portion of a drawing by Madison Helmick

Art 1 Drawing Syllabus

  • Course Description

    Drawing is a general, multi-level art course for students who wish to improve their visual communication and drawing skills.  It covers composition and drawing techniques including the elements and principles of design, the proper use of tools, materials and drawing processes.  Students will be introduced to a variety of drawing media and will work to gain competency in each.  Art history, criticism, aesthetics, and appreciation will be incorporated into each unit.  Students should expect to read and write about their own art and others’ on a daily basis.


    Academic Expectations

    Active Learners:

    • Students will understand and use what they learn
    • Students will engage in inquiry and self-directed learning
    • Students will use feedback and self-reflection to extend learning

    Resourceful Thinkers:

    • Students will employ creative thinking skills
    • Students will make meaningful connections

    Effective Communicators:

    • Students will express knowledge and skill creatively using a variety of media, technology and the arts
    • Students will engage effectively in discussion

     Learning Objectives

    Students who successfully complete this course will have learned:

    • drawing from observation, using techniques including contour drawing, gesture drawing, calligraphic lines, and value studies
    • rendering skills using materials such as pencil, colored pencil, pen and ink, marker, charcoal, pastel
    • shading and texture techniques such as hatching, stippling, and value scales
    • several techniques for creating the illusion of space, including simple and linear perspective
    • to use the principles of design to organize the art elements into effective compositions
    • basic color theory and color mixing
    • methods of designing and producing a print
    • proper use and care of materials and tools
    • practice a variety of methods to stimulate creative problem solving

    Learning Experiences

    In this course students will:

    • participate in presentations on current projects and connections with art history
    • participate in discussions and assignments related to aesthetics and art criticism
    • watch demonstrations of techniques with materials and tools
    • work on individual and group projects during studio time
    • participate in group discussions and critiques
    • evaluate their own artwork through written assignments and discussion
    • do weekly sketchbooks assignments
    • participate in the end of semester Art Show
    • maintain a physical and a digital portfolio of artwork throughout the year
    • be responsible for maintaining cleanliness of tools and workspace


    Enduring Understandings for the Course

    • Creativity, innovative thinking problem solving are essential life skills that develop throughout life.
    • Artists continually develop their work and skills through practice, constructive feedback, reflection and revision.
    • Artists invent, create and experiment with a variety of tools, materials and techniques to communicate ideas and express emotions.
    • People create and interact with objects, places, and design that define, shape, enhance, and empower their lives.
    • Looking at and discussing art can help us understand and appreciate diverse cultures, backgrounds and styles
    • Artists and other presenters consider various techniques, methods, venues, and criteria when analyzing, selecting, and curating objects artifacts, and artworks for preservation and presentation.
    • Art can be used as a social tool to question and challenge.

    Essential Questions for the Course

    • What conditions, attitudes, and behaviors support creativity and innovative thinking? What factors prevent or encourage people to take creative risks? How does collaboration expand the creative process?
    • How does knowing the contexts, histories, and traditions of art forms help us create works of art and design? Why do artists follow or break from established traditions? How do artists determine what resources and criteria are needed to formulate artistic investigations?
    • What role does persistence play in revising, refining, and developing work? How do artists grow and become accomplished in art forms? How does collaboratively reflecting on a work help us experience it more completely?
    • How are artworks cared for and by whom? What criteria, methods, and processes are used to select work for preservation or presentation? Why do people value objects, artifacts, and artworks, and select them for presentation?
    • How do life experiences influence the way you relate to art? How does learning about art impact how we perceive the world? What can we learn from our responses to art?
    • What is an image? Where and how do we encounter images in our world? How do images influence our views of the world?

    Course content

    Unit 1: Still Life

    The Language of Art: Evaluating Art (Art Criticism), Intro to Art History and Aesthetics

    Line - Including Contour, Gesture, Calligraphic, Line and Value

    Unit 2: Landscape/Architecture
                Texture - Including Real, Simulated, Illusionary, Patterning

    Value - Including Scales, Graded, Stepped, High Contrast (chiaroscuro), Low Contrast, Range of values

    Shape, Form, and Space - Including Organic and Geometric, Positive and Negative, Drawing Forms, Perspective

    Unit 3: Portraiture

    Color - Including Color Wheel and mixing, Color Families, Color and Light

    Creativity and Chance

    Value and Proportion - Including Distortion and Exaggeration, Cartooning, Abstraction and Non-objective

    Unit 4: Figure

    Balance and Harmony - Including Proportion, Foreshortening, Symmetry and Asymmetry

    Emphasis, Movement, and Rhythm

    Independent Contract

    Careers in Art


    Each large project is assessed by critique and by a rubric. 

    There will be an assessment at the end of each unit.  These assessments will cover your understanding of the terms and concepts in the unit as well as drawing exercises that will show you have mastered the assigned techniques for each unit. 

    Smaller quizzes, both announced and unannounced, will assist in and verify learning as we progress through the course.

    The Midterm and Final exams count as 15% of your course grade.



    This is my Happy Place!

    The following rules will help to keep this a happy place for all of us.  These are also the criteria for your conduct grade.


    1. Be on time. Be seated and working at the start of class.
    2. Raise your hand when you would like to speak.
    3. Follow directions the first time they are given.
    4. In a studio, safety is a top priority. Treat one another, the tools, and materials with care.
    5. Use appropriate language at all times.
    6. Keep things neat and orderly.



    Grades are dependent upon 3 factors: class participation and time management; studio projects and sketchbook drawings (minimum of 1 per week); written work, notebooks, tests, and quizzes.  All grades are earned on an assigned point basis.  Large studio projects will be given a grade rubric so that you know what is important and how many points each aspect of the assignment is worth.  Late work does not usually receive full credit. Students are required to keep a notebook/sketchbook.  We organize a binder with notebook paper and drawing paper.  You may access your grades at any time by using the Parent Portal at this web address (you will need to create an account if you have not already done so).https://scps.powerschool.com/public


    Extra Credit

    All larger projects may be repeated in a different way at the same or better skill level for up to 10% extra credit applied to that grade.  Extra credit may be turned in for two weeks following the due date of each assignment (except at the end of the grading period).

    Drawing contests and competitions can also earn you extra credit.


    Daily Routine

    Each day when you arrive at class:

    1. Make certain you have sharpened pencils, your notebook/sketchbook, and other necessary supplies at your place.
    2. Make sure your phone is off and in your backpack (not your pocket) or the hanger.
    3. Begin the assignment listed on the board.
    4. Instructional time: Remain seated. Listen attentively.  Take notes when appropriate.  Raise your hand if you wish to speak.
    5. Studio Time: Studio time is slightly more relaxed than instructional time. However, it is a time when your primary focus must be on working skillfully and creatively. 
    • You may speak quietly to those seated at your table.
    • You may stand and stretch briefly when you need to.
    • You may get supplies from your shelf or designated area without asking permission.
    • You may not go into any other closet or storage area.
    • Respect the space and concentration of those around you.
    • If you finish early, work in your sketchbook or on an extra credit project.
    • Label every assignment, large or small, with your name and classroom number



    Clean up: At the appropriate time, usually 10 minutes before the end of class, clean-up will be announced.  (Stopping work before clean-up is announced will reduce your daily participation grade.)

    • First, label your project and put it away in a designated area.
    • Clean up on, under, and around your work area.
    • Certain duties will be assigned on a rotating basis. Be sure to check the clean-up board for your job.
    • Return to your place until the bell rings for “final thoughts”.


    Other Important Information

    • There is a $5 fee for this class. Please pay the school bookkeeper if you did not do so at registration.
    • Projects will be kept at school the entire semester to allow for portfolio review, as well as select shows and competitions.
    • Parents should feel free to contact me by calling the school or emailing me directly at sciszek@staunton.k12.va.us


    We have established a Staunton High Chapter of National Art Honor Society
    We promote art in the school and community; build the resumes and portfolios of aspiring art students; and do art service in and out of school.
    Please let me know if this is something you would like to be part of!