without spending any tuition. Now I am receiving good advice when looking for solutions to things that before were confusing or frustrating."

David Hardy chuckles when he hears this. "Searching out a good teacher actually saves a student time in the long run. By understanding the logic involved, we can, if we choose, use it for ourselves. You become master of your art instead of a slave to the happy accident."

Images from left to right: "Hand Study," charcoal and chalk drawing on French paper, 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches, student drawing by Sven Jensen; "Roman Portrait Head," oil stain on canvas paper, 9 x 15 inches, student painting by Sven Jensen; "Yellow Apple," oil on canvas board, 8 x 10 inches, student painting by Gil Lanese

The curriculum at the Atelier ranges through the dynamics of realistic representation. At its core are optical illusions used to describe nature. Hardy strongly recommends that students forge a solid foundation from which to work. Realism in art is only as effective as it is convincing.

"You can always leave out some of what you know. But you can't put in what you don't know."

The strength to create strong realistic art always requires personal growth. This demands learning much about oneself, and choosing carefully as one proceeds. Growth of the psyche, maintains Hardy, walks hand in hand with dedicated study of painting. His teaching style emphasizes a conscious development of the individual student's personality. "Technique without personal conviction and emotional involvement robs art of its soul, its very reason for being. Memorable art is a dialogue between the artist and the Great Out There. It is sharing."

Images from left to right (all by David Hardy): "Red Amaryllis," oil on linen canvas, 9 x 9 inches, courtesy John Pence Galiery, San Francisco; "Ginger Jar," oil on linen canvas, 12 x 16 inches, collection of Kay Oberbilling; "New Life," oil on linen canvas, 9 x 16 inches, collection of Mr. & Mrs. Peter Smith; "Breakfast Rose," oil on gesso panel, 12 x 12 inches, courtesy John Pence Gallery, San Francisco; "Waiting to Begin," oil on linen canvas, 9 x 14 inches, courtesy John Pence Gallery, San Francisco

As an artist seeking formal training in realism, how is this training acquired?

Some art schools and some university graduate schools, steeped in theory currently fashionable, neglect the rigorous foundations necessary to create effective realistic paintings of professional quality.


This story was originally published on 11/9/98 and re-published with images on 7/14/99.

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