Fine Arts: Visual Arts

Each year at Bement, every student studies master artists, works with the elements of art, and completes a self-portrait.  Each session consists of drawing, painting, print-making, and sculpture. 

Our second graders class begins with a self-portrait graphite drawing, emphasizing contour line and shape. The central theme of insects connects to classroom studies as well as Naturalist artwork, while our third grade class begins with a self-portrait drawn in ink, painted with watercolor, and emphasizing expression. The central theme of the ocean includes graphite sketches, ink drawings, and watercolor paintings of fish, crustaceans, mammals, and a wide variety of ocean life. These are eventually combined in a large oceanscape.  Fourth grade begins with a self-portrait painting in the style of Frida Kahlo, including images of endangered animals, which is a classroom topic. A focus on linear perspective is paired with the study of colonial houses of Deerfield and landscape composition. The central theme of endangered species, rainforest animals, and Naturalist painters are united in a study of birds, while our fifth grade projects focus on classical Asian arts and include drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, and pottery. The class begins with a self-portrait, painted with a bamboo brush in classical Japanese Sumie technique. Students create a portfolio of Chinese style paintings and calligraphy. The artists Hokusai and Hiroshige are the focus of a block -printing project depicting Mt. Fuji. The study of pattern, color, and symbolism in Chinese art result in Beijing opera masks. Students work with clay to create vessels in classical Korean style.

Upper School:

Sixth grade art students spend one term learning and practicing the basic concepts of visual art. The term begins with an exploration of positive and negative space where students respond visually, using color pencil and graphite, to a variety of musical excerpts. Through this exercise, students are encouraged to broaden their understanding of visual art and to release their creative instincts. The focus then turns to more particular concepts, including composition, shape, form, and color theory. The students work on a number of creative projects, including self-portraits, accordion-style book illustrations, and still-lifes. They use mediums ranging from graphite and pastels to watercolor and tempera in order to practice their understanding of these concepts. An art history component is also incorporated into the term. Students study prehistoric and Egyptian art through text book readings and educational videos. The students also each choose one master to study through a rendering of a detail from that artist's body of work.

Seventh grade projects focus on landscape drawing and painting, coupled with a study of master artists who have worked in this format. The first class challenges students to create a self-portrait, placing themselves in a symbolic landscape. Following this project, students sketch outside in different locations, as weather permits. These sketches are used as the basis for completed compositions in pen and ink, scratchboard, oil pastel, colored pencil, and tempera or acrylic paint.

In eighth grade, color theory is studied throughout the term. Projects focus on still-life compositions created in a variety of mediums as well as a study of master works created in this theme. The beginning class challenges students to create a self-portrait acrylic painting, using one hue mixed with white and black to explore value. Still life compositions are created in graphite, oil pastel, pastel, pen and ink, or acrylic paint.

The ninth grade visual arts program culminates with a symbolic self-portrait piece, created during the fall and winter terms, which challenges students to use personal symbols, as they create their pieces in a medium of their choice.  Students learn about contemporary art, write about each of their symbols, and develop a written artist statement as a reflection of their work.