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The Artist's Atelier - Maria Smith, Director

Our 19th Century Atelier Training Program is a comprehensive, substantial and logical, well-constructed course in which each level of study forms the foundation for studies encountered in the next higher level.  For beginners, the Charles Bargue Drawing Course (the traditional course we use for the purpose of learning to think, see and understand as an artist - which is a whole new way of thinking that needs to become second nature in order for you to become a good painter) - may take 6 months up to a year to master, depending on the individual student.  A student with experience in drawing will proceed through the course at a faster rate than a beginner.  Students will be able to move on to painting as soon as satisfactory progess in thinking, seeing and visual understanding and rendering skills has been demonstrated.  The length of time it will take to complete the entire traditional Atelier Training Program and to become proficient in all aspects of Oil Painting will depend on the individual student as well. 

You can look forward to gaining substantial experience and skill in drawing and painting any subject matter, whether still lifes, landscapes, portraits, animals or figures, and becoming well versed in traditional oil painting techniques, including techniques of the great European Masters.  Armed with the knowledge, understanding and skills taught in this Program, you, like the aforementioned 19th century artists, will be able to develop your own personal style, and be prepared to reach your full potential as an artist - as great an artist as you want to be.
The 19th Century Atelier Training Program consists of Parts I, II and III, including Levels 1 through 10 in Oil Painting as taught in the French ateliers of the 19th century.  You may start this ongoing Program at any time.  However, be aware that space is limited to 6 students per class. Anyone who is truly serious about learning to paint well may apply provided you are at least 16 years of age.
Thank you for reading this far. Details of the entire Program and Class Schedules are shown below.
If you'd like to talk with Maria personally, please call  (208) 734-3328 or email:

Graced with Light 24x24 Oil
Posthumous Portrait of the Artist's Mother at the age of 92 
24x24 Oil on Canvas
by Maria J. Smith


PART I.  Drawing - using Graphite on White Paper, students learn to copy  20 Bargue plates with accuracy.  First in the same size, then in enlarged format, making an effort to maintain the exact proportions of the original so as to sharpen observation and seeing skills.  Learn artistic thinking skills, solve problems, learn to see and render shapes and values and how to turn form.  Learn seeing techniques for achieving accuracy.  Copy Master Drawings from the flat to the flat.

PART II.  Cast Drawing - using Graphite and White Chalk on Toned Paper, students draw basic and complex forms from the round (from life).  Rather than leaving the white of the paper for the lighted areas of an object as in Part I, students now learn to ADD the lights with White Chalk while reserving the tone of the paper for the middle values.  Learn to achieve the illusion of 3-dimensional realism on the 2-dimensional flat.
Level 1.  Monotone Painting - using Ivory Black and Titanium White oil paints, students learn to handle the various brushes, brush strokes, how to mix paint and use a medium, and how to paint values and model form in paint. Painting the five degrees of light.  Fat over lean rule.   Paint using the basic Alla Prima painting technique.
Level 2.  Duotone Painting - using Ivory Black, Titanium White and Burnt Sienna students learn to correctly see and paint warm and cool colors.  Understanding color temperature, light, form, and shadow.  Understanding proper oil painting procedures.
Level 3.  Painting Using a Limited Palette of the three Primary Colors, plus Black and White.  Understanding these 5 pigments and their properties.  Color mixing.  Color theory.  Color relationships.  Painting studies in high key and low key.
Level 4.   Painting the Still Life with a Full Palette.  Covers concept, setup, lighting, choosing objects, color hamony, mood and color scheme.  Spatial relationships, depth, air, controlling the movement of light, pattern of darks.  Understanding opaque, transparent and semi-transparent pigments and their effects.  Uses of Impasto, Glazing, Grisaille, Sfumato and Velatura techniques in painting.
Level 5.   Drapery and Folds.  How to paint the character and appearance of various fabrics such as heavy drapery material, soft silk, satin, gauze, lace, velvet, etc.   Painting light distribution on varous textures and surfaces.  Layering and scumbling techniques.
Level 6.   Portrait Studies.  Learn how to construct the head and its features.  How to paint eyes, hair, etc. and various skin tones.  Posing and lighting the model Painting Master copies and working from life whenever possible.  Learn how what we see differs from how the camera lens sees. 
Level 7.   Painting an Animal Portrait.  Animal Surface Anatomy.  Learn how to paint fur and feathers.  Master copies.  Learn how to work from photos - their limitations and advantages.
Level 8.   Figure Studies.  Gesture, contrapposto, proportions and surface anatomy.  Concept, lighting and mood.  Master copies.
Level 9.   Painting the Landscape.   Aerial perspective, light conditions, weather conditions, time of day, How to achieve the illusion of distance, foreground, middlleground and background.  Color in the landscape.  Color and light effects in the landscape.  Painting the landscape en plein air.  How to paint a landscape from a reference photo.
Level 10.  Graduation Painting.  Students conceive and paint a picture on their own, using all they have learned.  Final group crique and individual critique by instructor.  Certificate of Completion - celebrating the considerable achievement of the (now  accomplished!!) painters.

Registration Form (pdf file)

Classes are $30 per 3-hour session, payable 5 or 10 sessions in advance (totaling $150 to $300, respectively) unless previous arrangements have been made with the instructor.  We operate on a first come - first served basis, so we recommend reserving your space in the class of your choice by filling out the Registration Form (see link below) or personally confirming with the instructor by phone or email. You may sign up for one or more classes per week, with each session counting toward the total number of sessions paid for.  A student may drop out of the Program at any time and the unused portion of fees paid in advance will be promptly refunded.

CLASS SCHEDULE                  
Remember, classes are limited to a maximum of only 6 students for each session.  With rare exceptions, students must be 16 years of age or older.  Sessions are 3 hours long as follows:
Tuesdays from 11:am - 2:00 pm;
Wednesdays  from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm; and from 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Saturdays  from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm;  and from 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm  
If you need to miss a class you may make it up on one the other scheduled classes after notifying the instructor to make sure space is available.  Easels, drawing boards, drawing paper and other tools needed for the foundational  part of the course will be provided by the Artist's Atelier. 
Any Questions?  Would you like a brochure?  Would you like to arrange a visit to the Artist's Atelier?
Please do not hesitate to contact Maria Smith at the Artist's Atelier by mail, phone or email as follows:  
1300 Kimberly Road, Suite 17
Twin Falls, ID 83301
Tel. (208) 734-3328

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