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Lineage of Curriculum

The Blue Easel Club follows a proud lineage of education.


Carol Peebles’ mentor, master artist Auseklis Ozols (, graduate of The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, continued those teaching traditions by founding The New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts in 1978. Currently, he and his daughter, artist Saskia Ozols, have founded and together direct and  The Fine Arts Preservation Society of New Orleans (

Ozols firmly believes that good paintings start with good drawings. “Drawing,” he said in a 2001 interview with American Artist Magazine, “is a search, a looking into the wonderful mysteries of creation and it is a vehicle for personal expression. Whatever we have in ourselves comes out in that drawing. It’s miraculous. You can’t learn how to paint without learning how to draw. It’s as simple as that. Drawing is the substructure, the foundation of all visual arts. It is essential. It’s like building a cathedral. You have to build the foundation first, then comes the walls and eventually all the music and decoration and expression come afterwards. But most of all, it has to stand on a foundation. That foundation is drawing.”


This lineage of observational drawing continues back to Auseklis’ mentor at PAFA, Walter Stuempfig, then to Daniel Garber, Thomas Eakins, and their predecessors. Lessons at the Blue Easel Club are based on observational drawing in the Classical Realist Tradition. Our goal is a humble observation of Nature, a likeness to our subject. Drawing is the cornerstone of all artistic visual expression, so our classes are in dry media – mostly charcoal, graphite or pastel.


The Club’s linage of a celebration of life comes from New Orleans photographer, Johnny Donnels, whose world-renowned French Quarter Studio celebrated life, music and photography. Founded the year of Donnels' passing in 2009, the Blue Easel Club's pledge is to keep and foster celebration, camaraderie, music and happiness in learning.

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