Art school of Ottawa

Atelier Programs

Academic Drawing and Painting in the Old Master Tradition

The Monart Art School of Ottawa is proud to partner with the Academy of Realist Art (ARA) in Toronto to offer a quality atelier program in the time-honored crafts of drawing and painting – right here in the nation’s capital!

The curriculum and teaching techniques of the ARA atelier program are modeled on the 19th century French academies in the tradition of the old masters. Students receive individualized practical instruction advancing at their own pace while working to achieve the highest levels of draftsmanship and painting skills. This intensive and focused teaching methodology has a proven record of success with students ranging from the beginner to the more advanced.

Ottawa Atelier Program

Ottawa atelier students meet for two fully instructed weekends per month at the Monart Art School of Ottawa on 2445 St. Laurent Blvd for class lectures, and to receive individual instruction from an ARA instructor on their respective assignments:

Saturdays are dedicated to Bargue or cast drawing under the guidance of a qualified ARA instructor.

On Sundays, students do Bargue/Cast drawing in the mornings and Figure Drawing in the afternoon. Morning and afternoon sessions will feature different models.

During the weeks between the ARA instructor’s visits and life drawing, the Monart Art School of Ottawa is open on Saturdays to atelier registrants who wish to progress on their course work in the company of fellow students.

Completed course work approved by the Ottawa atelier instructor is eligible for credit in the ARA Toronto or ARA Boston programs. Individuals may enroll in the Ottawa atelier program at any time. All levels of ability are welcome.

For more details on the atelier program, please select a topic below, or contact the Monart Art School of Ottawa at 613-260-0483. For more information on ARA’s establishment of a program in the Ottawa region, please consult ARA news.


Students begin their training by working from the Charles Bargue “Drawing Course,” (Cours de dessin) dating back to the mid 1800’s. These specially prepared drawings are specifically geared towards painting. The drawings are executed in graphite, helping the student to quickly and effectively gain an understanding of the strong light and dark pattern, shape, proportion and tonal rendering.

Once these fundamental skills have been mastered “from the flat,” the student progresses to working “in the round” from plaster casts using pure vine charcoal. The goal of the charcoal drawings is to introduce the student to the concept of big form modeling, an essential part of realistic representation.

Following the completion of the charcoal studies, the student continues to work from the cast, starting with a monochromatic painting thereby learning the characteristics of the medium. The subtleties of colour are then addressed in the next two cast paintings.

These skills culminate in the final level of the program. Still Life is the ideal playground in which students acquire a full understanding of colour, texture and the illusion of form and space. Similarly, the human figure demands an understanding of gesture, proportion, design and subtle colour. Throughout the program the student consistently works from the live model, applying the skills learned from the program.


The Fundamental program consists of four levels, beginning with drawing “from the flat” (copying master drawings) which efficiently teaches the student basic rendering skills. With these skills the student progresses to working from the cast, first in charcoal and then in oil. In the final level the student works on a series of still lifes, the best arena in which to learn colour, texture and illusion of three dimensions.

The entire Fundamental program requires:

  • Four drawings in graphite using the Charles Bargue Drawing Course textbook. Students accurately copy Bargue plates of increasing difficulty.
  • Two cast drawings in vine charcoal using the sight-size method with an optical emphasis on big form modeling.
  • Three paintings in oil from the cast, beginning with a monochrome study and progressing to 2 subtle colour studies in sight-size.
  • Four still-life paintings each with distinct criteria./li>

To acquire the utmost in accuracy and execution the school uses the sight-size method. In conjunction with this method ARA teaches a system of comparative measurement in which the student learns to associate the conceptual with the realistic. This system is unique among modern day realist academies.


The artist is only as good as his tools. Proper preparation and maintenance of materials can’t be overemphasized. The issues of craftsmanship that arise regularly and are covered in the curriculum include:

  • A proper drawing point
  • Ideal grounds for oil paint
  • ‘Fat over lean’
  • ‘Thick over thin’/li>
  • ‘Wet over dry’
  • Direct painting

Drawing students will explore working on and treating different papers (hotpress and coldpressed), working with such mediums as graphite, charcoal, and different red chalks.

With oil painting, a full understanding of when and where to use the specific mediums during the different layers of the painting process will be covered.


Ottawa atelier instructors are approved by ARA to present the academy’s curriculum, and expertly guide students in their course work.

Date, Time, Location

There are 2 instructed atelier weekends per month as shown on the schedule below. Saturdays are reserved for Bargue Drawings, Cast Drawings, Cast Paintings and Still Life Paintings. Sundays are for figure drawing with short poses in the mornings ( 9am – 12pm ) and long poses in the afternoon ( 1pm – 4pm ).

Saturday: 10am – 4pm
Sunday: 10am – 4pm

October 13 & 14, 2012
October 27 & 28, 2012
November 10 & 11, 2012
November 24 & 25, 2012
January 5 & 6, 2012
January 19 & 20, 2012
Febuary 2 & 3, 2012
Febuary 16 & 17, 2012
March 2 & 3, 2012
March 16 & 17, 2012
April 6 & 7, 2012
April 20 & 21, 2012
May 4 & 5, 2012
May 18 & 19, 2012
Jun 1 & 2, 2012
Jun 22 & 23, 2012

Registration & Cost

To register in the Ottawa atelier program, please phone the Monart Art School of Ottawa at 613-260-0483 to reserve a seat in the class.

When you arrive at the school, you will be required to complete a registration form and pre-pay for three months of your program. The cost is $205.00 + HST per month, and includes 2 instructed weekends as well as figure drawing.

Download the atelier supply list

Drawings from the Atelier students

Friends of MONART Ottawa: