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U.S. Visual Arts
The Creative Arts Department faculty is committed to promoting artistic excellence through self-discovery, creative expression, and collaboration. Through creative risk-taking and the application of technical skills, our program builds confidence and discipline in students. The Creative Arts program promotes empathy and an appreciation for the artistic contributions of others.
(F, W, S) Open to: Grades 9-12 The human act of drawing predates the written word. Children express innate joy when given the chance to draw. As we age, many of us draw less and less to the point where we abandon the skill entirely. Taught concurrently with Painting Methods, this class gives students permission to re-engage the skill while framing drawing as the foundation of visual art. We will learn how to draw from observation while exploring the possibilities of graphite, charcoal, ink, and more.
(F) Open to: Grades 9-12 Prerequisite: Drawing: Form and Light, Painting Methods, or with permission of the department chair upon review of student artwork This course invites students to explore drawing the human figure, while reinforcing fundamental drawing techniques. Working with a live model, students will develop an understanding of the basic anatomy and proportions of the human form in order to render it accurately. We will revisit the elements and principles of art and design, as well as composition, and observational drawing methods. Once a foundation is achieved, students will also explore the expressive and conceptual possibilities of figure drawing.
Open to: Grades 9-12 Drawing is the foundation of all visual art. This class is designed to refine skills and discover how fun and easy it is to draw both accurately and expressively. In this concentrated study of drawing we will learn to use pencils, pen and ink, markers, graphite, charcoal, colored pencils and other media to define what we see. Drawing from life, the human figure, interior settings, and landscapes, this course will introduce the fundamental elements of a good drawing: accurate perspective, intentional compositions, varied values, rich textures, and intriguing space. This class is recommended for all painters, designers, and interested art students.
(F, W, S) Open to: Grades 9-12 From oil paint to watercolor, this class serves as a guided exploration of pushing paint across a surface. Taught concurrently with Drawing: Form and Light, students will begin by utilizing paint as a drawing tool, laying down values and mixing grays to create the illusion of light. From there they will engage with color theory and paint-mixing techniques for both water and oil-based mediums. Rounding out their experience, students will be given the chance to create work independently, and unlock the joys of expression through paint.
Open to: Grades 9-12 Prerequisites: Drawing This course is an introduction to color theory and practice. The elements of design and the unique characteristics of colors are explored using watercolor and acrylic paints on paper and canvas. Painting from life, students will solve the creative challenge of representing the world they see. The thrill of putting paint on a surface will be experienced daily.
(F, W, S) Open to: Grades 9-12 This course offers the opportunity for strong, highly-motivated students to design and undertake their own interdisciplinary projects under the guidance of a Creative Arts instructor. This course is ideal for students interested in digitally-based media including graphic design, illustration, animation, 3-D sculpting, and/or game design. Students will walk through the design process for their project: brainstorm, proposal, research summary, detailed plan, and regular progress reports. Students may enroll in this course multiple times over their time at Derryfield with permission of the instructor.
This course will cover the expressive and creative aspects of clay. Students will learn the fundamentals of hand building— from coiled vessels to slab-built sculptures. Mold-making, stamping, glazing, and painting techniques will all be explored as students create decorative, sculptural, and functional objects. Students will develop proficiency in working with clay, developing at least five unique ceramic forms over the course of the term. Assignments will explore sculptural form, surface marking, and color aspects of ceramic art.
This course provides students with a foundation in digital photography techniques and composition. Students will develop their technological understanding by primarily working in a manual setting with DSLR cameras, and continue to strengthen their application of the elements of art and principles of design. Their growth as artists will be supported through their exploration of composition as it relates to portraiture, photomontage, landscape, abstraction, and the narrative. Daily use of digital editing software like Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop will help students to refine their photographic images. Presentation of historical and contemporary photographers and techniques, weekly digital sketchbook assignment, as well as regular class and one-on-one critiques will further support student understanding and growth. All students are expected to use their own digital camera. There are limited loaner cameras available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
(W) Open to: Grades 9-12 Avatar: the Last Airbender, Lord of the Rings, Star Trek: vastly popular intellectual properties that owe much of their success to the depth and richness of their worlds. They are tangible, meaningful, and enthralling. But how are they made? In this course, students will be introduced to a myriad of processes that artists, writers, and designers use to ideate anything from a simple character to an entire cosmology. This multimedia course will have students collaborating, writing, sketching, designing, and sculpting artifacts that will help to paint a picture of a vibrant, original world.
Digital art introduces students to the uses of contemporary media as an art-making tool. By combining traditional art concepts, like the elements of art and principles of design, with various digital technologies, students have the opportunity to develop a diverse digital art portfolio. Topics covered in this course may include image editing and manipulation, digital drawing and illustration, animation, and augmented/virtual reality. Students will use various contemporary media like Adobe CC Suite, digital drawing tablets, and their personal digital devices to develop creative artworks. Regular class critiques will enhance student understanding and support artistic growth.
Prerequisite: There are no prerequisites for this class, but it is recommended that students take drawing first. Graphic design is the art of visual communication. By combining imagery and text, graphic designers communicate ideas through a variety of dynamic graphic media. Integrating art with technology, students in this course will utilize fundamental art principles with industry standard computer programs like Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator to effectively communicate a message. Students will develop original works that integrate typography and visual imagery through logo and brand design, promotional materials, and advertising. Regular class critiques will enhance student understanding and support artistic growth.
(F) Open to: Grades 9-12 Learn how one art critic's snarky review of Monet’s Impression Sunrise set off a movement that turned the art world upside down. In this course, students will examine the Impressionist art movement, and how the work and associated artists created a new paradigm for what art would look like in the 20th century. Through visual and critical analysis, discussion, and hands-on practice, students will develop an informed understanding about art criticism and the historical impact of Impressionism. Studio exercises, including en plein air painting, and experiential opportunities to view Impressionist work first hand will make for a robust learning experience for students of any level of understanding. This course is cross-listed as a History elective for 11th and 12th graders.
(F) Open to: Grades 11 & 12 Prerequisite: 2 trimesters of any visual arts course, or with permission of the department chair. This course is designed for students wishing to explore creating artwork within a more rigorously structured environment. Students will learn and practice the essential skills artists deploy as they claim being a practicing artist for themselves. They will be given the opportunity to experiment with new techniques and materials, or reinforce skills already developed in prior classes. Students will meet professional artists and attend arts-oriented events and field trips. Outside readings, sketchbook assignments, class critiques, and collaborative projects will further enhance and support student artistic appreciation and growth. In-studio efforts beyond the scheduled class time are required to meet the expectations of this class. Junior-level students who wish to develop a portfolio for college applications will find this class especially useful. Seniors already on the path to further artistic study will also be enriched by this intensive, studio-oriented environment.
This course introduces students to a wide array of printmaking processes and techniques that promote experimentation and compositional development. Students will build a diverse print portfolio using various printing techniques, not limited to, monotype, block printing, drypoint etching, and screen printing. Historical and compositional aspects of printmaking, as well as reference to foundations of art and design, will enrich the studio experience and inspire student creativity. Regular class critiques will enhance student understanding and support artistic growth. Students wishing to pursue more advanced studies in this medium are encouraged to enroll in an independent study.
(S) Open to: Grade 11 Prerequisite: 2 trimesters of any visual arts course, or with permission of the department chair. This course is designed for Junior-level students who are heavily invested in pursuing art, and plan on applying to a college-level art program. We will begin this course by compiling student artwork to excavate and illustrate the student’s goals for their artistic pursuits. We will then design a bespoke action plan that the student will execute during the term to fill any gaps, revise unfinished work, or conceptualize new works. We will also develop optional plans for the forthcoming summer break.
Students will learn to problem-solve creatively through traditional and contemporary ways of working in three-dimensions. Students will learn how to manipulate a variety of materials and use sculpting tools safely. They will analyze other works of sculpture through reading, discussion and critique and examine geometric, abstract and organic forms. Projects will include recycled and found-object, site-specific, and conceptual sculptures.
Prerequisite: 3 trimesters of any visual arts course or with permission of the department chair.
This course is designed for students wishing to explore creating artwork within a more rigorously structured environment. Students will learn and practice the essential skills artists deploy as they claim being a practicing artist for themselves. They will be given the opportunity to experiment with new techniques and materials, or reinforce skills already developed in prior classes. Students will meet professional artists and attend arts-oriented events and field trips. Outside readings, sketchbook assignments, class critiques, and collaborative projects will further enhance and support student artistic appreciation and growth. In-studio efforts beyond the scheduled class time are required to meet the expectations of this class. Junior-level students who wish to develop a portfolio for college applications will find this class especially useful. Seniors already on the path to further artistic study will also be enriched by this intensive, studio-oriented environment. Students wishing to earn an honors credit are required to enroll in this course for the year. Additional weekly sketchbook assignments and/or readings will further enrich artistic growth.
Prerequisite: 3 trimesters of any visual arts course or with permission of the department chair.
This course is built around giving students a chance to explore a single art process or concept in an effort to build a cohesive body of work. This allows students the chance to experience how one can communicate more complex ideas when working in a series. The technical support and logistic concerns of creating an exhibition will be practiced so that artworks created in class can be exhibited during the school year either on-campus or beyond. Students will be able to meet artists with exhibition experience and attend exhibits during arts-oriented field trips. Junior and senior-level students who have an interest in pursuing art beyond high school will be equally benefited by the chance to participate in an exhibition-ready series. Students wishing to earn an honors credit are required to enroll in this course for the year. Additional weekly sketchbook assignments and/or readings will further enrich artistic growth.
Prerequisite: At least one previous trimester of Advanced Studio Art.
This course offers students the opportunity to utilize this class as an open studio to create or continue a series or single work as a part of a thesis. Equipped with the experience explored in prior semesters, students will work around scheduled check-ins and critiques to create work at a high-level. As a benefit of this, they will have much more control over how they spend their time in the studio. Students will be responsible for managing their own time and creative ventures while collaborating with their instructor and peers. Students will also learn how to document their work and promote themselves as creative entrepreneurs. This experience will be invaluable for the high-flying artistic student that plans on pursuing art beyond DS. Students wishing to earn an Honors credit are required to enroll in this course for the year. Additional weekly sketchbook assignments and/or readings will further enrich artistic growth.
Series and Exhibition Seminar (Year) Open to: Grades 11 & 12 Prerequisite: 2 trimesters of any visual arts course, or with permission of the department chair. Exhibition within an art context facilitates a conversation between the maker and a viewer. Working in series allows for a longform engagement with a topic, and facilitates deep articulation of a concept. This course offers holistic guidance on the development of the student’s creative practice, while also giving them multiple opportunities to forge profound connections with the public through their artwork. Starting in the fall term, students work with prompts, and experience a structured engagement with the creative process. From inspiration to intent, then subsequent research, making, critique, and finally reflection, students will experience the life cycle of creating art at a rigorous level. In the winter, students conceptualize their own prompts, culminating into a budding series. They will arbitrate critiques and design periodic, pop-up shows so they may refine their vision. The spring semester is oriented around revising and refining work, as well as supplementing additional pieces to develop a series to exhibit in an end-of-year show.
Essential questions include: What influences and inspires me to create? What do I have to say using visual media? What kind of material can I use to communicate my intent? How does one learn to create affective experiences through works of art? In what context should my art piece be experienced? How can I create art consistently and in a sustainable way? In addition to visual art engagement, this course will emphasize sophisticated reflective writing, and articulate oral and written feedback during peer critique. Students may enroll in this course multiple times over their time at Derryfield with permission of the instructor.
Coordinator of Upper School Clubs and Explorations
Becky Barsi is a multimedia artist and art educator who approaches creation with experimentation and play. She received her B.S. in Visual Arts Education from SUNY New Paltz and an M.F.A. at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Prior to launching her career in the arts, Becky briefly explored a career in animal science, earning an A.A.S in Equine Studies. At Derryfield, Becky is the Chair of the Visual Arts Department and manages the Lyceum Art Gallery. When she is not teaching, Becky maintains her studio practice in Exeter, NH, gets dirt under her nails in her garden, goes on horseback riding adventures around the world, and loves to hike with her husband, Chris, and dog, Charlie.
Located in Manchester, NH, The Derryfield School is a private day school for grades 6-12. Students benefit from a challenging academic program, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.