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About the School

At the Rob Gutteridge School of Classical Realism (RGCR), students are taught to make accurate and beautiful realistic drawings and paintings. They learn the techniques, develop the skills, and acquire the knowledge of materials to achieve classical realism in drawing, painting and sculptural anatomy. The range and depth of the school’s courses are coordinated in a purposeful study program, making it a unique place to study classical realism in Australia.

The term “classical realism” originated with Minneapolis artist Richard Lack in 1982. When Rob Gutteridge was setting up the RGCR, the term appealed to him because it connected two opposing philosophies of art: the idealisation of classicism with the factual nature of realism. It corresponded precisely to the conceptual and perceptual basis of his training methods, as well as the tenets of art history it linked them to.

At the RGCR Rob Gutteridge has designed an integrated curriculum of subjects and lessons based on the training methods of 19th Century French academies. Through a sequence of exercises, students move from simple to increasingly complex tasks. It is a slow but thorough learning process. The emphasis is on teaching competency and proficiency in each task, before moving on to the next. In this teaching model, learning is an accumulative process. There is no rush or time limit to complete a Level or a Subject. Students proceed at their own pace. Quality is the only measure of success.

The RGCR is an atelier style school. “Atelier” is the French word for studio. It denotes both a location for learning, and a practice-lead form of teaching. The contemporary resurgence in atelier schools internationally, indicates two things: students’ unflagging interest in learning the observational skills, techniques, methods, and materials required to make realistic drawings and paintings, and the current availability of capable artist/teachers.

Each atelier Director has control and oversight of the educational program design, and is responsible for the highest standards in teaching and learning. The Director is invariably the senior teacher, imparting knowledge, teaching skills, and motivating students to raise expectations of what they can achieve. The Director also mentors and teaches studio assistants, teaching them how to teach.

While common purposes link atelier schools, each is distinctive. An atelier inevitably reflects the interests and expertise of its Director, in curriculum design and subject availability. Rob Gutteridge’s career-long visual investigation of the human figure, through drawing, painting, and sculptural anatomy places it at the heart of his school. The aim of the RGCR is to fully equip and enable students to make realistic drawings and paintings to the highest standard. For this to happen, students need depth and breadth in their education. At RGCR, the accumulative, step-by-step teaching model provides depth, and the range of twenty subjects provides breadth. All this takes dedication and time to acquire.

Teaching certain subjects requires specialist knowledge – artistic anatomy, and écorché (anatomical sculpture of a flayed figure) for example. Both are taught at RGCR. In Australia, training in artistic anatomy has been hard to come by, and teaching écorché became extinct. Rob Gutteridge is self-taught in both fields, reviving a studio practice dating back to the Renaissance. A student with anatomical knowledge brings understanding to their perception of the human figure, thereby altering what is seen, and consequently enriching and improving their drawing and painting.

RGCR is unique in Australia for a number of reasons:

  • It offers a comprehensive, coherent, sequenced educational programme in classical realism, designed to organise student learning from the simple to the complex. This facilitates a logical, easy transition from novice, to intermediate, to advanced levels of learning and professional practice.
  • It has the human figure as the central theme around which subjects are organised and taught.
  • Flexible tuition based on year round enrolment on a monthly basis (no terms or semesters).
  • An in-depth, comprehensive course in classical écorché (anatomical sculpture of a flayed figure) with an approach similar to the Lanteri method.
  • A dedicated 4-subject program in human anatomy for artists combining perceptual drawing, conceptual drawing, and sculptural anatomy (écorché).
  • Analytic figure drawing: constructive, conceptual figure drawing of form and structure exploring the anatomical architecture of the figure.
  • Perceptual and conceptual figure drawing taught in complementary roles. Internationally, it is rare to find observational drawing (perceptual drawing), taught alongside analytic, constructive figure drawing (conceptual drawing).
  • An aspiration at the current inception phase of the atelier: the Director’s Mentorship – at the completion of the entire program, and at the discretion of the Director, a student will be invited to work alongside the Director to be mentored by him for 1 year. The mentorship is full time, and tuition is free.

Welcome to the school.

Rob Gutteridge, Director. 2016


Rob Gutteridge

Rob Gutteridge, Director / Teacher, RGCR, photographed at Rimbun Dahan, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 2011, where he was artist in residence for the year.

View Rob’s full curriculum vitae (PDF)