The Figurative Core- Online

Creative online training for serious artists of any level of experience.

The next step in figurative art education. A complete online program, designed to make you a better artist

The Teaching Studios of Art® introduces the Figurative Core™ Online, a tailor made, online program designed to not only be the most effective at training artists in the traditional techniques of drawing and painting, but also in developing each artist’s original and creative vision.  It is taught by Rob Zeller, author of The Figurative Artist’s Handbook and the Director of the Teaching Studios of Art.

The program provides a firm foundation in traditional techniques. Uniquely, we also encourage creativity on the part of each artist by assigning creative projects in the curriculum from the very beginning. Zeller will act as both mentor and consultant as students develop their original concepts.

To register, click here.

How we are different

The Figurative Core™ Online Program is built on three fundamental principles:

1. Good drawing skills are the basis of all compelling figurative art. A figurative artist should be trained in solid academic drawing techniques in order to be able to express themselves effectively. This takes serious training.

2.Good painting skills are built on good drawing skills. A figurative artist should then be able to paint in a realistic manner convincingly, as well. This also takes serious training.

3. Creativity and originality are just as important to develop as technique. Making original work that expresses one’s own unique, personal voice is challenging. Creativity needs to be worked on from the very beginning to effectively be integrated into an artist’s training. If it’s worth saying, it’s worth saying well.

A picture is worth a thousand words

Prior to the 20th Century, all figurative artists were trained in how to tell stories. There was no photography or film to do so. In the aftermath of Modernism, the Illustrators carried on with pictoral narratives,  and the ateliers carried on with keeping academic techniques alive. The net result was a divide between the two. The time is long past to reunite the two hemispheres of figurative art. And, in fact, its already happening organically with artists who naturally fuse the two. This program represents a logical progression in the development of art eduction.

If you think you have something to say with your art, we can help you develop the skills to do so.

How can I sign up?

To register online, click here.

rob at work in studio

The Figurative Core™ Online Program Schedule

Online Option – (For the in person, studio option, click here.)

The Figurative Core™ Program – The Curriculum

The program is sold weekly, in blocks of four. The weeks do not need to be taken consecutively. There can be space between, but not exceeding one month between weeks.

The program will require students to work on a specific project, and a course of study that is tailor-made specifically for them. The program will be taught by Teaching Studios Founder and Director Rob Zeller. As each artist’s needs will vary by the individual, we will not list the specifics of the curriculum here, but rather provide a general outline.

Homework and Creative Assignments

This program is tailored to the individual needs of the artist.


Technical Skills-  If desired, a portion of the homework can focus on improving technical skills. One great way is the precision training of both hand and eye. Students can copy Bargue plates, Old Master Drawings and work from plaster casts of Classical statues. Students could then move on to painting casts in grisaille (monochrome) oil paint. As they progress, students learn still life painting and the fundamentals of composition, working in both indirect and alla prima  painting methods.

Old Master Copies are a good, time-honored  path to learning traditional techniques. Students will choose an Old Master painting or drawing to copy. The instructor will discuss the proper use of brushes, mediums, solvents and varnishes, historical palettes and color schemes. Zeller will use the foundational basics he teaches in his book, The Figurative Artist’s Handbook, which will be the main  textbook, in addition to a few others. These assignments will be sent via email, and critiqued during a private Skype session.

Creative Assignments – This will be the main focus of the program, fostering creativity and personal vision. Zeller will act as both Mentor and Consultant in helping to develop a student’s original creative work. Specific steps of the process will vary by the artist, but generally they will begin working out thumbnail sketches of ideas for a composition. They will then do some color studies, and, finally a finished, original creative project.

Students may pursue any subject matter they wish, either working in a very traditional vein, or a more modern conception, as they see fit. The use of photography, collage or other mixed media in this class is permissible to make artwork. The goal is to put traditional training into practice, in one’s own creative work. How that manifests itself is up to the individual.

Zeller will consult with each student on a weekly basis, via email and by Skype. Each student will receive a 30 minute Skype session per week, at the end of the student’s week. The content and focus of this 30 minutes will vary by the individual needs of the artist. It is important that students develop independent voices as they learn to put their training to use.



The program is sold on a monthly basis.  The first step is to enroll in a trial consult where Zeller will send you an email form to answer, and then he will review your work (via website or emailed imaged). A 30 minute consultation takes place where Zeller will discuss you work and direction. Students who wish to enroll after that point will pay $90 a week, with a 4 week minimum commitment after the initial trial class. The program will run for 10 months out of the year Jan – June, Sept- Dec. The program will not run in July and August.

For new students who would like to try a trial consult for $90,  click here

For returning students to purchase a pack of 4 classes, click here.