Overview: The figure is the focus

Musicians practice scales, dancers do barre and floor exercises, and visual artists study figure drawing... Each art form begins with training in a baseline structure, and by continued practice, artists stay supple and strong. Today, visual artists train primarily with short gesture figure drawings. Poses longer than 20 minutes are the exception. Unfortunately, without extended study, students will never encounter and solve essential visual problems. The Academic Figure five day workshops give students a set of stylistically neutral techniques that are the platform for extended study. Not an end in themselves, these freeing techniques support the further study of anatomy and set the stage for handling higher concepts in visual representation. To facilitate improvement in foundational skills, the program addresses two significant frustrations encountered by art students, namely, feeling overwhelmed or feeling held back. By offering several entry points for individual skill levels, and requiring prerequisites thereafter, each student is assured of an optimal learning environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Donít long poses cause stiff looking figure drawings?
A: Not necessarily. It is true that many academy styled training programs place their emphasis on meticulous, all over accuracy and detail. While the Academic Figure workshops do teach accuracy, students are shown how to use sensitivity in execution to keep expressive possibilities in play. Be aware, any first attempts at new disciplines will appear stilted, but with practice, confidence and freedom take over.

Q: My goal is to get a degree in art. College classes donít cover long poses, do they? Doesnít that mean I donít need them?
A: College art departments are not organized around an immersion format, but instead, have one or two Ďbriefí meetings per week, and homework. Intensive guided training in figure drawing like the five day workshops simply canít be accommodated in college programs. As a student, you will benefit by preparing yourself with long pose drawing. Learning the skills taught here will give you certain advantages over your classmates in college.

Q: It sounds like these classes teach old styled techniques. I want to make contemporary art. Whatís in this for me?
A: Very simply, the chance to increase your expressive powers. If you want to represent anything meaningful, you will need to use graphical description. The timeless and non-invasive skills and thought processes taught in these workshops provide this.

Q: I do speed drawings. Wonít drawing from long poses slow me down?
A: Not at all. After deeper study, itís not unusual to see speed drawings sparkle with new focus. Give it a try. Be warned though, long pose drawing is seductive. You might want more!

Q: I donít want to take workshops. Are you teaching any once-per-week classes?
A: Yes. I teach figure drawing at the Palo Alto Art Center, Wednesday nights, all year long (For registration information, call the Centerís front desk: 650-329-2366, or visit Having taught this class for well over fifteen years, Iíve seen how once per week meetings compare to workshops. Consecutive day workshops are the best choice when serious learning is what you want.

Q: I want to take a painting class. Can I bypass the prerequisites to get in?
A: Probably not. Each class is strategically positioned to ease students through an elegant visual vocabulary that is not shared by other learning programs. If you want to learn how this instructor paints, you need to learn a certain type of drawing, which in fact, is a type of thinking. For more information about bypassing prerequisites, click here.