If you’ve been wanting to get in touch with your inner artist – or if you are a seasoned artist looking to cultivate your skills further – then there’s no place better to do so than The Atelier at Flowerfield, a not-for-profit organization located in St. James, NY.
The Atelier at Flowerfield is a studio where students can learn art, especially drawing and painting in all media. In addition, the facility also features an art gallery and a website where you can participate in virtual classes and lectures, according to Barbara Beltrami, trustee and vice president since the school first opened in 2015.
“The techniques taught at The Atelier – which is French for “studio” – are in the tradition of the old master artists in Europe who themselves had studios where students would go to learn from the experts,” she said. “We are not strictly traditional, but we certainly lean very hard towards that style. We have some of the finest art instructors on Long Island working for us, some very well-known people.”
The Atelier at Flowerfield offers a place where people of any skill level or age who are serious or curious about art can come, learn the ropes, and have their own unique style and technique developed and nurtured, Barbara said.
“Our school attracts people who have really always wanted to paint, or who are already painters and just want to get better. Most serious artists continue to take lessons because there’s always something to learn,” she said. “I often find, when people suggest going to an art school, the knee-jerk reaction is to get apprehensive…’oh, I couldn’t draw a straight line.’ But even if you can’t draw or paint at all, you can come here and be taken step-by-step through the process at your own pace. You’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish.”
“One can start off not knowing how to draw or paint, but through learning how to use centuries-old tried and true techniques, the important role that light plays, and just how to look at subjects, a new student morphs into an artist and a seasoned artist gets better and better. And much of it is already learning to use what one already instinctively knows but isn’t aware of,” Barbara continued.
The Atelier at Flowerfield’s class schedule allows the school to accommodate students throughout the day, including morning and evening sessions, Barbara said.
“We have a flexible schedule because our students range in age from children to senior citizens and everyone in between,” she said. “Adult classes usually run about 3 hours in length, although usually the children’s courses run a little shorter than that.”
In addition to being a trustee and vice president, Barbara also takes pride in the fact that she’s been a long-time student at The Atelier at Flowerfield as well, starting as a beginner and honing and improving her craft over the years.
Barbara, who is also one of the founders of the school, said The Atelier at Flowerfield was brought into existence when she and two of her associates – current trustee and chairman of the board Paul Lamb, and trustee and vice president Dr. Stephen Vlay – had previously served on the board of other local art organizations, and said that they were not happy with the way that they were operating.
“We wanted to do something better, and we had a vision, a place in the tradition of the Florentine masters, where people would come and paint in a studio alongside their teachers,” she said.
The Atelier at Flowerfield remains quite busy, with Barbara saying that they may have anywhere from 75 to 85 students studying there at any given time. Sessions run for 4 weeks at a time, and if attendees are so inclined they can sign up for additional sessions to continue to grow and improve as artists.
“We understand that people’s time and interests are variable,” she said. “Some people do this as a leisure activity, or they may have received a gift certificate to take one of our classes, but for whatever reason they decide to pursue art, we don’t want to hold people to a whole semester. We want to provide flexibility, and that’s why we do 4-week sessions. And people are free to sign up for as many as they wish.” Usually people who come to try out our facility end up staying and becoming regulars.
And many people do continuously renew their tuitions and sign on for additional sessions, Barbara said, noting that The Atelier at Flowerfield isn’t just an art school; it’s a community of people sharing diverse interests and skill levels, coming together to socialize and learn from one another.
“Most people here are long-term students who, over the years, have become fixtures,” she said. “That’s really nice, because it allows people to critique each other’s work…we all know each other, and it’s a really lovely social atmosphere too. As a student myself, it’s very nice to be standing at the easel and have somebody from the other side of the room compliment my work.”
“We like to call ourselves ‘the crossroads of art and community,’ because we’re very community oriented, and we like to behave as members of a community,” she added.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, The Atelier at Flowerfield rolled with the punches as best as they could and made sure that their content was still available for one and all by utilizing the boon of technology.
“Before COVID we would hold lectures, but during the pandemic we started holding webinars that are free for one and all,” she said. “We would have featured artists give lectures on various aspects of art, and we’re continuing to do that.”
However, while many businesses were forced to bear the brunt of the pandemic – and the subsequent negative impact upon their bottom line – The Atelier at Flowerfield surprisingly not only managed to survive during those lean times, but thanks to their new emphasis on technology and a wonderful and dedicated staff, they even managed to thrive .
“When COVID hit we started doing online classes, and that really opened up a lot of new doors for us,” she said. “Holding our classes online not only made our classes available to local residents, but it also attracted students from all over the country. We had never really thought of holding online events and classes before, but it just became another dimension of what we were doing.”
Since fully reopening, Barbara noted that The Atelier at Flowerfield is very COVID-conscious, strictly adhering to all CDC-recommended health guidelines – including mandatory mask wearing – in order to keep all their staff and students safe at all times. Online classes are still being offered as well for those who are still hesitant to venture out into social situations or prefer the comfort of learning in their own homes.
The Atelier at Flowerfield also offers a tremendous number of resources in order to help their students achieve all they can, including a room full of props for use in still life paintings, an extensive fine arts library and live model figure drawings every Friday night.
To find out more about The Atelier at Flowerfield, please visit www.atelieratflowerfield.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 631-250-9009.