Beyond the canvas: Inside Oko Academy's innovative approach to art education

Jeremiah Palecek's unique teaching approach promises a lively, hands-on experience for aspiring artists, merging classical with modern, creative techniques Staff

Written by Staff Published on 21.02.2024 12:52:00 (updated on 04.04.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

Pink neon lights cast a glow on cobblestoned Kubelikova street as pedestrians walk past Akropolis. A glance through the large window next door reveals a small, eclectically decorated room. Men and women of all ages stand before easels, sketching a man as he strums a guitar. 

Having spent years developing its approach to fine art instruction, Oko Academy is now ready to launch courses for the public. The school is a welcome addition to the local artmaking scene, offering aspiring artists an enjoyable alternative to other commercial art schools. An intimate atmosphere where artists draw and paint in the presence of a supportive teacher. That teacher is Jeremiah Palecek, a longtime Prague resident who is an accomplished painter, having exhibited his work at major European museums, including the Pompidou, Schirn Kunsthalle, and Musée de l’Elysée.

As part of his art training, Jeremiah endured many tedious classes, typical of the classical academy approach. Students are discouraged from speaking in these areas, and there are no bathroom breaks. His biggest frustration was how much teachers talked while offering little in the way of instruction. Jeremiah was sure art could be taught in a more exciting and interactive way.

While teaching at CU Boulder, Jeremiah attended Art Nights hosted by Mike Giant. Here, he saw the potential of these events, where students work collaboratively while enjoying a party-like atmosphere. When it came time to open his academy, he wanted a relaxed and engaging setting where the focus was on building skills and fostering a unique vision.

To achieve this, he teaches practical skills in a hands-on way. He considers each student's goals, using his expertise to guide them to their desired outcome. Each lesson covers some art history and explores established theories, but not so students can replicate pre-existing art. Instead, each student is invited to use it to inspire their self-expression. He is more concerned with helping students find their voice.

Jeremiah keeps lessons interesting by balancing experimentation with tradition. He nudges students out of their comfort zones by having them try something new - like airbrushing or blacklight paint. The course follows a cumulative curriculum, so students grow confident as they expand their skill sets. Best of all, thanks to Oko’s bohemian vibe, students look forward to coming. Playlists conducive to creativity add to the atmosphere. People bring snacks and beer to share. Sometimes, a DJ plays a chillout set. Other ideas, like painting only by candlelight, are in the planning - and input is always welcome.

Welcome to OKO Academy

He makes workflow tutorials as well, like how to stretch a canvas or clean brushes right. He even made helpful videos about breaking into the art market, for those serious about profiting from their blossoming talents.

Oko’s lineup includes three exciting new courses: Still Lifes, Beginning Painting, and Figure in Interior, alongside his Personalized Art Mentorship program. Each course runs for eight weeks, offering an in-depth exploration of various aspects of art, including both technical and expression approaches to painting. Given their popularity, these courses are expected to fill up quickly. If you’re eager to enhance your skills and seek a weekly creative retreat, we encourage you to register promptly to secure your spot and avoid disappointment.

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