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WCC's Atelier revitalizes age-old traditions

The 6-week intensive drawing and painting workshop starts May 28

Windward Community College
Bonnie J Beatson, (808) 235-7374
Mktg & Public Rel Dir, Chancellor's Office
Norman Graffam, 808-236-9148
Art Instructor, Humanities
Posted: Apr 19, 2013

Jill Butterbaugh conte drawing
Jill Butterbaugh conte drawing
Sean Yoro paints from live model
Sean Yoro paints from live model

This summer from May 28 to July 5, art students will be immersed in a transformational workshop that resembles instruction from a Master painter. It may be an unlikely place to study Classical Realism, but students who are serious about their art, whether pursuing it for personal or professional gain, come to the Atelier Hawai‘i at Windward Community College.

The Atelier offers one of few atelier experiences in the United States. Art students come from across the globe and down the road to study the classical techniques of drawing and painting.

Under the direction of art instructor Norman Graffam, participants are immersed in the practice of working from nature – drawing and painting from life. Graffam and guest artist Jonathan Busse will guide students through the process to develop each student’s highest level of observational skills and techniques.

“Atelier” (ah-tell-yay) is a French term for “artist’s studio” or “workshop.” During the 15th-19th centuries, artists like Michelangelo, Leonardo DaVinci and Peter Paul Rubens studied their craft in this hands-on working environment where they received training in the fundamentals of Classical Realism.

“The workshop environment is a great place to study,” says student Jill Butterbaugh. "I loved every minute! Completing the Atelier was a very rewarding experience. The skills I learned have launched me into a serious career in art, including several commissions from art collectors.” 

What can a student expect to learn from the atelier?
The Atelier focuses on skills and practical knowledge. Based upon careful observation, students will draw and paint from classical cast sculptures, training the eye to perceive shapes, values and proportion as they move on to study the human figure from live models.

From plaster casts to live models
Plaster casts provide students some of the benefits of live, human models, such as the presence of shadows. Their distinct advantages are that they remain perfectly still and since they’re white, the student is able to focus on the grayscale halftones and shadows (grisaille).

In preparation for portraiture and the human figure, students will learn the Sight-Size method of drawing – drawing an object exactly as it appears to the artist on a one-to-one scale. Students will first set a vantage point where the subject and the drawing surface appear to be the same size. Then, using various measuring devices, the student will draw the subject so accurately that the drawing and the subject have exactly the same proportions and values, resulting in extremely accurate and realistic drawings.

Maroger medium
Jaques Maroger, French painter and former conservator at the Louvre, devoted much of his life to teaching and researching the oil-based media of the Old Masters. Maroger’s medium allows the student artist to paint with thick and lustrous brushstrokes for more intense lights, as well as thin and transparent glazes for shadows. Students will learn to make the Maroger medium and to prepare their own canvases and grounds.

Portrait and figure painting
Students will work from live models and progress from the underpainting to the traditional full palette incorporating the challenges of color harmony, composition, tonal values, perspective and gesture.

“Atelier students receive personal attention from the two instructors,” explains Norman Graffam. “The emphasis is on developing technical skills and nurturing the student to his or her potential.”

The Atelier at Windward Community College has 24 spaces and is open to both credit and non-credit students. Those who are interested in pursuing a degree in art can choose the credit option to earn six (6) credits – cost of tuition is $1,488 for residents, $2,100 for non-residents. Contact Norman Graffam at 236-9148 to reserve a space or for more information. For non-credit students, tuition is $1,200. Students can apply through the Office of Career & Community Education by calling 235-7433.

To find out more about the Summer 2013 Atelier, call Norman Graffam at 236-9148 or visit











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