IAIA - Institute of American Indian Arts

Sample Course Syllabus

The following syllabus is for one of the many courses offered by the Studio Arts Department.

COURSE NAME:  Introduction to Painting
  Monday + Wednesday 1:00 – 3:30 p.m.
PREREQUISTES: FUND101 2D Fundamentals; FUND103 Color Theory and Practice; FUND111 Drawing I

OFFICE HOURS:  Monday + Wednesday 3:30 – 5:00 p.m.
PHONE: 505.424.2369
E-MAIL:  jkahm@iaia.edu


This introductory course teaches students to paint with acrylic paints and emphasizes the development of basic painting techniques and skills.  Class work is based on working from observation, resource materials and emphasizes basic color theory as it relates to color mixing and plasticity of form and space.  A discussion of the history of painting techniques and concepts  provides students with a foundation of different creative approaches for developing a painting.  The course also examines painting from a historical and contemporary context through slide lectures, visiting artists and field trips to galleries and museums.


  • To introduce students to basic painting materials, techniques, and theory;
  • Develop the ability to paint from observation while emphasizing the development of perceptual skills related to seeing and recording visual information;
  • Explore the complexity, variety, and relevance of the practice of drawing today;
  • Introduce vocabulary associated with painting;
  • Introduce students to a diversity of painting styles and approaches.


  • Develop ability to analyze works of art;
  • Recognize and execute the formal elements and principles of art and design;
  • Develop works that demonstrate personal expression;
  • Increase knowledge of the history of painting;
  • Demonstrate competencies in a chosen medium.


  • Timely completion assigned projects, papers and readings;
  • Presentation of a portfolio during mid-term and finals week;
  • Participation in discussions, group critiques and individual mid-term and final portfolio reviews;
  • Complete a minimum of five hours of studio work per week outside of class time.


  1. Completion and quality of all assigned projects, exercises, and papers.
  2. Participation in group and individual critiques, classroom attitude, field trips, preparation for class, and productive use of class time.
  3. Evidence of personal growth and creative inquiry demonstrated in collective portfolio.
  4. Evaluation of mid-term and final portfolio reviews.
  5. Course attendance policy:
  • After  3 absences the letter grade will be dropped one letter point.
  • After 5 absences the letter grade will be dropped an additional letter point and the student can be dropped from the course at the instructor’s discretion with a failing grade.
  • Students arriving 30 minutes late for the class will be counted as absent.
  • Habitually leaving the classroom for extended periods will be considered an absence.
  • Please read IAlA College Catalog  2013-2014: Academic Policies, p. 24


Week 1: Introduction to course | syllabus, materials list, class procedures | work-space | sketchbook/journal project and making paint studies | Woodshop: Paul Moore, Visual Arts Tech | Project 1: Building Stretchers; stretching/gesso 

Week 2: Continue preparing canvas support | Project 2: Grayscale | Light & Value

Week 3: Studio time | One-on-One Critiques

Week 4: Studio time | One-on-One Critiques

Week 5: Group Critique Project 2 | Project 3: Monochromatic Underpainting | Glazing

Week 6: Studio time | One-on-One Critiques

Week 7: Studio time | One-on-One Critiques

Week 8: Mid-Term Week | Group Critique Projects 1-3 | Individual reviews | Project 4: Colored Ground | Scumbling

Week 9:  Break

Week 10: Studio time | One-on-One Critiques

Week 11: Studio time | One-on-One Critiques

Week 12: Group Critique Project 4 | Project 5: Quoting the Master | The Grid |Research Paper

Week 13: Studio time | One-on-one Critiques

Week 14: Studio time | One-on-one Critiques

Week 15: Group Critique Project 5 and Research paper due | Final Project: Color | Texture | Expression

Week 16: Studio Time | One-on-One Critiques

Week 17: Finals Week | Final Group Critique: Projects 1-6 | Individual Reviews


  • Mid-term portfolio review: 30% of final grade
  • Final portfolio review: 30%
  • Critique/exercises participation: 20%
  • Attendance: 20%


Americans with Disabilities Act: If you anticipate barriers related to the format or requirements of this course, please meet with me so that we can discuss ways to ensure your full participation in the course. IAIA makes every effort to provide appropriate accommodations for students with documented disabilities. If you determine that disability-related accommodations are necessary, please register with Retention Director Jeminie Shell, and notify me of your eligibility for reasonable accommodations. We can then work together to plan how best to coordinate your accommodations.


  • Suggested brushes: #2, #6, 8 Round synthetic, #4, #6, #8, #10, #12, #16 Flat synthetic           
  • 4″ Gesso Brush (hardware store)
  • Palette knife
  • Sketchbook 8 x 10′
  • Spray bottle (hardware store)
  • Palette: re-sealable or disposable paper palette (large)
  • Plastic toolbox (hardware store)
  • Acrylic: golden or liquitex professional grade will have better results (avoid Liquitex basics)
  • Burnt Umber
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Cadmium Red Medium hue (avoid C.P. Cadmium colors; very toxic)
  • Cadmium Yellow Medium hue (avoid C.P. Cadmium colors; very toxic)
  • Titanium White (opaque)
  • Zinc White (transparent)
  • Phthalo Blue or Ultramarine Blue
  • Phthalo Green
  • Quinacridone Violet or Alizarin Crimson
  • Mars Black or Bone Black
  • Acrylic Glazing Liquid (Golden 8 fl. oz)
  • Canvas & Gesso provided by painting department for classwork only
  • Additional stretchers or wooden panels will be purchased by the student or built on own time and not during studio class time