Charles Bargue Drawing Course; Classical / Atelier Training at Home for FREE! by Michele

I have always been fascinated with the old masters -> how they achieved color; their form and shapes with seemly simple brushstrokes. Their techniques have been hidden from me, until recently.

Anyone who has painted knows the frustration of creating the right perspective and shapes turning out completely off balance, along with muddy palettes. One can spend hours creating the ‘perfect’ composition sketch only to discover when applying color that the scheme is totally off. Sometimes, the ending result being a canvas flung across the room. 

I find that art mimics life -> there is always room for improvement. In looking back, I feel that most of my training was very basic and consisted more of a free-form approach than serious classical training.

I’ve found that I enjoy the impressionistic and alla prima techniques, but felt this need to ‘lift’ my style into something more.

Struggling with monetary issues needed for further training, I began to look for other means to further my education.  Books upon books, videos and all sorts of educational tools are available -> most costing a small fortune. Thanks to our technological age and Public Domain, I stumbled across a FREE copy of the Charles Bargue drawing course: with the collaboration of Jean-Léon Gérôme by Gerald M Ackerman; Graydon Parrish ACR Edition 2003 {*link to FREE PDF Download at pagend}. Lo and behold the mystery of the Classical technique has finally been unveiled. {Historical FYI: Vincent van Gogh copied the entire set during the year of 1880 - 1881}. The Bargue-Gerome Drawing Course is a complete reprint of a famous, late nineteenth century drawing course. It contains a set of almost two hundred masterful lithographs of subjects for copying to be done by drawing students before they attempt drawing from life or nature.

With renewed excitement, I am in the process of learning one of the most important Classical methods lost to most artists today. Sight-seeing is where I begin and let me tell you, it is not easy. Personally, I find it to be an OCD’erz nightmare {it pushes you into a paradox of perfection}. If you can survive M.C. Escher, you can survive this course. 

500 years ago Atelier training began when an individual was very young (about age twelve) as an Apprentice for Masters working on simple tasks; and after some years they became Journeymen, eventually becoming Masters themselves. The Atelier Academy was considered a superior method of training.

I am starting late in life, and most likely, I expect it will consume the rest of my years in hoping to achieve the combination of le grand goût (elevated taste) based on the classical form and the study of nature to result in le beau idéal 
 the rendering of nature in its most perfect manifestation.

Therein lies my challenge and purpose {at least for today}.

For those of you interested in learning more about the Charles Bargue Drawing Course (hard copies are difficult to find and a bit pricey) you can *download the course with the lithographic plates for FREE as PDF file from the link listed here: Charles Bargue Drawing Course PDF

Happy Drawing!

Creativity a product of Genetics or Passion? by Michele

A friend’s post on Facebook today, got me thinking about the connection between Creativity and genes. Everyone can learn to be creative to some degree; but, is the propensity to create art inherited or just a learned skill?

I believe it is a bit of both.

I was aware of my mother’s love of art, she was first who encouraged me to produce at an early age and into this world of art is where I find myself most at peace. Sadly, my mother wasn’t able to explore her craft fully until late in life and only then produced a few pieces, of which I now hold dear. 

In remembering family discussions and past genealogy searches, I recalled that my lineage held three more Creatives, of whom I would like to honor here.

Specifically speaking, my Great-Great Grandfather Giuseppe Tango (Mathematician, Architect, Engineer, Painter), my Great-Grandfather, Camillo Tango (Painter, Photographer, Lithographer) and his brother, my Great-Grand Uncle, Egisto Tango (Maestro, Chief Conductor of the Royal Hungarian and the Royal Danish Operas).

Performing a Google search provides only a small window into their artistic achievements, but through the grace and kindness of familial relations, I was gifted with photos of my great-grandfather’s paintings and look upon them with wonder that I share in this exclusive family heritage. Although, I’m told our styles are completely different (he -> classically trained, me more emotionally obliged) it is apparent that the ‘art’ gene has successfully passed down.

Though they are all long gone from this earth, I often reflect on each of their lives and humbly feel privileged to be a part of such lineage. I strive to hope that someday, I too shall command maybe but a speck of a great work such as they mastered.

So, I leave it up to you to ponder the theories to the extent of whether or not creativity is heritable. In the end, I suppose it is not from whence you came, but how you create now, for future generations to gaze and marvel at your accomplishments; to wonder about your life story. For that is the true gift of being a Creative, continually seeking to master immortality through our art.

Forgive my sparse historical accounting of each of their lives, but what I do have is a few photographs and recordings of some of their works that I will share with you.

Giuseppe Tango (1839 – ?)

Giuseppe Tango

Enlisted in the Engineers Corps in 1858 – 1886; retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, Giuseppe was involved in many works of military and fortifications throughout Italy (Rome, Messina, Ancona and Napoli, etc).  In 1860 Giuseppe acquired doctorates in both Math and Architecture, working successive military and city zoning projects, he also produced, competed, and exhibited in civilian art enterprises. He was widely published in learned journals on military, engineering and architecture in Italy and even found on Amazon today. It is said that he had seven children, of which I have only heard the stories of two –> Camillo and Egisto.

Camillo Tango (1875 - 1967)


Born on August 2, 1875 to Giuseppe Tango and Lucia Ghiglione of Napoli. In 1912, Camillo emigrated from Turino, Italia to New York with his wife Felicina, daughters and son. One of his professional travels led him to New Orleans where he was commissioned to paint the Stations of the Cross for a beloved New Orleans historical landmark, the Saint Patricks Cathedral which are still on view today. Settling in Ohio he continued his profession as a Photographer, Lithographer and Painter (primarily commissions from Roman Catholic institutions), perfecting his art including painting one of his largest Murals on the ceiling of St. Wendelin's Church, Cleveland Ohio in 1935 – sadly, now gone). Camillo Tango lived unto the age of 92.

  Camillo Tango oil painting of  Great Grandmother Felicina Tango 1

Camillo Tango oil painting of Great Grandmother Felicina Tango 1

 Camillo Tango oil painting of Great Grandmother Felicina Tango 2

Camillo Tango oil painting of Great Grandmother Felicina Tango 2

  Camillo Tango oil painting of Peaches and the Flies

Camillo Tango oil painting of Peaches and the Flies

  Camillo Tango oil painting of Chickens in the Yard

Camillo Tango oil painting of Chickens in the Yard

  Camillo Tango oil painting of Jesus

Camillo Tango oil painting of Jesus

Egisto Tango (1873 – 1951)

 Theater photo: Egisto Tango (far right) with Banfy Nicholas, Desi Zador, Bartók Martha Ziegler, Kéméndy Eugene, Bela Bartok, 1918, Budapest, Hungary

Theater photo: Egisto Tango (far right) with Banfy Nicholas, Desi Zador, Bartók Martha Ziegler, Kéméndy Eugene, Bela Bartok, 1918, Budapest, Hungary

Born in Rome, Italia on November 13, 1873 to Giuseppe Tango and Lucia Ghiglione; Egisto was the brother of Italian artist Camillo Tango who immigrated to America in 1912. Maestro Tango conducted initially in Italy, made a few brief visits to the US, conducting in New York City and made history, according to the New York Tribune advertisement of 13 January 1910. “On January 13, 1910, the first public radio broadcast was an experimental transmission of a live Metropolitan Opera House performance of several famous opera singers. The first public radio broadcast consisted of performances of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci. Riccardo Martin performed as Turridu, Emmy Destinn as Santuzza, and Enrico Caruso as Canio. The conductor was Egisto Tango. This wireless radio transmission event of the Italian tenor Enrico Caruso of a concert from the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City is regarded as the birth of public radio broadcasting.” 

Inventor and Radio Pioneer, Lee deForest had suspended microphones above the Opera House stage and in the wings and set up a transmitter and antenna. A flip of a switch magically sent forth sound. It was erratic and since virtually no one actually owned a radio, few heard the broadcast. But for the few that heard it, listeners were enthralled by the fact that live human voices were being wirelessly transmitted in real time.

After Italy, Egisto moved to Hungary and where he was lead Conductor of the Royal Hungarian Opera. Later Egisto moved to Copenhagen, Denmark and took the position of Chief Conductor of the Royal Danish Opera. He became a citizen of Denmark. During the Second World War, and the Nazi occupation of Denmark, Maestro Tango was directly involved in the assisting, hiding, and escape of numerous Jewish musicians. As such, he was much sought after by the SS and Gestapo and he stood on hippoernes liquidation list, was forced underground. He survived the war and continued his profession until shortly before his death on October 4, 1951, living unto the age of 77.  Maestro Tango was married but had no children of his own. “Nein-Nein-Nein!” as understood each and every one that they loved their Maestro. His gravestone is removed - such things happening in our country. But the spirit can neither time nor bigotry overcome.” ~ Povl Ingerslev-Jensen 1 (Amazing article about Egisto's character).

1. The Incredible Tango: Volume: 51, Pages: 152-157, Author: Pal Ingerslevsgade-Jensen, Publisher: Association of Danish Music Journal

 Egisto Tango painted by MÁRFFY, ÖDÖN in 1918

Egisto Tango painted by MÁRFFY, ÖDÖN in 1918

Painting of Egisto Tango created in 1918 by a notable Hungarian artist, MÁRFFY, ÖDÖN (1878-1959).

New Year, New Purpose by Michele

It's all about progress, my dears. Moving forward. I made a promise to myself to make the most of this year creatively. So far, so good! I am into 30 days of the New Year and have already completed 2 landscapes!

That may not sound like much, but for an artist, to be happy and/or satisfied with their creation is an oxymoron. I must admit that the pull to go back into each piece to change/fix what I feel to be missing is always present -> and the only solution is to either hang them up or hide them in the closet. 

For now, they are hung and at their size of 18"x36", quickly consuming the empty space of my studio walls.

Happy New Year!

"Following Grandma's advice" by Michele

This series is getting pretty intense. Lately, I’ve been focusing on exploring emotions we all experience at one time or another.

Most of these paintings aren’t out for show, it’s not like I can hang them on my walls for when folks come a visitin’ (they might get the wrong impression -> “Welcome to the house of pain, Y’all!”).

They are in my studio (some in a closet, some on the floor) for now.

People have remarked, “Your landscapes are so beautiful, why don’t you paint more of those”? But that is not where I am.

I think my grandmother put it best when she said, “Honey, why don’t you just paint your feelings -> throw it on canvas and get them out of you … you’ll feel better”.

Thank you, Booma. In a nutshell, that is exactly what I am trying to do.


"and she fell down the rabbit hole" by Michele

 Falling from Heaven 12.2013 © Michele Cupples

Falling from Heaven 12.2013 © Michele Cupples

Creating this website to showcase my art, has been a lesson in humility. There are many extraordinary Artists in the world, how could I possibly compare? 

I have found that self-doubt is the proverbial monkey for any artist; always chattering; always present - beating us with a stick yelling:

“You IDIOT”!!!

We can either listen to the little bastard or toss him off.

Here goes nothing!