Visual Arts

The visual arts teach students to express themselves creatively in form and space. Student works are exhibited throughout the year in the hallways and are featured in ArtsFest, our yearly celebration of the arts in Seattle's Town Hall.

Classes are taught by professional sculptors, painters, graphic designers, ceramicists, illustrators and photographers.

  • Animation

    Middle School
    Students explore how to make drawings come to life and tell a story in this animation workshop. Traditional methods of storyboarding and character development are introduced as well as simple animation techniques. Flipbooks, sliding window drawings, paper fastener drawings, stop motion, and animated GIFs are explored as ways to make the drawings “move.”


    Upper School
    Animation liberates the imagination through the innovative manipulation of images. This course explores the creation of animation from camera-less techniques through the use of stop-motion animation via CS 6 Photoshop. Students develop and complete several animated projects using a number of techniques such as claymation, drawing, and advanced technology.

  • Ceramics

    Middle School
    This exciting and challenging ceramics course builds on the foundation of beginning ceramics. We embark on new and different projects that encourage students to have more involvement in the direction of their work. We experiment with both “ceramic sculpture” and “functional (useful) pottery.” We often integrate new materials into our artwork, including a bit of metal, wire and melted glass.


    Upper School
    Beginning: This exciting course introduces students to a variety of ceramic sculpting techniques and also serves as an introduction to the potter’s wheel. Students gain wheel-throwing skills as well as an excellent grasp of terminology, techniques, glazing, and conceptual foundations. Projects range from simple functional cups, bowls, and vases to fabulous decorative boxes, beginning figure sculpting, abstract sculptural forms, and the unknown.

    Intermediate: Through hand-building and wheel-throwing, students learn many new and powerful ceramic art-making techniques. We begin by exploring the palette of glazes, including experimenting with the unique process of fusing colored glass into (and onto) the student’s ceramic art work. Using a combination of traditional and innovative techniques, we explore functional and abstract forms and focus on figurative sculpting, including realistic sculpting of a human head.

  • Drawing

    Middle School
    Beginning: Within the basic units of still life, landscape, portraiture, figure drawing, and expressive design, students sharpen their ability to construct more effective compositions, record proportion and scale, and replicate the effects of light on form. Assignments encourage students to develop a personal vision, to explore limitations, to solve problems, and to find creative solutions.

    Experimental: Have you ever made a drawing without using a pencil, crayon, or chalk? This drawing class is about using experimental materials t including wire, water, light, bicycles, and even food to create lines and develop unique drawings. While we look at experimental practices of contemporary artists for inspiration, students are encouraged to push the boundaries of conventional drawing and seek creative solutions in their own work.


    Upper School
    Beginning: So you think you can’t draw? This is the perfect class for you. Students of all skill levels find this class to be helpful and inspiring. We begin with the basics: line, negative space, and proportion. Later in the year we work with value (black, white, and grays), “shading” to create a sense of depth in our work, and finally, color. Projects include still life drawing, work with scratchboard paper, and an extended series of four in-class self-portraits.

    Advanced: This course is an introduction to the concepts, terminology, and techniques relating to drawing as a primary mode of visual communication. Within the basic units of still life, landscape, portraiture, expressive design and composite drawing, students sharpen their ability to construct more effective compositions, record proportion and scale, and replicate the effects of light on form. In the process of speaking constructively about their own work and the work of their peers, students develop a personal voice, utilizing the language of drawing.

  • Photography

    Upper School
    Beginning: Introducing students to both traditional and alternative methods, this class begins by exploring the basic materials, techniques, and processes of black-and-white photography. Creative assignments enable students to increase skills in light metering, depth of field, shutter speeds, exposure, composition, and development. In addition, students study and gain a deep understanding of the history of photography.

    Advanced: This course is for serious students who want to pursue the creative and conceptual aspects of photography. Several weeks are devoted to ‘making images’ in the camera through five shooting assignments, including a review, still life, conceptual, and color photography. Next, students explore archival printing, alternative processes, and color inkjet printing. In addition to synthesizing ideas and collaborating on group projects, students study and discuss photographic history, contemporary concerns, social responsibility, and alternative presentations.

  • Design Studio

    Upper School
    We are surrounded everyday by the work of designers. Someone, somewhere, designed the forks we eat with, the chair we’re sitting on, and essentially every “man-made” object that surrounds us. In this class, students create new 2-D and 3-D products using the process used by professional designers. In the process, they learn how to analyze the world of products, find new design problems and needs, develop and share ideas through sketching and model making, and work with a variety of materials and tools (including the computer) to build prototypes and final products.

  • Graphic Design

    Upper School
    In the world today, students need to know how to manipulate imagery and create high quality presentations. Students in this class learn the basics of graphic design while utilizing the robust Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign). These three programs have become the industry standard for image manipulation and layout and students learn they are important technological tools of communication and support and enhance the ability to share ideas and communicate. They gain professional skills by creating materials for the benefit of other classes and departments in the school.

  • Paper, Print, and Fiber Design

    Middle School
    Students in this class create a variety of projects out of many different kinds of fibers, including fabrics, yarn, plant material, paper, and wire. In addition to learning weaving and simple sewing techniques, students study the way color, shape, and texture are used in fiber art, and examine how fibers are used in other cultures and different time periods.


    Upper School
    By exploring a wide variety of paper, print and fiber art concepts, students deepen their understanding of color relationships, negative and positive space, shape construction, and texture. Among the projects students create in this class are architectural sculpture, wool felting, multicolored block printmaking, silk screen print making on fabric and paper, handmade book construction, paper making, paper lantern cutting, collage, and tie dye printing.

  • Public Art

    Middle School
    This course is about looking at, thinking about, and making art in public spaces. Parks, plazas, courtyards, sidewalks, rooftops, sides of buildings, bridges, and highway overpasses are all potential sites for projects. Students investigate traditional and nontraditional forms of public art and engage in the debate about what is public art? They take field trips to view and install their own public art projects, and work with several media (drawing, painting, sculpture) both in the studio at school and off campus.


    Upper School
    This course is about looking at, thinking about, and making art in public spaces. Parks, plazas, courtyards, sidewalks, rooftops, sides of buildings, bridges, highway overpasses are all potential sites for projects. Students investigate traditional and non-traditional forms of public art in urban sculpture, memorials, mural painting, earthworks, graffiti, video projections, performance, and Internet art. They engage in the debate about what defines public art, take field trips to view and install their own public art projects, and work with several media (drawing, painting, sculpture) both in the drawing studio and off campus.

  • Sculpture

    Middle School
    This class explores a variety of materials used in the making of sculpture. Students cast, carve, cut, create, investigate, relate, and concentrate on the making of sculpture. Projects include casting paper, casting glass, and stone carving. Other possible materials are bronze and wood. Students learn to form three-dimensional objects with hand tools and are encouraged to create works of their own design.


    Upper School
    This class focuses on constructing three-dimensional art forms from a variety of materials, including plaster, wire, wood, and paper. For inspiration, students look at images of sculpture from different artists, cultures, and time periods. They also study and design strategies for building and combining shapes and structures that stand up and balance.

  • Watercolor and Related Media

    Upper School
    This class is suited for beginning as well as more experienced artists. It focuses exclusively on water soluble media, including watercolor, gouache (opaque watercolor) and aquarelle pencils. Over the course of the year students create both non-representational as well as carefully observed “realistic” works. Possible projects include creation of an abstract watercolor collage as an introduction to pigments and techniques, an extended still-life painting, and a gouache work done in the style of Aboriginal Dot Painting.

  • Constructed Painting

    Middle School
    Students learn how to build a painting, from assembling the stretcher bars to placing the final stroke on the canvas. In addition to examining the materials of painting (acrylic water-based paints, brushes, canvas), and the techniques of creating grounds, layering, and glazing, students will explore ways to effectively create compositions based on developed subject matter. Students also look at several contemporary paintings and traditional paintings from a global perspective, and discuss how they evolved throughout history.

  • Digital Art Exploration

    Middle School
    In this class, students explore the various techniques used to create digital art. In addition to discovering contemporary artwork being created by artists using digital media, they learn to work with digital tools and create some artwork based on their own ideas.

  • Sketchbook

    Middle School
    Keeping a sketchbook is a rewarding activity. Sketchbooks are often used for exploration, investigation, and discovery. Although drawing is a fundamental sketchbook activity, students in this class approach sketchbooks as spaces for “thinking out loud” (visually and with text), diagrams and doodling, collecting and collaging, reflection and recording. They learn how to make several kinds of books drawing inspiration from traditional and contemporary sketchbooks of artists and scientists.

  • Visual Design

    Middle School
    Students in this class develop creative ideas and learn techniques for mixing colors, layering collage, creating handmade books, developing textures, drawing skillfully, and making sculpture. They practice techniques for working with acrylic and water color paint, metallic paints and pencils, and metal tooling foil. For inspiration, students look at visual examples of art from numerous cultures and time periods.