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

    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.

  • Art and Architecture

    Middle School
    This class will study the way visual art intersects with architecture. Students will look at pictures of interesting world architecture and at examples of visual art that are inspired by architecture. Projects will include drawing buildings in perspective, studying gargoyles and making a clay gargoyle sculpture, and creating sculptural models of buildings.

  • 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.

  • Color and Collage

    Middle School
    This class will use collage to explore creatively shape, texture, color, and design. Students will create two-dimensional mixed media projects and sculptural three-dimensional artworks incorporating collage. Students will study color relationships and paint color mixing, and we will look at examples of collage artists from around the world. The projects will make use of magazines, newspapers, found objects, fabric, yarn, cardboard, wire, acrylic and watercolor paint, and oil pastels.

  • Comic Book Art

    Middle School
    This course explores how to craft a comic story and how to create great characters. Part of the course includes reading and analyzing comic books, characters, and stories. Students will explore facial expressions, speech bubbles, character design, motion, sound effects, panel layout, and writing stories.

  • Drawing

    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.

  • Drawing from Observation

    Middle School
    This course is designed beginners, intermediate, and advanced students who want to learn the basics of drawing from observation and sharpen their drawing skills. Students will develop their representational drawing skills using a variety of media. As the course progresses, students will draw from still life, photographic references, and live models.

  • Environmental Art

    Middle School
    This class will explore how the natural environment serves as inspiration for making art. We will look at examples of paintings, sculptures, earthworks, and art installations from many cultures and time periods as we explore connections between art-making and nature. Projects we will create include real or imagined landscape drawings and paintings, an environmental superhero- mixed materials sculpture, a miniature sculpture for our school environment, a folded artist book made from recycled materials, and coffee and beet juice paintings

  • 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.

  • Mixed Media

    Upper School
    In this class, students will explore the creation of visual images using a variety of media and techniques, some of which are very old and not often taught to high school students. Projects include working with three of the following media: encaustic (melted, pigmented wax), egg tempera (students will make paint using pigment mixed with egg yolk), drawing/painting with bleach, or full body, collaged self-portraits on cardboard.

  • Landscape Art

    Middle School
    This class will learn techniques and ideas for portraying landscapes in art projects using acrylic and watercolor paints, collage, plaster, oil pastels, markers, and cardboard. Students will make a landscape painting of a view they choose, a clay and plaster “landscape postcard”, a cardboard sculptural landscape, a collaged recycled paper landscape, a tunnel book of a landscape, and a paper pulp landscape project.

  • New Media Art

    Upper School
    New media art is an umbrella term for artwork that is produced using a diverse set of categories such as digital art, computer graphics, visual art, and interactive technologies. Students will create new media art pieces using new and old technologies. Students will create art projects which explore a different theme or issue, ranging from the prison industrial complex to analyzing dreams.

  • Painting and Printmaking

    Middle School
    Students will learn how to make a linoleum print using carving tools and a printing making press. Students will also create monoprints using plexiglass and a handpress.

    Upper School
    Students will learn techniques for using acrylic paint to make representational paintings, including people and pet portraits, cityscapes, and natural landscapes. Students will also learn printmaking techniques such as collagraph prints, color monotype prints, and carved relief prints. The class will look at historic and contemporary visual art examples for inspiration and will paint from life, photo sources, and imaginations, ultimately creating art that combines painting and printmaking techniques.

  • 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.

  • Sculpture and Materials Exploration

    Upper 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.

  • Yearbook and Publication Design

    Upper School
    This class teaches students the basics of Digital Single-Lens Reflex photography. Students will learn how to use their cameras to creatively capture images that document time and place as well as utilize photographic editing software to retouch and organize images. The class will culminate with the creation of an annual publication documenting the school year.

  • 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.

  • People in Art

    Middle School
    This class will explore art that uses people as a theme. Students will make art projects using fabric, wire, and paper Mache to create a plaster sculpture of an athlete, lessons in drawing and painting faces, and a mixed media collage of a human figure. Students will study techniques for drawing the human form with pencil, charcoal, and paint, create plaster sculpture of an athlete, paint and draw faces. Students will learn techniques for using watercolor paint, acrylic paint, paper Mache, graphite and other drawing materials and simple sewing. We will also look at examples of different images of people in art from different times and cultures for inspiration.

  • Map as Art

    Middle School
    This class will explore maps to inspire our artwork. Examples of projects students will make include map-related artwork about actual places and imagined places. Students will create sculptures, drawings, a print, collage and paintings that incorporate map-making. We will also experiment with embroidering a map. Students will learn and practice art techniques for design, drawing, acrylic paint, watercolor paint, printmaking, and embroidery.