Visual Arts Courses

Art Course Offerings

While the art curriculum provides a program designed for the college-bound art major, it also remains flexible to meet the elective needs of all students. Most classes are open to 9-12th grades. All classes are semester classes. 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. The classes below fulfill that graduation requirement.

Art Classes with No Prerequisite

The following classes have no prerequisite and may be elected 9th - 12th grades.

Drawing

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. This course is considered foundational for all of the arts and is critical for any student pursuing art in college. (one semester) Course fee: $75

Ceramics

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

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. Crochet, knitting, and sewing are also possibilities. This class is offered every other school year. It will be offered in 2020-2021 and 2022-2023. (one semester) Course fee: $75

Jewelry

Jewelry is an introduction to three-dimensional design and metalworking techniques. Techniques include piercing, sawing, soldering, riveting, and stone setting. Possible pieces include rings, pendants and bracelets. (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, fiber, 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

Digital Graphics

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

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 clay modeling 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 2020-2021 and 2022-2023. (one semester) Course fee: $25

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

Art Classes with Prerequisites

The following classes have prerequisites and are generally elected 10 - 12th grade.

Painting

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

Intermediate Drawing

In Intermediate Drawing, students study the human skeletal structure to draw portraits and the human figure in proportion. Students build upon the basic skills acquired in the first semester of Drawing. 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, Course fee: $75

Intermediate Ceramics

Studio work in Intermediate Ceramics 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, Course fee: $75

Portfolio Development for College Admission, College Scholarship, and Advanced Placement Studio Art Exams

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 five to thirty pieces, depending on the situation.

The student will begin a digital 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 digital portfolio each semester.

Art faculty 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. The chart below shows the recommended course selections for a portfolio student. Art faculty will consider recommending a student if she takes five or more semesters of art at Mercy consistently throughout her high school career. Art faculty will also advise students according to possible college majors. For example, a student interested in Fashion Design should minimally take Drawing, Intermediate Drawing, and Fibers. A student interested in Architecture, Interior Design, or Product Design should take Drawing, Intermediate Drawing, and several three-dimensional classes.

Some junior or senior art students will have 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 (twenty to twenty-nine pieces) to the College Board for jurying around May 1st. The art department will invite students to take the exam who have met the following criteria: 1) Consistently enrolled and participated in Mercy art classes, 2) Produced several well-designed and well-crafted pieces in Mercy art classes, 3) Shown the desire and capability to pursue an A.P. Studio Art concentration (fifteen thematic pieces), and 4) Completed an application process with the art faculty to discern whether the student has the time to complete the necessary work and to encourage dialogue about possible concentration themes. (See the art faculty for the application materials.) Following this application process, the art staff guides students through the A.P. art creation and portfolio submission process during class time.

Strong portfolios contain the following components:

  1. Pieces that showcase craftsmanship and 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, and texture) and the principles of design (balance, emphasis, movement, pattern, repetition, proportion, rhythm, variety, and unity). This also includes the ability to draw from life. The College Board calls these pieces “selected works” pieces and asks that at least ten be submitted for the Advanced Placement Studio Art exam.
  2. 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 fifteen 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.

Recommended Track for College-Bound, Scholarship, and A.P. Studio Art Students

9th grade

10th grade

11th grade

12th grade

Drawing

Intermediate Drawing

Painting

Directed Study Drawing or Painting

3-D class

(Jewelry, Ceramics, Fibers, or Sculpture)

Another 3-D class

(Jewelry, Ceramics, Fibers, or Sculpture)

Another 3-D class

(Jewelry, Ceramics, Fibers, or Sculpture)

Another 3-D class

(Jewelry, Ceramics, Fibers, or Sculpture)

   

Digital art class (Photography, Film and Animation, Digital Graphics)

Another digital art class (Photography, Film and Animation, Digital Graphics)

Extra classes during summer and evenings at community art centers are recommended for the scholarship and A.P. bound student. Such classes can supplement a portfolio, but should not be considered a viable substitute for Mercy art classes. Please consult the art faculty for advice regarding reputable programs.

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