The Figurative Core

Creative training for serious artists of any level of experience.

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

Featuring both in-studio and online study options.

The Teaching Studios of Art® introduces the Figurative Core™, a monthly 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, wth assistance from other faculty of  the Teaching Studios.

The program provides a firm foundation in Still Life, Portrait and Figure Drawing and Painting. Uniquely, we encourage creativity on the part of each artist by assigning creative projects in the curriculum from the very beginning. We can help make you the best artist you can possibly be.

For the online study option, click here.

How we are different

The Figurative Core 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?

Interested in applying to to this program? Call 516-558-7367 or email us at

rob at work in studio

The Figurative Core™ Program Schedule

In-Studio Option – (For the online option, click here.)

The Figurative Core™ Program – The Curriculum

Designed to foster real artistic growth, The Figurative Core™ Program trains artists in both the foundational basics of drawing and painting from life and provides a framework to make their own creative figurative art work, simultaneously. The program will require students to work for 6 hours, 3 days a week: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays, with a specific emphasis on a different aspect of and training each day. The program will be taught by primarily by Teaching Studios Founder and Director Rob Zeller, with assistance from other faculty. While we will not reveal the specifics of the curriculum here, we will provide a general outline.

Tuesdays -10:30am- 1:30pm This day will be focused on precision training of both hand and eye. Students will copy Bargue plates, Old Master Drawings and work from plaster casts of Classical statues. Upon approval from the instructor, students will then move on to painting casts in grisaille (monochrome) oil paint. As students progress in the curriculum, they learn still life painting and the fundamentals of composition. Students will work in both indirect and alla prima  painting methods.

Tuesdays, 2-5pm. Old Master Copy continues the time-honored tradition of learning from the Old Masters by copying their great works. 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. Once a month, Art History will also be discussed, covering a different time period each lecture. Lessons will be also be given in such basics as stretching canvases, preparing panels, making mediums, and developing a working method that is both archival and safe.

Wednesdays 6 hours-10:30am- 5:30pm will be focused on working from the live model- both in portrait and figure drawing and painting. Working from the live model is key to any type of traditional training of the artist’s vision. Zeller will use the foundational basics he teaches in his book, The Figurative Artist’s Handbook, which will be the main Program textbook, in addition to a few others.

Thursdays- 5 hours 10:30am- 3:30pm Being an artist means making art, plain and simple. That process should not be stopped during traditional training, but rather encouraged. While getting traditional training on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Thursdays will be devoted to fostering student’s creativity. Students will begin working out thumbnail sketches of ideas for composition. They will then do some color studies, and, finally a finished, original creative project.

Students may pursue any subject matter they wish, and work 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. This is a day to put the traditional training into practice, in one own creative work. How that manifests itself is up to the individual.

Zeller will act as both mentor and consultant on Thursdays. It is important that students develop independent voices as they learn to put their training to use. Zeller will not micromanage student projects, but will be available on an as-needed basis.



The program is sold on a monthly basis. Tuition is $650 a month. Students in the program will pay tuition on the first class day of every month. The program will run for 10 months out of the year Jan – June, Sept- Dec. The program will not run in July and August. Program students may take other classes outside of the program at a 15% discount (excluding workshops).


Absences can be made up on any  class on our schedule (excepting children’s classes) Check with Rob Zeller first, for availability.

Working from photos

Students may work from photos  on their creative projects. Traditional training on Tuesdays and Wednesdays is done without the use of photographs. The point of traditional training is fluid accuracy when working from life. To attain the ability to draw and paint both perceptually and conceptually, there are no short cuts.