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Class schedules

School Year Programs

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About our Courses

“What do your course names mean? As in Foundations, Creations, and Expressions?

Since we take a long-term training approach, we have several levels of instruction. Our minimum sign-up is one school year, but our curriculum is designed to work for students for as long as they want – up to 12 years. We have three levels in our traditional art program. The first two levels have 2 years each. There are 72 lessons for each of these levels. After that, the training is focused on guiding the student towards their own vision, with a coaching approach.

Here’s how it breaks down.

Foundations

Beginners And
Intermediate

First Two Years

We are a safe place for first-time artists, or anyone who has never had training before. More than that, at Firstlight, beginning artists discover and practice the critical things that make art work – the Foundations. The lessons are clear and simple. Our Foundations course, for your first 2 years, includes 72 individual lessons covering everything an artist needs to feel competent. Techniques are presented with detailed demonstrations and well-designed projects. Artists will use these foundational insights every day as their skills grow.

But these lessons are not scaled down or simplified. Our Foundations curriculum is based on college-level art school curriculum. We have made things easier to understand, and more concrete, but still robust. So Foundations is also important for intermediate level artists who have not been at Firstlight before.

We cover many insights, such as how to draw accurately, and color mixing. We learn all the most basic techniques in traditional media, keeping it simple to keep materials cost down. We also try to have as much artists’ choice as possible, allowing for personal expression.

Creations

Intermediate And
Advanced

Next Two Years

After the 2 years of Foundations, we have 2 years of Creations curriculum. We place these students in the same rooms as the Foundations classes. Students need to practice using the foundational lessons they’ve learned so they don’t lose the concepts. Being in the same room, they hear the lessons they took two years before, sometimes even helping the newer students. It’s been discovered recently that teaching helps you learn even better than repetition

The Creations students are given special instructions when they arrive. They have more challenging versions of similar projects using the same techniques – and more freedom too. The teacher helps them individually just like the Foundations students.

You can think of it as an athlete being able to lift more weight. You use the same tools and techniques every day, but you are becoming a stronger artist

This is why we have courses where both names are used: Foundations/Creations

Expressions

Advanced With Coaching

Year 5 and beyond

Artists who want to move towards a higher level are encouraged to continue moving up to Expressions. Students work with their instructor to create a vision and work on their portfolio. The instructor coaches you through your projects. Artists who are working towards going to art school get help with admissions letters and portfolio requirements. Many of our advanced artists have been in the program for 8 years or more. Our ultimate goal is to see our students move away from needing lessons and into their own studio or gallery.

Learn more about our curriculum and approach further below on this page.

Lesson schedules

School Year Programs

Big Program – ages 8 and up, teens, adults

Foundations Year B

2019 – 2020

There are 2 years: A and B.

Below are brief descriptions of each week’s lesson. The lessons are almost the same for every age group, but the presentation and some of the exercises are sometimes changed for different ages. Tap on the plus sign to read about each lesson.

1. August 17 - 21 | Ink Animals

Students will learn how to create ink work with a dipping ink pen & metal nib. Animal photos are provided for reference, and the interior will be filled with expressive patterns, commonly called zen tangles. Creations students (advanced) will move more quickly into choosing subjects and doing special ink artwork. Classroom rules are introduced.

2. August 24 - 28 | Color Crazed Cutouts

Artists are introduced to The Art Instructor Color palette and the basics of paint mixing. Then they begin the first week of a 2-week fun color collage project using a 3-color scheme and cut shapes similar to Matisse cutouts. It’s a great way to get into paint for the first time or after a long break. The work is finished next week.

 

3. August 31 - September 4 | Design & Draw

In the first half of the lesson, students will finish the collage begun last week. They try several design ideas, which connects experimentation in composition with quick thumbnails using only big shapes. The second part is all about using Big Shapes and guidelines, but in the context of an artists’ choice pencil drawing, working from specialized reference of animal photos.

4. September 7 - 11 | Accuracy Puzzles

Students will work on deconstructing a diagram of an image, working on it like a puzzle. Beginning with the Frame first, they learn how to work on the rectangular proportions, before moving to the second step, Big Shapes. Details are added last, completing the 3 Steps to Accuracy.

5. September 14 - 18 | Landscape & Distance

Students will choose from a set of landscape photo references, and paint in acrylics on canvas. They’ll learn to show depth by using atmospheric perspective, working from farthest to closest, and top to bottom. Two color techniques are used: 1) mixing colors from other parts of the painting into each color for harmony, and 2) Color splitting. The lesson takes 2 weeks.

6. September 21 - 25 | Finish Landscapes

Students will finish painting their landscapes with atmospheric perspective (depth) by working their way down the canvas, top to bottom, which is also distant to close.

7. September 28 - October 2 | Color Journal Yellows

Students learn how pigments affect each other. There are 4 starting mixes, and they add to each mix 3 more times to make a page with 16 different variations of yellows and oranges. Specific pigments are used from the ART INSTRUCTOR model, which produce colors that artists most often need to know how to mix

8. October 5 - 9 | Many Minis

 Students will work on a series of very small works each using different combinations of media. There is opportunity for lots of freedom and self-expression, and artists learn to focus on one work at a time while doing many. The small size and having several works in a row, takes the pressure off of each work, so students really enjoy themselves and create some fantastic work as a result.

9. October 12 - 16 | Watercolor Rodeo

Students will learn how to paint with watercolor, using the drop-in method and our 4 watercolor insights. First they draw some autumn leaves, and after a demo, they will paint leaves using watercolors they’ve made from acrylic paints. Emphasis is on letting the watercolor work by itself and brush technique.

10. October 21 - 25 | Viewpoint Drawings

 Students will use the simple form of a cube to learn the basics of artists’ perspective, which have been reduced to three innovative, concrete, and simple concepts. Several visual tricks and analogies help the lesson be informative, understandable, and interesting.

11. October 28 - November 1 |Birdhouse Drawings

Students will create a detailed drawing of an old weathered birdhouse. If possible, the birdhouses used should be real-life objects, but photos are provided. Steps for preparing, using the 3 steps to accuracy, making guide-lines, and pencil techniques are all practiced to create a finished work. A few fun short projects for early finishers are also included.

12. November 4 - 8 | Little Patches Watercolors

Students will work for two weeks to create a square-shaped watercolor painting that is divided into a grid design. Each smaller area in the grid (rectangles and squares), becomes a tiny little painting, drawn and painted in watercolors. This will employ the small glaze technique, and makes it easy since there are no large areas to worry about. Each painting is made from patches: several patches of smaller paintings, and those paintings are smaller patches of color.

13. November 11 - 15 | Patch Painting

Students will finish the little patches watercolor they began last week. As students finish, they’ll begin work in charcoal, warming up with quick sketches and using several photo references. Oil pastels are introduced to create a black and white mixed media.

14. November 18 - 22 | Artists' Choice

Students will have a day of artist’s choice, where they can do whatever they want. Anyone who is not finished with the little patches watercolor should do that before they move into their artist’s choice. Total freedom can be hard to handle, so there are plans that help students stay on track and not become overwhelmed with options.

15. December 2 - 6 | Printed Gifts of Art

Everyone loves to get art for the holidays, so we’ll create Christmas (or other holiday) gifts for friends and family. Small works on paper are fun and easy to create, and make personal connections that are remembered for many years. Students create a drawing for a small piece of line art and then create a duplicate, or mono-print, using the original as both artwork and a printing plate. Then they paint both to make each one unique.

16. December 9 - 13 | Gingerbread Houses

Students will all bring candy to create a huge candy “store” that everyone can “shop” at for their houses. A half-gallon paperboard milk carton is cut in half to make the house, which is glued to a small cardboard base. Icing and candy cover the entire house! Kids love creating this holiday tradition.

17. December 16 - 20 | Color Journals ( Reds + Greens)

 Our first 2 Color Journals of the year are Reds & Greens. These color journals are fun and easy for students, because they just follow the instructions to mix a lot of very useful versions of one basic color. They’re designed to help students understand the process of mixing and the effect that colors have on each other as opposed to just following formulas and using them as a limited palette. The colors can’t just be remixed following this as if it were a guide. The goal isn’t even to get a specific color, but to learn how pigments behave. The pages should be printed on cover stock so they can be saved in a binder for reference.

18. January 6 - 10 | Line & Design

Students will create simple artwork in oil pastels using only colored lines. Then they’ll examine their efforts and learn the 6 design principles. Students will apply principles to modify their work and improve their overall design before finishing it.

19. January 13 - 17 | The Color Star

Students will use a printed work-page to create a modified and expanded color wheel model. Our Color Star model applies the actual pigments that we use to the color wheel, and makes much more sense to artists than general color theory models. This is a great learning tool.

20. January 20 - 24 | Wild & Crazy!

Students will learn how to push their ideas and think creatively. Several exercises are used, along with dialog, to understand how to get outside the normal boundaries and use their imaginations along with their pencils. After idea thumbnails and sketches, an acrylic painting is begun.

21. January 27 - 31 | Opposites Color Journal

Students learn how to mix darker and muted shades with every tube-color on their palette. Using opposites, or complementary colors on our printed work-page, they’ll use small amounts of colors in combinations that produce the most vibrant and realistic shadow colors and neutrals.

22. February 3 - 7 | Ketchup Day

There are many projects that have been in the works. Students will tackle each one until several are finished. If no projects are left, then it is time for self-expression with artists’ choice.

23. February 10 - 14 | Clay Face Sculpture

Students will learn about the structure of the face before sculpting a small version of it in re-usable modeling clay (not to keep). After they’ve made their own 3D model, they draw it. This connects two sensory experiences of the same thing in the brain: the tactile knowledge of the subject in 3D, and drawing it in 2D. The result is better drawing abilities.

24. February 17 - 21 | Portrait in Color

This is one of two lessons about portraits. Today everyone will work on accuracy, while also learning how observation helps accuracy more than anything else. There’s a memory drawing game and an oil pastel copy of a Van Gogh portrait. 

25. February 24 - 28 | Self Portrait

Warmup today begins with cartoon faces. Then artists will draw a pencil self-portrait using mirrors to observe themselves. First, though, there is a lesson about shadows, reflected light, and practice drawings with soft edges using an egg.

26. March 2 - 6 | Complemented Animals

Complementary colors are used for a 2-week project: a colorfully expressive animal painting in acrylics on canvas. Students will choose an animal, draw it, and will then use expressive complimentary colors to paint bright and unusual work. The colors may be natural compliments, such as a brown (orange) animal and a blue sky, or unnatural compliments, such as a red and green zebra.

27. March 9 - 13 | Complemented Finish

This week everyone will continue on their animal paintings using the complimentary color schemes and mixing opposites for shadow colors. Paintings should be finished this week. There is a fun drawing in the round game for early finishers.

28. March 16 - 20 | Colors Under the Knife

Continuing with painting, students will learn how to use the palette knife technique before working on a landscape. There are specific colors that must be mixed and used side by side. This helps artists see how expanding your colors to several variations enhances the final painting.

29. March 23 - 27 | Treasure Hunt

Everyone gets a chance to use learned skills and freedom to choose what to do with an exciting “Treasure Hunt” for different elements of art. It’s also a great day for finishing existing works such as the complimented animals or palette knife paintings.

30. March 20 - April 3 | Robots vs Skeletons

Students will learn about the skeletal system and how it affects the way an artist draws the human form. There is also a fun game as well as a robot project that helps them understand the proportions of the human figure.

31. April 6 - 10 | Mid-Tone Still-Life

Students create a still life painting using an acrylic technique that begins with a mid-tone of a warm neutral color. Then they will paint the dark shadows throughout, before finishing with the light areas. It’s a fast and easy method that yields awesome results.

32. April 13 - 17 | Finish & Color Journal

Everyone should work to finish their mid-tone still life painting, and then if there is time, move into the last color journal of the year – neutrals. Some students will be finished with the journal before class is over, so there is also an exercise for early finishers.

33. April 20 - 24 | Creative Collage

Students will use pages and clippings from magazines to create collage images that tell a story about themselves. They are also given the choice to work on a detailed pencil drawing with freedom to choose their subject matter.

34. April 27 - May 1 | Journal Painting 1

Combining a sketch, writing, thinking, and painting, all on one canvas, this technique appeals to everyone. Students will draw and sketch on the canvas with their colored pencil (other colors may be used if available, but we use a dark gray that mimics graphite.) Anything can be drawn or written, just like in the page of a journal or sketch book. Washes of color are added for a soft visual effect. This lesson will continue and be finished next week.

35. May 4 - 8 | Journal Painting 2

Students will continue working on their journal paintings from last week. Early finishers will work on any paintings or color journals that are not yet finished. If all is done, then they’ll have artists’ choice.

36. May 11 - 15 | Big 3D Installation

A Bunch O’ Boxes project completes the school year program. Everyone must work together as a team and combine a few boxes into a 3D sculpture and/or installation that has a theme and incorporates everyone’s efforts and style into one final work. Classes are divided into teams of 5 or less so that everyone can work at once. Boxes are covered in white paper and painted for display all summer or for an art show. It’s also a fun day for an end of year party!

Small Program – ages 4 – 7 

KidsART Year B

2019 – 2020

There are 2 years: A and B.

Below are brief descriptions of each week’s lesson for our 6 & 7 year old classes. 4 & 5 year olds do similar lessons that are easier and a lot of fun, to prepare them for the older classes. Tap on the plus sign to read about each lesson.

1. August 19 - 23 | You're An Artist!

Students are introduced to the classroom, as well as basic drawing tools. They’ll learn about using a reference source by pretending to be a famous artist like Vincent Van Gogh. Several drawings will be created in pencil and oil pastels.

2. August 26 - 30 | You're A Painter!

Students will be introduced to painting and the use of color. Mixing is emphasized and lines are also introduced as one of the parts of an artwork.

3. September 2 - 6 | Stars & Butterflies

Students will see how different kinds of lines create different looking caterpillars. Then they’ll create 2 oil pastel and watercolor resist paintings: A butterfly using black pastel and a starry night sky with a white pastel.

4. September 9 - 13 | Donut Holes

Students will learn about shapes that are made up of air, and are in-between other shapes, and how it helps to draw things if you look at these shapes in addition to solid shapes.

5. September 16 - 20 | Lines That Dance

 Students will learn how different motions make different kinds of artwork. Today most of the work will be with line, and some with oil pastel, as we try color-dancing, and create black and white line paintings of frogs. There is also a quick review of air shapes.

6. September 23 - 27 | Weird Fish, Crazy Tools

Students use warm & cool colored oil pastels in a fish drawing, working on movement and technique. The imagination is employed to invent a new idea – using household tools to create fish. They’ll finish the work using watercolors, and then use oil pastels to finish another earlier drawing.

7. September 20 - October 4 | Pigs!

Students will have fun drawing and painting pigs in several projects. Simple shapes and symbols help us create pig cartoons with different expressions. More realistic pigs are drawn from photo reference, colors are mixed, and then they will paint the pig using tempera.

8. October 7 - 11 | Shape Hunters

Students are introduced to an important design element, The Most Important Spot, (emphasis). We hunt for shapes, using tracing paper to capture them from photos. Students will also work with warm vs. cool colors using oil pastels.

9. October 14 - 18 | Just Line Around All Day

Students will spend the whole day creating and working with lines: line inventing; color line art; charcoal line art; backwards line art (white on black paper); and a line art game.

10. October 21 - 25 | Leaves & Trees

 Students have fun drawing leaves from photos, and using oil pastels to color them. Then a straw and blow technique is used to create ink tree branches. The last project is to draw a tree in pencil and then wet the paper. Watercolors are used to create a soft fall foliage work using warm colors that spread into the wet paper.

11. October 28 - November 1 | Fall Funnies

Students will have tons of fun learning the parts of cartoon faces and practicing how to put them all together. they’ll finish with a final cartoon in marker outlines and coloring with layers of oil pastels.

12. November 4 - 8 | More Fall Funnies!

Students will continue with cartooning, and work on cartoon hands and feet. Then we move on to creating crazy creatures and silly monsters. It’s a fun day of cartoon art.

13. November 11 - 15 | Amazing Cats!

Students will look at artwork of cats and photographs. They’ll make some realistic drawings and cartoon cat drawings too, discussing the features that make them look like cats. A drawing will be used to glue yarn onto, creating a yarn-drawing print block that can be used the following week.

14. November 18 - 22 | Have A Dog Day

Students will continue our pet theme. First we’ll make prints using the cat yarn print blocks from last week, and then create dog drawings and paintings. We end the day inventing a fantastic dog house!

15. December 2 - 6 | Gifts & Wrapping

Students will make 3D ornaments out of cardboard and paint them. These will stand up on a table or hang on a tree and can follow non-Christmas themes if needed. Afterward, they will make their own stamps and use them to create original wrapping paper.

16. December 9 - 13 | Gingerbread Houses

Students will all bring candy to create a huge candy “store” that everyone can “shop” at for their houses. A half-gallon paperboard milk carton is cut in half to make the house, which is glued to a small cardboard base. Icing and candy cover the entire house! Kids love creating this holiday tradition.

17. December 16 - 20 | Winter Fun

Students will learn about snowflakes, first drawing some snowflake designs, and then painting a large snowflake in tempera paint. They’ll end their lesson with a choice of working on some holiday cartoons or doing a pastel of lights at night.

18. January 6 - 10 | Color Wars

After a warm-up with artists’ choice, students learn how to make light swords with a glowing technique using oil pastels. The swords do battle with hot and cold colors. Then there is a super-fun table-mural game called, Color Wars, where children will learn more about what happens when hot and cold colors mix.

19. January 13 - 17 | Bird Day

Using some simple big shapes and line, artists will draw and paint a bird. There is a background done with streaked colors and then the bird is drawn, glued to the background, and painted to match. During part of the lesson, we discuss and learn about different viewpoints, showing a bird’s eye viewpoint, of course!

20. January 20 - 24 | Balance

Balance in real life is understandable, but what about visual balance? Students learn that people like to see things that look balanced so they don’t feel like they might fall over if they were real. Several exercises, a slideshow, and projects help with understanding and practice using balance in artwork.

21. January 27 - 31 | Rainbow Flowers

Students learn how the concept of harmony applies to visual art just like music. A flower is drawn from reference and painted as a spectrum in watercolor for color-wheel flowers. The arrangement of the colors is used to show harmony, along with some games of harmony color designs.

22. February 3 - 7 | The Most Important Spot

Emphasis is one of the most important aspects of good composition. However, this is a lot of abstract thinking for kids, so we say, “every artwork needs a Most Important Spot!” The lesson helps students think about what is in artwork, and to distinguish between wallpaper type designs and art that has that important spot that you see first. We begin with a fake art show using textures on paper but nothing else on them. Then we do some exercises with color. The end of the class has students taking the art show down and fixing the work by adding an important spot.

23. February 10 - 14 | Color Wheels

Students will review radial balance and create basic color wheels. They will also learn how opposites make browns and greys, using these mixes on a fun cartoon painting of a cow.

24. February 17 - 21 | Artists' Choice Fun

Students will enjoy a full lesson where they get to make their own choices. Instead of just letting them loose to play, we provide a framework that helps them make good choices while still being in charge. They’ll choose cards for subjects, such as “animals” or “flowers”, and cards for color schemes, and materials to use. The first project uses reference and observation, while the second half uses imagination.

25. February 24 - 28 | The Most Important Spot 2

Students have fun choosing subject matter as cut out pieces. They design a landscape composition by sliding the shapes around to make a collage. They make a Most Important Spot using an object. Then a painting is made, and color is also used to make a spot more important. After painting the kids can create and play a giant maze game where they are bees traveling home through the flowers.

26. March 2 - 6 | Crazy Colors

Students will create paintings of familiar subjects using colors that are not realistic. They will also learn about using guidelines, or whisper lines, to help in creating accurate paintings, and use bold lines to outline areas of color.

27. March 9 - 13 | Trees & Leaves

Artists make trees by twisting pipe cleaners, and paper leaves are attached. Then everyone designs and creates a tiny tree house to go onto their tree sculptures. The whole thing is glued together and onto a base for a fun project to take home.

28. March 16 - 20 | Big Shape Animals

Students will start with an expressive and wild oil pastel of an elephant by looking at a photo. Then they learn how to see big shapes and draw more realistically before painting in watercolors. The second half of the lesson is about exaggerating and simplifying to create a fun cartoon. They draw it and then sculpt their cartoon out of air-dry clay. A little hat is made out of paper to fit on it’s head for a bit of whimsey.

29. March 23 - 27 | Big Shape Color

Artists get to paint their big animals using acrylic paints. They get to choose realistic color or crazy fun color. Then the Big Shapes idea is reinforced, along with review of The Most Important Spot. They’ll create artwork in oil pastels by drawing a big shape first, such as a circle, and then creating designs inside to color. One of these is a face inside the big head shape, which previews their self-portrait coming up next week.

30. March 20 - April 3 | Self Portraits

After a warmup and then drawing eyes, students use symmetry and mirrors, to learn insights about the face. Then with instructions, they draw and paint their own portraits using tempera paints on watercolor paper.

31. April 6 - 10 | Box Animal Safari (Part 1)

The first week of making a big 3D Painted cardboard project has students building an animal out of boxes and tubes. This week they’ll prime the sculpture so that next week when it’s dry, they can paint it like the animal – or in wild crazy colors! Today they also warm up with artists’ choice and have an animal prints print-making session.

32. April 13 - 17 | Box Animal Safari (Part 2)

Students finish their Box Animal Safari sculptures by painting them in either realistic or expressive patterns and colors.

33. April 20 - 24 | Artists' Choice Stations

Students enjoy having choice of things to do and subject matter. Stations are set up and the class will split into several groups, rotating around throughout the class

34. April 27 - May 1 | Fun Art Games

After starting with a fun name guessing game, students adopt their color name for the day. Then there are 3 games. The first is a puzzle that reinforces looking for big shapes. Next is a color mixing challenge using paints. Finally, there is a creative crazy creature where artists invent a new creature from cartoon creature parts.

35. May 4 - 8 | Still Life Slide

Students draw 3 still life objects and color them with oil pastels. They’re cut out and the children have fun sliding them up, down, right and left until they find a good spot for each of them, one at a time. All are glued into place for a nice still life artwork. Then the objects are turned into silly cartoons and colored with markers for a fun finish to the lesson.

36. May 11 - 15 | Party Bus!

For our final lesson of Year A, we’ll be making and decorating a big box party bus! It’s great fun and students learn to work together. Then everyone gets to redesign their school bus, and invent a mobile house bus for the summer.

MEDIA

We Use

 

Pencil

Charcoal

Ink

Oil Pastels

Acrylics

Watercolor

TECHNIQUES

We USE

 

Drawing

Palette knife

Pastel Blending

Opaque layers

Glazes

Hatch Shading

 

MORE

INFO

 

We have many sources of reference materials, including a small library, an image bank, and a still life object library. Subject matter is carefully chosen to facilitate a specific project.

Students are encouraged to bring other media and try new techniques, after their first two years, including Oil Paints, Digital Media, and Colored Pencils.

Cartooning is a different course. Please visit this page.

 

Give us a call. We're happy to answer your questions.

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