Introduction to the Visual Arts

Introduction to the Visual Arts


Spring 2012
01/17/2012 - 05/13/2012

Course Information

Section 018
MW 15:00 - 16:20
RGC1 028
Erin Keever

Office Hours

No office hours have been entered for this term

Course Requirements


The course examines visual elements and principles of art, their nature, function and relationship in painting, sculpture, architecture and graphics. Emphasis will be on basic approaches to understanding works of art and the development of personal interpretations. Comprised primarily of lectures, this class will also incorporate one museum visit. 



TASP Reading & Writing. Instructor reserves the right to require written proof that prerequisites have been fulfilled.



This class will include lectures, discussions, student presentations, textbook readings, and gallery/museum visit(s). Students will explore broad thematic questions about the nature, purpose, interpretation and critical evaluation of art. They will also examine case studies of particular cultures, periods, styles and artists and use them to explore broader issues of form, technique, medium, and interpretation.




Three exams                                                 (60% - 3 x 20%)

One Paper                                                     (16%)

One in-class presentation                          (10%)

Discussion Forum Participation                 (14%)



There will be three exams (each worth 20 % of your final grade 3 x 20 =60%) consisting of multiple choice, matching, identifications and one or two short essay questions (requiring 1- 3 paragraphs). The last exam is not comprehensive. Note: there will be no make-up exams in this class. Students will receive a grade of zero if a test is missed unless a valid medical excuse is produced in writing by the next class period. Students must also contact me by email immediately after a test is missed. NO EXCEPTIONS.



There will be one required 4-5 page paper, worth 16 % of your final grade. Students will apply critical thinking and formal analysis in their papers. The formal analysis will be discussed further in class and hand-outs will be distributed prior to the fieldtrip required for this assignment. The fieldtrip will be to the Blanton Museum of Art on The University of Texas campus.



There will be one required presentation, worth 10% of your final grade. Presentations will be approximately 5-10 minutes long. In the presentations, students will discuss specific works of art by an individual artist of their choosing. It is necessary to get prior topic approval from the instructor. Students will choose 1-5 significant work(s) by the artist and concentrate on describing the works, explaining its/their subject matter, meaning, style, technique as well as the larger significance of the work in terms of the social, political, religious, or artistic context of the work. Students will use information from class lectures and the textbook and may supplement this information with material from the library and the Internet. Students may also implement handouts, color transparencies, the Internet and/or PowerPoint.



There will be discussion forums posted on this class’s Blackboard site cumulatively worth 14% of your total grade (roughly the equivalent of your formal analysis paper grade). Instructions on each assignment will be included on the site under the “discussion forum” topics listed and in a separate hand-out that I will distribute, which will also be on Blackboard under “course documents.” Students should complete at least 7 out of 10 forum assignments as the lowest 3 discussion forum grades will be dropped. Complete these short writing assignments per posted instructions including word-count and I expect accurate spelling and grammar. Treat these as seriously as you do your paper and try to demonstrate a persuasive argument and critical thinking skills in your threads. Weekly participation must occur by midnight Friday each week. Students must adhere to strict Friday deadlines with no exceptions.




There will be one extra credit opportunity in the form of a 3-5 page essay worth up to 5 additional points on your final grade. This may offset the deduction taken for excessive absences. The topic will be posted on Blackboard. The due date is Monday, May 7, 2012.




Students are expected to take notes on important artists, artworks, architectural sites, locations, styles, terms, concepts and information covered in class. Some of the images discussed in class may not be reproduced in the textbook, which makes it extremely important for student to attend class. 




Coming to class in order to collectively look at and discuss the images shown in slide presentations is necessary.  Attendance is required and will be monitored daily.  After 5 hours of class absences (the equivalent of 2 weeks of classes during a 16 week semester), additional absences will lower the final course average by 5%.  After 7.5 hours of class absences (equivalent of 3 weeks of classes during 16 week semester), additional absences will lower the grade by another 5% (for a total of 10%, or one letter grade). (I reserve the right to withdraw a student that misses more that 9 hours – equivalent of 4 weeks in a 16-week class.)



All deadlinesare strictly observed. Students are responsible for knowing and abiding by the due dates and presentation schedule. 



Students who quit the course must officially withdraw, or receive an "F" for the course. Final withdrawal date is Monday, April 23, 2012.  A student may withdraw by going to any ACC Admissions and Records office and filling out a withdrawal slip; professor’s signature is not required. Note: Per state law, students enrolling for the first time in Fall 2007 or later at any Texas college or university may not withdraw (receive a W) from more than 6 courses during their undergraduate career. Some exceptions for good cause could allow a students to withdraw from a course without having it count toward this limit, Students are encouraged to carefully select courses and contact an advisor or counselor for assistance.



This course has a Blackboard site accessed through ACC’s website. Students must participate in discussion forums on this site. Also they may check their grades, access course documents (including terms and image sheets and assignments), and sometimes view links to other websites. Students are encouraged to Blackboard throughout the semester and to print out review materials well in advance of each exam.





Getlein, Mark, Living with Art, Ninth Edition, 2010; ISBN: 978-0-07-337920-3


Reading assignments are outlined in syllabus.  Students are responsible for readings and images in the text. Lectures will parallel supplement text and images. *If you choose to purchase an earlier edition you are still responsible for images and information that we cover in class, but perhaps don’t appear in your text.

Course Subjects


Week 1:1/18                                                W: Course and Syllabus Introduction           


Week 2:1/23 & 1/25                                   M & W : Chapter 1, Living with Art, pp. 3-17

                                                                       FRI: 1/27 No class but Discussion Forum due by midnight


Week 3:1/30 & 2/1                                     M & W: Chapter 2, What Is Art, pp. 18-49

                                                                       FRI: 2/3 No class but Discussion Forum due by midnight


Week 4:2/6 & 2/8                                        M: Outsider Art

                                                                       W: Chapter 3, Themes in Art, pp. 50-79

                                                                       FRI, 2/11 No class but Discussion Forum due by midnight


Week 5:2/13 & 2/15                                   M: Chapter 3, Themes in Art, continued

                                                                       W: Chapter 4, The Visual Elements, pp.80-119

                                                                       Introduction to Formal Analysis, Exam Review

                       No Discussion Forum due this week (2/17)


Week 6:  2/20 & 2/22                                 M: Exam 1 (Chapters 1, 2, 3 & 4), Monday 2/20

                                                                       W: No class because Thursday, 2/23, Fieldtrip to the Blanton*

                                                                       FRI: 2/24 No Class but Discussion Forum due by midnight


Week 7:2/27 & 2/29                                   M: Chapter 6 Drawing, pp. 147-163

                                                                       W: Chapter 7 Painting, pp. 164-180


Week 8:3/5 & 3/7                                        M: Painting continued, Jackson Pollock & Abstract                                  


                                                                       W: Chapter 8, Printmaking, pp.182-202

                                                                       FRI: 3/9 No class but Discussion Forum due by midnight



SPRING BREAK 3/12-3/18.


Week 9: 3/19 & 3/21                                  M: Formal Analysis Due, Chapter 8, Printmaking, pp.182-202

                                                                       W: Chapter 9, Camera and Computer Arts, pp. 202-237

                                                                       FRI: 3/23 No class but Discussion Forum due by midnight


Week 10:3/26 & 3/28                                M: Chapter 9, Camera and Computer Arts, pp. 202-237

                                                                       Papers Back , Exam Review

                                                                       W: Exam 2 (Chapters 6, 7, 8 & 9)

                                                                       FRI: 3/30 No class but Discussion Forum due by midnight


Week 11:4/2 & 4/4                                    M: Chapter 11, Sculpture and Installation, pp. 250-277

      W: Chapter 11 continued, Public Art

                                                                      FRI: 4/6 No class but Discussion Forum due by midnight


Week 12:4/9 & 4/11                                  M & W: Chapter 13, Architecture, pp. 294-331

      FRI: 4/13, No class but Discussion Forum due 4/13 or  4/20


Week 13:  4/16 & 4/18                            M & W: Presentations 

                                                                     FRI: 4/20 May turn in last week’s Discussion Forum by midnight tonight                                                           


Week 14:  4/23 & 4/25                            M & W: Monday 4/23 is Last Day to Withdraw, Presentations


Week 15:4/30 & 5/2                              M: Museums (History, Organization & Careers),  Conoisseurship

                                                                    W: PBS Film, Art 21, Contemporary Artists and Exam Review

                                                                   FRI: 5/4 No class but Discussion Forum due by midnight


Week 16:5/7 & 5/9                                  M: Exam 3 (Chapters 11, 13, Museums, Connoisseurship,

    Art 21); Extra Credit due 5/7

    W: Exam/Final Grade Review


Semester Ends Sunday May 13, 2012

Student Learning Outcomes/Learning Objectives



The purpose of the course, Introduction to Visual Arts, is to provide each student with an understanding of the diverse ways in which different cultures construct and represent their reality. Through thematic examination of both historical and contemporary art the student will acquire a vocabulary to describe formal properties of art, techniques of art making, and social, psychological, spiritual and physical uses of art.


This class also fulfills the Visual and Performing Arts requirement of the Core Curriculum outline.



Students will analyze the visual elements and principles of design employed within the visual arts throughout history. Students will differentiate among various media and techniques used by the artists.  Students will analyze the motivation of individual artists and how art expresses important aspects of time and culture.



Throughout the course we will explore such questions as, Why does man create art? What influences his/her choice of imagery? Why does he/she use a particular medium? How does he/she develop a style? How and why are the visual arts important to our own lives? How does knowledge of the art of the past help us to understand the art of the present? The formal elements of art are explained and examples are presented. Students are given the opportunity to analyze works of art based on the various ways individual artists organize the formal elements of art.