photo from Facebook, Texas Academy of Figurative Art


The Most Radical Artists Today Are the Ones Who Know How to Draw

by April Hopkins


I read an Instagram post of someone who not-so-subtly declared an end in sight for the conceptual and abstract expressionist art movements — that have dominated our society for the past 100 years — and proclaimed a return to more classical styles. Another Renaissance, if you will. I’m not sure if we are in the Dark Ages of art, but I will say I am thrilled to see an interest in representational (realistic) art being rekindled.

When I was younger, I felt a bit lost as an artist. I was drawn to a slower-paced approach to art, one that is more about excellence in technique and portrayal of beauty. I struggled to find my place. I have a BFA in design, primarily because I craved the perceived stability that a career in corporate design would provide. I took the same foundations courses as every other art major, plus a few extra fine arts courses to satisfy that itch.

My education was a mix of theory-based design, conceptual installation art (from a professor I loved and respected), and a surface-level introduction to drawing. In each class, I was told that my ideas — first and foremost — were key to success as an artist. Lessons on tools and technique were limited or non-existent. One glaring exception was my favorite class, figure drawing. We drew from life, studied drawings from the old masters, and learned about human anatomy by building the muscles out of clay and attaching them to a plastic skeleton. There, I had a taste of what would later come at the atelier.

The Atelier Movement

Ateliers are teaching studios formed by practicing artists, whose function is to subject students to a rigorous drawing and painting curriculum based on the methods used hundreds of years ago. Through copying old master works, drawing simple cast arrangements, and studying anatomy and figure drawing, students train the eye to see value and proportion with highly attuned accuracy. Whereas colleges today barely teach the fundamentals, these private institutions exist as a response to the…



David Hopkins

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