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Studio Incamminati, School for Contemporary Realist Art


340 North 12th Street, Suite 400, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

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For more than 15 years, Studio Incamminati has been in the forefront of the burgeoning contemporary realist art movement. Founded by Nelson and Leona Shanks, it is now accredited by the National Assocation of Schools of Art and Design and recognized nationally and internationally for its rigorous curriculum, accomplished instructors and diverse outreach efforts.

The school, modeled on the traditional Italian accademia and French atelier, is committed to the belief that mastery of technique is essential to creative expression. Its innovative curriculum fuses classical traditions of the Renaissance-era masters, luminous color of the Impressionists and a fresh, contemporary sensibility. Its goal is to produce highly skilled artists who call upon their training and abilities to create art with depth of purpose. Its artists, faculty and alumni have been featured at numerous prominent venues including exhibitions at the National Arts Club, Freeman’s, S.R. Brennen Galleries, Manitou Galleries, Avery Galleries, Stanek,Gallery and Philadelphia’s Comcast Center.

The school name is filled with symbolism. In Italian, "Incamminati" means "moving forward." It also invokes the spirit of its namesake studio founded by the great Renaissance artist, Annibale Carraci. Studio Incamminati reflects Founder and Artistic Director Nelson Shanks' commitment to handing this philosophy and techniques to a new generation.

Facilities include 13,000 square feet of renovated studio space bathed in north light, a still life studio, library, art supply store, and common kitchen Advanced Fine Art Program students enjoy 24/7 studio access, free weekly Sunday Open Studio sessions, and discounted Continuing Education classes. The school also offers frequent lectures on subjects such as art history, anatomy, and career progression as well as exhibition opportunities and trips to major museums.

Studio Incamminati is in the heart of Philadelphia's arts district, an ideal setting for pursuing an arts education.  From nearby world-class art museums such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the new Barnes Foundation Museum to the diverse array of galleries, venues and schools, the region is brimming with arts and culture opportunities. The Philadelphia cultural scene is cited as a national leader in supporting the local economy.

Studio Incamminati is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design as an undergraduate Diploma Program.

The Advanced Fine Art Program

The Advanced Fine Art Program, requiring approximately four years of study, is designed for artists of all ages and levels of ability, from professionals seeking to expand their skills to high-school students just embarking on their artistic journey. The program is intended for students who want to become professional fine artists, However, it is also excellent for those seeking superior classical drawing and painting skills vital to other disciplines such as illustration, animation, graphic design and concept art for films, video games, books and other media. Students completing the program receive a Diploma of Fine Art. A part-time option features the same award-winning instructors, rigorous curriculum and dynamic atelier studio setting, but is constructed to fit your busy schedule and your financial situation.

Faculty of Award-Winning Professional Artists

Accomplished instructors are the cornerstone of Studio Incamminati. Faculty consists of professional working artists with on-site studios and visiting faculty who are internationally renowned artists and educators bringing a wide range of experience. Some have studied extensively with Nelson Shanks, while others bring mastery developed in studios around the world. All are award-winning artists dedicated to helping students learn and succeed and providing them with the tools needed to realize a career in the arts.


Studio Incamminati's emphasis on skill and technique goes well beyond the faithful reproduction of an object of study. It strives to unveil the human condition in its complexity and say something profound about us and the world we live in. Studio Incamminati strives to create meaningful art that will inspire generations to come.

The mastery of foundational skills positions the school's artists to be truly creative. The absence of such skills is paralyzing as it restricts the ability to convey the world in which we live. Our students learn to draw and paint the human figure and still life, work with light and shadow, refine form and shape, and interpret and understand color. While indebted to practices of the Old Masters, the curriculum is dynamic, using the paragons of the past to bring enlightened meaning to the present.

International Students

Studio Incamminati welcomes international students. It has enrolled students from five continents and boasts alumni working as professional artists in places as far-flung as India and Israel. Studio Incamminati is authorized to accept non- immigrant students and is part of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), a networked computer system that tracks information on non-immigrant international students and scholars.

Federal Student Aid and Scholarships

To make its education as accessible as possible, Studio Incamminati sets its tuition fees as low as possible. For students who need additional assistance, Studio Incamminati offers scholarships from $3,000 to $5,000 annually and Pell Grants and loan opportunities to eligible students through the Federal Student Aid Program Studio Incamminati is also approved to accept students wishing to use their Veterans Education Benefits.


Students who have successfully completed the Advanced Fine Art Program and Teacher Training Program are eligible to apply to become a Fellow. The Fellows Program allows graduates to continue working toward personal artistic and professional goals while in a mutually beneficial relationship with the school. This optional program also prepares students for future teaching opportunities. In exchange for teaching courses, mentoring other students and other specified duties, fellows receive studio space, payment for instruction and other benefits. 

Continuing Education

These weekly classes are based on the techniques and philosophy taught in the Advanced Fine Art Program. Specific elements are extracted from our curriculum and aimed at practicing artists as well as artists at all levels of experience. These programs allow participants to focus on particular areas of their skill development.


These intensive programs concentrate on a single aspect and allow artists, both working professionals and serious amateurs, to build upon their existing skills and learn new ones. Workshops are day-long classes usually running for five consecutive days. They are taught by Studio Incamminati instructors and carefully selected visiting instructors.

Art Educators Workshops

These week-long workshops introduce teachers to the concepts and methods of drawing and painting as taught at Studio Incamminati. Classes are open to all teachers, with middle and high-school teachers especially encouraged to apply. The content addresses Pennsylvania Academic and National Standards for Art Education and Pennsylvania teachers can earn 30 hours of PDE Act 48 credits. New Jersey teachers can earn state Continuing Education Credits.

In Your Town

Studio Incamminati now brings its popular and innovative workshops to artists around the country.

Emerging Artists

Studio Incamminati offers a rare opportunity for serious high-school art students to learn the fundamentals of life drawing and painting in a traditional atelier environment.

Open Studio

Get a taste of the Studio Incamminati experience at these weekly studio sessions. Artists bring their own supplies to draw or paint from a live model in a studio setting. An easel and taboret are provided.

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Founded 2002
Course languages English
Accreditation National Association of Schools of Art and Design
Part-Time Instructors 15
Students 40
Accommodation Yes

Part time: USD 8820 / year

Full time: USD 12600 / year


Studio Incamminati

340 North 12th Street, Suite 400

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19107, United States

I Wanna Be Adored 3 by Stephen C. Early

Duckboat Shed, Beaton Boatyard by Lea Wight

John by Darren Kingsley

Miranda by Robin Frey

Blind Justice by Leona Shanks

Tori by Natalie Italiano

Carol by Peter Kelsey

Toto and I by Kerry Dunn

Meriam by JaFang Lu

Korean Child's Hanbok by

Worker by Daniel Mahlman

Untitled by Daniel Mahlman

Waiting on the Solstice by Stephen Early

Ellie by Stephen Perkins

Transcendence by Stephen Perkins

The Marble Table by Darren Kingsley

Jason Patrick Jenkins by Kerry Dunn

Girl with a Fur Hat by Nelson Shanks

Fumiko by Joseph Dolderer

Blue Bird by Nelson Shanks

22 July 2019 to 26 July 2019

NEW! Painting the Figure: Face and Head

340 North 12th Street, Suite 500, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

599 USD

Students will learn about retinal/optical painting techniques as well as construction based painting techniques. Both approaches are powerful and we will explore how to know when and why to use either approach.  There will be a strong focus on color and value, with an exploration of strategies for seeing and mixing color. We will talk about objective, journalistic color we need for capturing life, and we will also talk about formal color which necessary for making a harmonic, or dissonant painting depending on our goals.Drawing techniques such as triangulation, halving, the use of verticals and horizontals, and shape visualizations will be discussed, as well as the weaknesses and inadequacies of measuring. Squinting is a powerful tool and students will learn how to get the most out of it, including why and when to use it. 

22 July 2019 to 26 July 2019

NEW! Structural Figure Painting

340 North 12th Street, Suite 500, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

699 USD

This workshop will be a combination of short and long pose figure painting in limited pallette combined with demos and exercises with structural forms and anatomy.

We’ll begin to study the figure with shorter poses combined with occasional demos of simple form and structure.

We’ll finish with a 3 day pose including demos of structural thinking, studies of simple, easily understood forms of several body parts combined with anatomy drawings.

29 July 2019 to 02 August 2019

Portrait Écorché

340 North 12th Street, Suite 500, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107

650 USD

Using the Ecorche method of anatomy study, this class will examine the bone, muscle and cartilage structure of the head and neck. From there it will move on to the morphology and surface form and finally end with the animating nature of facial expressions.

05 August 2019 to 09 August 2019

Key Elements of Portrait Painting

340 North 12th Street, Suite 500, Philadeldelphia, Pennsylvania 19107

599 USD

In this workshop, the instructor discusses what he believes to be the key elements of creating a great portrait. He will discuss creating a concept, formulating good composition and designing of marks, strokes and color. Jeff will also break down the formal process of painting a head into its most basic parts; drawing, value and color. As Jeff Demonstrates daily, he will show his techniques and discuss key principles associated with these three areas. As students paint from a live model each day, Jeff will critique and assist on an individual basis in an effort to help each student complete the workshop a better portrait painter.

05 August 2019 to 08 August 2019

Figure Drawing Immersion

340 North 12th Street, Suite 500, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107

599 USD

This immersive experience is centered on daily demonstrations, hands-on practice and conversations on art. A special focus is on form drawing, studying how light and shade are used to create volume. Students will learn how to start a drawing by focusing on the design and movement. They will develop more precision through a careful block-in drawing and finding shadow shapes.

11 August 2019 to 17 August 2019

Master Portrait Painting

340 North 12th Street, Suite 500, Philadeldelphia, Pennsylvania 19107

899 USD

This workshop will focus on the principles and practice essential to achieve a convincing, dimensional and well-executed portrait in oils. These principles will be analyzed in a logical sequence beginning with block-in and continuing through fine tuning color and value. This is an information-packed workshop geared to the experienced painter. The workshop will cover breaking down the painting process into stages and building the painting through awareness of main angles, masses, structure, anatomical landmarks, values and color relationships, edges and creating a focal point. Working with fabric will also be covered. The workshop will include a morning demo covering the day’s work. I anticipate scheduling two poses depending on the complexity of the chosen composition.

18 August 2019 to 24 August 2019

Master Figure Painting: The Long Pose

340 North 12th Street, Suite 500, Philadeldelphia, Pennsylvania 19107

899 USD

The instructor demonstrates from start to finish over the course of the seven days. Every morning the instructor demos from 9 - 11 a.m.  to introuduce students to their day's work.