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Painting - Course description from the Mt. Ararat Course of Studies

Level 9-12
Prerequisite: Foundations in Visual Art course if taken before grade 10, unless waived
One semester-1/2 credit

1. Course description
This course familiarizes students with various painting media, skills, and techniques. Students work in watercolor, tempera, acrylic, and oil on a variety of surfaces to develop an understanding of the expressive qualities of each. The historical significance of artists as reflectors of their time will be studied to provide a context for understanding contemporary work. In applications including sketchbook assignments, studio work, and written responses, students will demonstrate understanding of the visual language of painting.

2. Course components

Studio work - Students work through the process of visual thinking and problem-solving in a variety of studio-based experiences. They produce between 4-5 finished works a semester as a result of learning through exploration of painting styles and media.

In Painting, as in all art courses, students must learn to draw on some of the basic sources for continuing growth and development throughout their lives: Observation, memory, imagination, innovation, interaction, reflection, and independent thinking. The skills to use these resources are embedded in the work of the Painting class.

Beginning with drawing exercises, students then use watercolor and tempera to see how the properties of color affect an image. Students develop an understanding of color theory through application in painting. By exploring a variety of watercolor techniques such as graded wash, wet on wet, and drybrush, students are better able to use watercolors to create their own personal imagery. Watercolor is used throughout the semester for preliminary idea sketches and color studies for works in other painting media.

An understanding of acrylic painting properties and techniques is developed through short-term exercises and longer assignments. After studying and discussing ways other artists have used these media, students experiment with a variety of grounds for both acrylic. Using a variety of the techniques possible with acrylics, such as under painting, glazing, washes, and painting on textured surfaces, students create studies and finished work using subjects such as still life, landscape, portraiture, genre, and fantasy.

Students learn about the visual thinking process through regular sketchbook assignments, and larger scale work in class, in which they may explore composition, communication, and other design problems. Sketchbooks also serve as visual and verbal journals, in which students make record of their experiences, observations, responses to readings, and other information that they may draw upon in developing their own approach to painting as a means of personal expression. Not all work in class is expected to be finished and polished, but may be a means to further development of an idea or understanding of technique.

Historical and cultural knowledge
- Within the study of any art form, students must learn and understand the significance of specific artists, movements, technological developments, and cultural influences affecting our perception of that art form.

In Painting, students are introduced to artists and artworks through books, slides, videos, museum visits, and printed reproductions of work. Since there is no one book assigned as a textbook for this class, much cultural and historical background is presented through in-class slides, lectures, and discussions well as readings taken from a variety of books. In-depth research on an artist or movement is required for the semester.

Students will study the iconography of paintings throughout history, with emphasis on ways contemporary artists have worked with many of the themes that have appeared in art throughout history. The historical significance of artists as catalysts for and recorders of cultural, political, social, and moral issues of their time will be studied to provide a context for understanding of contemporary work.

Criticism - Students participate in a variety of forms of art criticism. This includes description, analysis, interpretation, and judgment of works of art and other forms of visual expression from historical and cultural sources. Students discuss and practice ways of analyzing works in terms of their use of visual elements and principles, interpreting the intent and meaning of these works and making thoughtful, informed responses to the work from more than one point of view. Students also read and respond to reviews by art critics and may write their own review of a show in a local gallery or museum as a result of a field trip to that show. At the end of particular units of study, or a semester, students help hang displays of their own work. These exhibitions provide the students and teacher the opportunity to view the culmination of a series of works, and to respond to these works individually and as a whole in written and oral critiques.

Testing - Students are tested in a variety of forms, both written and oral, and also must demonstrate their understanding of course content through application of learned concepts and techniques. Another form of cumulative periodical examination is the portfolio review, in which a student and teacher evaluate a student's demonstration of understanding of art concepts through application in his/her studio work.

3. Course materials

Studio materials
- In Painting, availability of materials for all students through school ordering resources is vital, to ensure a consistency of instruction and understanding by all involved. This includes expendable materials, tools, and equipment. Equipment used in painting, such as easels, drawing boards, canvas stretchers, tackers, etc. is to be available at the school for student use.

Other necessary equipment would include digital projectors, as well as a DVD player, with which to present visuals to students. All students are to have a sketchbook as a place in which to draw studies, write responses, and record other work as stated in the studio section.

Reading materials - Students regularly use publications such as Scholastic Art, Art News, Art in America, and other student and professional magazines as resources for study on artists and art movements from the past, as well as contemporary art. Additional readings are taken from textbooks and reference books such as Living With Art , Gardner's Art Through the Ages, and Discovering Art History, as well as books about individual artists and art movements. Books used in this class may include:
  • American Painting
  • History of Modern Art
  • Twentieth-Century Art (and other books in this series, such as Eighteenth-Century Art , etc.)
  • The Impressionists
  • Vienna 1900
  • Chagall
  • Surrealism and Surrealists
Audio visual materials - Because art is, after all, a visual activity, high-quality visual media are vital in presentation of artist's work, working techniques, and in understanding the varied expression of ideas. Videos about artists such as Rene Magritte, Marc Chagall, and Paul Gauguin help students understand the process an artist works through in formulating and expressing ideas in paint or other media, as well as exposing the student to images of the artists' work. High-quality slide reproductions of work are often used to examine paintings from various periods; to compare and contrast works of art in terms of content, meaning, style, and media,;and to examine art in formal terms of composition.

Field trips - A necessary component of all art classes is the field trip to a museum or gallery to see actual art work. The experience is twofold: Not only are students able to respond to the size of the work and the quality of the painting, but they also learn about the function of a museum or gallery. Understanding that these places are available to them will encourage a lifelong relationship with art.

4. Student expectations

Attendance - Most course learning requires that students are actively involved in the process of making art. Students must demonstrate satisfactory participation in class activities, including studio work, demonstrations, critiques, and discussion. Since the studio experience cannot be reproduced, students are expected to be present in class. Following an absence, it is a student's responsibility to ask for makeup work.

Time - Work each week outside of class is expected, both on long-term and short-term assignments.

Presentation of work - Students are expected to periodically pass in sketchbooks for evaluation of work, notes, etc. A number of works on paper are to be presented as finished work. This may include cleaning and matting the work to prepare for a class presentation or display. Each student will also have a folder in which all other works on paper are to be collected; this is periodically reviewed to evaluate a student's progress. Students are expected to present work in other media in an appropriate manner, some as finished work, some as studies. For example, a finished work on canvas may be framed in an inexpensive way, as demonstrated in class.

Behavior - Appropriate behavior includes respect for other learners, school property, their own work, that of their peers, and the learning environment set by the teacher. Learning is the central activity in the classroom; student actions are expected to contribute to and support the plan for learning. When student actions detract from the learning situation, an offending student's grade will reflect the negative impact of his/ her actions upon the learning of other students in the class.

Care of books, materials, and equipment - A student who loses, abuses, or destroys a book or any other course material or equipment that has been assigned to his/her care is responsible for its replacement cost.

5. Evaluation

Grading standards - In this course, student thinking, development of visual acuity, problem solving, researching, development of a visual vocabulary, and demonstration of these skills in studio work are at the center of class activity. Grading is viewed in this context. Because the critique process is an important part of learning about art, students are expected to participate in the evaluation of their own work, as well as the work of others. As students become more aware of the language and process involved in making and looking at art, they will become more comfortable with self-assessment.

Teachers will assess student performance and progress, as evidenced by studio work, in- class task commitment, homework, and daily preparation. Work is regularly reviewed in class discussion and critiques, to give students the opportunity to learn more through looking at their own work and the work of other students from different points of view.


Student outcomes
  1. Students will understand the technical processes of painting in a variety of media.
  2. Students will understand ways artists from various cultures and historical periods have used painting as an expressive medium.
  3. Students will be able to recognize painting styles from various periods and understand how a painting reflects the time in which it was created.
  4. Students will apply this understanding to create original works of various subjects as solutions to visual problems, or as an expression of ideas.
Resources: L. Mullaney,C. Dragonette
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