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Denver Art academy gets international recognition

REAL Academy of Art Colorado receives coveted seal of approval from the Art Renewal Center (ARC)

DENVER — REAL Academy of Art Colorado has been teaching art students the fundamentals of drawing, painting, sculpting techniques that date back to the Renaissance Era. Now, they’re grabbing international attention from the art world and the Art Renewal Center (ARC), one of the world’s most respected fine art organizations.

The non-profit is a worldwide educational vetting service for art schools to make sure students are learning strong technical skills to meet the foundation’s strict curriculum standards. ARC is focused on the revival of realism in visual arts schools that teach the techniques used by classical artists like Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. 

REAL is Colorado’s first and only art school certified by ARC. It’s an achievement that founder Ali Ghassan is proud of.

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“It makes me so happy, because I can say it was my seed that I planted,” Ghassan said. “You take care of it, and you see your seed has blossomed and has become a bigger tree than the first time we started.”

Credit: Byron Reed
REAL Academy of Art Colorado founder Ali Ghassan said, "I want to create a new generation of old masters."

Ghassan was born in Babel, Iraq, and studied Fine Arts in Iraq, Italy and Russia. He and his wife immigrated to the United States and started REAL in 2014. The idea was to make the creation of realism art accessible for everyone.

“I bring all my knowledge of what I studied in the world,” Ghassan said. “I studied all around the world from Italy to St. Petersburg Russia [and] I bring all of this knowledge here to Colorado to create this school.”

Credit: Byron Reed
REAL Academy of Art Colorado

REAL is an atelier art academy that teaches traditional art techniques through drawing, painting, and sculpting using a curriculum developed by the old masters like Rembrandt and Jacques-Louis David. 

The goal is to give students an academic foundation for beginning and experienced artists. ARC has approved only 75 art schools and ateliers around the world, including REAL.  

Credit: Byron Reed
REAL Academy of Art Colorado

Ghassan said his school was designed for students who want to master their art skills or become professional artists. REAL attracts students from Brazil, China, Turkey, and right here in Colorado like Dr. Alison Sheridan — a radiologist who wanted to master the art skills she learned in high school.

“I had done art in high school and then shifted to sciences and have been looking for an art class that fit with my schedule,” Sheridan said. “I also wanted an art class that was academic and would be rigorous and give me a strong foundation.”

Credit: Byron Reed
REAL Academy of Art Colorado student Dr. Alison Sheridan said, "Its fun to know that fine art is still being taught and is still accessible."

Dr. Sheridan works nine hour shifts and has 3 children with her husband. She said REAL was the art school she was looking for to fit her busy life. REAL teaches art classes from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and offers an evening class to fit any schedule.

“I think it fits really well with our generally busy lives with families and other careers,” Sheridan said. “I squeeze the art in, but that’s why this model is beautiful because when I can have my day, I can come.

Credit: Byron Reed
REAL Academy of Art Colorado's certification from the Art Renewal Center.

Ghassan said the international recognition has reinforced his commitment to ARC’s teaching philosophy, so he can focus on teaching his students classical art techniques that have been grabbing the eye of the world.

Credit: Byron Reed
REAL Academy of Art Colorado

“We have a very nice community,” Ghassan said. “You see all the people here, they welcome everyone, they support each other, and they came for the same goal. They want to really learn mastering their craftsmanship to be a really good artist.”

For more information about REAL Academy of Art Colorado, click here.

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