* * * * OUR CURRICULUM * * * *
The Fred Dolan Art Academy's curriculum is pointed and highly considered.
It focuses on the development of the technical skills needed in the building of portfolios that will reflect the standards required by art colleges.
These standards are almost always met (and usually surpassed)
by the academy's seniors, whose portfolios are almost always extraordinary.
The road to an extraordinary portfolio begins years earlier.
Most young artists start drawing and painting before they can read or write.
In generations past, their predecessors would fill their sketchbooks
with cartoons of Mickey Mouse, Daffy Duck, or Yogi Bear.
Today's youngsters focus on computer-driven imagery
- from Transformers, robots and superheroes, to Anime.
But the art colleges of today aren't interested in such things.
They're seeking students who can accurately capture three-dimensional objects
in two dimensions, creating highly realistic studies on canvas or paper.
It is this reality that drives the Fred Dolan Art Academy's curriculum.
Every September, a new crop of fifth and sixth graders enters our doors
for the first time.
These youngsters have rarely been exposed
to the classic methods of drawing and painting.
The masters who taught in the academies of centuries past, would place still lifes before their students (fruits, flowers, bottles, or collections of bones). The students would spend years learning to render those objects with accuracy and precision.
This all happened before the advent of photography,
when painters were the sole recorders of visual history.
As such, the graduates of the academies
would be required to paint portraits of notable people and their families,
paint pictures that described the life of the local folk,
and create frescos of biblical scenes for the church.
These works were judged by the level of accuracy
that the painter was able to achieve.
Today's art colleges are seeking those same skills.
The curriculum of the Fred Dolan Art Academy reflects this reality.
We start each school year by explaining to our new students that if they want to go to art college, where they'll be trained as professional artists, they'll have to learn to create highly realistic drawings. We assure them that while it's okay to continue filling their sketchbooks with cartoons at home, on Saturdays at the academy, they'll spend their time learning to draw and paint in the classical way.
We then begin teaching the basics: how to compose a thumbnail sketch, how to render fruits, bottles, and other still-life objects, and how to draw from live models. After several months of this, they begin painting in watercolor, then colored pencils, then acrylics.
Throughout their middle school years, every lesson is structured to reinforce these classical skills and our students almost always progress at an accelerated rate.
In high school, we introduce them to oil paints, and begin the process of building their college portfolios, which soon take center stage. The portfolio's requirements are reflected in a long series of figure and still-life assignments they're required to complete. By the fall of their senior year, they will have created sixteen to twenty skillfully executed drawings and paintings, which are photographed, placed on CD's, and mounted on the pages of their portfolios for submission to art colleges
around the country.