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Golden Gate Atelier

Oakland, United States

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The Golden Gate Atelier offers a complete classical training for the realist artist. Students draw and paint the human figure from life using sight-size. In addition, they receive a thorough grounding in constructive drawing, anatomy, and perspective. The oil painting program is dedicated to craftsmanship and to the skillful use of materials and techniques. Students work in all genres: still life, landscape, portraiture, and figurative art.

The Golden Gate Atelier challenges students to make meaningful images for our time and gives them the tools to do so. The visually-based anatomy and écorché program is one of the finest in the country. The composition program includes both decorative design and narrative painting. Art history and humanities courses introduce the great paintings and ideas of the Western tradition. Every graduate produces a diploma painting that is a culmination of his or her time at the atelier. As a result, graduates are well placed to succeed as professional artists.


Art Renewal Center former scholarship winner Andrew Ameral is the Director of the Golden Gate Atelier. Andrew studied at the Florence Academy of Art, where he was a Principle Drawing Instructor and Director of Anatomy. A graduate of California College of Arts and Crafts (CCAC), Andrew taught in at the San Francisco Academy of Art University and worked as a professional illustrator. He has led anatomy workshops at the Grand Central Academy, Academy of Realist Art and other ateliers. Andrew's painting has been featured in The Artist's Magazine.

Sean Forester, Golden Gate Atelier Instructor and Director of Humanities and Compostion, studied at Cecil Studios and the Florence Academy of Art, where he was Director of Art History, Humanities, and Composition. Sean has a B.A. from The Great Books Program at St. John's College and an M.A. from Cambridge University where he was a Rotary Scholar. He has lectured at the Grand Central Academy and taught at Sarum Studios in England.

The Tradition

The Golden Gate Atelier is part of a lineage that goes back to Jaques-Louis David. They are honored to be part of this great tradition and to teach it to a select group of students.

Drawing Program

The Golden Gate Atelier is dedicated to the highest standards of draftsmanship. Students begin with Charles Bargue's Drawing Course. Ameral and Forester studied with Daniel Graves (who rediscovered the Bargue lithographs in 1982) and Simona Dolci, perhaps the world's expert on the Drawing Course. Next, students work from the Golden Gate Atelier Cast Collection, the best on the West Coast. The casts are sourced directly from Italy and coordinated with the Drawing Course so students can draw from the same sculptures as Bargue. When these foundations have been mastered, students move on to charcoal portraits and figure drawings from life using sight-size. This time-tested program gives students a high degree of skill.

The Golden Gate Atelier is one of the few classical ateliers that includes conceptually-based structural drawing. They believe it is essential to draw from life and to be able to construct the figure from one's imagination. Students learn the basics of perspective and how to construct the figure with geometric forms and their knowledge of anatomy.

Painting Program

Painting at the Golden Gate Atelier is based on craftsmanship and proven classical techniques. Students learn the limited palette before moving on to full color for portraiture, still life, and landscape. They are taught to represent nature faithfully by using a mosaic of specific shapes and color values- each shape defining a specific plane and relating to the whole. Students study how edge variety creates atmosphere; they create color harmony by using subtle differences in warms and cool tones.

Composition, Humanities, and Art History Program

The Golden Gate Atelier is the only atelier to offer a comprehensive Humanites, Art History, and Composition Program. The composition course is based on nineteenth century manuals. Sean Forester created a series of exercises beginning with still life and landscape, and moving to multi-figure composition. The humanities program is a survey of Western culture as it applies to visual artists. Forester based the course on the Great Books Program. Weekly art history lectures focus on the masters of classical painting from Titian and Rembrandt to Degas and Sargent.

Artistic Anatomy and Ecorche

Andrew Ameral offers a visually-based anatomy and écorché course. Ameral is one of the leading experts on artistic anatomy. He has taught écorché for more than 10 years and developed the anatomy program at the Florence Academy of Art.

Contact email
Founded 2002
Course languages English
Part-Time Instructors 15
Accommodation Yes

Part time: EUR 8820 / year

Full time: EUR 12600 / year

Golden Gate Atelier

Oakland, United States

Portrait of Eva by Andrew Ameral

Portrait of Nestor by Andrew Ameral

Valentina by Andrew Ameral

Study of Simona by Andrew Ameral

Greta by Andrew Ameral

Portrait by Andrew Ameral

Roses by Sean Forester by Sean Forester

Figure drawing by Dave Woodside

Cast Drawing by Robert Gale

Cast Drawing by Tess White

Portrait of Mathew by Sean Forester

Portrait of Giuseppe by Sean Forester

24 July 2017 to 28 July 2017

Gesture Drawing & Figure Block-in Boot Camp

4432 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

The initial “block-in” creates the essential foundation for accurate realistic figure drawing, yet is a step often neglected by artists. In this intensive workshop, students will work from the live model and practice methods for creating a successful block-in. Students will also work from the model on short (3 minute) poses to develop and hone their gesture drawing approaches and techniques.

31 July 2017 to 10 August 2017

Still Life Painting: The Classical Tradition

4432 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

This workshop will explore the classical “impressionistic” still life tradition of 19th century French artists in the manner of Chardin and Emil Carlsen. Lectures will focus on composition, color harmony and technique. The second part of this workshop, students will work on the set up and painting of their own still life compositions in the studio.

29 July 2017 to 13 August 2017

Master Copy as Inspiration

4432 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

Copying a master painting in the Louvre was central to the training of 19th century atelier students in Paris. While we can’t do our copies at the Louvre, we can still learn a great deal from the old masters. In this workshop, each student will choose a master painting and study the picture making process through drawing and creating color studies from the master. Students will then create and work on their own compositions inspired by their masterpiece studies.

14 August 2017 to 24 August 2017

Part-Time Summer Term

4432 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

The Golden Gate Atelier’s part-time program offers an excellent alternative to students who are unable to commit to our full-time atelier. Class meets one day per week during each academic trimester and is open to students with any level of experience. The part-time program introduces students to the basics of the classical atelier drawing and painting methodology taught in the first two years of the full-time program. The summer term is open to all new and established students.

08 September 2017 to 17 September 2017

Intensive Figure Drawing Workshop

4432 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

Students in this intensive workshop will work from the live model in graphite with the aim of creating a full finished rendering of the human figure. We will focus on the same fundamental aspects of the classical realist method taught in the GGA’s full and part time programs, including creation of the “block-in” and the orderly rendering of shadow shapes and light values. In the workshop, students will have the opportunity to work alongside GGA Director Andrew Ameral and to observe his real-time execution of these methods and drawing techniques.

02 October 2017 to 12 February 2018

Bay Area/Écorché 3D Anatomy Workshop for Artists

4432 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

2700 USD

The study of écorché aims to enhance an artist’s understanding of how bones and muscles impact the surface of the skin and create form. The prime focus of the course is to help artists understand and approach a wide range of challenges and dilemmas they are likely to encounter when working from a live model, whether drawing, painting, sculpting or creating digital art.