Southern Atelier


“A Workshop of Illumination”


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After two years in Paris, Vincent Van Gogh longed for a sunny retreat where he could “get his tranquility and poise back.” So, on February 21, 1888, he arrived in Arles with the intention of founding a workshop and school for artists, called “L’atelier du Midi,” or Studio of the South. Van Gogh had dreamt of a Utopian Artistic community that could influence the culture of France as a counterpoint to the established traditions of the north.

Class en plein air.

Class en plein air.

A “studio for a renaissance and not for decadence” would be his answer, and he envisioned it in the south or, more radically, in “the tropics,” where the artists could undertake an intense study of the sun’s illumination. Sensing a coming demand for artworks that one artist alone could not fulfill, he had in mind a classic 19th- century artistic community, “something of the same nature as the society of the Twelve English Pre- Raphaelites.” Unfortunately, Van Gogh’s Studio of the South was never fully realized, being, as it were, comprised of only three men. Yet as their artistic collective matured, style became “an arena in which tension between a communal vision and individual needs [was] played out.”

Elizabeth cast painting at Southern Atelier.

A Southern Atelier student working on a cast painting.

Charles Miano moved from New York to the Southern United States with similar longings as Van Gogh, for “tranquility and poise,” and with a comparable vision for the culture of his community. This vision became more of a possibility on his arrival in Florida when he realized that he was part of an influx of people who have relocated to the south for similar reasons. As Miano devoted his efforts to his studies of classic art and to his teaching, an artistic group similar to the one envisaged by Van Gogh — one that balanced a communal vision with individual needs — became a reality. His workshop, Southern Atelier, was founded in the south in an effort to enrich the established and burgeoning societies of the south of Florida and encourage artists to learn the craft of painting in order to be better able to realize their ideals.

Class at the Ringling Museum.

Southern Atelier students copying the old masters at the Ringling Museum.

Independent ateliers committed to Representational Painting have brought an increasing awareness of the importance of art founded on classical principles and interpreted with contemporary ideology. This has stood in stark contrast to many universities, museums and critics that, in the last century, have promoted conceptualism at the cost of realism and theory at the cost of skill. As a counterpoint to the ateliers of the north, the luminous light and subtropical climate on the Gulf Coast of Florida have proved to be an inspiration and an advantage for artists of the movement. They endeavor to improve their skills both in the studio and in plein air, working alongside some of the most distinguished artists in the country. The pictures that they create contribute to the noblest of human intentions: reverence for nature and community.

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“Charlie Miano and Southern Atelier have produced one of the best classical art programs in the country … The Atelier’s dedication to excellence and intensive instruction provides students an ideal environment to fully develop their skills. The school represents a fresh new wave of art instruction …”

— Robert Liberace

“Charlie Miano is a visionary. He is building a school for his community with a passion that is rare, and a generosity for his students that is even more scarce. With his skills, Charlie is tapping into a vitality within the community of students.

He is building a comprehensive program with expertise, practice, and deep understanding. Charlie is helping to reawaken interest in the fundamental visual arts, the appreciation of aesthetic beauty, and the quality of vision by transcending craftsmanship.

The Southern Atelier is emerging as a premier institution for higher learning, atelier training, and the reestablishment of legitimacy in studying from direct observation, working from life. It is the kind of school that we all should embrace.”

— Dan Thompson

“Mr. Charles Miano’s teachings are beautifully balanced in every sense of the word. During his lessons East meets West, the intellectual counterparts the emotional, and the effort and hard work that he demands of his students is also presented with the need to let things develop naturally. It is a refreshing and daring methodology that challenges most, if not all, art schools’ curriculums by providing real, honest and unselfish instruction to students with serious intentions in art.”

— Joe Oliva Ganoza

“I believe that my instruction in drawing and painting has been of the highest quality, which is the direct result of Charlie Miano’s commitment to excellence in art education. It has been a lifelong dream of mine to become a professional artist; and because of the opportunity that I have had to study at the Southern Atelier, that dream is becoming a reality.”

— Nancy Fazio

“I have been astounded at the number of people who are moving to Florida and specifically looking for a professional classical art program… there is no doubt that the Southern Atelier has become a major school for the arts…”

— Kerry Vosler

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