Visual Arts

Before a student learns to speak, read, or write, they learn to see. Jackson Academy offers students the opportunity to express themselves and interpret the world through the visual arts. Washable paints and crayons make way for the complexities of drawing, photography, and multimedia art studied in Lower, Middle, and Upper School.  

Learning to See

JA students in all divisions are taught by highly qualified art instructors, and progress through the process of learning to draw, paint, and design, all the while developing an appreciation for the visual arts. The overall art curriculum employs the elements and principles of art creation, with art history as a backdrop throughout the curriculum. JA offers numerous Middle School and Upper School courses in visual art, including AP Art.

Seeing Up Close and Personal

Art courses include field trips to see the art departments of colleges and universities as well as various art museums. Middle and Upper School art students compete in the statewide Scholastic Art Competition each year in January. Many students submit individual works and portfolios, and JA art students have a tradition of winning multiple awards.


Click below to learn more about JA visual arts by division.

Lower School

In the K3-K5 grades, art classes focus on developing each child’s creativity and working on age-appropriate fine motor skills. Classes explore work with tempera paint, watercolor, modeling clay, play dough, and collage. Students learn the basics of drawing and painting different types of lines, shapes, colors, and textures. The students are also exposed to famous works of art.

In elementary art classes for grades one through four, classes focus on fostering creativity and self-expression while learning the basic foundations of art. Projects are designed to incorporate the elements of art and principles of design. Diving into art history, students study some of the Masters and their works. Throughout the four grades, students love for art and their skills to create are cultivated.

Middle School

Students in fifth grade have the opportunity to study art once a week throughout the year. Sixth grade art courses are taught as a daily elective by quarter. Seventh and eighth grade students study art as a daily elective throughout the year.

5th Grade

This class is structured around the seven elements of art: line, shape, space, form, texture, value, and color. Students explore each element, and how they work together, through a variety of skills and media, including observational drawing, tempera/watercolor painting, pen, oil pastel, weaving, and ceramics.

6th Grade

This class is designed to strengthen students’ drawing and painting skills. The first half of the course focuses on drawing, as students draw from observation and apply the concepts of value and perspective to make their artwork appear 3-dimensional. The second half of the course introduces students to acrylic painting, with an emphasis on color mixing and color theory. The course culminates in a final acrylic still life painting project integrating everything students learned in the previous weeks. Additional media such as watercolor, printmaking, and collage are included for variety.

7th and 8th Grade

In this class, students have the opportunity to go deeper with various media and begin making more independent choices as they express themselves through their art. Media covered include graphite, charcoal, oil pastel, watercolor, acrylic paint, printmaking, and ceramics. The principles of design—pattern, rhythm, unity, movement, contrast, emphasis, balance, and proportion—direct the way students view, create, and discuss art.

Upper School

Beginning in ninth grade, a student may choose to take Art for an entire school year.

Art Fundamentals

The foundation for understanding and creating art, this course focuses on two essential elements of art creation: drawing and the studio habits of mind, or, how to think like an artist. While the technical and mental skills of an artist are the central focus of this class, it incorporates the basic timeline of art history. Students in grades 9~12 taking art for the first time take Art Fundamentals as a prerequisite for other visual art classes.

Art History

This Art History course is organized around four questions rather than the traditional chronological approach. The first question is “What is art, and how is it made?” The goal of the first quarter is to give students a framework for understanding art and developing the skills of careful observation and imaginative speculation. The second question asks “How is art shaped by tradition and change?” In the second quarter, students examine how color, form, and ideas have been expressed in art throughout time periods and across different cultures. The third question, “How should we approach multiple interpretations?” teaches students to reach informed opinions while being open to the inherent subjectivity of art. Finally, students explore the final question, “How do we experience art in the present day?” The year ends by exploring the many ways citizens of the 21st century can enjoy and participate in art history.

Drawing & Painting (prerequisite – Art Fundamentals)

This is a survey course of studio art that builds on the foundation of Art Fundamentals. Course projects emphasize line quality, light and shade, rendering of form, composition surface manipulation, the illusion of depth, and mark-making as drawing issues that can be addressed through a variety of means, which could include drawing, painting, printmaking, or mixed media. Emphasis is on observational works. Course projects will be inspired by the artwork of historical or current artists.  Artworks created in this class maybe used in the Breadth Section of the AP portfolio.

2D Design (prerequisite – Art Fundamentals)

This survey course of studio art builds on the foundation of Art Fundamentals. Course projects involve purposeful decision making about using the elements and principles of art. Students demonstrate an understanding of design principles as applied to a two-dimensional surface. Design issues are addressed through a variety of means including digital imaging, collage, fabric design illustration, painting, or printmaking. Emphasis is on creative use of the principles of art. Course projects are inspired by the artwork of historical or current artists. Artworks created in this class may be used in the Breadth Section of the AP Portfolio.

3D Design (prerequisite – Art Fundamentals)

This survey course of studio art builds on the foundation of Art Fundamentals. The course addresses the engagement of physical space and materials. It involves purposeful decision making about using the elements and principles of art in an integrative way, demonstrating an understanding of these fundamental art principles. Examples of approaches include assemblage, additive and subtractive sculpture, fiber arts, and set design. Emphasis is on creative use of depth and space.  Course projects are inspired by the artwork of historical or current artists.

AP Art (prerequisite – Drawing & Painting, 2D Design, or 3D Design)

Students create a portfolio of college-level work and, at the end of the school year, submit the portfolio for a national evaluation. A qualifying portfolio score can earn college credit for the successful student. Currently, students choose between a Drawing / Painting portfolio, 2D Design portfolio, or 3D Design portfolio.

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Schedule your personal tour of Jackson Academy’s campus to learn more about JA by calling 601.364.5761 or signing up online.