The Painting program offers complete immersion into the medium’s rich history and vast expressive possibilities. You’ll be exposed to a wide variety of traditional and progressive forms of art through intensive study of the major genres of painting such as still life, landscape, figure, and abstraction as well as experimentation with mixed media work and concept development. As you refine your technique and explore conceptual ideas, you’ll also supplement your studio work with fine art seminars fostering critical research skills, reflection into contemporary theory, and effective career oriented professional practices.
You’ll also round your education out with a wide range of general education and art history courses that will stimulate your curiosity, broaden your perspective, and inspire new creative expressions. KCAD’s flexible General Education Pathways model empowers you to direct your learning by exploring subjects you find most engaging and relevant.
The Painting program follows a pattern of progressive complexity. In your introductory courses, you’ll focus on developing basic painting techniques in traditional painting genres. As you progress through the program, you’ll gain the confidence and technical skill to begin experimenting with mixed media and other approaches that move beyond traditional definitions of painting, ultimately developing a unique vision for your own art.
As you refine your own artistic skills and processes, you’ll also gain a broad knowledge of the world of contemporary art through fine art seminars taken in concert with advanced painting classes. In this way, your studio work will be augmented by critical reflection and research into theory that strengthens your analytical and critical thinking skills and heightens your ability to engage in culturally informed and reflexive discourse about your own work and the work of others.
As a student in the Painting program, you’ll experience a strong sense of community driven by an emphasis on faculty availability and interaction. The program’s small class sizes enable our faculty to get to know you as an individual, while you’ll come to see them as not just instructors, but as mentors and professional role models as well. The program also places an emphasis on personalized instruction, resulting in concentrated periods of work, ideation, and exploration with guidance from faculty. The ability to experiment in a safe and supportive environment encourages your growth and confidence and prepares you for success after graduation.
There’s also the matter of place: located in Grand Rapids, a mid-sized city that values art and design, KCAD acts as an incubator for focused artistic growth and cultural engagement. Location also means you’ll enjoy mid-size city living, while being only hours away from the cultural wealth of larger cities like Chicago and Detroit.
As a graduate of the Painting program, you’ll be well positioned to pursue a career as a studio artist, either independently or with gallery representation. You’ll also be prepared to leverage your critical thinking, communication, and creative problem solving skills as a freelance artist or muralist, curator, museum preparator, art center director, or gallery owner.
Many Panting graduates chose to further develop their skills by pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree or by seeking opportunities such as artist residencies or grant-funded projects.
As a Painting student, you’ll learn and experiment in spacious classrooms with plentiful natural light. You’ll also have access to private personal studio spaces as well as communal exhibition spaces and the program specific exhibition space Gallery 602, both equipped with expansive display walls and track-lighting.
Elsewhere on campus, you’ll have access to The Fed Galleries @ KCAD, an exhibition space featuring the work of nationally and internationally-recognized artists; KCAD’s Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA), an innovative cultural institution hosting exhibitions of such contemporary artists and designers as Nick Cave, Kehinde Wiley, Kara Walker, Nari Ward, Carrie Mae Weems, and Judi Werthein; The Dow Center FlexLab, KCAD’s state-of-the-art digital fabrication facility featuring 3D printers and scanners, laser cutting and vinyl cutting machines, wide format printers, and more; KCAD’s Material ConneXion Library, which offers direct access to more than 1,000 physical samples of advanced, innovative, and sustainable materials as well as online access to over 7,000 more; a spacious and well-equipped woodshop, supervised by an experienced technician, at your disposal, with over 30 pieces of equipment including table saws and a fully-ventilated walk-in spray paint and glue room; the KCAD Library, which provides access to millions of books through the MeLCat shared library catalog as well as access to specialized research databases and subscriptions to scholarly journals; and much more.
KCAD also offers a number of summer travel/study experiences as well as internships during the academic year and the summer. You’ll have the opportunity to pursue work in a variety of settings, such as professional fine art studios, museums, and community arts organizations, to name a few.
Ready to get started? Apply now!
To explore the elements, principles and aesthetic concepts integral to three-dimensional design and to consider relationships between concept, process, materials, tools and technical skills. (Students who have earned credit for ARTS 120, 3-D Design, may not use credit earned in KCSF 11 to meet graduation requirements.)
This course focuses on gesture drawing, rapid visualization skills, movement and expressive content, composition, structure, skeletal anatomy, and engaging in critiques.
The process of drawing as observation and conceptualization through eye-hand coordination. Emphasizes linear construction with concern for accurate proportion and simple positive-negative/figure-ground relationships. Includes an in-depth study of linear perspective. (Students who have earned FSU credit for VISC 112 Drawing I, may not use credit earned in KCDR 131 to meet graduation requirements.
Emphasis on development of convincing illusion of three-dimensional objects, through the combined use of line, value, proportion, and composition. This course focuses on the further refinement of the concepts, processes, and techniques introduced in Drawing I. Expanded exploration of perspective, composition, color investigation, media exploration, and idea development within traditional subject matter will be emphasized.
This course develops concepts introduced in Figure Drawing I with additional emphasis on the development of volume and mass through structural application of line and value; heads, hands, and feet; figure in environments; anatomical focus on musculature; and engaging in critique.
This course is designed to guide students through the career-oriented aspects of working as a fine artist. Course work will include information on applying for grants and exhibitions, documenting artwork, compiling a resume and applying for graduate school.
This course will focus on an in depth examination of those strategic points at which social practice, theory, and the practice of art intersect. Students will read from key theoretical texts on Post-structuralism and Deconstruction including the writings of such seminal thinkers as Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Julia Kristeva, and others.
A problem-solving course covering the principles of composition and modular design systems. Uses predominately abstract shapes and black, white, and achromatic gray ranges.(Students who have earned credit for VISC 110, Design I, may not use credit earned in KCPA 110 to meet graduation requirements.)
A problem-solving course which studies the properties and interactions of color and its resulting perceptual effects in pictorial space.
The first course that deals exclusively with the medium of oil painting. Observation of nature and the depiction of solid three-dimensional form in illusionistic space are the central concerns. Emphasis is primarily on still life painting; some figure/portrait painting may be introduced. Also surveys Western painting and the traditional techniques pertaining to that history.
This course will act as an introduction to figure painting with special emphasis on anatomy, structure, proportion and measuring. Tonal and restrictive palettes will be used in conjunction with basic painting techniques.
Reinforces the techniques learned in Beginner Figure Painting. Reviews life drawing issues within the context of paint handling, its chemistry, rules of permanence, and color mixing with particular emphasis on the complexities of mixing flesh tones. In addition, familiarizes students with the history of figure painting in Western art.
Emphasizes the light and color of the landscape in various weather conditions using oil and water based paints.
Explores varying degrees of painterly abstraction. Non-objective/formalist painting issues will be investigated in conjunction with experimentation with mixed-media painting techniques. The course will start out with a structured series of projects but will eventually focus on the student’s individual artistic direction.
Emphasizes the development of concepts within the context of traditional and non-traditional medium. Students will be encouraged to explore a range of strategies to include visual analogy, language, appropriation, deconstruction, narrative and allegorical approaches. The course will also introduce mixed media painting techniques as it relates to concept.
An introductory course emphasizing the passage of the brush, the technical applications of color, and the particularities of the watercolor medium in working towards effective visual statements.
Focuses on independent studio work on the part of the student. Emphasis will be placed on student’s ability to develop ideas, themes, and motifs of personal significance and the formal, technical skills to successfully execute their work. The course will also examines important theoretical and aesthetic issues related to art and will review major figures in contemporary painting.
Examines issues related to painting the figure in an environment, the multi-figure composition, the figure in an architectural setting, the figure in the landscape, and other related problems. Begins with a classical emphasis; later, explores painterly and abstract approaches to the figure and the figure as a vehicle for creative expression.
Focuses on the production of a unified body of work emphasizing conceptual development and creative decision-making. Includes individual and group critiques.
Emphasizes responsibility for the creation of a cohesive body of work that displays conceptual continuity and technical integrity. Includes individual and group critiques. The student is required to install a thesis exhibition to complete the BFA in Painting.
The course will examine the techniques and processes of the encaustic medium including brushwork, intarsia, carving, drawing and photo transfer, and wax collage. A brief history of the medium will be presented along with instruction in making pigmented wax, wax glaze and wax brush cleaner.
An overview of the Western Art tradition from prehistory through the Renaissance using a socio-cultural methodology in a chronological framework. (Students who have earned credit for ARTH 110, Prehistoric through Middle Ages, may not use credit earned in KCAH 111 to meet graduation requirements.)
A survey of Western art from the Baroque to the present, this course will continue building upon the foundation of Western Art I; Prehistoric through the Renaissance, using a socio-cultural methodology in a chronological framework. (Students who have earned credit for ARTH 111, Renaissance through 20th Century, may not use credit earned in KCAH 112 to meet graduation requirements.)
An examination of the concept of Modernism and how it is expressed in Western art and architecture from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century. (Students who have earned credit for ARTH 310, History of Twentieth Century Art, may not use credit earned in KCAH 311.)
An indepth study of fine art and theory from 1960 to the present.
This course focuses on using writing to develop ideas, hone critical thinking skills, and express ideas clearly and appropriately according to audience and purpose. Students write in a variety of modes and spend a portion of the semester engaging in scholarly research. Students also develop their public speaking skills.
This course provides a core understanding of effective storytelling. It examines the ways in which storytellers-both past and present-craft, organize, and convey ideas to successfully impact audiences, doing so through both inquiry into established narratives, as well as students' own experiments with narrative forms.
This course examines what it means to be a member of a particular society and how individuals both form and are formed by society. It will provide students with a better understanding of the social and cultural worlds they inhabit.
This course is an inquiry into the nature and power of philosophy to transform the way we experience the world around us and understand our place within it. Through a selection of readings representing various philosophical traditions and perspectives, critical discussion, and writing, students will examine some of the great questions that have intrigues philosophers from antiquity to present.
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As a graduate of the Painting program, you’ll be prepared to engage in a rich, fulfilling practice of creating culturally significant and meaningful works of art. The versatile set of creative, critical thinking, and communication skills you’ll develop can also open up a number of other career options in art-related fields.