Academy of Realist Art (ARA)

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Academy of Realist Art (ARA)



901 Lawrence Avenue West, Third Floor, Toronto, 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 (Check multiple if applicable) 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

Omeed Jasar

Omeed studied for a year at Centennial College and four years at OCAD University, where he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts. Starting his studies at the Academy of Realist Art in September 2017, Omeed was a two-time ARA scholarship winner before joining our faculty in September 2020.

Encountering a lack of focus on technical training during his time in university, Omeed was motivated to seek out an atelier training to learn to could bring the imagery in his mind to life. He values the technical artistic knowledge taught at the Academy, as it deepens the artist’s understanding of the physical world and the relationships of light, form, space, and depth.

“What I love about learning in the atelier manner is that there are no limits to how much further one can push their abilities and knowledge in this manner of art making. My goal is to bring out some of the vivid fantastical imagery from my mind and into the physical world: to use the tools of technical skill and to choose how I wish to utilize and bend the rules at my own will. There really are few limits to how much further this knowledge can be expanded, and I hope to keep absorbing as much as I can.”

Suwhan Lim

Suwhan attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for his undergraduate studies and subsequently pursued independent studies in Paris, Florence, and Rome for a year.

After Suwhan moved back to Canada, he enrolled at the Academy of Realist Art. After one year of study here, Suwhan began teaching the drawing program, including figure and portrait drawing.

Currently, Suwhan is working in the games industry using the great foundational skills acquired at the Academy to create photorealistic 3D models, as well as teaching drawing and painting through virtual classes at ARA. Aside from traditional and 3D art, Suwhan also specializes in helping students prepare their portfolios for their post-secondary applications for their dream schools.

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.

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