The KOH Atelier is a drawing and painting boot camp that emphasizes hard work, hands-on practice and a sense of urgency and concentration when creating. The atelier focuses heavily on observational drawing and painting. To that end, a model is available three weeks out of every month during the afternoons. In the mornings, you work onsite in the studio, continuing assigned and personal projects, giving you guided instruction but creative freedom.

Kang-O’Higgins gives slide presentations, lectures and technical demonstrations that help you add to your arsenal of skills as you learn to place your work into a wider historical and contemporary context. Topics covered include line and tone, light and shadow, color theory and mixing, composition, proportion and anatomy, as well as the different approaches to drawing and painting from life and observation. There are two formal life-drawing teaching sessions and two instructed studio sessions each week. The atelier also includes group outings and field trips and hosts guest speakers during the year.

Building Foundation Skills

The core elements of drawing and painting are the same no matter the level at which you start. The aim of the Kang-O’Higgins Atelier is to equip students with a thorough working knowledge of the fundamental elements. As such, learning in the atelier progresses in stages. We all learn at different paces; your transition from one phase to the next depends on a firm grounding in the phase before.

The depiction of any object (life model, cast model or still life) necessarily involves a search for its essential nature. The right balance of technical knowledge and accuracy combined with perception or gesture are vital in the expression of this essential nature. These issues are important not just as an end unto themselves, but as a means to an end. The aim of this program is to produce pictures, not just life studies, and to give full vent to one’s own pictorial expression.

Independent Study

Students work on independent projects that increase in complexity as time progresses, and have the option of individual instruction as well as group or private critiques. You are encouraged to take full advantage of your studio time and to participate in supplemental classes, such as visiting lectures and field trips to museums, galleries, artists’ studios and extended overnight tours. You complete an independent work project by the end of each quarter, take part in a quarterly review of your work, and submit work for exhibitions hosted by Gage or Gage-sponsored exhibitions at independent galleries.

Phase I

Value Studies: Value steps in drawing and painting, tonal studies, focal points.
Light Studies: Shadow globes, planes of light in the head and figure including ambient, projected and reflected light as well as the overall envelope of light, focal points.
Measurement and Sighting: Head sizing, comparison lines, cross comparisons, sight sizing, block-in, analytical drawing of lines and angles.
Master Copies: Work of contemporary and past masters, to be understood, learned from and reproduced through drawing and painting throughout the year; on-site museum copying.
Research Project: Catalogue folder of three images from 10 draftspeople and 10 painters; set goals for own work.
Reading List: Suggested and required reading material pertinent to art practice, theory and history.
Cast Drawing and Drafting Methods: Block-in using pencil and charcoal, wipe-out in charcoal.
Life Drawing: Drafting methods, gesture drawing (urgency), blind drawing, sustained drawing, block-in (over-cuts, outline and negative space), working from inside-out (outline reduction and the emergent figure), line and tone, open and closed form (passage), light (focal points), differences between pictures and studies, sculptural understanding versus pictorial understanding, poster studies, focal point, how you see versus what you see, memory drawing.
Anatomy & Proportion: Torso including ribcage and pelvis, head, hands, feet, limbs, function and form, weight, cross cuts.
Figural Structure: Planar conception of the figure, geometric conception of the figure, sculpting geometric figure constructions, sculptural understanding of form.
Historical Drawing Techniques (Optional): Drawings using metal-point (copper and silver), soap-stone, red chalk, white chalk and ash.

Phase II

Cast Painting: Block-in, wipe-out, monotone painting, grisaille, cast as still life (limited to full-color), paint value studies/value scale, color charts, color light studies.
Master Copies: Contemporary and old master paintings to be copied and understood, on-site and museum copying.
Life Painting: Gesture (urgency), light, block-in, wipe-out, inside-out, monotone, grisaille, warm/cool palette, limited palettes, full-color palettes, color theory, speed work versus sustained work, alla prima versus indirect painting, pictures versus studies.
Portraiture: Light, focal point, block-in, head, hands, feet, half-length and full-length portraits.
Composition: Modes of composition including classical, baroque, gothic, static, dynamic and expressive, multi-figure compositions, focal point.

Phase III

Life-Size Figure Drawing: Composition, sustained drawings, figure in environment, rhythm.
Life-Size Figure Paintings: Composition, sustained drawings, figure in environment, rhythm.
Figure and Environment: Focal point, rhythms of piece.
Multi-Figure Compositions: Expands on life drawing and life painting as well as life-size drawing and life-size painting.
Memory Drawings: Drawing the figure from memory, visualization techniques.
Figure in Free Fall and Imaginative Compositions: Geometric conceptualization of figure, visualization technique and spatial rotation.
Art Theory and Practice: Discussion groups, field trips, school, gallery and studio visits, extended tours; reading list; your work as part of the conversation that is art; group, individual and buddy critiques; guest speakers and suggested supplemental courses.
Personal Project: Art project, an exploration and culmination of research and practice of art, your personal vision, leading to public exhibition of work.




Gage Academy of Art acknowledges the Coast Salish Peoples as the original inhabitants of this area and connecting waterways. We understand the land that Gage occupies is unceded territory and that today many Indigenous peoples live here and without their stewardship, we would not have access to this space. We honor the Coast Salish Peoples’ sovereignty, rights to self-determination, culture and ways of life. Since time immemorial, Indigenous peoples have called this territory their sacred land. We commit to learning, educating others and repairing the legacy of historically harmful relationships between non-Native and Native peoples in King County. In doing so, we will be honest, and recognize the experiences of Native peoples to include genocide, forced relocation, forced assimilation, and land theft. We also acknowledge Native peoples are survivors, present in today’s world, thriving. We encourage everyone here today to ask themselves: what can I do to support Indigenous communities?

In an effort to be transparent, Gage is contemplating this call to action and re-working how to best support Indigenous communities.

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