Visual Arts

Flintridge Preparatory School Visual Arts

The Visual Arts Department offers mentored learning experiences in drawing, painting, printmaking, ceramics, photography and video. Each day, our faculty of practicing, exhibiting artists guides students through an inventive curriculum designed to foster breakthrough moments while emphasizing concept development, visualization and artisanship.

Introductory-level projects excite the imagination and provide a foundation of design strategies and “making” skills. Middle school students bring monsters to life in clay while learning the basics of hand building, or mastermind imaginary cities in axonometric perspective. Photography projects begin with handmade pinhole cameras and the magic of developing images in the darkroom.  

Such experiences give students the freedom to explore multiple interpretations of their world while discovering the empowering aspects of manual competence. In a sequence of classes, students build sophisticated technical, aesthetic and analytic skills, giving them a range of tools that can be applied to the challenges of creative self-expression.

The contiguous art studios on Prep’s lower campus also serve as a community destination. Fully stocked with supplies and both analog and digital tools, these spaces provide a welcoming oasis where students can create, visit with friends, and be inspired by rotating exhibits of finished work.

Ceramics Course Descriptions

Ceramics—8th Grade

This semester-long class introduces students to fundamental methods of forming clay. Students learn the basic techniques for hand-building (pinch pot, slab construction and coil construction), and develop basic techniques for throwing pots on the potter’s wheel. The class emphasizes craftsmanship, creativity and an appreciation for the elements that are inherent to well-made ceramic art. Students learn how to finish their pieces with various types of glaze and decorating techniques. They are also encouraged to experiment, to develop personal ideas and to create works of art that solve visual problems.

Ceramics—VPA 9

This intermediate course covers more comprehensive techniques for wheel-throwing geometric forms and gives an overview of hand-building methods, providing students with skills needed to approach clay as a sculptural medium. Working from observation and drawing enhances students’ ability to translate line into three-dimensional forms. Students acquire a thorough understanding of the nature of clay, glazes and ceramic processes and equipment, and they analyze the effective use of elements, principles and media in works of art. The final project is a mosaic mural, where students participate in all aspects of production, including design, tile making, mural assembly, grout and frame making.

Advanced Ceramics (Ceramics 2)

This course provides an introduction to sophisticated glazing and decoration techniques. By exploring new techniques for wheel throwing, students can execute larger and more complex pieces such as a functioning and ergonomically designed teapot. Some projects are process driven and lead to the discovery of new three-dimensional forms and more sophisticated ideas. Wearable art projects using precious metal clay incorporate skills of formation and design. Students engage in critical thinking and writing to improve their understanding of their own work and the work of others, including art encountered on class field trips. Prerequisite: Ceramics.

Advanced Ceramics (Ceramics 3)

This advanced class focuses on exploring various sources of inspiration and then developing individual projects suited to students’ unique tastes and expressive desires. Tableware, architectural ornamentation, public art or other dimensional work chosen by students provides the context for self-designed projects. The course emphasizes creative interpretation, invention and collaboration. Working with the instructor, students may apply any technical process needed to fabricate their work. Field trips to artists’ studios enhance students’ knowledge and appreciation of ceramic art. Prerequisite: two previous years of ceramics classes at Flintridge Prep.

Advanced Ceramics (Ceramics 4)

Fourth-year ceramics students work independently with the instructor to develop and complete self-directed projects. The goal is to produce a conceptually sophisticated, innovative and unified body of work, emphasizing both personal expression and artisanship. Students may use all appropriate ceramic techniques and processes. Significant creative growth occurs through individual mentoring. Prerequisite: Three previous years of ceramics classes at Flintridge Prep.

Drawing and Painting

Art—7th Grade (Drawing and Painting)

In this introductory, quarter-long course, students experience how to see as an artist through drawing, painting and printmaking projects, with an emphasis on perceiving and recording their immediate environment. Students begin by transforming a clay sculptures into a large-scale value drawing of their own creation, with exposure to line, shape, form and value. To understand space and the principles of design, students create relief prints emphasizing the balance of positive and negative space. These prints are transformed into a mural using expressive color and pattern. Students also create a board game using interactive and algorithmic design strategies.

Drawing and Painting—8th Grade

In this semester-long course, students continue to explore the elements of art and the principles of design with an emphasis on self-expression and personal vision. Students create a “Day in My Life” comic book, developing a character to represent themselves. As a graphic design introduction, students create their own personal logo, also exploring how to evolve an idea from an original sketch to a finished silk-screen T-shirt design. Students learn how to silk-screen T-shirts as well as make design choices that support their concepts.

Drawing and Painting—VPA 9

This course emphasizes foundational drawing skills, including observational drawing and drafting techniques. The beginning of the course is focused on contour and organizational lines, perspective and value. Students then create a toy design drawing and bring that drawing to life by transforming a vinyl toy through various shaping processes. Students also explore stencilry by creating and then spray-painting a site-specific stencil design intended to transform the meaning of a specific location on Flintridge Prep’s campus. In addition, students study the proportions of the face and body and use those skills to create a “selfie” that expresses their inner and outer selves through the use of color.

Advanced Drawing and Painting (Drawing and Painting 2)

Intermediate students engage a broader exploration of drawing and painting with an emphasis on new materials and how they can be applied to support more sophisticated concepts and aesthetic choices. The course also introduces a variety of design disciplines related to drawing and painting, including animation, fashion design and architecture. Projects include short stop-motion animations, interactive book designs in pen and ink and explorations of traditional modes of art making. Such explorations include painting a symbolic and individually constructed still life, drawing costumed models and drawing the body in motion.

Advanced Drawing and Painting (Drawing and Painting 3)

This advanced course encourages students to develop and work with self-assigned concepts while exploring a range of tools and media. Experimental drawing and painting techniques are enhanced by the introduction of non-traditional mediums such as embroidery, dyes and found material. The class emphasizes self-direction, meaningful expression and individual portfolio development. Students experience the work of both contemporary and historical artists through slide presentations, visiting artist lectures and gallery and museum visits.

AP Studio Art: Drawing

AP Studio Art: Drawing is a year-long immersive experience for motivated seniors interesting in developing a body of work for submission to the College Board. The course is structured to support and expand on the AP assessment guidelines, including competence in design skills, technique and the development of a thematic body of work. Class meetings offer opportunities for students to explore historic and contemporary artists and experiment with sophisticated art-making techniques. In addition, frequent discussions hone critical skills and help students practice synthesizing input to improve their work. The AP experience gives passionate art students a better understanding of the visual arts as a means of personal expression.

Photography Course Descriptions

Photography—VPA 9 (Introduction to Photography)

This introduction to basic techniques, design elements and ideas in photography begins with students making pinhole cameras and developing images in the darkroom. Students then scan the images, adjust them in Photoshop and post them images to the class wiki, providing a taste of both analog and digital methods. Subsequent assignments and in-class projects explore the visual effects of light, camera and lens settings, as well as basic digital manipulation. Newly acquired skills give students the confidence to express themselves through creative and aesthetic choices. The class culminates in a handmade book project incorporating text and images.

Advanced Photography (Photography 2)

This course goes beyond the single photograph to explore more complex visual forms and their creative potential. A typical class project might begin with a presentation on a new visual genre, such as the photo composite, zine or animated gif, followed by a discussion of its expressive potential and technical structure. Students then challenge themselves to solve a conceptual prompt by learning and applying a new genre technique. The class offers a playful forum for discovering alternative ways to express ideas photographically while acquiring new image-making skills. Prerequisite: Photography.

Advanced Photography (Photography 3)

Advanced photography students employ the technical and creative skills acquired in prior classes to address issues concerning the use and meaning of imagery in contemporary life. Presentations and class discussions help students become more astute observers and thoughtful analysts of visual culture and its social impact, while also offering a touchstone for their own creative work. Assignments are long-term and largely self-directed, giving students interpretive freedom and ample time to develop concepts and imagery. Regular peer critiques provide a positive forum for guiding student efforts toward successful and personally meaningful finished imagery. Prerequisite: Two years of photography at Flintridge Prep.

Video Art

This class is an introduction to digital video as a creative medium. Students participate in all aspects of video production, including gathering ideas, storyboarding, shooting with digital cameras, editing in Adobe Premier and screening final works. The assignments given in class acquaint students with ideas and movements in contemporary video art, like performance and installation. Thematic assignments such as “The Drought” challenge students to visually communicate their views on this recent California phenomenon. This class inspires students to explore sound and moving images as a catalyst for self-expression. Prerequisite: Photography (VPA-9).

AP Studio Art: 2D Design and Drawing

AP Studio Art: 2D Design and Drawing is a yearlong immersive experience for motivated seniors interested in developing a body of photographic work for submission to the College Board. The course is structured to support and expand on the AP assessment guidelines, which include competence in design skills, technique and the development of a thematic body of work. Class meetings offer opportunities for students to explore historic and contemporary photographers and experiment with sophisticated image-making techniques. In addition, frequent discussions hone critical skills and help students practice synthesizing input to improve their work. This top-level experience gives passionate art students a better understanding of the visual arts as a means of personal expression. Prerequisite: Three years of photography and permission of instructor.

Flintridge Preparatory School
4543 Crown Avenue La Cañada Flintridge CA 91011
Tel: 818-790-1178
Fax: 818-952-6247
Located near Pasadena and Los Angeles in La Cañada, CA, Flintridge Prep is a private independent, coed day school for grades 7-12.
  • NAIS
  • FAST
  • CSEE
  • Independent Curriculum Group
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