The Atelier School of Classical Realism
David Hardy's Atelier
The Atelier School of Classical Realism stands out in a unique way in the San Francisco Bay area. Through its instructor, David Hardy, it focuses on the marvelous range of technical artistic knowledge and understanding of nature that helped to make possible the impressive accomplishments of the old Masters.
The Atelier occupies a large room with painting cubicles and easels, plus all the equipment of people who take Old Master painting quite seriously. Special lamps, plaster casts, paint boxes, art texts and magazines are a natural part of the scene.
Images from left to right: "Red Poppies in Copper Vase," student painting by Nancy Fernandez, oil on canvas board, 12 x 16 inches; "Peppers", oil on canvas board, 12 x 16 inches, student painting by Nancy Fernandez; "Relics #1," oil on gesso panel, 12 x 16 inches, student painting by Nancy Fernandez; "Can With Dishtowel," oil on canvas board, 14 x 20 inches, student painting by Gary Bennett; "Olive Oil Bottles With Dishtowel," oil on gesso panel, 24 x 18 inches, student painting by Gary Bennett
The soft buzz of student's conversations with one another and their teacher are accompanied by even softer strains of Bach, early lute music, the greats of Jazz, Maria Callas dying melodically again for the sake of grand opera. An observer soon realizes these people are here because they really want to be here.
In the midst of it all, Hardy is generally found moving from student to student, a brimmed cap or hat perched upon his head to minimize glare from the overhead lighting. His beard extends toward long-dried paint smears on his shirt as he tilts his head down and peers through thick rimmed glasses at a drawing or newly emerging painting. Sometimes he pauses to offer a word of encouragement or advice. The students smile, wince, nod or murmur in response, and Hardy is off on his rounds again. Occasionally breaking the training to share stories, he listens to tales, or tell jokes. Hardy's rare combination of warmth and acumen set the tone for the Atelier. One of his students describes the studio as a place where he goes when he wants "both support and challenge" for his work.
Images from left to right: "Three Shopping Bags," oil on canvas
board, 26 x 22 inches, student painting by Gary Bennett; "Self Portrait,"
oil on board mounted canvas, 16 x 20 inches, student painting by Roberto
Zamora; "Abalone Shell," oil on gesso panel, 12 x 16 inches, student
painting by Roberto Zamora; "Floral Study," oil on gesso panel,
9 x 8 3/4 inches, student painting by Roberto Zamora; "Self Portrait,"
charcoal and chalk drawing on French paper, 9 x 12 1/2 inches, student drawing
by Scottt Iverson.
This story was originally published on 11/9/98 and re-published with images on 7/14/99.
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