Sample Syllabi


In much the same way that writing essays helps us learn to think, drawing from life helps us learn to see. In this course, drawing will be taught as a way of articulating vision; the purpose of this class will be to acquire a set of tools that allows you to see more deeply and to develop the complexity and integrity of your drawings as documents of visual experience.

The course will cover a range of concepts, including line, form, composition, value, and space. We will discuss and engage with various systems of “rules” surrounding these concepts, always testing them against visual experience and with the recognition that one must know the rules of the game in order to effectively break them. The acquisition of a formal vocabulary with which to discuss drawing is an essential element in the development of a subtle visual understanding.

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This introductory course in painting will address basic concepts of painting, focusing especially on the communication of space and form through color. Our consideration of painting will involve learning to see in terms of color and color relationships, heightening and directing this visual sense through the process of making paintings. 

Painting will be considered both historically and in relation to contemporary practice. The course will cover the basic elements of color theory and the techniques behind different ways of constructing paintings, including both direct and indirect painting methods. Students will then investigate a painter of their choice and develop a final project based on that painter’s technique, style and subject matter. The course consists of three major components: in-class work, homework and critiques.

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In this class, students will make and re-make a single painting ten times: that is, each student will produce at least ten paintings that seek the same truth. Central to the course will be an encounter with the questions: Is there truth in painting? What does it mean to seek truth in painting? Does painting admit of such a quest? How has the idea of the truth in painting been understood historically—and what does that have to do with painting today? We will certainly discover that truth in painting is elusive—that the truth one might try to put into a painting is often not the truth that emerges from the process of painting. 

In this course, the act of painting will be considered as an investigation rather than a mode of production. Works will be considered with respect to what they reveal. ‘Painting’ will be considered quite loosely, and experimentation will be strongly encouraged. For some students, three versions of the same ‘painting’ might include a performance, a video, and a painting. The goal of the course will be for students to learn how to critically assess their own work and to mine that work for new directions.

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