"Prior to attending Studio West, I had never painted with oils in my life, nor have I had an art class in person. I can safely say that everything about painting with real paint was a challenge... This includes technique as well as a lack of understanding of basic theories and principles. It made me feel extremely intimidated, but also excited about the possibilities of learning a new medium and whatever I've missed during self-learning up until that point.
I took two of Keita's workshops and eventually a full class on Figurative Painting. Keita explained all the basics of what the materials are and how to use & take care of them, how oils differ from other types of traditional painting methods, as well as health precautions when handling dangerous materials (toxic paints, solvents, etc.) Moreover, Keita broke down classical painting into logical, easy to understand procedures and principles with his expertise and knowledge. Painting started to make more sense, and I was starting to see what made a painting successful instead of "paint and hope for the best." Through Keita's guidance and teaching, I discovered new ways of understanding painting from idea to technique, and slowly finding my own sensitivities about painting.
I enrolled in Studio West right around the time I had quit my engineering career to become an artist. I am thankful to say that the classes I've taken made me a better painter technically. Also through the support and encouragement of Keita and other Studio West instructors, I found the courage to stick to my decisions and pursue my own career as an oil painter. Briefly after taking Keita's classes, I had been invited to the first group exhibition of my career, showing 3 paintings I had done in class and concurrently outside class. Despite having no expectations, I managed to sell all of my paintings at the show and began my career as a full-time professional artist.
Whether you are like me and facing career changing decisions, or you are a casual hobbyist painter looking to learn a new skill or advance your existing skills, Studio West is equipped with the experience and knowledge of today's professional artists who are exceptional at what they do, and teach it well. The in-class atmosphere is friendly and easy-going, and if you're looking to accelerate your skills, the instructors will be right there with you every step of the way."
Michael Pitropov (http://www.mpitropov.com/)
"Before attending Studio West, I felt like I had little understanding of my materials and process and felt really confused when painting. I was given a strong understanding of how the painting process can be broken down, I developed a deeper understanding of a variety of techniques and become much more confident with my materials. The knowledge I gained has been applied to all of my work moving forward. "
Definitely take advantage of such an incredible and affordable opportunity to learn from some really talented local painters that really care about the students they have.
**Michael has enrolled in all three instructors' courses in 2017**
Jasmine Hum (https://www.jasminehum.ca/)
"I discovered Studio West initially by taking the Still Life course offered by Megan followed by a Figurative class with Keita. Although I had graduated from OCADU (Drawing and Painting), I had never felt comfortable with many of the technical aspects of oil painting as this had not been a focus of the studio courses offered while I was there. At Studio West, I immediately noticed that the smaller class sizes resulted in enough time for everyone to receive personalized attention. No matter each student's individual previous experience, the advice, comments and demos were thoughtfully tailored for that person. There were no questions too basic to ask and I was astonished by the openness and generous attitude in sharing their knowledge and experience. I gained so much in a short period of time from Studio West that their classes continue to ground and inform my current practice today. Having recently moved away from Toronto, I envy the local community and consider those who have the opportunity to further their studies there to be very fortunate to have access to such quality instruction. It's rare to find the combination of talented artists with the ability to teach, especially with such patience and generosity! You'll never be sorry… It'll be the best money you ever spent… Hurry - get off the fence pronto!"
"I had previously taken classes at Sheridan, and painted portraits in acrylics, but I was struggling with composition, values, form, and colour mixing. I would spend countless hours layering and glazing to achieve results I was ultimately not happy with. I had also never before painted with traditional oils, and was very intimidated by the vast array of materials and techniques. I felt frustrated that hours of painstaking work still only led to what I felt were naive and immature portraits. Something was still off and I knew it. I wanted a more immediate and rich look to my paintings, and honestly - to enjoy the process more. Painting should be a joyous, spontaneous, and fulfilling experience despite the long hours and hard work. I felt that switching to oil paint was the ultimate key, and I set out to find professional instructors who could teach me everything from the ground up.
I rediscovered the joy of painting! Keita and Megan taught me step by step how to paint in oils. They covered everything about the process of creating an oil painting from start to finish, including all the materials and techniques, both classic and contemporary. I learned how to compose and design images; how to solve large problems ahead of time using quick studies; how light and form interact, and how to interpret and describe them convincingly in two dimensions; how to opaquely mix colours quickly and accurately; how to abstract and simplify (simplify, simplify!); and even how to work and market oneself as an artist. Within weeks my paintings improved, and I developed a confidence with oil painting I had only imagined.
Taking Keita's Colour Theory course and Megan's Alla Prima Still Life and Oil Painting Studio courses concurrently was a game changer. It was the most comprehensive and inspiring art instruction I have ever experienced. The demos were fantastic and the lectures were packed with information. They care genuinely care about each student and spent time working with me one on one. My object and life painting improved substantially, and I had a new approach to portraiture which worked in all mediums. I could now get the value, colour, and shape I wanted - almost immediately.
I can't recommend Studio West's approach to teaching art any more highly. The courses are well thought out and dense with content, and are structured in a fun and inspiring way. The chance to study intimately with these artists, while seeing their work and studio process up close, for a reasonable fee is extremely rare. I saw it as a once in a lifetime opportunity. The courses are always evolving to meet students' current needs. I intend on taking more in the future to stay sharp, and further develop my skills. These are super genuine people, and their body of work speaks for itself."
Julia Tian (http://www.juliatian.com/)
"My biggest challenge was simplifying and organizing the real world visual language into my own vision. As a kid I drew what I saw, and I drew in ways that are most comfortable, but that will only get you so far as an artist without proper understanding of why and how. You end up at a bottleneck, a very uncomfortable place where you don't know why you create in certain ways. It SUCKS when you don't know why your process is not working. The main struggle came from lack of understanding and thinking too much in the wrong direction. It was very easy to feel lost as there are so much information. It was also very easy to feel trapped when I focus on the stupidest tinniest details and lose the big picture.
Over the course of two-three years, I have taken several painting classes, some classes more than once with Keita and a long term design mentorship with Peter. I don't suck anymore and got a job in the creative field. HA! All joke aside, the progress I have made is amazing. Studio West really helped and set me on the right path. I learned a lot from their demonstrations and guidance. Both Keita and Peter helped a lot during my creative struggle, and they were not pushy about it either. I learned how light works, how colours interact and the importance of design. Most of all I learned how to organize and design everything I see to achieve my own vision. On the way, I also levelled up my own creative process, it was a fantastic learning experience. If you are on the fence about taking their courses, just do it! Studio West instructors teach by drawing on their own creative experiences and struggles, and their studies from old masters and their peers. It is a very valuable opportunity and I suggest you to take advantage of it! They are also super duper nice and try their best to help with what you are personally struggling with in art! I like to learn at my own pace and Studio West encourages that. They are not pushy or controlling, they really encourages you to get better at your own pace. Thanks for a great time!"
Andrew Harris (http://andrewharrisart.com)
"Before classes began at Studio West, I always found my biggest challenge was the starting phases of a painting. The initial stages of coming up with an idea, composing the work, and the actual technical know-how of what to do for the layering process. I found it incredibly difficult, frustrating, and at times disheartening. I always thought of it as this make or break moment. Those beginning steps of a painting were always intimidating and a bit daunting. The simplifications of how I saw painting really pushed me to take a step back, and see things with a new perspective. I am able to sit in my studio and work without feeling that pressure I once felt. There are many pages in my sketchbook that I would love to share, but I have to say the one thing that stands out the most is the way they really simplify painting as a whole. The way they talk about value, colour.., all the foundations that make a powerful painting, they take all this knowledge from years of art history, and were able to compress it in a way that is relatable and easy to understand.
The way Studio West approaches their workshops is not like any other workshop in Toronto, maybe even in the country. They are each practicing, very ambitious, professional artists, who all have something to share no matter how much experience you might have going into the course. There are no silly questions with these guys, and the other artists who attend the workshops are all there because they want to be - that makes the studio classes very enjoyable to attend ! Every week you leave the class having learned something new, and excited for the next week's class. Studio West helped me reshape my practice, they gave me confidence to approach the studio with new ways of thinking, and I am very lucky to study here."