Visual Arts

The Academy’s Fine Arts program develops the creative potential in each student, a process which is both intellectual and experiential. A rich, varied experience in the arts is essential to educating the whole child, and the Fine Arts Department offers courses in the visual arts, music, dance, and theater.

The Visual Arts program is designed as a sequential, experiential journey through the world of line, matter, color, proportion, form and function, texture, and spatial relationships. Students are encouraged to experiment as they increasingly learn technique in drawing and painting, ceramics, and photography.

[Click on a grade below to read the description]

List of 13 items.

  • Early Childhood (PK-K)

    The Art program focuses on developing fine motor skills along with self-expression. Children are encouraged to experiment with and explore color, texture, and form. Throughout the Early Childhood program, children begin to understand color, shape, size, line, proportion, and pattern. They develop hand/eye coordination and observation skills. Creativity and craftsmanship are complementary components of the program. A main focus is developing fine motor skills, hand/eye coordination, and learning to express creatively through fantasy and imaginary scenes.
  • Grade 1

    Students learn to identify images and symbols in art, nature, and the environment. They also develop increasingly sophisticated observational skills that allow them to express ideas, feelings, and values in color, form, and spatial relationships. Students begin to work with life drawing and basic figure and portrait techniques, and experiment with depth in two-dimensional works. Grade 1 students learn to analyze, compare, and judge the artworks of others as well as their own and gain an appreciation of their own aesthetic values as well as those of people of different cultures.
  • Grade 2

    Grade 2 students begin to refine and manage a rudimentary art vocabulary for critical analysis and judgment. They begin to manipulate and build with a variety of media as well as improve eye/hand coordination with pencil, brush, and various art tools.
  • Grade 3

    Students explore a variety of materials, mediums, and techniques associated with traditional drawing and painting. They begin to focus on composition and design and practice observational skills such as visual recall, blocking-in, contour drawing, texture, and gestural drawing.
  • Grade 4

    Grade 4 students demonstrate aesthetic perception by identifying color, texture, shape, size, line, proportion, scale, symmetry, texture, and pattern. The subject matter may include still life, landscapes, architecture, aspects of figurative studies, and portraits. Students are also introduced to famous artists, such as Monet, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Van Gogh.
  • Grade 5

    By the end of Grade 5, students can identify the styles of celebrated artists. They have studied stained glass windows of gothic cathedrals, cave paintings, and stylized figures, such as those of William Johnson. They will have used the following materials for drawing: graphite pencils, pastels, pen and ink, watercolors, tempera, acrylics, and craft clay.
  • Grade 6

    All Middle School students are exposed to visual and performing arts by rotating through a series of trimester courses. In the Visual Arts, students learn the fundamental techniques required for drawing and painting in a studio setting arranged in accordance with the time-honored practice of students learning from a master craftsman and from each other. They learn the protocols of the studio as well as the techniques of great artists first through reproduction, and then, through their own original designs.
  • Grade 7

    In Grade 7, in addition to drawing and painting, which some students continue to elect, students study ceramics. Classes explore the many uses of clay, from simple handmade forms of early cultures to the extremely varied and sophisticated application of clay in modern society. Student work is exhibited in the Middle School and in the Campbell Art Gallery.
  • Grade 8

    Students may elect to continue with classes in drawing and painting and/or ceramics, where they learn to design increasingly complex shapes. Throwing on the wheel is introduced on a limited basis. A variety of glazing techniques are introduced as well.
  • Grade 9

    Two sequences, one in drawing and painting and the other in ceramics, are available to Grade 9 students. Students may choose a three-trimester sequence in either, or they may elect trimester courses in both disciplines. In addition, courses in basic, advanced, and specialized photography are offered as full-year sequences. In Drawing/Painting, students are introduced to the traditions, theoretical concepts, and basic technical skills of drawing that will help to realize the creative and expressive potential in each unique individual. The course assumes no prior knowledge or experience of drawing and is entirely experiential in its methodology. As painting is seen as an extension of the drawing process, an exploration of color follows and invites students to experiment with both watercolor and tempera paint mediums.
    Introductory Ceramics is a hands-on course where students learn a variety of glazing techniques and ceramic hand building techniques, including pinch, coil, and slabs. Throwing on the wheel is introduced on a limited basis in this course.
  • Grade 10

    Grade 10 students may elect Ceramics II: Fundamentals or Ceramics III: Hand Building. Both courses expand the basic knowledge and skills in hand building and wheel-thrown ceramics. Students learn how a kiln is stacked and fired. The course also offers further development in the elements and principles of design, knowledge of artists, and art heritage. In Hand Building, various tools include the clay extruder, plaster molds, heat guns, and sand blaster. Slip/glaze applications include dip, pour, trail, and spray. Glaze firing will include high-fire gas reduction, low-fire electric oxidation, and Raku.
    In Grade 10 Drawing/Painting, students move to life drawing, self-portraits, and limited figure work. The painting aspect of the course explores the artistic style of abstract expressionism, which is characterized by emotional intensity, spontaneity, and unique use of color and texture. Students work with water color, acrylics, oils/mixed medium on canvas, and/or paper to complete several finished works.
  • Grade 11

    Ceramics students keep a detailed log of ideas and thoughts about possible designs, glaze combinations, and techniques. In the advanced courses, students are expected to create works of art based on their own written and drawn descriptions of the natural or human environment. They develop the needed skills to experiment with function and non-functional formats on the potter’s wheel. More emphasis is placed on the form and function of the finished work. Students will create composite pieces such as tea pots. They will also be asked to throw vessels on the wheel and then alter them off the wheel.
    Drawing/Painting: Classical explores the range of materials and techniques associated with traditional figurative drawing and painting. It examines the influences and lineage traced back to the classical traditions of the High Renaissance, starting with exemplary works by Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Durer, followed by those of Rembrandt, Ingres, Manet, Degas and Sargent. The course begins with analytical drawing exercises that will develop an understanding, skill set, and "eye" necessary for proficient, accurate, and exacting draughtmanship. Mediums of charcoal, graphite pencil, chalk, oil pastels, India ink, watercolor, tempera, acrylics, and oils are all used extensively.
  • Grade 12

    Building on the skills they acquired in Grade 11 ceramics, advanced ceramic students develop an understanding of how clay’s function has changed throughout the history of man and why these changes have taken place. This course encourages the discovery and development of personal imagery and the integration of these images with the student’s clay work. The course will nurture the development of a coherent body of work based on sophisticated techniques and a maturing sense of aesthetic direction.

List of 3 members.

  • David LaLomia 

    Middle School and Senior School Ceramics Teacher
    College of Wooster - B.A.
  • Sarah Lyon 

    Lower School Art Teacher
    California College of Arts and Crafts - B.A.
    Iowa State University - M.A.
    Washington University - M.F.A.
  • Lauren Sleat 

    Middle and Senior School Art Teacher
    Maryland Institute College of Art - MFA / Painting

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Sewickley Academy
315 Academy Avenue
Sewickley, PA 15143
Sewickley Academy is a nationally recognized Pittsburgh private school enrolling students in Pre-K through Grade 12 on a single campus.