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Old 01-10-2012, 08:06 AM
jbish74 jbish74 is offline
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Graduate school vs. Classical Atelier

I've been speaking to a former undergrad professor recently about continuing my education. He's pushing me in the direction of a classical painting Atelier, rather than Grad school. He believes the advantages are :
-more focus on actual Painting, where as in the university system there is a curriculum to follow that covers a broad spectrum of studies-philosophy, art seminar, history etc.(BUT i know these are important concepts! and they're surly a part of any atelier...but from what I've read the act of painting is first and foremost.
-Provides a great foundation in classical understanding of landscapes and the figure
-The cost. He thinks Grad school will put me too far in debt. But I'm not certain the other won't either. I haven't been able to find prices, but I can't imagine an Atelier is a whole lot cheaper..depends on many things I suppose.


As you can see He's lost a lot of faith in the Universities..and I understand entirely

Here are my questions:
-As I said, cost?
-Is there some sort of degree or certificate upon completion? I want an MFA on my record, what's an atelier award? Where will it get me? I've had a bit of interest in teaching art, I doubt I could w/the atelier route?

A lot of this comes down to my own decisions on what I want to do with my life, so I don't expect to find all the answers on these forums..but, does anyone have any experience or info on this topic? Any Atelier students?
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Old 01-14-2012, 02:43 PM
LGHumphrey LGHumphrey is offline
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Re: Graduate school vs. Classical Atelier

If you want an MFA there's only one solution.
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Old 01-16-2012, 12:37 PM
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kevinwueste kevinwueste is online now
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Re: Graduate school vs. Classical Atelier

My sense is your former professor is right on. Ateliers are, by and large massively cheaper than a year of classes at a University or art school. like 1/2 the cost. You spend every day working with a similar group of teachers on your work - 5 days a week minimum ( where I have studied, students have access to the studio pretty much 24/7). You are surrounded by like-minded students who are driven to advance and develop. Your work will develop at a faster rate with the time and focus, I believe, of that environment.

an MFA will give you the paper, and probably a direction on your portfolio and the conceptual notions behind it. an Atelier will give you the learning and no paper. Not to say you will not develop and learn in the right MFA environment - you will. But they are, as noted, different animals.

But, Very hard to get loans for ATeliers - like - forget it.
Degree - nope.
the "Award" is what you can DO with the skills you now have.. look at student work from Florence Academy, Angel, Grand Central Academy, Tony Ryder's school, Juliette Aristides - and you'll see.. compare that work with MFA work..

There are, of course, nuances to all of this and edge- cases that fall away from any stereotypes. I have written a blunt, un-subtle response..

good luck with a difficult decision!

kevin
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Old 01-29-2012, 10:18 AM
jderek jderek is offline
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Re: Graduate school vs. Classical Atelier

I agree with the undergrad professor. When I was going to go for my BFA (and then my MFA) I was advised not to do it by several professors. Their reasoning was that the BFA/MFA program would not advance my skills and be more of a waste of time for my abilities. One recommended that I go and study under an Atelier or a practicing artist specializing in the direction I wanted to take my art.

I studied under an Atelier for about a year and loved the experience and would highly recommend it to anyone who is pursuing the arts. With her I learned a lot of stuff that isn't taught in a BFA or MFA program. The instruction was one-on-one and we'd paint together and talk about the arts and everything else that came up. She was also very supportive of me as an artist and recognized and encouraged my artistic ability.

I would call my studies with her informal and unstructured but rigorous. Some Ateliers teach or instruct in a informal and unstructured style while others are highly formal and structured. One Atelier I met had a very formal and structured way the he taught and expected his students to act.

Studying under an Atelier tends to be very rigorous but the instruction is largely meant to push you in the direction of becoming a well-rounded, knowledgeable artist. It's also meant to teach you technique and craftsmanship rather than creativity or art production.

Under an Atelier you may only complete a few pieces of art within a period of time unlike a BFA/MFA where you'll produce a lot of pieces that can number into the hundreds within the same period of time, but the pieces usually will be of a higher technical quality and you'll gain a wide range of technical skill and artistic techniques you otherwise won't get with the BFA/MFA.

The cost of training under an Atelier can be significantly lower than that of a BFA/MFA program, somewhat comparable to what you'd pay for art non-credit art classes outside of a University (BFA/MFA).

Unfortunately, there is not usually a degree or certificate upon completion. Some Ateliers have set this up so it can happen but the certificate is usually not recognized by a accredited University.

If you want an MFA on your record go for that. Having an MFA will enable you to teach at a community college or University, but keep in mind those jobs are highly competitive and are dwindling. Going the path of the Atelier will let you teach, but more on a one-on-one traditional level. You may not make a lot of money as an Atelier but there are other rewards in life besides those of a monetary nature.

It's your life: do what you want with it and define your own success.
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Old 01-30-2012, 06:10 AM
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Re: Graduate school vs. Classical Atelier

I haven't much to add other than I can think of so many artists with MFAs or BFAs but they can't draw, can't paint. Maybe having an MFA can open doors in some situations, but I would think that being a better artist who can paint and draw well would be the best option of all.

I don't know how else to put it without sounding uncharitable, and I know there are exceptions to this, but I can't tell you how many times I've seen artists with BFAs or MFAs whose drawing skills to be at the more beginner stage. Something is simply wrong there. I believe that in an Atelier, you wouldn't leave the program with skills that low. Without actually having tangible skills in the field that interests you the most, I fail to see what is the whole point? That, to me, is first and foremost. If the graduate program doesn't give you that (and that's what you want!), don't waste your money. (And it's a lot of money!)
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Old 02-15-2012, 09:19 PM
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Clive Green Clive Green is offline
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Re: Graduate school vs. Classical Atelier

I would consider a graduate program ahead of a 'classical atelier' for three reasons.

1. I don't understand what is meant by 'classical atelier' and my understanding is not advanced in any way by the various descriptions people give.
2. University study, in general, offers opportunities to meet and learn from a wide range of people, not just teaching staff but fellow students. Exposure to a wider cultural understanding outside the fine arts will enhance art practice.
3. Drawing skills (which seem a particular bugbear for some posters) and other technical skills can be developed in group practice. An apprenticeship in art making doesn't begin and end with formal schooling.

We can leave the question of what is or is not art to some other time.
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Old 02-15-2012, 09:58 PM
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Re: Graduate school vs. Classical Atelier

The problem I think people are seeing with a graduate program (and likely why this former undergrad professor suggested an atelier in the first place) is that the results just aren't forthcoming. Maybe students could improve their drawing and other technical skills there, but they aren't. In large numbers, they aren't. For whatever reason. But at the ateliers, it seems like they are.

For some people, reaching a certain technical level wouldn't be that important, but for others, it is. For some artists it's abundantly obvious what is lacking from their education and it's frustrating to pay a lot of money and yet not get the help and instruction that they most yearn for.
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Old 02-15-2012, 11:01 PM
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Clive Green Clive Green is offline
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Re: Graduate school vs. Classical Atelier

This is perhaps the problem with what people now understand to be a university education. Too much focus on the 'career' option. This is not what universities are supposed to do. They are supposed to give the student a grounding in study, a springboard into and a taster of what art is. Medical school is followed by extensive 'apprenticeship, and art study should be no different. What do you expect from an art education ? To be able to step out of the school (or atelier) gates and 'be an artist' ? That will never happen.

If you are a graduate lacking some technical skills than you will develop them over time as you pursue your path. If you have the skills then you will have to find an individual voice over time. Art education is definitely not about confirming ideas, it is about challenging them.

for example the Pre-raphaelites Millais and Rossetti were always at loggerheads, Millais accusing Rossetti of 'lacking any drawing ability at all' and Rossetti suggesting the Millais' figures were 'pretty and passionless'

What are your priorities ?

PS there is no rule that says you can't attend a graduate course and arrange a drawing study group at the same time.
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Old 02-15-2012, 11:49 PM
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Re: Graduate school vs. Classical Atelier

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clive Green
If you are a graduate lacking some technical skills than you will develop them over time as you pursue your path.
For some, it's about developing what they already know they want to learn, not later, but sooner. It's a lot of money being spent, and they leave it without the skills they knew right from the start they wanted to develop? What's up with that?

I don't disagree that graduate school should show students more than just what they already know they want. But it also should show them the things that are part of their passion. To give an example, if a ceramics student is desperate to learn how to make pottery on the potter's wheel, they shouldn't have to pay extra from some outside source in order to learn that. The resources should be available within the graduate program to learn that—and learn it well.

Quote:
PS there is no rule that says you can't attend a graduate course and arrange a drawing study group at the same time.
No, there isn't! But there may be limited time or funds. I do agree that students should be self-starters, aware of what they want to know, and willing to stick their neck out and take what they need. And it just may be, that this could require them attending an atelier.
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Old 03-22-2012, 01:59 PM
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Re: Graduate school vs. Classical Atelier

Best advise is look at what is produced by students of atelier schools you wish to apply to and students from the universities.

Personally I think the atelier system is a tried and tested one of getting you the skills to produce amazing art. I know university graduates who have done art degrees that aren't worth the paper they're printed on. So be very careful on the university/atelier school you choose. The proof is in the fruit it produces.
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