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The Ah Haa School for the Arts announces the official formation of the Telluride Painting Academy and its 2013 fall semester of classes for emerging painters, current studio art majors, and beginners seeking to tap into their inner artists.

Scheduled for Monday, September 9 – Saturday, December 7, 2013, students may progress through all four three-week blocks, or select a combination to suit their artistic ambitions. Taught by master teachers in a spectacular setting, this year’s curriculum includes courses in figure drawing, figure painting, printmaking, and finding your voice in painting.

Unlike a contemporary art school that pushes the edges of what “art” is, or a traditional art school that emphasizes the formal study of techniques, “the focus of the Telluride Painting Academy is to help students find their own unique voices as artists,” explains Judith Kohin, executive director of the Ah Haa School. “Regardless of skill level, students are guided through one-on-one and group instruction, reading and research assignments, peer critiques, and in depth mentoring sessions with the instructor in order to explore what really moves them.”

Figure, by Kathy Hirsh

Figure, by Kathy Hirsh

Drawing from her masters degree in medical illustration and 10 years of experience teaching painting and figure drawing in the U.S. and China, Kathy Hirsh will instruct “Figure Drawing,” Monday, September 9 –Saturday, September 28. Through formal and structural studies of the human body, her students will work to find their own two-dimensional expressions of the human form and gesture using charcoal, graphite, and ink.

Gregory Botts, a highly collected figurative and landscape painter based in New York and New Mexico, teaches “Figure Painting: Drawing Into Painting,” Monday, September 30 – Saturday, October 19.

Gregory Botts in action

Gregory Botts in action

Figure painting has always been the standard of what an artist achieved,” he says. “A figure is what we look for, it has something to tell us. What does it look like for each of us? As this is our spirit.”

Through both realism and expressionism, which is a manifestation of inner emotions, Botts’ students will evolve from drawing on paper with conté crayon into painting with acrylics and oil.

Allyn Hart

Allyn Hart

Part time Ophir resident Allyn Hart teaches TPA’s third block, “Printing Into Painting,” Monday, October 21– Saturday, November 9. A printmaker, painter, and book artist, Hart holds bachelors and masters degrees in fine arts and has taught drawing, design, sculpture, art appreciation, and printmaking at the University of Utah. Doing her class students will use simple printmaking methods to establish a unique vocabulary of personal images and symbols that will resonate throughout their work.

Telluride resident and Telluride Painting Academy artistic director Robert Weatherford teaches the final intensive of the 2013 semester, “Painting From Within,” Monday, November 11– Saturday, December 7 (with a one-week Thanksgiving break in between).

A prolific artist whose work may be found in collections throughout the world, Weatherford holds a masters in painting from Claremont Graduate Art School and a masters in Systematic Theology from New York’s Union Seminary. Operating from the belief that all important things in art must come from the deepest feelings about the mystery of being, Weatherford will guide students toward painting from a place the place that moves their spirits,  the heart versus the head. Focusing on one subject at a time, students will create a different painting every day.

Robert Weatherford's studio

Robert Weatherford’s studio

Each Telluride Painting Academy intensive encompasses just over 67 hours of classroom time, or the equivalent of three college credits. The program uses as its model the Ah Haa’s sister school, the prestigious American Academy of Bookbinding, a school of fine binding and book conservation, now in its 20th year.

“We’d like to build upon the success of AAB, which has built a reputation as an internationally known program taught by some of the most experienced and highly regarded instructors,” says Ah Haa Executive Director Judith Kohin. “And studying here, in gorgeous Telluride, provides an unmatched experience for every student.”

“The point that I think is worth restating is this: the Telluride Painting Academy was designed to exceed the federal guidelines for classroom credits,” explained Weatherford. “We offer smaller classes and more contact time (time with the instructor) than is possible at most colleges. Each block of study builds a solid portfolio of work for the student to present at their home campus. Adhering to the block system as we do allows for much more focused and indepth immersion in one subject at a time. That is a far more effective kind of learning than students running to four different kinds of classes each week. One of our former students, Jennifer Hunt, took all four blocks last fall at our Telluride Painting Academy. Her credits were accepted at Mesa State and allowed her to complete her degree. Now she lives here full time and runs the ‘Oh Be Joyful Gallery’ on Main Street.”

Jennifer’s experience of having her credits readily accepted to complete her degree only illustrates the legitimacy and significance of the special kind of study we offer.  We are truly the equivalent of a “study abroad” experience.

As Jennifer will attest our intensity of focus makes growth and change in a student’s work a certainty.  She took major steps in her ownership of her own way of working and her style and voice.  This is our primary commitment:  students are supported to find their message and their expression.

Telluride Painting Academy classes are housed in Telluride’s circa-1890s Rio Grande Southern Railroad depot turned art gallery, set next to the San Miguel River. Located within the Telluride Historic District, the thoughtfully renovated building provides the ideal space for painting, complete with 12-foot ceilings and plentiful light. Alongside no more than 10 students at a time, participants will spend their mornings with the instructor and their afternoons putting pencil to paper and brush to canvas. Downtime can be spent exploring the rich mountain scenery and culture of Telluride.

Course fees for the 2013 fall semester are $1,800 per class, or $7,200 for the entire semester, not including studio fees. Housing may be arranged for an additional fee, and tuition assistance is available.

More information and online application forms are available at or call 970/728-3886.

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