AP Syllabus

AP 2018-2019 SYLLABUS 

Zachery’s AP Studio Art: Drawing      Course Syllabus 


Course Description

The AP Studio Drawing Portfolio course is designed for students who are seriously interested in the practical experience of art and wish to develop mastery in the concept, composition, and execution of their ideas. AP Studio Art is not based on a written exam; instead, students submit portfolios or evaluation at the end of the school year. In building the portfolio, students experience a variety of concepts, techniques and approaches designed to help them demonstrate their abilities as well as their versatility with techniques, problem solving, and ideation. Students develop a body of work for the Concentration section of the portfolio that investigates an idea of personal interest to them. The five top pieces are selected for actual presentation in the Quality section of the Drawing portfolio.



The 3 major sections of the AP Studio Art Portfolio are:

  • Quality:Comprised of works that excel in concept, composition, and execution may come from the Breadth or Concentration sections.Actual artwork is submitted and the size restrictions are no larger than 18 X 24 inches.
  • Breadth: Works that demonstrate a variety of concepts, media, and approaches to drawing/2D design issues.Twelve images are submitted- one for each piece of artwork. (completed 1st semester)
  • Concentration: A series of works organized around a compelling visual concept or recurring theme.Twelve images are submitted; some may be details. (Completed 2nd Semester)


Summer Assignment

Create an altered book. Document your summer.  Do not do copy work, but work from direct observation instead. Take risks and try new ideas and media. Glue stuff into your altered book: ticket stubs, receipts, pebbles, lists, found papers, gum wrappers, etc. Create photography and glue it into your book.  Draw or paint onto collaged materials in your book.  Go wild and fill the book.



• To encourage creative as well as systematic investigation of formal and conceptual issues in the Quality, Concentration, and Breadth sections of the portfolio.

• To emphasize making art as an on-going process that involves the student in informed and critical decision making to develop ideation. 

• To develop technical versatility and skills while using the visual elements and principles in compositional forms.

• To encourage students to become independent thinkers who will contribute inventively and critically to their culture through the making of original art work. If a student’s work makes use of photographs or other artist’s works, it is taught that they move beyond mere duplication. Copyright issues are discussed. 




As in any college-level course, it is expected that students will spend a considerable amount of time outside the classroom working on completion of assignments. Ideas for projects or solutions to problems should be worked out in a sketchbook/altered book both in class and outside of class. The sketchbook is an essential tool in recording ideas, capturing visual information, working on compositional issues, and just fooling around. Altered books/sketchbooks are checked frequently for progress.



AP Studio Art students are encouraged to participate in exhibitions and competitions. At the end of the school year, students will submit portfolios to the district-wide art exhibition where as a senior they will compete for scholarship awards. Students are also encouraged to attend exhibitions at local galleries and museums. A field trip is scheduled per year for AP Studio Art students to attend local museums.



Assignments are open-ended in nature and explore a variety of approaches to drawing/mark making. Assignments have end dates. Students should make every effort to complete work by the end date; however, there may be circumstances that cause an assignment to be late. It is important that students have a discussion with the instructor if work is going to be turned in late or if they will miss a critique. Throughout the course, students will receive individual mentoring regarding the selection of pieces for the portfolio sections.  Individual and group critiques will ensure an understanding of the sense of pursuit in visual problem solving. Open dialogue will ensure production of high quality pieces relevant to the sections of the portfolio. Work is evaluated in progress and in the finished state through critiques with teacher and peers. 


Course Schedule

Classes meet every other day 95 minutes, Block 4-A. The course focuses on both sections of the portfolio (Breadth and Concentration) throughout the year, with the best artwork selected for use in the Quality section of the AP Studio Art portfolio.  The Breadth work is generally teacher driven. Assignments are varied from year to year, and individual and unique responses to all work are encouraged. The assignments made are based on a variety of collected probĀ­lems commonly encountered in college-level Drawing courses. The students have specific in-class and out-of-class assignments; they also are expected to complete some in-class work out of class, depending on the schedule of assignments.


Possible Breadth Assignments

Create contour, cross contour, gesture and more realized drawings of common objects.  Look at Jim Dine’s tool series.  Look at Vija Celmin’s early work.

Create a drawing of a toy. Explore media: graphite, colored pencil, crayon.  Look at Chris Cosnowski, local artist John Hartley, Cesar Santander and Andy Warhol.

Create gridded and distorted self-portraits. Look at Hans Holbein’s “The Ambassadors”.

Create a negative space drawing of a group of chairs.  Color in the negative space in an interesting way.

Create a self-portrait, or several different ones, that expresses a specific mood/emotion–e.g., anger/rage, loneliness, happiness/joy, etc. Manipulate light and color to enhance the psychological atmosphere. Also, consider the development of the environment/setting.

Create a foreshortened self-portrait with pencil modeling techniques. 

Create a drawing of a reflective object with white prisma or chalk on black board.

Create a monochrome self-portrait with prismacolor. 

Investigate the Principles of Design using various media: scratchboard technique, India ink, charcoal, graphite, pastel, and conte crayon.

Create compositions that involve the use of inset imagery (image within image such as details/close up views).

Create a graphite drawing of a still-life arrangement that consists of reflective objects—your goal is to convey a convincing representation with a full range of values. To add interest to the composition, you might also want to render yourself being reflected in the objects. 

Create a value drawing of a still life with an exaggerated lighting set up.

Draw from unusual perspectives.

Create a pattern drawing. Draw outlines of shapes to create a composition.  Then create at least 5 different patterns, and fill in the outlines with these patterns.

Create a value drawing of drapery. Change the rhythm, speed and pressure of your mark making.

Create a pencil or charcoal value drawing of part of an insect.

Create a drawing of cakes or candy.  Look at the work of Wayne Thiebaud.

Create drawings of structures or landscapes employing one-point, two-point or three-point perspective.

Subtractive Charcoal Self-Portrait—using a combination of vine and compressed charcoal, use the dark field method to create a self-portrait (lay a field of charcoal over the entire surface of the page and use an eraser to create a range of values). 

Explore liquid media: pen and ink, brush and wash and monotype.


The students are encouraged from the beginning of the class to formulate ideas for their Concentrations and, where allowable, to start working on those ideas. The concept of working in a series is explained by looking at various artists.

Possible Concentration Topics:

A series created by drawing a still life and abstracting it and creating variations.  Look at Picasso.

A series of tool drawings starting as simple investigation and broadening into complexity of composition and use of media.

A series of drawings from everyday life from altered book exploring perspectives & media.

A series of illustrations based on a well-known story or stories.

A series of portraits that grow in complexity. A variety of mark-making, distortions and unusual perspectives explored.

A series of drawings from observing the “inside of things” which grow in complexity of media and perspectives.

A series of work as an “ode to the ordinary”.  Based on work of Vija Celmins and Jim Dine.

A series of environments drawn in different lighting situations. 

A series which explores interior and exterior spaces, emphasizing Principles of Design.

A series of abstractions from subjects that explore mark-making & various drawing media. 

Keeping Track

Each student’s individual portfolio is reviewed at intervals to note the progress of the pieces.  A file is kept to list all completed work by category, notation of the concentration statement is kept and slides are updated as photographed. They should be organized to show the development of an idea in the Concentration section. The Breadth drawings should demonstrate experimentation and a range of conceptual approaches using the Elements and Principles of Art.




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