About Us

The REAL Academy of Art Colorado teaches the fundamentals of drawing, painting and sculpting using methods that have withstood the test of time. REAL’s name is derived from Renaissance Alive, a nod to the Renaissance masters of realism. Based in Denver, REAL is Colorado’s first and only art school certified by the Art Renewal Center (ARC), one of the world’s most respected fine art organizations. ARC is the foremost authority and evaluator of representational art schools. Schools earning its highly coveted seal of approval provide not only art instructors and teaching curricula of outstanding quality — but also nurture students whose artwork demonstrates mastery of fundamental skills.

REAL is committed to helping its students become professional artists if they wish by providing them with the guidance and resources they need to move from “hobbyist” and “amateur” to “business owner” and “professional” in the digital age. REAL also is committed to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone.

Diversity + Inclusion

Diversity and Inclusion are two cornerstone values for the REAL Academy of Art. We strive to provide an equitable, inclusive environment for all students where they may engage deeply in learning and thrive as artists. Approximately 31% of the REAL Academy student body identifies as students of color. We are committed to identifying and addressing biases and gaps in our programs and policies and increasing diversity of all kinds.

The REAL Academy of Art Colorado does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation or military status in any of its activities or operations. These activities include, but are not limited to, hiring and firing of staff, selection of volunteers and vendors.


The REAL Academy of Art Colorado is an equal opportunity employer. We will not discriminate and will take affirmative action measures to ensure against discrimination in employment, recruitment, advertisements for employment, compensation, termination, upgrading, promotions, and other conditions of employment against any employee or job applicant on the bases of race, color, gender, national origin, age, religion, creed, disability, veteran’s status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

— Adopted by the REAL Academy of Art Colorado’s Board of Directors, September 1, 2019

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Our Instructors

The collaborative efforts and intentions of the Board of Directors, faculty, alumni, and student communities promote the energy, excellence, and values of the school. REAL Academy of Art teachers and administrators care about the lives of our students, and through example, strive to invest a lifelong love of learning in every student. Additionally, each member of the Board of Directors is deeply committed to the school’s mission, values, and traditions. REAL Academy of Art is fortunate to have an active board whose trustees dedicate themselves to upholding and strengthening the school’s mission.

Ali Ghassan


Ali has been named a “Living Master” by the prestigious Art Renewal Center. Few people in the world have achieved this distinction. Born in Babel, Iraq, Ali earned a master’s degree in Fine Arts at Babel University, studied in Italy and Russia, and was an internationally award-winning, professional artist before becoming a professor of Fine Arts at Babel University in 2008. Ali has taught art and sculpting for nearly 20 years. His work has been featured in numerous exhibitions around the world and has earned him first-place awards in Iraq, France and the United States. Ali and his wife immigrated to the United States in 2014 and worked together to share their passion for teaching and restoration of the Masters’ art techniques. Through word of mouth, Colorado students found Ali and his commitment to ARC’s teaching philosophy, which ultimately gave rise to The REAL Academy of Art Colorado.

James Myers


James Myers received his Bachelor’s in Media Arts and Animation from the Art Institute of Colorado. After graduation, he sought a higher level of art training where he found the REAL Academy of Art Colorado. He graduated from the program in 2022 and was asked to stay on to help students progress through the curriculum as masterfully as he did. In his teaching, he aims to not only help students grasp the concepts of drawing accurately, but to help all students fully realize their art potential.   


Yes, our curriculum starts with drawing for all students—even students interested in sculpture. Our curriculum begins by asking students to copy a series of two dimensional references by Charles Bargue. In these exercises, we teach distances, lengths, and angles, as well as how to build the form. This is crucial to moving on to working from 3D references (working from life) and learning different mediums.  Did you know that Vincent van Gogh copied the complete set of Bargue plates in 1880-1881, and then did it again in 1890? It’s been the gold standard of building great artists for well over 100 years, and we’re excited to pass down the knowledge to you.

Our curriculum is built so that each section builds on the next. We want our artists to have a comprehensive foundation for effective visual communication, and that means starting with drawing the 2D form, moving to drawing the 3D form, and then learning oil painting. Artists who try to skip a step end up coming back to learn the lessons they missed.

We offer 11 different 3-hour class times throughout the week:

Mondays: 9a – 12p or 1p – 4p

Tuesdays: 9a – 12p or 1p – 4p

Wednesdays: 9a – 12p or 1p – 4p

Thursdays: 6p – 9p

Fridays: 9a – 12p or 1p – 4p

Saturdays: 9a – 12p or 1p – 4p

Absolutely! We offer a Thursday evening class from 6 – 9 pm as well as 2 different class times on Saturday (9 am – 12 pm and 1 pm – 4pm) so that people with fulltime jobs can fit art into their lives.

Yes, we currently grant quarterly financial assistance to qualifying, current students who are dedicated to completing the curriculum. These scholarships cover partial tuition and are renewable each quarter for up to one year. If you are interested in applying for financial assistance, please review this form: ___________________

Important deadlines for scholarship applications:

Due March 1 for Spring Q
Due June 1 for Summer Q
Due September 1 for Fall Q
Due December 1 for Winter Q

We do not currently help with Visas for non-US residents. The REAL Academy of Art Colorado is not a community college or university and does not currently qualify as a vocational school in accordance with U.S. Immigration guidelines.

No. We do not offer housing.

We know that life gets hectic, which is why we don’t require a set schedule and why we offer a variety of class times. Paid for 12 classes for the full quarter? You can technically take them all in the first 2 weeks of the quarter! A thriving art practice is one that works with your life, and we want you to be able to schedule what works best for you. We do ask, however, that all students use their classes within the quarter they were purchased. We do not offer refunds for unused or missed classes nor do we allow students to carry over unused classes to the next quarter (pending medical emergencies.)

The supply list for each section can be found here

Click here, fill out the required information, choose and pay for the number of classes you’d like to take this quarter, and we will be in touch with you to schedule your first day!

More Questions? Contact Us Below.