Visual Arts Courses

Art Course Offerings

While the art curriculum provides a four-year program designed for the college-bound art major, it also remains flexible to meet the elective needs of all students. Classes are open to 9-12th grades. All classes are semester classes. Most classes are offered yearly. Sculpture and Fibers are offered every other year. Film and Animation and Digital Graphics and Imaging classes are also rotated. Classes focus on studio art production. Lessons in art history, art criticism, aesthetics, art careers, studio etiquette, and technology are also integrated. Mercy High School honors the State of Michigan requirement of two semesters of visual, performing, or applied art classes. All of the classes below fulfill that graduation requirement.

Drawing 1

Students in Drawing acquire knowledge and perceptual skills to draw objects realistically. They learn to transfer three-dimensional objects to a two-dimensional picture plane. Basic concepts of drawing such as line, negative space, proportion, perspective, and value are covered. A variety of subjects are drawn in pencil, color pencil, oil pastel, and ink including interiors, portraits and still-life. (one semester) Course fee: $75

Drawing 2

In Drawing 2, students study the human skeletal structure to draw portraits and the human figure in proportion. Students build upon the basic skills acquired in Drawing 1. Materials include pencil, charcoal, ink and pastel. This course is of great value to any student who may consider a major in art. The students further develop their design skills and work towards a more individualized and expressive direction in homework pieces. (one semester) Prerequisite: Drawing 1, Course fee: $75

Painting 1

Students in Painting 1 further their knowledge and skill in art through various painting techniques. Students continue to build upon the skills acquired in Drawing 1. Subject matter includes still-life, people, and landscapes. Materials include acrylic and watercolor paint. (one semester) Prerequisite: Drawing 1, Course fee: $120

Painting 2

Students in Painting 2 further their knowledge and skill in art through the principles of design (balance, emphasis, movement, pattern, repetition, proportion, rhythm, variety, and unity). Students continue to build upon the skills acquired in Drawing 1 and Painting 1. Subject matter includes still-life, architecture, landscape, and figure. Materials include oil and watercolor paint. (one semester) Prerequisites: Drawing 1 and Painting 1, Course fee: $120

Ceramics 1

Students learn basic hand forming techniques and three-dimensional design. Possibilities for both functional and non-functional pieces are explored by working with pinch, coil, slab and a combination of these methods. (one semester) Course fee: $75

Ceramics 2

Studio work in Ceramics 2 focuses on improving technique and skill level. Projects include use of the potter’s wheel, press molds, slabs, and coils to further students’ knowledge of the ceramic medium and the principles of three-dimensional design. Advanced surface design methods will also be explored. Students may learn how to load and fire kilns and are expected to recycle clay. Projects incorporate both functional and sculptural clay work. (one semester) Prerequisite: Ceramics 1, Course fee: $75

Jewelry 1

Jewelry 1 is an introduction to three-dimensional design and metalworking techniques. Techniques include piercing, sawing, soldering and riveting. Possible pieces include rings, pendants and bracelets. (one semester) Course fee: $75

Jewelry 2

Students in Jewelry 2 use basic techniques in new ways and explore advanced jewelry-making and metalworking techniques such as lost wax casting, precious metal clay, forging, doming and hollow form construction. The students further develop their design skills and work towards a more individualized and expressive direction in their jewelry making. (one semester)  Prerequisite: Jewelry 1, Course fee: $75

Fibers

Fibers class is an introduction to three-dimensional design as it relates to any material that can be stitched, woven, or dyed. Possibilities for both functional and non-functional pieces are explored. Fabric dyeing, on-loom weaving, and off-loom weaving such as felting and basketry are some of the techniques covered. This class is offered every other school year. It will be offered in 2018-2019 and 2020-2021. (one semester) Course fee: $75

Sculpture

Students in Sculpture learn basic techniques to create both relief sculptures and sculptures in the round. The study of form, shape, and space will be emphasized as students use materials as varied as clay, plaster, foam board, and paper. The practice of mold making is also covered. This class is offered every other school year. It will be offered in 2019-2020 and 2021-2022. (one semester) Course fee: $75

Photography

Students will practice composition and camera use for digital photography. The mechanics of using a single lens reflex camera will be explored. The art department has several cameras for this purpose, so no camera purchase is necessary for this class. Student mobile device cameras will also be employed. Multiple editing skills in Adobe Photoshop will be covered. Creative framing, lighting and color adjustments, and photo montage techniques are some of the topics explored. (one semester) Course fee: $25

Film and Animation

Students will explore composition and camera use for video and will learn editing skills in Final Cut Pro. The mechanics of using a single lens reflex camera will be explored. The art department has several cameras for this purpose so no camera purchase is necessary for this class. Student mobile device cameras will also be employed. Various animation projects will be explored using drawing, photography, and modeling clay techniques. Animation Creator and iStop Motion are two of the applications used. This class is offered every other school year. It will be offered in 2018-2019 and 2020-2021. (one semester) Course fee: $25

Digital Graphics and Imaging (formerly called Communication Design)

Visual communication and composition in digital mediums will be explored through the study of art created for commercial creative fields and other practical purposes. This course will provide students with working knowledge of Adobe Illustrator to create vector-based graphics, imaging techniques in Photoshop, and page layout techniques in Adobe InDesign. Possible projects include logos, letterhead, business cards, greeting cards, book layouts, illustrations, signage, digital collages, and digital paintings. Some digital photography camera techniques will also be covered. This class is offered every other school year. It will be offered in 2019-2020 and 2021-2022. (one semester) Course fee: $15

Art Department Course Fees

In lieu of using a textbook, art students use a variety of supplies and materials as they participate in the artistic process. For the convenience of parents, all supplies are purchased in bulk by the art department and are distributed in class. Parents are asked to reimburse the art department by paying a course fee, which is assessed with tuition. The art department has acquired purchasing power through many years of negotiating with a variety of vendors. Discounts are reflected in the course fees. With the fee, students obtain a variety of supplies. Some are lasting tools such as pencils, paint brushes and portfolios, which the students own and take with them beyond the class. Some supplies are shared class supplies such as large bottles of paint or boxes of clay. In the case of shared supplies, students are charged for the average portion used per student. The supplies provided vary depending on the media emphasized in each class. For example, course fees in Jewelry 2 pay for sterling silver while course fees in Digital Graphics and Imaging pay for specialty papers and ink. Students receive information regarding supplies from the art instructor upon beginning the course. If a student must drop an art course, she will be charged a portion of the course fee for materials. No refund of any portion of course fees will be made after the withdrawal deadline. Students pursuing the AP Studio portfolio track may be charged an additional fee depending upon the scope of her concentration projects and the materials used.

Information for the College Bound and Advanced Placement Art Major

A student who applies to a college art program may need to submit a portfolio of her high school art during the admissions process. The student will absolutely need a portfolio to be considered for art merit scholarships and advanced placement opportunities. Portfolio size requirements vary from ten to thirty pieces, depending on the situation. For an Advanced Placement Studio Art exam, a student needs to submit twenty to twenty-nine pieces.

The art instructors provide guidance for portfolio development. It is imperative, however, that a student map her four-year curriculum in the art department to allow time to develop as a student artist and to create the volume of work needed for a quality portfolio. A college-bound art student should register for Drawing 1, Drawing 2, Painting 1, at least one three-dimensional class, and other visual art electives of her choice from the Mercy course catalog.

The student will begin a web portfolio in her first Mercy art class. Proper procedure for photographing and editing photos of fine art is demonstrated. A student is expected to photograph her best artwork from each class, edit the files in Photoshop, archive the files, and post art to her web portfolio each semester. The Mercy Art Department utilizes digital SLR cameras and Adobe Photoshop CS6 to accomplish these tasks. A student will also mat pieces with the help of the instructor as needed.

Strong portfolios contain the following three components:

  1. Pieces that showcase craftsmanship. This includes the ability to draw from life. The College Board calls these pieces “quality” or “selected works” pieces and asks that at least five be submitted for the Advanced Placement Studio Art exam.
  2. Pieces that show students have experienced a variety of subjects, design topics and media. This includes pieces that show an understanding of the elements of art (line, shape, form, space, color, texture) and the principles of design (balance, emphasis, movement, pattern, repetition, proportion, rhythm, variety, and unity). The College Board calls these pieces “breadth” or “range of approaches” pieces and asks that twelve be submitted for the Advanced Placement Studio Art exam.
  3. Pieces that show the development of a compositional theme in both concept and media. The College Board calls these pieces “concentration” or “sustained investigation” pieces and asks that eight to twelve be submitted for the Advanced Placement Studio Art exam. Creating concentration pieces requires a large time commitment on the part of the student. These pieces are above and beyond the art curriculum of any particular class.

Advanced Placement Studio Art Exams

A senior art student has the opportunity to take Advanced Placement studio art exams in two-dimensional design, three-dimensional design, and drawing. These exams involve the submission of an extensive portfolio to the College Board for jurying around May 1st. The art department staff guides students through the submission process. Lists of assignments that are of AP caliber are provided in each class. Students interested in AP exams will need to go beyond the minimum class requirements to complete the AP concentration pieces. For example, if a student is interested in taking the three-dimensional exam with a concentration in clay, she needs to register for Ceramics 1, Ceramics 2 and create extra pieces beyond the regular class curriculum in consultation with her Mercy ceramics instructor.

If you have questions, please contact, Ms. Susan Smith, Art Department Chairperson, at smsmith@mhsmi.org.

Art Student Testimonials

Throughout this class, I have gained a greater appreciation for art. I thought art was all painting and drawing, but I have learned it is more than that and now I notice art wherever I go. Olivia Collins

We did so many things I would not have considered art.... My knowledge and skills have increased tremendously, involving the computer. Miranda Konja

Creativity and innovation were incorporated throughout the entire class. Each project we worked on was based off our creativity and innovation. I don’t feel like any of my art pieces are boring because I was able to add my ideas into them. Chelsea Edwards

I have learned that there is so much more to art than just slapping some paint down or scribbling. I have learned that concentration, determination in the face of frustration, and following the design processes and your inner artistic inclinations are all part of being an artist and creating something amazing. Alana Sullivan