• Shawn Dell Joyce artist

Classical Training for Artists

Many people look to art as a hobby-they may have taken a class or two, or even a Sip and Paint and decided art was calming and centering. This is great and I wish more people would do this. Art does help settle your mind and focus you; like meditation. It also give you a positive outlet for your energy and keeps most folks off the streets and out of trouble.


This is a hobbyist. Most artists would never call what they do a hobby. Instead it is a grand obsession, a passion, a vocation or even what we do when we are not at a day job. For an artist, you don't really have a choice, you have an addiction to art.


If this describes you, then you take your craft more seriously and want serious training.This includes having an understanding of art history and what was accomplished by those who came before us, in Renaissance times and before, not just our favorite Instagram artists.


"Ecstasy of Saint Francis" Caravaggio, note the intense light and dark characteristic of chiaroscuro


If you majored in art in college, then you probably had the opportunity to take Art History. This was my favorite class. Back in the 1980's it meant sitting in a dark room the size of a phone booth and memorizing slides of artist's work.


It was here that I fell in love with Caravaggio, DaVinci, Rembrandt, Hensche, Sorolla, and all the artists who have influenced me (and many generations of artists as well.) It's important to understand the work and the concepts that these artists (and others) bring to our palette.


In arts education, especially outside of ateliers and universities, you rarely encounter classical training. Mainly because it is not "fun" it is "skill building" and most people shy away from a challenge.


I'm offering a class that starts next month at Dunedin Fine Art Center on Classical Training for Artists. Each class starts off with the contribution and work of a classical artist. So we learn shape and form with Caravaggio. How he developed chiaroscuro and tenebrism to bring deep values shading into artwork. We learn line and edge from Rembrandt who's forms emerge from darkness. We learn form and color from Hensche who used blocks of color to show shape and form, and Sorolla who's work in color temperature teaches us to treat color as value and influenced Hensche as well.


Color Study by Camille Przwodek a student of Hensche


If you have had classical training, you know it's not fun. It's skill building, which involves some pain. Hensche used to make people paint colored 4x4 blocks set up in still lifes for years before applying the same concept to the portrait. This is a little different, in that we don't have years for this class, instead we will learn the concept and apply it in a class period. It's up to you to pursue it independently, or not.


That way, you are getting a heavy dose of the most important concepts in realism (at least in my opinion) and learning how to apply them. After class, your work will be informed by these artists, your painting skills will improve, and you will be able to talk eloquently about their contributions to art history.


This is a still life I painted from direct observation using pastel.


This class incorporates studies, homework, and painting from life-not photos. It trains you to truly see light and color in a way you probably haven't yet if you work from photos. I'll be demonstrating in oil for this class instead of my native pastel.


Not everyone should make the leap from hobbyist to artist. There is a time and place for both. But if you are ready for something more challenging, and a good grounding in some basic concepts taught through old master's work, please join me for "Classical Training for Artists" starting in Summer 1 and offered Monday evenings from 6-9 or Thursdays from 1-4pm. Click For more info


Being able to draw and paint from direct observation and with authority is the basis of all classical training. Hope you will join me for this fun and challenging class.


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