Visual Arts

Our visual arts program offers courses in drawing, painting, and ceramics to students at all levels of expertise. Students who complete introductory coursework in any of these disciplines (as well as photography and film)— may choose to further their study of that discipline by “majoring” in that discipline in the senior year. Majors take a full-credit Advanced Study course during the senior year that requires extensive, independent work and artistic production outside the classroom, with a goal of building an individual portfolio of ambitious original work.

In each fine arts discipline we teach, students are introduced to the core elements of the given language, and guided through a series of exercises that ensure them a basic fluency. We believe that any student can achieve this modest goal, regardless of prior experience or natural facility. Once our students have developed a familiarity with the building blocks of a visual art form, they are encouraged to embrace the process of gaining technical mastery, and to risk experimentation that might take them outside of their comfort zones. Each course is designed to offer progressively more challenging projects, with room for individual interpretation, so that both the beginning and experienced artist will find a tempo that both suits and challenges them.

Art history is also a key component to our studio arts curriculum. Whether students are creating ceramic vessels inspired by Native American traditions, oil paintings that are interpretative copies of French Impressionists’ work, or drawings inspired by famous twentieth century photography, we ask arts students to constantly engage with images from different cultures and understand the historical context from which a particular art form or style emerged.

The O'Brien Arts Center is home to the Warner Gallery, which holds student exhibitions three times a year, and visiting artist exhibitions four times per year. These visiting artist exhibitions give students a chance to interact with professional artists and to witness the ways in which the artistic disciplines we teach in our classrooms can be pursued in the wider world. When combined with close contact with established St. Andrew's faculty artists who are continually pursuing their own artistic practices, our intensive visual arts training allows the student grow in her artistic understanding, creative capabilities, and tendency toward free expression. Our master-apprentice teaching model for the visual arts allows our students to gain a strong sense of the arts as a means for investigating and celebrating the world in which they live.

Visual Art Courses

Foundations in Visual Art

Open to all forms

semester-long half-credit elective

Developing a foundation in art and design entails building an awareness of contemporary art-making practices, as well as a working knowledge of the history of visual artmaking. The Foundations in Visual Arts course is designed to introduce students to the materials, techniques, language, concepts and processes of making, using, and thinking about art. The course aims to keep a healthy tension and balance between formal concepts, hands-on skills, imagination, and critical thinking. Students will be introduced to fundamental elements of visual language through a variety of exercises, discussions, and lectures about content and form of the major visual arts genres. Informal group critiques of works made both in and out of class will take place on a regular basis.  

Art History

Open to IV, V, VI Form students

Semester-long half-credit elective

This course will take students through the process of exploring the subject, style, and significance of art and architecture of various world cultures. Students will draw from a variety of text and video resources to understand and appreciate the historical forces that gave rise to the astonishing richness of the structures and iconography that mark out particular historical eras. Students will design visual presentations and sketchbooks that seek to compare a given work with examples from other cultures and time periods, thereby widening the breadth of their investigations. 

Drawing 1

open to IV, V, VI Form students

semester-Long Half-credit elective

Students in this course work with a variety of media to create a visual language for describing natural form. Using charcoal, conte, and pastel, students render still-lifes, landscapes, and portraits with the goal of creating strong representational images.

Drawing 2

open to IV, V, VI Form students

Prerequisite: Drawing 1 or instructor permission

semester-long, half-credit elective

Students work with a variety of media that will build upon skills that were previously acquired in Drawing 1. The language of value and form will continue to be explored with tools such as colored pastels, India ink, and charcoal. Students will then begin to pursue assignments of their own choosing, looking to construct their own visual ideas as they assemble a portfolio of images. 

Painting 1

open to IV, V, VI Form students

semester-long Half-credit Elective

In Painting 1, students work on on still-lifes, landscapes, and portraits, and in doing so learn how to use color as a means for describing light and form.

Painting 2

open to IV, V, VI Form students

Prerequisite: Painting 1 or instructor permission

semester-long, half-credit elective

Students will work through a series of assignments that explore composition, color, brushwork, and value range. The ultimate goal of Painting 2 is for students to develop and pursue their own independent ideas in a portfolio of original images. Gouache, watercolor, and oil paint will all be options for medium as students develop their own artistic voice.  

Printmaking

open to IV, V, VI Form students

SEMESTER-LONG HALF-CREDIT Elective

PREREQUISITE: PHOTO 1 or Drawing 1

The medium of printmaking provides an arena of creativity where photography, drawing, collage, and painting collide. Through an examination of etching, relief, and screenprinting, students will have the opportunity to create a portfolio of prints that showcases each of these areas. By its nature, Printmaking is a communal activity that relies on each person playing a different role in the print studio. In this way, each print becomes a collaboration between the participants, with every student supporting the other.

Advanced Study in Drawing & Painting

open to VI Form students

Prerequisite: Drawing 2 or Painting 2

Yearlong course

This yearlong course is an intensive studio class designed for VI Form students interested in investigating advanced methods and concepts central to the visual arts. Students concentrate on hands-on studio work with individual faculty in one of the visual arts disciplines (painting, ceramics, photography, or film), and come together for lectures and discussions of contemporary issues in art, practical demonstrations, such as portfolio development, and critiques. Coordinated, thematic assignments stimulate comparative discussions among visual art disciplines as in an advanced fine arts seminar.

Recent News & Exhibitions


For more info on the visual arts at SAS, contact:

John McGiff

John McGiff

Arts Department Co-Chair, Warner Art Gallery Director, Drawing, Painting, Art History