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You can also contact us via phone on 01202 302702 

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29 Southern Road
Bournemouth, England, BH6 3SR
United Kingdom


Classical Art Academy run Drawing and Oil Painting Classes Courses Workshops and Painting Holidays from their studio in Bournemouth, Dorset.  Art courses, classes and workshops in Drawing and Oil Painting for all ability levels and ages.

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Curriculum Sky, Land & Seascape Programme

Our Atelier classes are a series of flexible modules that allow you to book and start at a time that suits you. Each module is designed to run for ten weeks.  Most students attend weekly but the Classical Art Academy's flexible system also offers an intensive 2 week period to complete a full module of study. Students as young as 12 are also welcome and are invited to attend our junior academy.

The complete program spans three years of study for a student attending each week for three terms each year. The initial 3 modules will nurture you into a competent amateur painter. The remaining modules move into more complex studies to hone your skills towards a professional artistic standard.

All modules can be booked at a pace that suits your circumstances and learning needs. The Classical Art Academy welcomes beginners and all ability levels.  No portfolio of work is required for you to book on our Atelier Program or any of our courses.

The Atelier Method

During the Renaissance era numerous accomplished artists took on students to work within their ateliers.  These students were taught the craft of drawing and painting, learning directly from the master artist. They would spend years in these artists' ateliers, gradually learning the methods of the masters. This traditional atelier teaching system was at its most popular in the Renaissance and produced such artists as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio, Velasquez, Rembrandt and in fact most of the great historic masters.  Over hundreds of years this way of teaching became known as the Atelier Method.  Today, for many reasons, it's not easy for us to live the life of the traditional art student!  

Fortunately, the Classical Art Academy's Atelier programme allows you to take the same step-by-step learning path while maintaining commitments to work and family.

Just like the masters of the past you will begin your studies with a curriculum designed to develop your eye for proportion and your ability to draw what you see.  Through practising these techniques you will quickly enhance your ability to use tone and shape to render realistic images.  These skills, painting with charcoal, are then seamlessly applied to the introduction of oil paints.



The core of the Classical Art Academy Atelier programme is delivered as a series of affordable modules. Each module is designed to be taken in sequence so you are always building on the abilities you acquired from the previous module.  We call this the Artist Journey, meaning each module is a stage of your personal journey in becoming an amateur artist, hobbyist or an accomplished artist. 

You start at module one and continue at your own pace through each module in sequence.  Many of our students come for one or two years and become competent amateur artists painting for pleasure as a hobby.  Others continue for longer and become professional artists exhibiting their work and selling paintings at shows and galleries.  Some students also stay with the Academy and become tutors helping to teach the modules and courses we run throughout the year.  The Artist Journey takes you in any direction you want to go but it starts with laying the essential foundations in Module One.

Colour Theory 

Our Study Options 

The first step is to choose from the following options how often you would like to come to class at the Academy.   This is simply the time you choose to spend at the Academy taking classes, working on your drawing and painting under tuition at the Academy.  Each module is designed to take a term to complete so a student studying three days per week will simply draw and paint more within their module than a student studying on the same module but only taking one three hour class per week.  All students can opt to redo any of the modules if they feel they need more time on them.  In this way a student who can only come to the Academy one three hour class per week can still achieve the same as a student coming two days per week, it just takes a little longer.   The study options for attending class are listed below

  • Three whole days per week
  • Two whole days per week
  • One day per week (recommended minimum)
  • One 3 hour lesson during the morning, afternoon or an evening class per week.

The fees for the above options are covered in detail on the Fees and Availability page by clicking on the link at the top of the page.

Residential Courses.  By prior arrangement you can also do an intense course over a shorter time period.  Useful for those who don't live nearby yet who still want to study at the academy.  We can arrange for local B&B accommodation while you attend your course over just a one or two week stay.  Please contact us to discuss your options in more detail.

Module One:

Drawing Foundation

Requirements: no previous experience necessary.

This drawing foundation module will teach you how to draw in a realist style using proven techniques that are hundreds of years old and used by the old master artist of the Renaissance. You will learn to represent proportion, gesture and shape using chiaroscuro techniques in charcoal. This is a much more supportive approach that can be offered in normal secondary education, so that even those who were unsuccessful at school can flourish and discover their unrealised talents.  Instead, you are shown and given the techniques necessary to draw accurately and effectively. Such techniques provide a foundation upon which further growth can take hold in the subsequent modules.

During this drawing module you will be covering proportion through a series of simple exercises. These include geometric shapes, various still life studies and classical plaster cast studies.  Each of these is treated as a sight-size study to cultivate a general competency for realistic charcoal drawing.

Module Two:

Introduction to Tonal oil Painting

Requirements: completion of Module One or similar level attainment.

This module uses the chiaroscuro skills from module one to introduce you to the techniques of oil painting.  You will be given three tonal painting projects to complete to a high representational standard.  These are typically low chroma studies allowing you to focus on correct proportion, line and mass of a given subject.  A limited palette typically of only 5 colours are used with the main concentrates on reproducing correct light and dark values without the added complication of reproducing vibrant colours.  You will build upon your tonal understanding through a gradual progression from this simple palette to a more complex one in later modules.  Using limited colours you will reproduce the subtle differences in hue found in shadows, highlights, reflections and on different materials as you work your way through each study.  The Classical Imprimatura and Alla Prima Renaissance Painting techniques are introduced at this stage.

As part of these projects you will be taught how colour works and its application, understanding the elements that make up colour and how they effect each other when one is changed. Various brush techniques are introduced as required to reproduce out-of-focus, in-focus, blended, highlighted, diffused and sharp edges and other effects used in oil painting.

Modules Three To six:

Intermediate Complex projects showing good content and technique

Requirements: We recommend that modules are taken in sequence as the complexities and challenges of the projects increase with each module. However accomplished artists may already have sufficient skills to cope with modules independently. 

These intermediate modules introduce higher challenges with each step.  As you work your way through each project you refine both your drawing and oil painting skills.  You are also introduced to important concepts like composition and structure involving the arrangement of visual elements in a work of art.  

An understanding of visual harmonics such as the Golden Section and how this influences object placement and the harmony within a painting can be the key to good composition.  Around 500 BCE the Greek  school of Pythagoras demonstrated the importance of proportional harmony and the relationships with mathematics, music and art.  Proportion refers to how one part of an object and how it relates to the whole.  In the Renaissance artists recognised the connection between proportion and the illusion of 3D space and shape. Achieving correct proportion and harmony is a major focus of your studies within these modules.

All modules comprise intensive studio-based still life projects and feature life-size plaster casts of busts for developing the structure and techniques needed in portraiture and life studies. But students are also encouraged to take their easels outside en plein air the seascapes and landscapes of beautiful Dorset.

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Having completed these modules many students feel confident enough about their portfolios to start exhibiting. 

Modules seven to nine:

Personal artist direction and development

Requirements: We recommend that modules are taken in sequence as the complexities and challenges of the projects increase with each module. However accomplished artists may already have sufficient skills to cope with modules independently. 

For most students this will be the beginning of their third year at the Academy. At this point, you will meet with your tutor to discuss the genre you're most interested in pursuing, be it landscape, portraiture, seascapes, still life or figurative. 

The modules are then individually tailored to develop your artistic skills to professional standards in your preferred genre.  For example if you wanted to specialise in landscape then modules in this series would cover the elements of landscapes: painting clouds, distant hills, lakes, trees, bushes, fields of grass, sunset, dawn, rocks and so on.

But technical brilliance along does not win the heart of a viewer or collector, so the subtleties of narrative are also cultivated. 


Beyond the Third Year:

Advanced Pathway

Requirements: Completion of all previous modules.

At this point our focus would be on helping you launch as a working professional artist or developing you further as an highly accomplished amateur.  

As an accomplished amateur, you will have

  • enhanced presentation of work
  • continued access to the studio
  • opportunities for collective assignments
  • ongoing involvement with a community of artists
  • pop-up shops to display work with the potential of sales.

The professional artist route prepares you for your artistic career by facilitating understanding the complex world of

  • market identification
  • advertising and getting noticed
  • seeking commissions
  • commercial gallery openings
  • product pricing
  • exhibition design
  • efficient work scheduling
  • managing a studio.

A collection of three personal studies by our Academy students.

Student Tutor Program

Requirements: Completion of intermediate modules.  Exceptional quality and at least two years of study with the Classical Art Academy.

You might also choose to become one of our student tutors and help in running Academy courses and classes.  Teaching is the true test of learning. 

For the duration of the programme you will work under your tutor's supervision. We will build a platform of skills with which to encourage learning in others and we will develop your confidence in demonstrating accurate technique. Once you have led a series of successful introduction days and taught material from the first six modules there will be an opportunity to host classes independently. 

We're pleased to announce that Dhan Ramdharry is our first student tutor and is currently supporting classes in the studio.