Atelier School of Classical Realism

The curriculum at the Atelier ranges through the dynamics of realist representation. The program focuses on the belief that realism in art is only as effective as it is convincing. At its core are optical illusions used to describe nature.

The Atelier School of Classical Realism stands out as a unique educational experience. Located in the beautiful San Francisco Bay area, the atelier focuses on the marvelous range of technical artistic knowledge, understanding and observation of nature that helped make possible impressive accomplishments of the Masters of realism.

The curriculum at the Atelier ranges through the dynamics of realistic representation. The program focuses on the belief that realism in art is only as effective as it is convincing. At its core are optical illusions used to describe nature.

The founder of the school, David Hardy, strongly recommends that students forge a solid foundation from which to work. "You can always leave out some of what you know," says Hardy, "but you can't put in what you don't know."

By clearly understanding the logic behind the techniques and methods, one can choose to use those techniques and methods in a way that is completely true to oneself. "One then becomes master of one's art," says Hardy," instead of a slave to the happy accident."

Hardy is emphatic when he maintains that "technique without personal conviction and emotional involvement robs art of its soul; its very reason for being. Memorable and enduring art is a dialogue between the artist and the Great Out There. It is a sharing. It is communication." The strength to create strong realistic art always requires personal growth. Success demands that one take the necessary time and effort to learn about oneself, and in so doing, develop the wisdom and patience to choose carefully as one proceeds.

The development of self awareness and self confidence walk hand in hand with dedicated study of drawing and painting at the Atelier School of Classical Realism.

As an artist seeking formal training in realism, how is this training acquired?

Some art schools and some university graduate schools, steeped in currently fashionable "theory", neglect the rigorous foundations necessary to create effective realistic paintings of professional quality. If a student asks a "how to" question, the instructor will often respond with, "Why don't you look into your inner resources and see what you come up with? That way, I won't influence and distort your own individual style." In other words, teach yourself. Obviously, teaching one's self can be accomplished at home without the investment of tuition or seeking the guidance of an educator.

The Atelier School of Classical Realism (ASCR) approaches the teaching of art as if introducing students to the challenge of learning a new language, a visual language. One requires structure to genuinely and comfortably "speak" this visual language. Technical knowledge serves as the grammar, the syntax, the vocabulary. The root core reason for seeking technical understanding and to master proven skills in the study of art is ultimately to gain freedom.

Creative control frees the artist to be more effectively himself or herself, and thus share genuine beliefs and emotional responses. Students find the rigorous, traditional approach offered at ASCR a bridge to now little-known techniques and principles inherited from the golden days of painting. They are building a meaningful approach to effectively establish a beachhead in today's challenging art world. Highly personalized attention is directed toward students to encourage individual growth. Advanced students are encouraged to fine-tune drawing and painting skills to maximize accomplishment. Emerging art professionals are given career counseling.


New students attending the Atelier will become quickly aware of two major features of the program.

The first is the feeling shared by the students of being at ease with each other, friends among friends. Lunchtime blossoms into "catching up", comparing ideas and opinions, enjoying the weather, joking and having fun. Back at the school, students realize competitive back stabbing is not tolerated at any level. Mutual understanding and earned respect dominate the Atelier environment.

Enrolling in the classes is almost, according to some, like being adopted into a nice, big, warm family.

The second dominant feature is a deep personal commitment by the students to the pursuit of their studies. ASCR offers a positive environment of helpful criticism, encouragement and personal involvement. Above all, involvement. Treasured understandings from the past become familiar and make possible a new, better future: a beachhead in today's challenging art world.


The Atelier School of Classical Realism is in the Temescal area of Oakland, California. It is a twenty minute drive from San Francisco and merely ten minutes from the University of California, Berkeley. Both bus and Bay Area Rapid Transit service are also conveniently near. The Atelier is surrounded by various popular eating places favored by the students. The ethnic diversity of cuisines is an instant reminder of the remarkable range of cultures and traditions to be found surrounding San Francisco Bay.

The Atelier School of Classical Realism is located at 4920 Telegraph Avenue, 2nd floor, in the Temescal area of north Oakland. To visit and observe classes in session, telephone David Hardy at (510) 465-1958 for an appointment, or write to: 4220 Balfour Avenue, Oakland, California 94610-1750, or contact David Hardy here.


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