When I first started learning to paint with oils I spent a great deal of time searching art magazines and books as well as the Internet. I had only a few questions in mind; how did I wish to paint, whose work did I find and then love, and more specifically what did I wish to paint (e.g., figure, still life)?
Since I was new to oil painting and only had a watercolor background everything was new and I felt I could explore without any preconceived notions getting in the way.
I first stumbled upon artist Duane Keiser’s blog I noticed a link his blogroll for a blog called The Silver Fortress. When I clicked through the site, I read that The Silver Fortress was a blog for an art school in Argenton-Chateau, France.
According to their site they were a “a contemporary classical art colony” in Argenton-Chateau, France. I wasn’t sure exactly what an art colony was but it sounded interesting so I started exploring the site further.
The creators of the Silver Fortress Blog, are Timothy Stotz and Nichole Michelle Tully, they run a contemporary classical art school called Studio Escalier in Argenton-Chateau, France.
The Silver Fortress was a blog established to sell small daily paintings created by the faculty at Studio Escalier and the proceeds were used to fund a scholarship fund.
The school’s faculty is impressive: Timothy Stotz, Nichole Michelle Tully, Anthony Ryder and Ted Seth Jacobs. According to the site, Tully and Stotz were two of original eight members of the Jacob Collins Studio and founding members of the Water Street Atelier in Brooklyn NY. In an intereting aside, I believe Timothy Stotz and Duane Keiser both attended Randolph Macon College in Richmond, VA.
Artist Tony Ryder is renown for his draughtsman skills as well as his sensitivity when painting the human figure. He heads his own studio and academy in Santa Fe New Mexico.
Anthony Ryder is the author or the book, The Artist’s Complete Guide to Figure Drawing: A Contemporary Perspective on the Classical Tradition. Both Timothy Stotz and Anthony Ryder studied with Ted Seth Jacobs at the Arts Student League in New York City, NY.
According to the Studio Escalier site, Ted Seth Jacobs has taught art at the New York Arts Student League, The New York Academy of Art and he is the founder of the Ecole Albert Defois in France. Ted Seth Jacobs conducts workshops within the states as well as overseas.
Ted Seth Jacobs is “esteemed for his strong influence on three generations of artist-draftsman, and artist-teachers in NYC, including Andrew Reiss, Jerry Weiss, Anthony Ryder, Randolph Melick, Will Cotton, Jacob Collins and Michael Grimaldi among others.”
Studio Escalier offers several courses, an intensive 3-month program, a 9-week course of study, or a one-month course of study in either the facilities in Argenton-Chateau or it’s newest offering of Paris.
Although I subscribe to the Silver Fortress feed and I am not certain when they actually ceased their scholarship fund raising efforts through the blog and eBay. Currently I receive posts of studies that are in process by the faculty. It’s extremely instructive by I miss the opportunity to view Michelle’s wonderful 4″x4″ gems.
Note, I forgot to mention that I actually own all of these paintings (except the poster study). I used to keep both of the New Mexico landscapes next to my bed to remind me of New Mexico when I was homesick.
I should probably also mention that if you are an artist who is interested in classical realism, you should seriously look into attending a session, whether one month or more, at Studio Escalier. If you go through the Silver Fortress blog you will get an excellent sense of the techniques and methods that Timothy and Michelle. Usually they begin with a pencil study and then progress to a ‘poster’ study.
When I first started reading about Timothy, Michelle and Anthony Ryder’s techniques I didn’t understand the term. Basically its a way of rendering your subject looking only at broad strokes of paint, trying to work out composition and color harmony issues.
I spent forever trying to buy a portait study. I wanted one to be able to see their layered approach to painting, (charcoal, thin thin diluted wash over charcoal, thing diluted layer with color and the final glorious layer.
It looks like Michelle Tully and Tim Stotz are back up and posting paintings on ebay again-horray!