Martin Close started his creative life in the photographic industry, then progressed into becoming a design & illustration artist. In 2003, his love of professional artwork led him to open his own commercial gallery 'Art Culture’ in Marlow, UK, retailing works by Chagall, Dali and Picasso. Through this experience, Martin discovered a passion for oil painting and sought a tutor who could provide him with the knowledge and skills to create representational portraits.
As a father of four, he was not in the position to go to Italy and study full time, as he would have wished, and classical atelier art schools had not yet emerged in the London art scene. Instead, he found an accomplished oil painter to whom he became an understudy and, in addition, he pushed himself to spend days studying paintings in the National and Mall Galleries in London. He observed the compositions, the details of fabrics, skin tones, eyes… then spent hours at night carefully deconstructing what he’d seen and testing his ideas on canvas. His work quickly sold within his commercial gallery, often before he had even completed the painting, and his work was exhibited and sold by the Saatchi Gallery. Later, his passion for portraiture and still life led him back into the classroom to be taught by multiple Florentine alumni and acclaimed artists at various London studios.
An enthusiastic and motivational teacher, Martin continues to innovate his teaching methods. His experiences on this journey have led him to found the CAA and bring the atelier teachings to the wider south coast. Now an experienced artist and teacher of many years, Martin continues to push himself in order to keep growing as an artist and his current works include a collection of atmospheric sea and landscapes.
Anastasia Pollard studied at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and Florence Academy of Art. An American, who fell in love with the UK and become a highly acclaimed UK artist and tutor. Anastasia won The William Emlen Cresson Scholarship, Silvia & Miron M Walley Memorial Scholarship and was successful in the Linda Lee Alter Awards. Her painting 'Corrine' was selected for the BP Portrait Award 2017 and was chosen to feature as the main banner and front the exhibition guide. She is a member of The Royal Society of Portrait Painters.
Anastasia treasures the historic beauty in the painting methods of classical masters and uses them to produce sight sized portraits, reflecting the stories of everyday people in our current era. She loves teaching, and we are truly privileged to have her join our team of tutors, teaching our Atelier drawing and painting curriculum.
2000-2005 | Florence Academy of Art, Italy
1996-2000 | Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia
1993-1995 | Private Apprenticeship
Annual Exhibition, Royal Society of Portrait Painters, London (2005-2017)
Self-Portrait, Royal Society of Portrait Painters in association with The Bulldog Trust, London (2007)
BP Portrait Award Exhibition, National Portrait Gallery, London (2006, 2007, 2009, 2012 & 2017)
W.H. Patterson Gallery, London (2005, 2007, 2008)
Mumford Fine Arts (2007, 2008)
Talent Exhibition, Allan Stone Gallery, New York City (2005)
Artist's House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (2001-2003)
The Artist's House Gallery Award
Gross McCleaf Gallery Prize
Earl T. Donelson Figure Painting Award
Hobson Pittman Memorial Prize, Special Notice
The William Emlen Cresson Scholarship
Linda Lee Alter Award
Celia Beaux Memorial Prize
Melvin Paul and Pearl Miller Carpel Award
Lucille Sorgenti Scholarship
Silvia S. and Miron M. Walley Memorial Scholarship
Dhanraz studies here at the Classical Art Academy with Martin and Anastasia Pollard, in addition with Nicholas Beer, Sarum Studios. He is a much-loved student who has taken the leap to start his journey as a trainee tutor facilitating a life model session on Wednesday evenings.
Dhanraz has a passion for figurative and portraiture in oils and his paintings are regularly commissioned. Dhanraz has started to submit work into national competitions and was shortlisted by the BBC TV artists challenge.
“I came to painting professionally later in life, whilst bringing up a family with my wife Kelly. Fortunately for me, she is very supportive of my painting career and I feel passionately that you can fulfil your dreams and ambitions to become an artist at any stage of life”
Laura studies at the Classical Art Academy with Martin and Anastasia Pollard. She historically studied at the Accademia d’Arte in Florence and The Heatherley School of Fine Art in Chelsea.
She has a talent for portraiture, both people and animals, having undertaken commissions since 2009. Laura also tutors therapeutic art groups for a charity in Southampton. A highly valued student and support tutor for our beginners and junior students.
“I’ve drawn and painted for as long as I can remember, I even have a Blue Peter badge for a picture of me as an artist titled ‘what I want to be when I grow up! At 18 I became interested in the Dutch masters – the way they made the paint seem to glow fired my imagination and started a lifelong love affair with oils and capturing light with them! I absolutely love portraits, it’s the thrill of capturing a likeness and a glimpse of the sitter’s personality, something done so brilliantly by my absolute hero John Singer Sargent.”