Our Curriculum

Our engaging and challenging curriculum is a comprehensive visual arts training program developed by professional artist and ARC-Certified Living Master Ali Ghassan. In addition to a strong curriculum is our commitment to be a community that reflects and values diversity, respects individual differences, and responds to a changing, dynamic world.

A Comprehensive Program

The curriculum at the REAL Academy of Art is divided into three sections: Drawing the 2D Form, Drawing the 3D Form, and The Language of Color and Oil Paint. Each section builds on the next to deliver a comprehensive foundation for effective visual communication. 

We have developed an ongoing proprietary curriculum with four levels that build on each other to deliver.a comprehensive foundation for effective visual communication.



Drawing the 2-D Form

Our program begins with graphite and the 2D form. We spend the first class teaching artists important fundamentals: How to sharpen and hold our pencils, which materials give us the best results and why and how to execute a confident line on the page. This introduction lays the groundwork for the next three months where artists learn how to draw realistically by copying 2D (flat) references. We, like other ateliers since the 19th century, use drawings by Charles Bargue as the references to be copied. This method emphasizes accuracy and encourages students to become competent and confident in their work, building up their skills in a logical way. Students will learn how to simplify the form, see distances, lengths, and angles as well as some seeing and depicting the light.

Students also explore rudimentary forms: the sphere, the cylinder, and the cube and become skilled at creating realistic depth to their work. Meticulous repetition across a variety of exercises intimately familiarizes the artist with the basic behavior of light; further developing the artist’s ability to communicate visually.

Please click here for a list of the materials required for Level One.

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Drawing the 3-D Form From Life

Once students show competency with recreating a 2D reference, students will learn how to draw from life using both the sight-size method and the comparative method. Students must fully understand the construction of the sphere, cylinder, and the cube as taught in Level One as these simple shapes can be found in every 3D object and are essential in studying how the path of light falls across an actual surface.. Charcoal is introduced as a medium and more importance is placed on accurately capturing values. Students are introduced to 3D cast references of the facial features previously studied using 2D reference. This is followed by tackling more complicated shapes and compositions with simple still lifes. Lastly, we introduce figure drawing from a live model as the penultimate 3D form. Comprehension of anatomy, principles of perspective and proportions become essential at this level. Whereas Level One is about training the eye and hand to imitate, Level Two is based on analysis. The end goal with the sight-size method is not a creation of a flawless reproduction, but preparing artists for the constant process of exploration, examination, and interpretation. Artists are encouraged to develop graphite and charcoal drawings that hold their own alongside a painting or sculpture, as opposed to drawing as merely a study in preparation for other mediums.

Please click here for a list of the materials required for Level Two.

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The Visual Language of Color and Paint

This is the longest level at the atelier and is where students take all that they have learned from Levels 1 and 2, including simplifying the form, measuring, blocking in, grouping tones into larger shapes, understanding values and how to create depth and the illusion of space, and they begin to translate that into oil paint. Artists further their technical knowledge by learning about edges, translating surface texture, creating volume using paint, setting up compositions, creating atmosphere, mixing clean colors, and defining hue, chroma, and saturation in relation to their painting. This level is as much about color theory as it is about the actual manipulation of the paint on canvas. Students will do a variety of projects including monochromatic cast paintings, limited color still life paintings, Grisaille paintings, sketch paintings, plein air paintings (optional), and a copy of a master portrait. As with all the levels, there is a focus placed on understanding the materials to create work to the best of each student’s ability.

Please click here for a list of the materials required for Level Three.

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Traditional Processes of Figurative Sculpture

As an optional addition to the above curriculum, students can learn figurative sculpture. Here, artists build cumulatively upon the core skills of drawing and modeling from life, while adding critical understanding of anatomy, composition in the round and relief as well as technical skills such as mold making, casting, basic fabrication and subtractive techniques.

*Optional level for students looking to master the 3D form

Class Times

Mon/Wed/Friday/Saturday –  9am-12pm, 1pm-4pm 

Tuesday  –  9am-12pm, 1pm-4pm, 6pm-9pm

Thursday –  6pm-9pm

Please Note

Classes sold in Packages. Each Quarter is 12 weeks long. Students move at their own pace with 1 on 1 instruction. All classes must be completed within the Quarter, classes do not carry over. 


The REAL Academy of Art recommends applications for new students on a quarterly basis, with new classes beginning in early January, April, July, and October.