The technical, formal and conceptual development of painting is at the core of the curriculum. The intensive two-year program combines the study of historic and contemporary painting methodologies with emphasis on exploration of critical theory allowing students to develop an individual artistic vision. The core studio sequence begins with direct, perceptually-based methods and progresses to advanced synthetic modes of pictorial construction.

The Painting Concentration immerses students in the variety of languages in which the human form is represented in oil. Direct painting addresses opaque perceptual description; indirect painting addresses mixing of color through layering; and second-year outcomes include integrating disparate sources and multiple figures into coherent compositions. Self-directed work is regularly critiqued by renowned visiting artists and faculty in the context of a diverse contemporary discourse.


Painting Curriculum

Year One | Fall Semester

P501 | Painting I: Direct Painting Intensive
3 Credits
This course examines the language and techniques of direct painting from the figure, still life and plaster casts. Students will paint using a variety of strategies derived from current and historical practice. Direct painting has been the method of choice for figurative painting in the modern era, but other techniques are encountered in the history of western art, often as foundations or reference studies for more layered development. Theoretical approaches to tonal structure and color theory will be addressed in depth. While emphasis in this course is on analytical seeing/interpreting, self-directed work plays a significant role. By providing a classroom structure for the review of independent work, the course achieves a vital dialogue between the method of direct painting and the myriad intentions of the artist.

A501 | Artistic Anatomy I: Structural Anatomy
3 Credits
This course provides instruction in the perceptual and conceptual means needed to construct the human figure in two or three dimensions from the model or from memory. It begins by examining the body’s structure through the study of the mechanics of motion, surface form and human anatomy. The instructor emphasizes the proportions of the skeleton, the major body masses and the movement potential in the joints. Students construct simplified male and female figures in plastilene, first conceived as a series of blocks and then refined into more realistic forms.

D 501 | Figure Drawing I Intensive
3 Credits
This course begins the process of developing the student’s ability to represent the human figure in pictorial space, clearly situated on a perspective ground plane. Emphasis is placed on gaining an in-depth understanding of the body’s underlying geometry and anatomical structure. A conceptual model of the figure is developed by correlating drawing from the live model with the study of Old Master drawings and diagrams that present the body as a series of interlocking volumes governed by hierarchical principles. Each session emphasizes a different body part or connective joint. Students learn about the characteristic contours of muscles and how body parts move in relation to one another and to the picture plane.

H501 | Art & Culture I
3 Credits
The Art & Culture sequence offers a challenging and advanced scheme of study and explores a range of theoretical perspectives that shape attitudes towards visual art and reflect on the human figure’s enduring role. Invigorated by current research, the two-semester program encourages students to explore conceptually and creatively the ways in which contemporary artistic practice and critical theory inter-relate. It aims to expand the students’ knowledge of contemporary artistic developments as well as to deepen understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of academic discourses on visual art. The series draws upon the fields of art history, philosophy, museology, literary theory, post-colonial studies and cultural studies in addressing the critical challenges posed by artistic practice. Classes prepare students to engage in studio practice within a broader context and allows them to fully engage in an ongoing cultural discourse. Students will study the theory that surrounds critical movements of early Modernism through Minimalism and conceptual art of the 1960’s. The role of representation, figuration, and abstraction within the attendant cultural arena will allow students a broad base for understanding the relationship of recent history to contemporary concerns in art.

A 503 | History & Theory of Composition I
3 Credits
This course investigates historical modalities and methods of compositional construction in Western figurative art from Classicism to early Modernism. The essential topics covered are: forms of spatial construction and illusion, the relationship of content to image, and the relationship of image construction to form and compositional content in various social and historical contexts. The aim is to give students an understanding of the possibilities and strategies of compositional realization, and instruction in the application of these strategies to their own ideas through studio work and class assignments.


Year One | Spring Semester

D502 | Figure Drawing II
3 Credits
This course emphasizes proportional accuracy, foreshortening, detail-mass relationships and the use of light and shadow to draw the figure as a convincing volumetric and spatial form. It integrates the conceptual geometricized model presented in Figure Drawing I (D101) with the perceptual, naturalistic concerns presented by the live model. Long poses allow the student to develop drawings that reflect a more complete realization of the human form.

P502 | Painting II: Indirect Painting
3 Credits
This is a course in optical mixing of color through layering, the common painting method in pre-modern times and gaining in acceptance among contemporary artists. Students paint using underpainting (imprimatura), glazing and scumbling techniques. Through this method of episodically building up a painting, students are able to address a variety of problems in sequential fashion and indirect painting becomes a valuable resource for students’ independent studio work. Projects in this course include self-directed assignments and instructed classroom figure painting.

H504 | Theory and Practice of Composition II
3 Credits
This course begins where History of Composition and Design I ends. Beginning with the birth of Modernism, it takes students through the various strategies of representing form and content from the end of the 19th century to the beginning of the 21st century, covering such movements as Modernism, post-Modernism, Surrealism, Conceptual Art, Pop Art, Expressionism and Realism. Formal aspects and compositional strategies will be considered and evaluated in their social and political contexts. Relationships of past art to the development of contemporary figurative art will be addressed.

A502 | Artistic Anatomy II: Anatomical Drawing
3 Credits
The goal of this course is to improve the student’s powers of observation by providing a basic understanding of the human body’s underlying structures and to delineate strategies for representing those forms two-dimensionally. Emphasis is placed on anatomy (skeletal structure, muscular origins and insertions, and surface forms) and proportion. Ample time is given to students to work directly from the model. Focus is also placed upon the variety of the human form as represented by artists both historical and contemporary.

3 Credits
In the second semester, students select one elective course based on their area of interest. Electives provide students with the opportunity to enrich their core curriculum and gain experience with new concepts and techniques. Students are encouraged to select an elective outside their concentration. Click here to view offerings.

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"The figure is nothing unless you can twist it around like a strange miracle."

Willem De Kooning

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