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Academy of Realist Art (ARA)



901 Lawrence Avenue West, Third Floor, Toronto, ON, Canada

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ARA has locations in Toronto, Ottawa, and Boston

The Academy of Realist Art (ARA) is one of a select few private institutions in the world that teaches drawing and painting in the old master tradition. We model our curriculum and teaching techniques on the 19th-century European academies with the aim of helping students achieve the highest caliber of skills possible. The foundations we provide can help professionals and amateurs alike achieve exceptional results well beyond their expectations.

ARA's highly successful, step-by-step process teaches students at all levels, from beginner to advanced, to develop realist painting skills. When completed, our four-level program, which is available on a full- or flexible part-time basis, will enable the graduate to approach the most challenging drawing and painting projects with confidence and skill, regardless of their chosen style and medium. Individual instruction is offered in a friendly, supportive and pressure-free group setting where students can learn at their own pace. The only pre-requisites are an interest in drawing and painting, and a willingness to try.

Our progressive curriculum is designed to build on achievements gained at each stage. These stages include:

  • Charles Bargue drawings in graphite
  • Charcoal cast drawings
  • Monochromatic and color cast paintings
  • Full colour still life paintings

Students at all levels also receive instruction in working from the live model throughout the program. Life drawing and painting classes are offered several times a week to accommodate different schedules and needs.

Currently our certificate program is offered in Toronto, Boston, and Ottawa. ARA also offers a number of highly-popular workshops, running from 2 days to 2 weeks where participants can develop high level skills in a range of academic styles and media, from Old Master techniques and red chalk drawing to portrait, figure, still life and landscape painting.

ARA also offers instructional videos on Drawing the Figure, The Bargue Drawing Companion, and In the Studios of the French Academies. Visit our website to find out more.

Founded 1997
Course languages English,Spanish
Instructors Fernando Freitas, Juan Carlos Martinez, Ryan Gauvin, Marc Colangelo, Mark Daniels, Esteban Rodriguez
Part-Time Instructors 4
Full-Time Instructors 2
Students 120
Accommodation Yes

Part time: CAN 285 / month

Full time: CAN 585 / month

Academy of Realist Art (ARA)

2968 Dundas Street West, Second Floor

Toronto, Ontario, M6P 1Y8, Canada

Fernando Freitas

Principal Instructor

The Director and Senior Instructor at the Academy of Realist Art, Fernando Freitas has close to 20 years of teaching experience. He also conducts drawing and painting workshops throughout North America and Europe, as well as works on portrait commissions. Most recently, his work can be seen on the hit NBC show Hannibal. Fernando has produced three highly regarded instructional videos: Drawing the FigureThe Bargue Drawing Companion, and In the Studios of the French Academies, all of which are available for purchase here.

Ryan Gauvin

Senior Instructor

Senior Instructor Ryan Gauvin engages in projects ranging from small, intimate drawings to etchings. Many of Ryan’s works hang in group shows as well as in private homes. Ryan is currently working on a number of commissioned projects including portraits and landscapes.

Esteban Rodriguez


An avid artist since childhood, Esteban Rodriguez began copying the Renaissance masters at the age of 12. He believes that realism in art allows him to “communicate with poetic beauty the ideas and passions of shared humanity”. Esteban received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Cuba before joining ARA. He brings to the role of instructor strong realistic representational skills in a variety of mediums. His works have been shown in exhibitions in Toronto and Cuba.

Miriam Rosenthal


Miriam is an award-winning realist artist, having won first place in the 2018 Art Renewal Centre (ARC) Scholarship contest and placing as a finalist for multiple pieces in the prestigious international ARC Salon. She knew from an early age that realist art is her passion, and she completed the full program at ARA while inspiring her peers to raise their standards to new levels. She continues to share her craft as an instructor and notes that teaching allows her to share what she most loves with her students.

Marco Colangelo


“Marco” Colangelo joined ARA in 1998 after graduating from the Ontario College of Art and Design with a degree in fine art. A specialist in portraiture, figurative work and dream imagery, Marco has participated in group shows, and has sold a number of his works to private collectors. Marco mainly focuses on helping students master sketching and life drawing skills. Marco also teaches figurative drawing and painting at Humber College.

Self Portrait by instructor Esteban Rodriguez

Self Portrait by Instructor Miriam Rosenthal

Portrait Drawing by Principal Instructor Fernando Freitas

Portrait Drawing by Senior Instructor Ryan Gauvin

Still Life Painting by Larissa Dedkova

Still Life Painting by Rita Chlebus

Still Life Painting by Barbara Cufino

Cast Painting by Faezeh Razavi

Charcoal Cast Drawing by Omeed Jasar

10 July 2021 to 31 July 2021

Perspective Drawing at Home (Saturday Mornings)

250 CAN

4 spots left!

The art of perspective has been used by various masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, J.M.W. Turner, and Gustave Caillebotte. In this workshop, students will study master drawings and paintings as well as real-life photos to learn one-point, two-point, and three-point perspectives. Learning the art of perspective will provide a framework that allows students to logically depict the three-dimensional world onto a two-dimensional surface.

Assignments will be given at the end of each lecture every week which will be critiqued by the instructor the following class.

This 4-week virtual workshop will convene through Zoom video conferencing on Saturdays.