About ARTS 121 OL1

Exploration of the formal and conceptual practices of painting. Introduction of historical genres and issues in painting such as still life, figuration, and abstraction. Prerequisites: ARTS 001.


Dates: May 23 - June 17, 2022; Course Fee: $310.00

Section Description

ARTS 121 Painting: Observation and Image Summer 2022 Class Meeting: Online Instructor: Associate Professor of Painting and Drawing Steve Budington Email: sbudingt@uvm.edu OUR CLASS: How does one build imaginative, communicative, expressive, painted images from direct observation? How does one paint not just what they see but how they see? What factors shape the way we look at the world, and how can we use this information to make meaningful work? Painting: Observation and Image looks very closely at these questions through the physical and formal practice of painting. This online intensive painting class practices the watercolor medium as it connects to the larger history of art, from Chinese landscape painting to western modernism, and on to the most contemporary international practices. Along the way we’ll learn how to apply the medium’s unique formal capabilities, employing technical experimentation to study color theory concepts, non-objective and representational image construction, pattern, and the use of painting as a way of seeing. OUR LEARNING OBJECTIVES: By the end of this class you will be able to: • Build images using at least 4 watercolor painting methods and material approaches • Utilize the unique color and layering properties of watercolor to construct convincing images • Identify and employ at least 3 ways to relate the parts to the whole in your work • Apply color theory principles to more expressive use in your work • Practice analyzing, discussing, and critically evaluating your paintings and the paintings of your peers • Develop your ideas and problem solve across a group of paintings in a series • Practice developing a more specific, individual approach to your paintings • Study how artists past and present innovate in their work and respond to the world they live(d) in. • Present and document your work more professionally HOW THE CLASS WORKS: In this online course, we will work REMOTELY and ASYNCHRONOUSLY with frequent participation deadlines and occasional scheduled SYNCHROUNOUS small group discussions and critiques of work over MS Teams. For this work we’ll be using Blackboard and Yellowdig as our home base. Yellowdig is a social media like platform we’ll use to share and comment on each other’s work in small groups. The main elements of the course are: Concept: asynchronous videos, media, text, and small group teams meetings that demonstrate the concepts we’ll engage with. Studio work: the primary work of the class – painting, painting, and more painting! This is where you practice the concepts, putting theory to the test. Critical Feedback: you will give and receive regular critical feedback to and from your classmates and instructor on your finished and in-progress work. This will happen in written form on Yellowdig, a social media-like platform linked to Blackboard, and over teams in small groups of no more than 5. COURSE CONTENT AND OUTLINE at a glance: Week 1-2: Drawing into Painting, Properties of Watercolor, Painting from Observation Our first projects dive deep into the material properties of watercolor and their uses, from flat washes to layering and mark making. We’ll study and copy master works in ink and watercolor to get acquainted with a variety of technical approaches to image making. This first part of the course will center on a relationship and transition between drawing and painting. Week 2-3: Color, Pattern, Layering, and Abstraction In our second Project, we’ll open ourselves to more playful, intuitive, and improvised approaches to making a painting. We’ll explore non-objective or abstract forms of painting, working with pattern and motivic structures to study the unique color possibilities of watercolor when layered. If the weather permits, painting outdoors may be part of our studies. Week 3-4: Final Project Series: Developing your ideas across a body of work In the final project you’ll put it all together and explore your work as a unique, individually determined final painting series that responds to open-ended prompts. We’ll look at contemporary artists who use watercolor painting to explore a variety of ideas and ways of communicating. You’ll put together a professionally arranged final digital portfolio and written reflection for your work.

Section Expectation

EXPECTATIONS: Work and pace: Expect a brisk pace and a challenging, but accomplishable, amount of work. The university defines a credit hour as “two hours of outside class work for each hour in class or equivalent.” (Source) . This is an intensive course, and we cover a semester’s worth of work in just one month’s time. The class officially “meets” for 4 hours each day, 4 days a week. Technically then, in and out of class work time is 48 hours per week! Realistically, it’s a good idea to set aside 25-30 hours each week for the class; that’s 16 hours for in class, and another 9-14 hours for outside of class work. This is a deep commitment that can yield an even deeper learning experience that's just not possible in the comparatively fragmented schedule of a typical semester. You might think of this class as a one month painting marathon. Assignments: Many projects are assigned during the course; from the small scaled and quickly accomplished, to those requiring a more sustained commitment over numerous painting sessions. Most projects involve the completion of numerous works or iterations of an idea. Painting here is a bit like practicing a musical instrument – it takes repetition and iterative work allowing muscle memory and cognitive developments of the skills, ideas and approaches under study. Class projects are cumulative; ideas studied in the first project are necessary in the last project. Each assignment and participation has a set due date. No work is accepted after due dates (see grading and how to succeed below). Critiques and Discussion: The class will be split into small groups of 5 students. Each group will have their own tagged discussion in the class Yellowdig site, and sometimes these groups will meet with me separately over Teams. For each project you will frequently post your work to this class discussion by a set date and time. Once the work has been posted, you are required to offer each of your group’s members critical feedback for their work. Groups are shuffled a few times during the course so you will hear from a wider range of your classmates. The instructor comments and forms demonstrations from these conversations, tailoring the class content to what’s happening in your work and the work of your peers. Mid-Term and Final Portfolio: You will receive qualitative and grade feedback on a mid-term and final portfolio. This portfolio is assembled as a digital folder of jpeg images, an image information list, and a written self-reflection. The portfolios are seen as the practice of professional skills required of artists and designers in world at large. What makes a successful portfolio? How do you write about your work to offer insight to a potential audience? How do you take strong images of the work?


GRADING Final Grades are determined as follows: PAINTINGS: 60% PARTICIPATION: 30% SELF REFELCTION: 10% PAINTINGS: 60% Each project will have stated learning objectives, and the works are evaluated on the degree to which those objectives were practiced in the paintings. When submitting work you’ll want to ask yourself: did I focus exclusively on the skill and concept under study? Do my paintings demonstrate my practice with that idea and approach? Did I give myself enough time working to develop that skill through iterations and variations? Did I work outside of my comfort zone and try something new? TIP: Notice the emphasis on practice – not whether you’ve made a “good painting” Feel free to fail, flail, and wobble in your work. Make something ugly (it’s often more interesting . . . .) Dig into the process and practice. Repetition, trial and error, looking at the results and trying a different direction; that’s how you grow your work and succeed. PARTICIPATION: 30% Participation grades are determined by attendance, on-time submissions of work, portfolios, self-reflections, and your critical commentary in class discussions. It’s about respecting the process, your work, your peers, and yourself in the class. When participating you’ll want to ask yourself: Did I show up ready to work? Did I finish the work and submit it on time? Did I give substantive feedback to my peers in the class discussion? Did my comments go beyond taste and offer something constructive and useful (I’ll discuss critical feedback in more detail later)? Did I take care in photographing and presenting my work for class posts and my portfolio? SELF REFLECTION: 10% Your mid-term and final portfolios require submission of a written self-reflection about your work and practice habits that is centered on growth mindset principles. Learn more about growth mindset here. Self-reflective and growth mindset processes recognize that new skills and intelligence can be developed at any time in our lives; they are not fixed at birth. Contrary to popular belief, you can learn to draw/paint even if you don’t identify as an artist or as having “been born with artistic talent.” This class is not at all about talent – it’s about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone no matter where you are on the artistic journey; the best artists don’t rely on their talent; they just work at it. Our practice of self-reflection is all about identifying areas for growth, learning from mistakes, asking for specific and applicable help, changing habits, and developing a practice of strategic improvement.

Course Dates



Online (View Campus Map)

Important Dates

Note: These dates may not be accurate for select courses during the Summer Session.

Last Day to Add
Last Day to Drop
Last Day to Withdraw with 50% Refund
Last Day to Withdraw with 25% Refund
Last Day to Withdraw


There are no courses that meet this criteria.