Visual Arts 7

This studio course introduces students to the fundamental principles of composition and design and the objective elements of visual language. Students explore art activities via a variety of media and techniques, including drawing, painting, printmaking, and sculpture. They develop visual language skills through classroom practice, guided experimentation, and sketchbook exercises. Students exhibit their work throughout the semester.

Foundations in Visual Arts

This studio class is for students who prefer a yearlong arts experience. Modeled after foundation art courses offered by contemporary art and design schools, it provides a broad palette of essential visual-arts skills, concepts, and experiences through the practice of animation, ceramics, drawing, mixed media, painting, and photography.

Introduction to Clay and Glass

In this hands-on, project-based studio art class, students learn techniques for engaging clay and glass as sculptural materials. Through hand-building techniques—such as coil forming, slab construction, and additive and reductive sculpture—students begin to understand the material qualities and capabilities of clay. Through cutting, fusing, slumping, mold making, and casting, they learn how to work with glass to actualize their creative ideas. Students experiment with new processes while honoring craft as a discipline in the arts. Each project is taught with benchmark pieces of historical and contemporary art to guide student learning.

Introduction to the Potter's Wheel

Students learn to center, open, shape, and trim clay on the potter’s wheel. They gain the skills to make cups, bowls, and plates. The class experiments with a variety of ways to decorate and glaze ceramic pieces.

Drawing and Painting: Technique

This course expands students’ drawing and painting skills and develops their realistic two-dimensional rendering prowess. Students work with wet and dry media: graphite, charcoal, ink, gouache, acrylic, and oil on paper, canvas, and panel. Integrating a focus on formal and technical development with a naturalistic and observational approach, students explore figuration, portraiture, still-life, landscape, and interior drawing and painting. Work is drawn from life, photographs, and masterworks. Students learn advanced techniques such as scumbling, glazing, grisaille, and painting “fat over lean.” They are exposed to an introductory survey of Western art history and use historic sources and materials to study and reconstruct masterworks.

Drawing and Painting: Expression

This course is about drawing and painting from one’s inner world. Students are exposed to modern and contemporary art techniques and concepts. They work with two-dimensional materials to engage in artistic exploration of human expression. Students investigate expressionism, abstraction, surrealism, narrative, and the avant-garde. They work from observation and imagination to create art more concerned with expressing conceptual depth than displaying technical ability. Through creation, group discussion, analysis, and critique, students develop their studio practice.

Introduction to Digital Photography

This course introduces dynamic composition and expressive exposure techniques that apply to digital and film photography. Students create portfolios of printed photographs, and their work is exhibited on a regular basis. Coursework is performed with Nikon® digital single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras provided by the school and common point-and-shoot digital cameras provided by the student. Students learn to organize, edit, and print their photographs using Adobe® Photoshop® and Epson® inkjet printers.

Introduction to PhotoGraphics

This course introduces Adobe® Photoshop® as well as digital darkroom techniques and special effects. Course projects are designed and selected by current and previous students as well as by the instructor. Students are encouraged to explore as they develop sensitivity to craft, composition, picture design, and graphic impact. Students create portfolios containing printed photographs and graphics, and their work is exhibited on a regular basis. Coursework is performed with Nikon® digital single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras provided by the school and common point-and-shoot digital cameras provided by the student.

Video Storytelling I

Students explore a variety of animation and live-action techniques to bring stories of their own creation to life in digital time-based media. They write, storyboard, shoot, edit, and screen film art individually and collaboratively. Soundtracks and special effects using video-editing software may be added to complete the work.

Video Storytelling II

This course expands on the exploratory nature of Video Storytelling I. Students develop more personal long-term projects to hone their time-based storytelling skills. Further refinement of animation-making skills, combined with an emphasis on three-dimensional space as seen through the camera, allows for an increasingly cinematic approach to video storytelling. Prerequisite: Video Storytelling I.

Introduction to Graphic Design

This course is for students who want to communicate through words, images, and ideas on paper, tee shirts, the Web, or anywhere else. Students learn to think like designers while conceptualizing and creating real-world projects. Fundamentals include shape, scale, pattern, color, composition, logotypes, typography, product design, brand identity, and poster, magazine, and book-cover design. Students learn to use Adobe® Creative Suite® 6 software (Photoshop® and Illustrator®) to create projects that define their personal design aesthetic and promote events within the Harvard-Westlake community.


Three-Dimensional Art: Ceramics

Students in this course concentrate on using the potter’s wheel to develop basic competency in working with clays and glazes.

Ceramics II

Wheel-forming and other clay-forming and joining techniques are explored in depth. Glaze mixing and experimentation are covered, and kiln loading is introduced. A digital-image portfolio of student work may be produced. Prerequisite: Three-Dimensional Art: Ceramics or Three-Dimensional Art: Ceramics/Sculpture.


In this course, students explore a variety of processes for creating two- and three-dimensional images using float, machine-rolled, and handmade colored glass. Techniques taught include carving multiple levels using aluminum oxide and resists, cutting, polishing, cold working, fusing, slumping, bending, pâte de verre, casting, UV laminating, and kiln forming using ceramic, stainless steel, and casting molds. A digital-image portfolio of student work may be produced. Prerequisite: Introduction to Clay and Glass, Three-Dimensional Art: Ceramics, Three-Dimensional Art: Ceramics/Sculpture, or Three-Dimensional Art: Sculpture.

Three-Dimensional Art: Sculpture

This course introduces students to some technical vocabulary in several of the basic three-dimensional media. Each project is directed at teaching skills required to manipulate each medium. Media and techniques include clay (modeling and use of an armature); glass (cutting, polishing, taping, sandblasting, and gluing with UV light-sensitive adhesive); metal (oxy/acetylene brazing); and plaster (creating forms with an armature—layering, carving, sanding, and refining). Slides, videos, demonstrations, and discussions clarify and enhance the aesthetic and technical aspects of the course.

Sculpture II

In this course, students explore a variety of processes for creating three-dimensional objects. Through the techniques of carving, modeling, constructing, welding, casting, heating, and digital fabrication (including 3-D printing), students realize forms in metal, wood, plaster, clay, wire, and glass. A digital-image portfolio of student work may be produced. Prerequisite: Three-Dimensional Art: Ceramics/Sculpture or Three-Dimensional Art: Sculpture.

Drawing and Painting I

This introductory drawing and painting course is open to students who did not take Drawing and Painting I/The History and Art of Modern Europe and the World in the tenth grade and are interested in honing the skills of making two-dimensional art. The first semester focuses on foundational drawing and visual literacy; the second semester builds upon those skills by exploring representational and abstract wet-media techniques. Areas of study include line, contour, perspective, light logic, and color theory using professional artist’s materials such as charcoal, graphite, ink and wash, watercolors, and acrylics. Historical and contemporary art examples illustrate the use of technique and ideological content. Students keep a sketchbook to which they contribute weekly. Students are evaluated based upon their enthusiasm for learning, full attention and effort, and active participation in class activities, including discussions, slide presentations, studio critiques, visiting-artist lectures, and field trips.

Drawing and Painting II

This is a prerequisite course for Drawing and Painting III, AP Studio Art: 2-D Design, and AP Studio Art: Drawing. The course focuses on twentieth-century art and its concepts and themes. Prerequisite: Drawing and Painting I/The History and Art of Modern Europe and the World or Drawing and Painting I.

Drawing and Painting III

This class is for seniors who want to experiment with a broad range of visual concepts and concentrate on developing a body of work around one of those concepts (similar to the Breadth and Concentration sections of the AP courses) without incurring as strenuous a load as demanded by an AP course of study. Students produce three “breadth” pieces during the first semester and five “concentration” pieces during the second semester. Prerequisite: Drawing and Painting II.

AP Studio Art: 2-D Design

Students complete a portfolio of twenty-four pieces, applying design principles in a project-based setting to create solutions to problems in two dimensions. For the portfolio’s Breadth section, the course features the use of multiple tools of production, including digital media, to create unique responses to twelve design problems. Students then declare an area of concentration and, during the second and third quarters, produce twelve pieces for the portfolio’s Concentration section. The complete design portfolio is presented for AP Studio Art: 2-D Design portfolio assessment. Prerequisite: Drawing and Painting II and application.

AP Studio Art: Drawing

This drawing and painting course provides an in-depth studio experience in which students create portfolios of quality artwork with an emphasis on concept as well as perception. The scope of the work is equivalent to that of a foundation art course in college for those students interested in fine art. Course content fulfills the guidelines set by the College Board. Students complete a portfolio of twenty-four works and submit it to be scored by the College Board. The portfolio includes eight AP-level works completed in the tenth and eleventh grades in addition to seven new works completed during the first semester and nine additional works completed between January and mid-April. Prerequisite: Drawing and Painting II and application.

Draw & Paint I/Hist & Art of Mod Eur & World

This interdisciplinary course combines a tenth-grade history course (see description for course number U6410-0, The History and Art of Modern Europe and the World, located in the Academics section of this guide under the History and Social Studies course offerings) with a drawing and painting course. For students who love art history and/or studio art, it offers the opportunity to study history through art and to develop and hone artistic techniques and talents. This course is required for students wishing to take AP Studio Art offerings in the Visual Arts department. Corequisite: The History and Art of Modern Europe and the World.

Photography I

Photography I reviews fundamental camera and composition skills and introduces black-and-white 35mm film and silver gelatin printing using a traditional wet darkroom. In the second half of the course, students apply what they have learned in the darkroom to create projects using both film and digital media. Alternative processes are also explored, including pinhole-camera, photogram, cyanotype, and handcoloring techniques. Students use photography as a medium for self-expression, documentation, and social commentary. They participate in trips and exhibit their work in the school gallery. A 35mm single-lens reflex (SLR) film camera with manual controls is required.

Photography II

In this course, students develop advanced technical photography skills that enable them to produce finished prints that faithfully reflect their intentions. Students identify issues, ideas, and emotions that have the most personal meaning to them and then effectively translate these into prints. Exhibitions of student work help to gauge whether these personal meanings translate into collective meanings. The students are introduced to the role that photography plays in our visual heritage, to a historical as well as personal approach to creative expression, and to the basic theories of aesthetic perception. A 35mm single-lens reflex (SLR) film or digital camera with manual controls is required. Prerequisite: Photography I.

Photography III

This course is for photographers who wish to improve their technical skills, further develop their individual styles, study the history and aesthetics of photography, and work with digital photographic manipulation. A digital-image portfolio, suitable for inclusion with college portfolios, is produced in the first semester. During the second semester, students present their work for review by the photography department and mount a final exhibition. Prerequisite: Photography II.

Video Art I

This full-year course teaches the basic techniques used in making experimental and short films, including how to create professional camera shots; edit; and add soundtracks, special effects, and credits. No previous experience is necessary. Students also learn about the history of film, television, and video so they can use that knowledge to interpret the world from their own points of view and tell their own stories. Assignments include experimental videos, dramatic stories, and media manipulations. Students exhibit their works on campus in screenings, installations, and gallery shows, and selected works are submitted to film festivals.

Video Art II

Using the technical skills learned in Video Art I, students spend the year writing, producing, directing, filming, and editing their own projects. Students become more familiar with the language of film through class presentations and screenings in conjunction with filming in the studio and in the field. The first semester is devoted to writing scripts and filming short exercises, such as staged dialogue and montage scenes and dolly and handheld shots. The second semester is devoted to working on a film crew (usually six students) and producing—from scratch—an original film. Each student has the opportunity to work in the various roles on a film crew: director, assistant director, director of photography, grip, boom operator, and editor. Students learn about technical and aesthetic aspects of the film medium in the process of creating their own work. Prerequisite: Video Art I.

Video Art III

This class is for self-motivated students with a passion for pursuing their filmmaking goals. Student filmmakers take the technical skills they have learned over the preceding two years and apply them to the production of original short films. The yearlong series of projects are written, produced, directed, filmed, and edited completely by the students. Work is screened on campus, but there are also opportunities for students to submit films to a variety of festivals and competitions around the country. It is recommended, but not required, that students in this class concurrently enroll in Cinema Studies (see description for course number U7058-0 located in the Academics section of this guide under the Interdisciplinary Studies and Independent Research course offerings). Prerequisite: Video Art II.

Three-Dimensional Art: Ceramics/Sculpture

This course combines Three-Dimensional Art: Ceramics (U0050-1/2) and Three-Dimensional Art: Sculpture (U0150-1/2) to create a yearlong sequence that fulfills the University of California system’s VPA (visual and performing arts) subject requirement.

Three-Dimensional Art III

This course provides an opportunity for seniors to pursue their interests in three-dimensional media (ceramics, glass, or sculpture) after they have exhausted the courses offered in a single three-dimensional visual-art discipline. Students work with the instructor to structure a substantial self-directed learning experience in place of traditional instructor-directed coursework. Students are required to submit a proposal prior to the start of the course. Prerequisite: Ceramics II, Glass, or Sculpture II.

Directed Study: Visual Arts

This course is for students who have exhausted the possibilities within the existing curriculum. The course content is created by the students in collaboration with an instructor. Students may explore any media within the department, such as ceramics, drawing, glass, painting, photography, sculpture, or video, or a different media if a qualified instructor can be found. A directed study may also be thematic instead of media-based. Prerequisite: Application.