Visual Arts

Flintridge Preparatory School Visual Arts

The Visual Arts Department offers mentored learning experiences in drawing, painting, printmaking, ceramics, photography and video. Each day, our faculty of practicing, exhibiting artists guides students through an inventive curriculum designed to foster breakthrough moments while emphasizing concept development, visualization and artisanship.

Introductory-level projects excite the imagination and provide a foundation of design strategies and “making” skills. Middle school students bring monsters to life in clay while learning the basics of hand building, or mastermind imaginary cities in axonometric perspective. Photography projects begin with handmade pinhole cameras and the magic of developing images in the darkroom.  

Such experiences give students the freedom to explore multiple interpretations of their world while discovering the empowering aspects of manual competence. In a sequence of classes, students build sophisticated technical, aesthetic and analytic skills, giving them a range of tools that can be applied to the challenges of creative self-expression.

The contiguous art studios on Prep’s lower campus also serve as a community destination. Fully stocked with supplies and both analog and digital tools, these spaces provide a welcoming oasis where students can create, visit with friends, and be inspired by rotating exhibits of finished work.

Ceramics Course Descriptions

8th Grade

This semester-long class introduces students to fundamental methods of forming clay. Students learn the basic techniques for hand-building (pinch pot, slab construction, and coil construction), and develop essential techniques for throwing pots on the potter’s wheel. The class emphasizes craftsmanship, creativity and an appreciation for the elements that are inherent to well-made ceramic art. Students learn how to finish their pieces with various types of glaze and decorating techniques. They are also encouraged to experiment—to develop personal ideas and to create works of art that solve visual problems.


This intermediate course covers more comprehensive techniques for wheel-throwing geometric forms and gives an overview of hand-building methods, providing students with skills needed to approach clay as a sculptural medium. Working from observation and drawing enhances students’ ability to translate line into three-dimensional forms. Students acquire a thorough understanding of the nature of clay, glazes, and ceramic processes and equipment, and they analyze the effective use of elements, principles, and media in works of art.

Advanced Ceramics (Ceramics 2)

This course provides an introduction to sophisticated glazing and decoration techniques. By exploring new techniques for wheel throwing, students can execute larger scale and more elaborate pieces such as a functioning and ergonomically designed teapot. Some projects are process driven and lead to the discovery of new three-dimensional forms and ideas. Wearable art projects using precious metal clay incorporate skills of formation and design on a smaller scale. Students also engage in critical thinking and writing to improve the understanding of their work and the work of others, including art encountered on class field trips. Prerequisite: Ceramics.

Advanced Ceramics (Ceramics 3)

This advanced class focuses on exploring various sources of inspiration and then developing individual projects suited to students’ unique tastes and artistic vision. Tableware, architectural ornamentation, public art or other dimensional work chosen by students provides the context for self-designed projects. The course emphasizes creative interpretation, invention, and collaboration. Working with the instructor, students may apply any technical process needed to fabricate their work, which may lead to learning a brand-new skill. Field trips to artists’ studios or visiting artists enhance students’ knowledge and appreciation of ceramic art. Prerequisite: two previous years of ceramics classes at Flintridge Prep.

Advanced Ceramics (Ceramics 4)

Fourth-year ceramics students work independently with the instructor to develop and complete self-directed projects. The goal is to produce a conceptually sophisticated, innovative and unified body of work, emphasizing both personal expression and artisanship. Students may use all appropriate ceramic techniques and processes. Projects, for example, may include multiples in a set, abstract or figurative sculpture, surface design and more. Significant creative growth occurs through individual mentoring. Prerequisite: Three previous years of ceramics classes at Flintridge Prep.

Drawing and Painting

7th Grade

This quarter-long course provides an introduction to the three visual art disciplines available at Prep; Ceramics, Drawing and Painting, and Photography. Students learn how to see as an artist through playful activities that challenge the imagination while introducing a wide range of materials, media and techniques. They develop a character in clay and transform it into a large-scale value drawing after examining it when photographed. Later students make three-color prints that explore hues, tints and shades to create depth within a dynamic composition.

8th Grade

In this semester-long course students begin to explore the different disciplines of design with an emphasis on self-expression and personal vision. Students create a collaborative mural, monster prints based on their greatest fear and a thematic toy design. As a graphic design introduction, they draft an isometric future city inspired by video game design, and shoot a stop-motion animation using black paper cutouts and translucent materials. The emphasis is on making design choices that support one’s concepts.

9th Grade

This course emphasizes foundation drawing skills including observational drawing and drafting techniques. The beginning of the course is focused on contour, organizational lines, perspective, proportion and value. Students also explore stencilry by creating a site-specific stencil design intended to transform the meaning of a campus location. In addition, students study the proportions of the face and body, and use those skills to create a “selfie” that expresses their inner and outer selves through the use of color.

10th Grade

Intermediate students engage a broader exploration of drawing and painting with an emphasis on new materials and how they can be applied to support more sophisticated concepts and aesthetic choices. Projects include a collaborative interactive coloring book, collage abstractions, Album re-designs and explorations of traditional modes of art making such as acrylic and oil paint.

11th Grade

This advanced course encourages students to develop and work with self-assigned concepts while exploring a range of tools and media. Experimental drawing and painting techniques are enhanced by the introduction of non-traditional mediums such as embroidery, dyes and found material. The class emphasizes self-direction, meaningful expression and individual portfolio development. Students experience the work of both contemporary and historical artists through slide presentations, visiting artist lectures, and field trips to galleries and museums.

12th Grade

This course guides students through AP Studio Art: Drawing, a year-long immersive experience for motivated seniors interesting in developing a body of work for submission to the College Board. It is structured to support and expand on the AP assessment guidelines, including competence in design skills, technique and the development of a thematic body of work. Class meetings offer opportunities for students to explore historic and contemporary artists and experiment with sophisticated art-making techniques. In addition, frequent discussions hone critical skills and help students practice synthesizing input to improve their work. The AP experience gives passionate art students a better understanding of the visual arts as a means of personal expression.

Photography Course Descriptions

Photography (Introduction to Photography)

This introduction to the classic principles and techniques in photography begins with students making pinhole cameras. These are used to explore a range of photographic design elements including framing, angle of view, silhouette, shadow and near-far relationships. Images are developed in the darkroom, scanned, adjusted in Photoshop and posted to the class wiki, covering a wide range of analog and digital methods. Later projects hone in on camera functions, pre-visualization, Photoshop techniques and darkroom skills, providing many creative opportunities and a solid foundation for further exploration in photography.

Advanced Photography (Photography 2)

This course goes beyond the single photograph, expanding opportunities to explore the medium as a means of personal expression. Students are challenged to solve conceptual prompts in combination with new and alternative techniques, including digital negative creation, using the scanner as a camera and layering images into a three-dimensional form. The class offers a playful, peer-supported and intellectually stimulating forum for discovering various means to express ideas photographically while investigating new image-making skills.

Video Art

This class is an introduction to digital video as a creative medium. Students participate in all aspects of video production, including the gathering of ideas, storyboarding, shooting with digital cameras, editing in Final Cut Pro and screening of final works. The assignments given in class acquaint students with concepts and movements in contemporary video art. Thematic assignments like “The Myth of Sisyphus” challenge students to visually and conceptually explore ideas and techniques like looping to communicate creatively. This class inspires students to explore sound and moving images as a catalyst for self-expression.

Advanced Photography (Photography 3)

Photography 3 is designed to help students develop a unique creative voice as image makers. Assignment prompts are open to creative interpretation, challenging students to clarify their point of view and then identify visual the best visual techniques for expressing it. Ample time is given for learning and testing new methods. Regular peer critiques provide a positive forum for guiding student efforts toward successful and personally meaningful finished imagery. New approaches to photography, including image/text combinations and mural printing further expand each student’s creative potential. The skills covered also provide an introduction to the self-directed format of the AP.

AP Studio Art: 2D Design and Drawing

This course guides students through AP Studio Art: 2D Design and Drawing, a year-long immersive experience for motivated seniors interesting in developing a body of photographic work for submission to the College Board. The course provides the time, space, tools and guidance of the instructor to support and expand on the AP assessment guidelines, including competence in design skills, technique and the development of a thematic portfolio. Frequent discussions hone critical skills and help students practice synthesizing input to improve their work. This experience also gives passionate art students a better understanding of the career of the visual artist by learning to work in series, meet project deadlines, develop concept statements, submit work electronically and mounted work for presentation.

Flintridge Preparatory School
4543 Crown Avenue La Cañada Flintridge CA 91011
Tel: 818-790-1178
Fax: 818-952-6247
Located near Pasadena and Los Angeles in La Cañada, CA, Flintridge Prep is a private independent, coed day school for grades 7-12.
  • NAIS
  • FAST
  • CSEE
  • Independent Curriculum Group
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