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Visual Art

Grade School

Riverdale Grade School’s visual arts curriculum provides an introduction to a wide range of key art concepts, providing time to develop skills, understand materials and create. In addition to students taking art classes from a full-time art teacher throughout the week, classroom teachers use art as a tool to reinforce understanding of other subject areas.  

Our students’ art studies are reflective of the national art standards’ three core concepts: creating, responding and presenting. Often, art projects will focus on one or more of these areas at a time: 

  • Skill building – learning to use tools and mediums appropriately and skillfully
  • Art history – learning about artists and art movements, and creating artwork inspired by those ideas and styles
  • Core connected – creating art connected to the concepts students are learning about in core classes such as science, social studies, language arts and math

Here is an overview of some of the concepts explored by grade level:

  • Kindergarten Art (once a week) – shapes and colors, medium experimentation, care for and proper use of tools, representing ideas visually and hand/eye control 
  • 1st Grade Art (three times in each two-week period) – geometric and organic shapes, abstract expressionism, Dada, art based in nature, care for and proper use of tools, representing ideas visually and continued hand/eye control
  • 2nd Grade Art (three times in each two-week period) – art styles such as Impressionism, Cubism, Fauvism and Northwest Native Americans; how to tell a story visually, visual poetry, art based in nature, and continued care for and proper use of tools
  • 3rd Grade Art (twice a week) – contour, line and shape; art styles such as American realism and Modernism, Fauvism and Post Impressionism; controlling new mediums; and proportion and scale
  • 4th grade Art (twice a week) – art styles such as Abstraction, Pop Art and Impressionism; line, texture and pattern; and Lewis and Clark and Oregon's first people 
  • 5th Grade Art (twice a week) – art styles such as Contemporary and Cubism, storytelling through art, propaganda, perspective, printmaking and slab building 
  • 6th Grade Art (twice a week) – contours and shading, conceptual art, an art research project, atmospheric perspective, relief pottery and sewing 
  • 7th/8th Grade Art (choice of electives, two to three times per week) – drawing and painting inspired by Spanish, American, Modern and Contemporary art and artists; multimedia art and sculpture; functional and sculptural pottery; stop motion animation; music video making; yearbook; digital photography; and murals

High School

Riverdale High School's visual arts curriculum encompasses a broad range of subjects and styles, and includes structured classes for the development of fundamental art skills, as well as self-initiated projects reflecting personal interests. 

Students are provided with a foundation in the critical, intellectual and aesthetic skills necessary for the creative process. In addition, students come to understand the historical and cultural contexts in which the art is created.  All core arts courses are academic in approach, integrating history, criticism and aesthetics into studio components. 

Here is a sampling of our visual art classes: 

  • Art Survey: An introduction to the visual arts, covering techniques and materials, art history, art criticism and aesthetics.
  • Drawing and Printmaking: Students of all ability levels develop the key technical skills necessary to get the idea out of their heads and onto the page. The drawing section focuses on contours, shading and proportions, with some drawings from observation and others entirely made up. The printmaking section incorporates foam plates and linoleum blocks to create a variety of print styles. 
  • Paint Studio: An introduction to working with acrylic paint and watercolors, while studying the work of both older and contemporary artists.  
  • Pop Art: Focusing on the work of pop artists from the 50s and 60s – including Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Claus Oldenburg and Richard Hamilton – as well as more recent artists whose work reflects an interest in popular and consumer culture. 
  • Art and Science: The world of science is indeed a work of art and combining the two naturally lends itself to understanding both in a deeper way. Students explore scientific content and, through their research, design an art piece to go hand in hand with that topic.  
  • Art Portfolio: In Art Portfolio students are given the time and opportunity to develop projects from the ground up that reflect a personal interest. In addition to the freedom of these self-initiated projects, there are guided projects that are meant to help students develop a broad portfolio of work – including charcoal drawing, printmaking, painted sculptures and more. Students also spend time working on artist statements and creating art websites to document their work.

For more information about the Riverdale Art Studio, see Mr. Orton's teacher page.

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