The true realistic painting in the tradition of the Masters will not look like a photo, and the brushstrokes will not draw all the attention either. Whether it is in the features of the face, or in the hands, the brushstrokes will strictly follow the form and correspond to the bone and muscle structure underneath the skin, they will guide the viewer's eye in the right direction to admire the subject in the painting, instead of intentionally destructing from possible mistakes in proportions. Speaking of hands... Being described by the Masters as "another portrait", the arms and hands should always be impeccably drawn in proportion to the body, with the expertise of the anatomic structure, to assure their equal life-like appearance in the portrait. This is why the works of 'painterly' Masters, such as Sargent and Zorn, are strong and never 'cartoonish', as they have the substance of the anatomic strength and uncompromising loyalty to the accuracy of drawing in every area of the painting.
The Power of Proper Art Education
One can compare art education to the solid foundation for a house – once it is built properly, it will hold any shape or form you will place on it. This is why it is not enough to acquire just any art education, it must be the proper classical art education, as in parallel with painting, it also teaches you to draw.
Having a broad and well-rounded academic formation prior to acquiring someone's style, is a source of strength for every artist, as first and foremost, it's the academic principle in every subject we draw that we must learn to see. Wouldn't you like to have a total confidence in yourself as an artist - to be able to draw and paint realistically entirely from life or from your imagination, absolutely anything and be totally comfortable without the use of the camera, when portraying any subject in any genre: portrait, landscape or multi-figurative composition?
Academic method, or someone's 'style'?
The academic method of learning is universal and also economical. It saves you time and money and the trouble of trying to build what you need out of bits and pieces from various workshops by different instructors who only teach their own "approach", instead of the classical foundation. Different instructors' personal approaches and their often complicated palettes may 'clash' with each other and result in confusion and unclear direction for the students. It is like attempting to learn how to write using both hands at the same time. How far would you go?
If you want to learn fast and efficiently, proper academic instruction, in the principles of classical academic curriculum, should be your focus. It is accessible, straight forward and recognized for the most effective teaching of composition, perspective, foreshortening, anatomy and tonal values. All the Masters of the past did just that. They themselves went through this very same classical school, and that is how they developed their artistic individuality and became The Masters. Bouguereau, Sargent, Repin are known for their very distinct individual styles, yet that was not what they learned during their academy training, not 'styles', but the very same alphabet of academic art language, and spoke it fluently in their own way.
Traditions in Art Education in Russia
I was very fortunate to study in Russia at the Russian Academy of Arts (est.1757).
My friend Michael Novak, the Templeton Prize recipient and renowned American scholar, once said: "One good thing that came out of the Iron Curtain, was the outstanding art education". When the Modernism was already marching for decades throughout Western Europe and North America, the Russian school of art was the only historic school in the world, that stayed free of that influence, as behind the 'iron curtain' it kept its academic roots intact and preserved the best of classical academic education. That is why my classes are not limited to so-called 'levels' of instruction, as I share with my students the IN-SIGHT of my formal art education, which covers a broad spectrum of critical issues, highly beneficial to all artists: students and professionals, all who aim to improve and polish their skills in drawing and painting. Leonardo da Vinci wrote, 'Poor is a student, who doesn’t go further than their teacher.' Just like Leonardo, I also believe that there must be no secrets whatsoever and I share with my students one hundred percent of everything I have learned during my own academic years in the classrooms and studios of the historically acclaimed Academy.
Master Workshops' Agenda
My workshops contain two important parts: Demo and Practice. In Visual Art we learn by seeing. In fact, that is how we learn. Therefore, within my workshop program, I do three separate 1,5 - 3 hour (quick, but highly detailed) life demonstrations in drawing, pastel and oil, each - in the historic Academically trained approach. This is a great opportunity for students to witness the progression of the portrait painting from life, from start to completion. My goal, as your instructor, is to simply show you and teach you 'right' from 'wrong', so you can quickly get on the right and your own artistic path towards improving your skills as an artist. Following the demo, inspired students work on their own pieces, and every student receives my personal and individual attention, according to their needs and specific requirements.
I look forward to seeing you in class!