A classical approach to drawing and painting

Brian Rego, JohnHenry Tecklenburg and Robin O’Neil recently opened the Melrose School of Art.
Brian Rego, JohnHenry Tecklenburg and Robin O’Neil recently opened the Melrose School of Art.

Tucked away in Melrose Heights is a place three local artists hope will become a haven for painters and drawers.

Melrose School of Art opened its doors this week, offering group and private lessons, as well as a place for artists to create in a welcoming and nurturing atmosphere.

“We’re making a place where people can come paint,” said JohnHenry Tecklenburg, one of the two instructors at the school. “We hope to be a place where artists can come and kind of slow down, so we can all cultivate a connection with nature and community through drawing and painting that will encourage a sustainable, life-long artistic practice.”

Tecklenburg is working on his Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of South Carolina, where he received an undergraduate degree in fine arts. He’s also studied at several other art schools, including the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Rhode Island School of Art, and the International center for the Arts in Montecastello, Italy.

Brian Rego is the other instructor. He received his undergraduate degree in fine arts from USC and his Master of Fine Arts from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art. He shows work nationally and internationally, and teaches drawing and painting at USC and Benedict College.

Robin O’Neil is the third partner, an art enthusiast who has been involved in the Columbia art scene her entire life. Her father was an architect who was active in the arts community, and her husband, the late John O’Neil, was the chairman of the art department at USC for 25 years. But Melrose School of Art is her first foray into art as a business and she wants it to be a boon for Columbia.

“It’s about exploring what you’re about, why you’re here,” O’Neil said. “There is a confidence that comes from understanding your universe, understanding yourself.”

The school initially will offer classes in the afternoon and evenings to middle school, high school students, and adults. Workshops will be offered, as well as open model sessions. Students will be encouraged to work from life in the manner of still life, landscape, and the figure, and will learn to make their own paint, paper and ink.

Classes will remain small, and will be tailored to students’ individual abilities and goals, focusing on a holistic approach to the creative process. “We want to see what our students want, what they’re looking for,” O’Neil says.

The school is for artists of all levels, from novice to professional.

“We want this to be a very personalized experience,” Tecklenburg said. “We want to offer an intensive, classical approach to drawing and painting where students can immerse themselves into their materials and art.”

Students can register for classes at