Going to an Art Academy – My Experience

Posted by on Mar 18, 2017 in Opinion, Uncategorized | 2 comments

Hey guys – as many of you know in January I started at the Swedish Academy of Realist Art. It is a private school located in the artistic Osterlen town of Simrishamn run by Hans-Peter Szameit and Sanna Tomac. I will admit, it was such a whirlwind getting accepted into the school only weeks before term started – I walked in on the first day a blank canvas, not sure what to expect.


First day of school - SARA


So, I thought I would share with you my experience so far – going on 3 months at the school! I went in with prior artistic experience, I had been completely self taught but working professionally within the industry. Within the first few days we were introduced to our first project – Bargues. Oh Bargues….what a thing. Charles Bargue was an amazing oil painter who lived and worked in the 1800s. Art academies in his day were unhappy with the results students were producing and blamed the models 😛 They asked Mr. Bargue to create a series of lithographs for the students to copy … and we are still copying them to this day. 



Here is the 1st years workspace – these are our 2nd Bargues which took around a month to complete. I will be honest with you  – Bargues are not for the faint of heart! There have been breakdowns, a few tears and a couple of angry fits since beginning these. They need to not just be copied to a good likeness, they need to be copied down to a fraction of a milimeter. This is alot harder than one may think and it can be a frustrating process. BUT – it does have a purpose. They train the eyes very well to notice subtle differences. Curves, relations, proportions and even soft rendering – these are all things you slowly notice better and better after working on them. 


Figure Bargue


Another Bargue project are his Figure drawings. An example of one is pictured above. In order to be able to go into the model room to draw a live nude model (which typically students do Monday to Thursday every morning) you first must copy 15 of these bad boys. 5 perfectly sized, 5 from afar and 5 enlargened. These copies aren’t as tough, you just need to get the basic proportions and gesture of the figure. After completing my 15 this past week I was surprised when joining the figure workshop that my figure drawing was VASTLY improved. Truly, I could see relationships and proportions so much easier and clearer. It took me a little over a month to complete them all but it was well worth it.


Miles Johnston teaching portrait


We also have done several other various projects – Fridays are usually reserved for portraits, or in our case skulls. In order to be able to draw portraits we first must pass several Skull copy tests. But also we have done gesture model drawing, outside sketching, business lectures, anatomy workshops and more. It’s a lot of information, a lot of knowledge and all of it so valuable in its own way.

One thing which I think is very special about the school is its teachers. We have several young teachers who actually work within the pop surrealism and magical realism styles. I  mean, what are the chances?! For example Miles Johnston , James Cowper and Theodora Capat – all very talented and skilled artists who work in the same circle as I have.

So what’s my general impression then of the school and what it is like attending an art academy? It is very hard work first and foremost. These are very hardworking students who need to push boundaries everyday to reach the level of perfection asked of them at the school. But the results are pretty clear. It is a difficult method to undertake and the faculty appreciate that (which is why they reward us with fun breaks and also offer tons of after school activities for students) but they know that what comes out of it is a real visual understanding of the world around us.


graphite portrait


I feel so much more confident with my artistic expression, with trusting my sight and vision and with mediums I previously disliked (graphite and now charcoal!). And that is after only 3 months of attending the school. It is a warm welcoming place, primarily full of vegetarians like myself, lots of interesting discussions and various styles across the board. I would recommend it to anyone who really wants to become a better technically skilled artist. I emphasize this because I had looked into several Bachelor of Fine Arts programs around Sweden beforehand but they were so generalized I can’t imagine actually getting close to the education I am getting now. They putter around with photography, sculpture, and maybe painting for 2 weeks a year… so you may know several things a little but at this school you will know drawing and painting as an expert. I don’t doubt it.


Theodora Capat demoing a portrait


So there you have it. It is a hardworking but wonderfully educational fine art school down on the coast of Sweden. It is actually an international school so all instruction is in English – if you are interested in applying do so! There are students from all over attending, so it’s a real cool mish mash of a place.

Hope you guys are having a wonderful weekend, I am going to get on to some personal projects now (woo!) and hey leave me any comments or questions below! I’d be happy to answer or asked the wonderful headmistress of the school if I don’t know ^_^ <3


  1. Thanks for sharing all this Christina. Your chronicling of your latest journey and embedded school review is wonderful. Can’t wait for the next installments!

    • Thank you Yousef! I hope to write another post once my first semester is done ^_^ Hope all is well and thanks for keeping up with my journey!

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