There are now many offerings on the Internet for learning/improving drawing and painting skills using academic or atelier methods, or at least aspects of them. There are also numerous “bricks-and-mortar” schools and courses available, situated all over the globe. The latter programs are ideal, really, because they involve — or ought to involve — the rigorous methods and focused study, mostly from “life,” for which the academic method is justly noted for. But, beyond that, they offer critical feedback and interaction from experienced instructors, which is what truly helps accelerate the learning process. Unfortunately, unless one is lucky enough to have the necessary funding and/or to live nearby to one of these ateliers, the in-person option may not be available to innumerable students seeking this training. It is, after all, a very costly endeavour in terms of both time and money. If this sounds like you, please read on.
Conversely, there is a growing range of online schools, tutorial sites, and training protocols available on the Web, many of which are, in fact, have a lot of free content. The free options rarely encompass a complete program, but a sufficient number of the “parts” of any such program can be found here and there, enough so that an astute, determined student could theoretically put together a relatively functional program. The main limiting factors in such a self-directed program are; 1) the student him- or herself — i.e., motivation & focus, and; 2) the lack of consistent, sound feedback by a competent teacher or teachers.
In a nutshell, then, the Thothstudio program is a bridge between these two realities of artistic training in the classical, academic tradition. Although not located in an actual physical location (i.e., we are on the Web only), the curriculum will be similar to what is found in today’s academies and ateliers, albeit more flexible (with student input) and uniquely chosen and curated. The good part about all of the foregoing is that the cost of “attending” Thothstudio Online Atelier is a very small fraction of what attending a physical atelier would be, even if there were one near to you.
Of course, as mentioned at the outset, instruction for many of the types of projects we will do at Thothstudio is available online already, often for free. For example, it is quite easy to find how-tos and tutorials on drawing the Bargue plates, or on cast drawing, life drawing, portraiture, etc. One is naturally left to wonder, then, what exactly are students investing in here.
The answer is not so much the technical training and or the specific methods used, which are definitely part of this program, and are in themselves of the highest calibre. Rather, the main thing that one is getting with Thothstudio, or the most valuable thing, is the feedback and tutelage of an experienced, competent academic teacher and artist (see below for more about the instructor, Juan Martinez). It is this interaction that defines a good education and which elevates and accelerates the learning process. As Juan has frequently stated in various ways during his decades-long teaching career:
The job of the teacher is to facilitate the learning process. This is accomplished by allowing for, and coaxing out, the student’s own self-discovery in order to achieve technical proficiency and, even, mastery.
Most true learning is largely a matter of self-discovery. Having a teacher or mentor to facilitate the learning process makes the journey that much quicker and more direct.
The final point to be made about the approach used by Juan Martinez and Thothstudio is that even though it is atelier-like, or academic, it at the same time is primarily student-centric. What this means in practice is that, although the teacher has his ideas and areas of focus, his job is to help students find their own — their personal voice. You might call this one’s own style, but it is really more of a pathway with potentially numerous twists and turns, rather than a fixed goal. In a well-structured course, that path is more specific and regimented at the beginning, but as one progresses through the program, and learns and absorbs ever more, a greater number of options begin to emerge. We will guide and appraise students throughout this journey, but always with an eye toward trying to fulfil the individual student’s goals and aspirations.
By necessity, the interaction and exchanges with Juan will be online in one form or another. This could range from Skype, Google+, youtube stream-casting, or other similar and/or alternative platforms or media, as well as emails and phone calls. And all of which will depend upon the needs of the student and of the specific project.
The Atelier Program includes a graduated series of exercises and projects that are meant to be done as a progression. As the exercises accumulate, the student will reach the above-stated objectives of proficiency, each at his/her own pace and always within their preferences and personal goals.
Each Stage has in it a series of projects, as listed in the Program section, which is intended to be treated as a whole. That is to say, for a student wishing to progress through a complete academic process, each of the projects is to be completed in each Stage and in the order presented. However, depending on the individual’s wishes, capacities, or means, most of the projects can also be done as stand-alone practices and accumulated over time. Or, in fact, as “one-offs” according to the participant’s desires.
As an integral part of the Atelier Program, each type of exercise will have regular, periodic inputs from Juan that will be available to everyone in the program. These will be in the form of general critiques, tips, explanations and further explications beyond what is found in the initial tutorial and instruction materials. Arrangements can also be made for individualized meetings with Juan, which would be approximately 1 hour per week per project. These meetings would entail detailed discussions of the student’s specific project with specific comments and instructions for moving forward.