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What Is The Academy?

by Lynn S. Schwebach

The Boulder School of Fine Art’s newest curriculum offering, the Academy, offers students a unique opportunity to complete a 3-year-program in classical art, based on an intensive, proven method that began in French ateliers over a century ago.

The Old Masters learned to draw, paint, and sculpt at ateliers, but over the years art schools drifted away from classicism as abstraction grew in popularity. However, this method is now seeing a resurgence as artists, employers, and galleries see a dwindling of excellence in drawing skills—skills needed for all art styles and genres.

Yet it’s still difficult to find a school dedicated completely to the atelier approach—especially in the U.S. This makes BSoFA in Boulder, Colo., a cherished opportunity for those living in the Denver and Front Range areas.

The Academy’s curriculum follows the rigors of classical training with an emphasis on the human figure, portraiture, and still life. Students work through projects that progress from simple to more complex with the one-on-one guidance of a classically trained instructor.

Students will be able to take three, 10-week-sessions a year that will combine drawing exercises that progress in complexity along with cast, figure and portrait drawing. Models will be available 5 days a week.

And, unlike many ateliers, students can customize their schedules from 1 to 7 days per week. Also different from other ateliers, the Academy will offer a more formalized painting curriculum.

BSoFA owners Sharon Solomon and Raz Seri began offering art classes in 2016 based on the classical-realist philosophy. They quickly saw class sizes increase with students of all ages and abilities—from art teachers and professional artists to college students and young learners. Solomon said the classical tradition teaches skills that traditional art schools and colleges do not have the resources to teach. Even those graduating with a university art degree often need to go back and master fundamental skills learned through this methodology.

“Because art schools tend to focus more on creativity than core drawing skills, art students find the classes at BSoFA a great complement to their traditional art education and training,” Solomon said. “And the Academy will be a great place for those graduating high school to begin their art studies,” she added.

The school is applying for accreditation through the Art Renewal Center to facilitate transferable credits to colleges, universities, and other art schools.

Additionally, Academy classes will take place in a room with natural, north light—an ideal established with the original, 19th century ateliers. The building located in Boulder has been a home for artists for over 30 years and provides free parking. And small class sizes will ensure individualized teaching.

Elena Cantor, a classically trained BSoFA instructor, said she takes time to learn about each student and then customizes her teaching approach. “I develop a relationship with their personal processes,” she said.

Throughout the year, BSoFA will continue to offer stand-alone drawing, painting, and sculpture classes for those not enrolled in the Academy.

Classes for the Academy begin Sept. 15.


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