Syllabus Overview

Small class sizes can allow the progress to go at the pace of the student and individual instruction has always been a key element of JAAS. Teachers will work in concert so that there is a clear progression of skill attainment at each stage towards a goal of mastery in drawing and painting. 

This will focus the student on working towards the goal of mastery in drawing and painting, which will be formally recognised by JAAS by awarding a Diploma. The time period may vary according to prior experience, dedication and available time.

Once initial skills have been acquired some stages could be studied concurrently. Also, there is no time limit – some students will progress some stages much faster than other students. It is up to the individual teachers to apply their knowledge and experience to help each student move towards the goal while having a solid foundation to build on at each stage. Teachers can use the syllabus as a tool to help each other, while applying their individual experience, knowledge and skills to help students achieve their goals as efficiently as possible.

The syllabus is based on the classical atelier system that has been successfully applied throughout history, where the goal is the attainment of skill rather than a qualification. It is also important to have formal recognition of attainment by JAAS, both for the student to measure progress as well as for the school to demonstrate to prospective students the value of a JAAS Diploma.

Class Protocols

Students should arrive for their class within and no earlier than 10 minutes of the scheduled start time and use the COVID app to check-in before attendance. Late arrivals may need to wait until the next break to prevent interruptions to the class. Space is limited, so please do not bring unnecessary personal items or leave any equipment on the floor to prevent trip hazards.

Students are not permitted to use mobile phones during class time unless it is to listen to music while working. All phones should be switched to silent otherwise.

There are no lunchroom facilities at the school, however there are many cafes and restaurants in the local area. Please avoid bringing food, drink or perfume into the studio.

We are a solvent free environment with limited space so brushes need to be taken home for cleaning. See the manual for tips on mediums, palette and brush cleaning that are solvent free which will also extend the life of your brushes. The prohibition on using solvents in the School includes all spray or brush on fixatives for dry media, so drawings need to be taken home or outside for any fixative treatment. Glassine paper can be used to cover drawings to take home with loose media such as charcoal and pastel.

The following is an overview of projects that may be done by the student with guidance by instructors. Although there is a general sequence, often students may benefit from a more iterative approach. For example, figure sketching in one session can help inform drawing from casts and vice versa.

  • Drawing from the Flat. Master copies in various dry media such as graphite, charcoal, sanguine/pastel.
    • Foundation elements include setting up the easel, selection and positioning of the paper and easel, how to hold the pencil, sharpening of the tools, measuring instruments weaknesses and strengths, the reasons for these processes and decisions.
    • Placement of the subject on the paper.
    • Apply sight-size and comparative methods of measurement in order to view the subject accurately. Standing back, squinting and flicking between subject and drawing.
    • Create an accurate simplified linear outline(envelope) and utilise techniques for checking element positions such as extending lines through intersection points vertically and horizontally.
    • Develop skill in seeing, identifying and rendering simplified value scales and applying them to the copy.
    • Learn different effects of dry media marks on different papers.
  • Drawing in the Round. Using the same materials as Drawing in the Flat and building on those skills. Casts should be setup with a strong single light source and a plain contrasting background, with simplified casts drawn first to develop skills and confidence. Advanced students can experiment with composing different lighting setups for areas of subtler transitions.
    • Create an accurate “envelope” or outline in proportion.
    • Gain an initial understanding of perspective.
    • Understand lighting concepts and how it effects the rendering of form.
    • Identify the line between light and shade.
    • Identify, simplify and design shapes of light and shade and “big form modelling”.
    • Learn to compress dark and light values.
    • Understanding perspective, parallax and viewer position changes on the the drawing.
    • Work on toned paper with chalk and charcoal, maintain a clear value range between the chalk and charcoal.
    • Design and simplify shapes for convincing drapery studies of different weight materials.
    • Use variety of edges to enhance form.
  • Figure Drawing. Extending the cast drawing skills and applying them to the live model
    • Create a simplified outline of the model.
    • Understand common proportional ratios.
    • Use a simplified scaffolding model of the main masses to build a figure drawing with weight, balance, proportion and identify planes and shadow shapes.
    • Build on the scaffolding model with more anatomical knowledge and how the main muscle groups affect shadow shapes and the anatomical differences between male and female skeletal and muscle groups.
    • Develop a strong sense of gesture, character and movement.
    • Create ecorche drawings of the model and studies of the skeleton.
    • Draw the figure from an opposite view than is seen to develop memory and anatomical skills.
    • Drawing a portrait in graphite, charcoal and toned paper.
    • Understand the different historical contexts of figure drawing and anatomical studies. Different proportions, males as female models, figure drawing techniques through the ages and proportional ratios as compositional techniques.
  • Painting. Building on the drawing skills in the earlier stages, students will develop skills in handling oil paint.
    • Introduction to the materials and safe handling of oil painting media, tools, supports and brushes. Eg which brush types suit which supports and reasons and history of successes and failures of different pigments, mediums and supports.
    • Prepartory drawing and transfer techniques and why.
    • Starting with a simple grisaille palette of black and white, develop skills in mixing value strings on the palette and applying the paint to a cast rendering with an increasing complexity of casts.
    • Mix a palette of warm, neutral and cool value strings using black, white, and Raw Umber to create a warm/cool tonal paintings of casts.
    • Properties of different pigments, mediums, oils, grounds and varnishes, how they impact drying times, painting longevity, safety, problems, solutions and myths.
    • Introduce Yellow Ochre and Vermillion (or Light Red) for a limited colour palette execution of cast paintings and simple still life setups.
    • Painting from memory exercises and master copies.
    • More complex still life arrangements developing skill in composition and painting different textures and materials in full colour.
    • Alla Prima, Direct with multiple layers and Indirect painting techniques and how these techniques developed and changed throughout history.
  • Figure Painting. Applying the skills learnt in the Painting stage to the figure.
    • Execution of nude studies in grisaille, warm/cool grisaille and limited colour palette to develop solid foundation skills in figure painting.
    • Full colour palette figure paintings including drapery.
    • Understanding of historical figurative composition, techniques, methods and styles of figure painters throughout history.
    • Full colour figure paintings in an environment using prepartory drawings, block-in, direct and indirect methods.
    • Composition and execution of full colour portrait paintings clothed in an environment.

Syllabus Overview