Atelier Diaries 001: Draw like the Masters, Learn like the Masters.

I wanna draw as good as Raphael, Michelangelo, Donatello and Leonardo ( and I don’t mean the Ninja Turtles– although, you have to admit they are cool!) I want to be able to capture the essence of things , the tone of things, color etc.  I want to improve my art and draw amazing poses, paint backgrounds that wow — and be able to express myself fully in the way of the Masters …. BUT HOW?!

As a self-taught artist, the struggle is real. You are your own teacher therefore, your mistakes will be the same mistakes as your teacher. It becomes a vicious cycle of the same stubborn mistake over and over. I need a teacher, a Master, a sensei – another eye that will help see my mistakes and point them out and push me from GOOD ENOUGH to BETTER and then to become the best. I have worked hard by myself to learn as much as I can but I guess, without that added push — it will be impossible.

So with the help of YOUTUBE and Mr. Google, I did my research and came up with a plan to be able to draw better, and obtain my goal of drawing like the masters. The plan is to be able  to Draw like the Masters,  I have to  Learn like the Masters. So here is what I did…


To learn something, I needed to find an Art Teacher that can teach me what I needed. It has to be in English, that teaches the Classical Western Art style affordable and flexible. It also has to be close to me so I can easily get there and back. So I decided to look for an ATELIER and I found one in the heart of  Tokyo.

Ebisu Atelier D Arte is the only  Classical Wester Art atelier in Japan and is taught by Craig Shivers. He holds classes in drawing, painting and life drawing  – which was exactly what I wanted to learn. I took the trial class at the beginning of this month where we were introduced to the concept of learning the CHARLES BARGUE DRAWING COURSE which was the way that the masters learned and I was sold. If its good enough for Michaelangelo, Raphael and Picasso, then it will be best for me!

The Charles Bargue Drawing Course are plates that you do COPIES. Literal sight size copies. All lineweights, distances should be just like the plate and I thought — well piece of cake. It was an eye!  I did one trial lesson of the eye, and boy was I in for a rude awakening! It was hard! It took me the better of 2 hours to get the drawing right. BUT, I was excited. I found it! I found the teacher and the thing I needed to learn to be able to draw better. If I master this course, I would be able to draw like the masters.


Charles Bargue Hand Plate

I did some studies from it , with the foot and hand and it took a long time but I did it. I think because of this, I can understand how to draw things better. I had to study the toning, I had to measure, I had to adjust and readjust and it was really a good way to learn. It took enough time and was interesting everytime that I think it is the right course for me. I was solving problems and doing it properly.  I was encouraged to do more and definitely know that this, plus practice with Croquis sessions and constant sketching , I will get better at learning the human figure and do better realistic drawing.

Day 1 : Atelier Time

I went for my first real session of the Atelier class in Ebisu art on my Monday off and I did the 1-4 PM Class. In that class, I found 2 old men (75 and 85), a guy around his 20s and a japanese guy around his 20s also in class with me. The atelier was small so Me plus the teacher and our shacho, this poodle named ROMEO is about the maximum for this space.  Teacher had me start with my first plate out of four. and this is of the nose  and mouth.

The guys around me were in more advanced areas of the class, so one was doing a torso, another was doing an eyeball from a cast, and the Japanese Student was painting. The teacher flitted from each student while giving commentary and teaching. It took me about 2 hours to get this far into the plate and that is not even close to done or close to completion.

DAY 1:  Nose and mouth Bargue Plate

It was challenging definitely but I came away with techniques that I would not have learned on my own.  Looking at the plate, I feel like I am improving, but there are so many things wrong on that plate that I want to get back into the atelier and fix it.


 The best way learn drawing is to Practice drawing. Therefore, to encourage me to sketch daily, I did the SKETCHBOOK SLAM CHALLENGE which rules I modified to fit my schedule. Drawing daily is definitely the way to go and improve. No one improves without dedicated practice.

Next week, I may present a completed plate.

Keep Thinking, Dreaming, Creating and Believing! nothing is impossible!


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