Fourth grade students at Fenn are introduced to important art techniques, the life and works of several famous artists, and opportunities to critique and reflect on student work and masterpieces. Believing that hands-on learning is crucial for a boy’s artistic learning and development, we have boys begin by creating original artworks at the very start of the semester. The class emphasizes instruction in painting, sketching, sculpture, and clay. New terms begin to build boys’ vocabulary in the principles and elements of art—line, shape, repetition, emphasis — giving them tools to describe their creations and the works of others. Journal writing also allows opportunities for boys to sketch and reflect on their art.
Fifth grade studio art activities include drawing, painting, and sculpting. Boys use watercolor to paint a plant still life. They draw themselves and then use acrylics to paint a self portrait. In the ceramics unit, they are introduced to Korean Mishima clay inlay technique. They create wire sculptures and build freestanding sculptures using recyclables. As in the fourth grade program, boys keep journals and sketchbooks to reflect on their art.
Sixth grade studio art students increase their academic knowledge of art and their observational skills by examining schools of art: surrealism, abstract art, Dadaism, and impressionism. Students research and become familiar with the names and works of influential artists from various cultural, ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds. Sketching from nature and still life, drawing exercises include lessons in perspective and proportion. Boys study the function and force of color, as well as contrast, balance, and mood. Students are encouraged to use their paintings to make personal statements, just as famous painters do.
The seventh-grade studio art course builds upon knowledge of artists and styles developed in the sixth grade. With an emphasis on the importance of human experience across many cultures, students discuss and evaluate the contributions of artists of various ethnic, racial and cultural backgrounds. Students are asked to identify and articulate the strengths and weaknesses of artists such as Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne, Jackson Pollock, Milton Avery, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Jacob Lawrence. Boys select and study a major artist’s style and create an original painting incorporating aspects of that artist’s style. In preparation for this project, students review exercises in perspective and light and shadow, and receive more advanced instruction in the use of tertiary and secondary colors.
This course builds on techniques learned in the Lower and Middle School programs. Using acrylics, students continue to develop their sensitivity to color, composition, and value while learning to apply their understanding of the principles of art in their work. Through a series of exploratory works, students recognize individual strengths and traits to be developed in their final work of social or personal commentary. Using examples from the multicultural world of art, students continue to speak the language of art and to harness the ability to convey and derive visual meaning. Emphasis is on understanding, communication, development of skills and developing a personal technique and style.