M. J. Angel, born in England in 1946, has been painting and studying art since his mid-teens. Through the great Italian master, Pietro Annigoni, Mr. Angel was made aware of the lack of an effective method of teaching in the universities and public art schools. Even in Europe, where some vestiges of the old methods of cast drawing and still-life painting remain, the official schools lack the knowledge to effectively teach Realism and frustrate the student by trying to apply various 20th-century concepts to a pre-20th-century discipline. At the Angel Academy, on the other hand, the principles involved are found to be concretely teachable and, through a series of exercises over a three-year period, the student learns to master them.
The Fundamental Programme evolved from a combination of Mr. Angel’s research and that of a number of students of the great American painter, R. H. Ives Gammell, whose pedigree, in turn, goes back to the 19th-century French Academy. The programme begins with work from a specially prepared set of lithographs, which quickly teach the student the basic skills of accurate rendering (the Angel Academy of Art uses the best set of instructional lithos: that made by Charles Bargue in the 19th century, at the behest of Jean-Léon Gérôme; the studio owns many of the originals). With these new-found skills, the student progresses to cast work, first in charcoal, then in oil paint, and from these to still-life, the best arena in which to study colour, texture and the illusion of three dimensions. Work from the live model begins immediately and is central to our programme.
To acquire the utmost in accuracy and execution, the school uses the venerable sight-size method. Beyond this, the Angel Academy of Art teaches a system of comparative measurement in which the student learns to incorporate the conceptual with the realistic. This system is unique among modern-day Realist ateliers.
The Graduate Programmes comprise two electives: Portrait Painting and Composition (both Form and Colour). Work from the live model continues.
The Angel Academy emphasizes the importance of professionalism for those who intend to pursue painting as a career. Contrary to popular belief, the profession of artist is a viable one; a properly trained painter can expect to earn a salary equivalent to that of a doctor or a lawyer. Study with us should be seen as a career investment.
The completed curriculum will allow the graduate to confidently approach and overcome the most difficult projects in drawing and painting. Using the skills, techniques, knowledge, and approach that are taught at the Angel Academy of Art, Florence, works of art of the highest possible quality can be made.
The Academy’s method is that of individual instruction in a group setting. That is, each student is evaluated on an ongoing basis and advances largely in accordance with the time and effort he or she can invest. Since the programme is a succession of carefully designed projects, a student’s prior training and experience do not influence the assignments given; the rate of progress depends only on the speed at which instruction is absorbed. In general, the atmosphere at the Angel Academy is relaxed and convivial. Competition is friendly, and there is an air of support and respect among both students and instructors: their goals are, after all, mutual.
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