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CCOG for ART 277A Spring 2024

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Course Number:
ART 277A
Course Title:
Painting the Human Figure
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Examines the human form through the study and painting of professional nude and clothed art models. Applies various painting techniques and concepts as students learn the structure, form and proportions of the human figure. Emphasizes personal artistic development with attention to compositional organization. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

Hands-on studio art class focusing on painting projects, includes some written assignments and homework projects.  Instructor demonstrations, slides, lectures, video/films and occasional field trips may be included.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  • Create figure painting in the context of the studio and in the context of the cultural history of the genre.
  • Communicate in critical conversations about the aesthetics of figure painting and how formal decisions create content.
  • Solve aesthetic and material problems to create works of figure painting that demonstrate a basic level of skills using perceptual tools and techniques relating to standards and practices of painting.

Integrative Learning

Students completing an associate degree at Portland Community College will be able to reflect on one’s work or competencies to make connections between course content and lived experience.

General education philosophy statement

The study of Visual Arts is essential to the development of the individual and one’s meaningful participation in society. At the heart of artistic practice is the ability to organize experience and recognize its meaning. The creation of artwork and appreciation of aesthetics is a source of great pleasure and also a valuable means to effective visual communication. Participating in Visual Arts is an important way for individuals to connect to the past and respond to the present with a stronger sense of engagement with culture and society.

Course Activities and Design

  • Create original works of figure painting in a variety of compositional and perceptual strategies.
  • Generate ideas/concepts with an awareness of the intended content of the work produced.
  • Develop an awareness of the major structures and dynamics of the human figure as relate to issues of figure painting.
  • Utilize an effective vocabulary specific to painting the human figure when participating in class critiques and discussions.
  • Begin to assess and self-critique personal work to strategize creative solutions.
  • Develop personal work with an awareness of historical and contemporary artists working in the tradition of figure painting.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

  • Generate original work in class painted from the model to demonstrate various approaches to figure painting. 
  • Complete homework assignments designed to investigate various approaches to figure painting.
  • Articulate in writing such concepts as formal analysis, self-expression, sense of audience, intent vs. effect, and cultural context in the work of other artists as well as one’s own.
  • Participate actively in group critiques by asking and answering relevant questions.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)


·      Figure painting as expression of human condition

·      Perception of color, form and shape


·      Figure vs. ground

·      Formal choices as content

·      Empathy with the model


·      Pictorial space vs. perceptual space

·      Expression and perception

·      Color as a strategy to resolve form and space

·      Awareness of audience


·      Use of materials according to standards of painting practice

·      Measurement and scrutiny of the volumes of the body in space

·      Appropriate use of terms to discuss visual properties of figure painting

·      Critique and self-reflection strategies relating to figure painting