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Continuing Education at PAFA

Classical Design for the Contemporary Artist (ONLINE) DR 700ED_ON

with Shushana Rucker


Design is the application of the formal elements of aesthetics to an artwork to enhance its strengths.  The first seven classes of this ten-week course will explain the formal elements of design:  composition, space, value, light, color, line, and texture/pattern.  Course content will include art historical discussions using artists past and present to exemplify design, short video demonstrations of the applications of each principle, and time to experiment and apply what you learned to your own work. In the final three classes, students will apply these elements to their work, with formal critiques at the end of each class. This class will be team taught by Shushana Rucker and Charles Muldowney, allowing students to benefit from varied input during critiques and different points of view during lectures and discussions.  

A weekly, live Zoom meeting will be held every Wednesday, 10 - 11:00 a.m.  

Course Schedule

Composition – This class will discuss the arrangement of forms, rhythms, colors, values, and lines in a work to create an interesting image. Principles like the Golden Ratio and other concepts will be made simple. Students will be able to identify these elements in the work of classical and contemporary artists. The works of Hopper, Bartlett, Vermeer, Millet, Poussin, and others will be discussed.

Space – This class will investigate the creating of a sense of depth in a work using size, position of forms, value, saturation, edge and perspective. Atmospheric perspective, linear perspective, intuitive perspective will be discussed and demonstrated. The class will look at the work of Alberti, Masaccio, Durer, Leonardo DaVinci, Giacometti and others.

Value – This class will examine the creating of a range of dark and light in a work. High key and low key value will be discussed and demonstrated. The class will look at work of Prud’hon, Klee, Lorrain, Rigaud, Hassam, Degas, Monet, Manet and others.

Light – This class will study manipulating the value and texture to create a sense of illumination and drama. The class will look at the work of Innes, Seurat, Rembrandt, Rubens, Hopper, Caravaggio, Vermeer, Goya and Whistler.

Color – This class will examine principles of color to create mood, space and harmony. Artists studied: Van Gogh, Matisse, Piper, Diebenkorn, Rothko and others.

Line – this class will explore the use of line in creating planes, volume, mass, gesture and space.  The class will look at the work of Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Kline and others.

Texture and pattern – this class will look at creating a rich visually interesting surface that provides contrast, variety, and decoration. Artists studied: Escher, Close, Mondrian, Pollock, Klimt, Essaydi and Fish.

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will recognize and apply the seven basic elements of classical design.
  • Students will become familiar with several important art historical figures, and their influence on design.
  • Students will experiment with a variety of techniques and materials to gain an understanding of how mark making influences design.
  • Students will develop and discuss concepts and image development in the form of structured critique.
  • Students will gain confidence in their ability to create interesting design within their own artwork.

Note: This course is available for 1.0 undergraduate credit for $525

Materials List: Rucker & Muldowney DR 700ED_ON

Zoom Technical Requirements

CE PolicyGuide_Fall 2020

Image:  Shushana Rucker, "The Upside Down," oil on panel, 20 x 20 in.

  • Session 1: Sep 21 - Nov 29th, 2020
    for 10 weeks

    Will run


    Only 2 days left to register and 4 seats left!

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