The Academies: origin

As far as we know, the teaching of drawing originated as a byproduct of calligraphy in the monasteries of the Middle Ages. Its original purpose was to illustrate texts, with small drawings included in the manuscripts. In the 7th century we find the first important school of illustrators of manuscripts in Lindisfarne (England).


Well into the 15th centuryartists, who up to that point had been regarded as craftsmen, abandon monasteries, loggias and guilds to come together in workshops and their patrons’ palaces. This is when drawing starts to be considered and used as way of graphically expressing concepts or projects, spawning the first art schools as new teaching centers. A teaching system, which considers drawing the basis of any artistic education, spreads rapidly across Europe. A learning program, from copying drawings, classic statuary to the current human model, is structured. A flawlessly designed curriculum, which provides the artist with the best know-how and an unprecedented technique.

Concepts evolve through time and so art is no longer regarded as a mere trade. Drawing and painting become more personal and free, beyond the boundaries set by the curriculum of the old academies. These concepts that change through time can even become antagonistic, moving from strict rules to absolute freedom, thus creating a duality between art dependent on a defined criteria and art free from any coercive approach.

This artistic, conceptual and technical freedom, a teaching model that still persists, has resulted in the loss of the trade and the highly regarded know-how from the old times. The new artistic concept has influenced and still does the current education model and nowadays we can see the repercussions.

Representational art today

We, at Barcelona Academy of Art, support the classic academic art as a teaching program applicable to any creative discipline. Academic art is not an end per se, but a learning stage for the artists, where they strengthen their basic knowledge and control so in the future they can create figurative and realistic visions, which include modern as well as contemporary trends.


Nowadays in Spain, it is hard to find a teaching method that has drawing as its core for the artistic learning, which consequently affects the future quality of figurative-realistic art.


At the Barcelona Academy of Art we consider drawing as being the compulsory and basic learning for any artistic development. It is then crutial to start studying with us by learning how to draw in a traditional way, following our methodologies based on the 19th century. It is a kind of learning where the student undergoes a process of constant developement, divided by phases and increasing progressively the difficulty of his/her training program. This way, s/he will be able to master all the concepts and techniques learnt in the drawing course and apply them to any other artistic discipline in a second year of studies.

Each training program consists of a series of exercises that each student has to go through. Each student at the Barcelona Academy of Art works at his/her own rhythm and every day students have a different teacher, who gives individual feedback on the performance of each student. This is what we call a “critique”, which in any case is always focused on helping the student assimilate the concepts to work at every stage, and it takes about 10-20 minutes per day. Students work every day in their exercise, they receive the critique, and they keep on working to correct/modify/improve all aspects that the tutor has suggested. The goal is to reach the day that the teacher passes the exercise, and the student can move on to the next task in accordance with the curriculum. This is a constructive way of learning, increasing difficulty in every step.

The Atelier Tradition

The Sight-Size Method

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