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Introduction to Portraiture | Fall

The aim of this course is to instill in students both respect for the creation and reverence for the Creator while learning the methods and techniques of portraiture and figure drawing. Students will learn to create impactful portraiture in a variety of methods and mediums. Students will begin by learning foundational anatomy, such as the skeletal and musculature systems, in order to ground their skills in accuracy. While exploring figurative work, students will learn how to create expressive and dynamic forms through gestural mark-making.
In this course, we will approach drawing our fellow men with a sense of wonder for God’s creation and a recognition that all persons are made in the image of God and are fearfully and wonderfully made. We will be continually informed in our studio practice by the Scriptures as well as texts such as The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis. While learning to appreciate and render the human form, we will continually discuss what it means to be made in the image of God and acknowledge that we are more than simply the bodies that we possess—we have eternal souls.
Through demonstrations, personal instruction, and exercises, students will explore different subjects/compositions, textures, papers, and application techniques suitable for each unique medium.
Students will be encouraged to practice exercises taught in class and may need to work outside of class to complete projects.
Along with hands-on studio work, students will participate in regular class critiques, creating a forum for the group to constructively collaborate and discuss creative outcomes. Individual artist statements will be required with most finished pieces of work, giving students another opportunity to articulate their interpretive intent and their understanding of process and design concepts.
Students can also expect ongoing dialogues about the rich history of classical portraiture and figure drawing, contemporary portraiture, Christian imagination in relationship to faith and the arts, and the role of the arts in the Church. This course is supplemented by daily readings and reflections on art and faith by authors such as C.S. Lewis, Francis Shaffer, Pope John Paul II, and Makoto Fujimura, which will be provided by the instructor. The hope of the instructor is that, through engagement in the class, students will be brought to a deeper appreciation of the visual world and the creative love of its Maker.

Required Materials:
Books and supplies are not included in the purchase of the course.

Sections with Mr. Roberts:

Sections with Ms. Silkwood:

Teaching art online is a unique learning experience to navigate. If at all possible, buy the version of supply linked below. I can help students navigate obstacles more effectively when we are all using the same materials. If you have any questions regarding supplies, please feel free to email me.

  • Any kind of sketchbook (minimum size 8″x10″): We will use these for exercises and notes. If you already have one that you use, that will do!
  • Document camera (such as Ipevo), or equivalent
  • Pad of SMOOTH newsprint (link)
  • 11×14” drawing paper pad (link)
  • Drawing pencils (link)
  • 2-3 Conte à Paris Pierre Noire B pencils (link)
  • Sanguine pencil (link)
  • White conte pencil (link)
  • 2 pieces of toned drawing paper in your choice of color (link)
  • Soft vine charcoal (link)
  • Kneaded Eraser
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Drawing board
  • Standing mirror

Optional Course Materials:

  • Spray Fixative
  • Painter’s tape
  • Paper stumps (for smudging
  • EpocCam (link) is an app for the iPhone that turns your phone into a document camera. Ipevo has an app for Android phone (link), but I have not used it. Paired with a tension arm like this (link), and you have a very affordable alternative to a dedicated document camera. It will automatically link to Zoom.

Sara Silkwood holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration from Syracuse University. Sara has several years experience teaching in a variety of areas including college level, church-run camps, Classical schools and privately. She also serves as the fine arts teacher at Valor Preparatory Academy. Currently, Sara works out of her home studio in Waco, Texas where she lives with her great dane-lab mix, Oberon. She spends her free-time backpacking, reading and illustrating her own stories. ssilkwood.scholeacademy@gmail.com

Red checkmarkComputer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.

Red checkmarkHigh-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1 Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.

Red checkmarkWebcam: You may use an external webcam or one that is built in to the computer. Webcam Recommendations: Good (PC only) | Best (Mac and PC)

Red checkmarkHeadset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class. Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm

Red checkmarkZoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use. unnamed-e1455142229376 To download Zoom:

  1. Visit zoom.us/download.
  2. Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
  3. Open and run the installer on your computer.
  4. In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.

Red checkmarkScanner: In this class, students frequently submit homework assignments by scanning pages from their workbooks. Students and/or their parents should have easy access to a scanner and the ability to use it.

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