Foundation Studies

During the first year of study at the American Academy of Art, students follow a core of courses that are foundational to becoming skilled professional artists. Students gain a broad understanding of the methods and techniques of art and learn a specialized vocabulary necessary for communicating artistic concepts with their peers. After completing the foundation program, students are equipped with the tools of the artist that are required for advanced-level studies in the next three years. In addition to the technical aspects of art, students also begin to develop analytical skills in evaluating their work.

Classes emphasize demonstrating professionalism and working within a diverse artistic community to achieve common goals. This extensive introduction to the study of art is also important in helping students to refine their academic and career goals to prepare them for more specialized study.


Fundamentals of Art introduces students to the tools, techniques, and principles of artistic composition and design. This course introduces students to the steps of the artistic process from sketch to completed work. This process, in combination with an understanding of the core skills of the artist, begins to form a framework for the student’s individual artistic development. During this course, students explore various directions in the commercial and fine art fields. Students learn the course material through demonstrations, lectures, field trips, and short and extended projects.


Students create projects using a variety of techniques and media, including pencil, watercolor, and acrylic paint as well as the incorporation of different papers and surfaces.


Fundamentals of Art gives students an introduction to two-dimensional design. Exercises stimulate artistic imagination, requiring students to conceptualize and produce visual images that express a concept. Students learn to employ principles of line, shape, form, pattern, tone, and arrangement to create the desired effect.


Students also demonstrate an understanding of perspective by applying one-, two- and three-point perspectives to projects in design, illustration, and architectural renderings. Projects involve the concepts of the picture plane, vanishing points, inclined planes, and perspective in shadows.

Life Drawing

In Life Drawing, students learn the principles of drawing through careful study of the human form. The human form has traditionally been a focus of art training due to the infinite variety in structure, size, and emotional makeup.

Students primarily practice drawing from live models. Assignments include quick sketches from short active poses and more detailed drawings from long poses. Drawing from live models enhances an artist’s powers of observation and memory, essential skills for anyone working in the visual arts.

Students learn many skills in Life Drawing that will apply to future study, including figure construction, modeling to create volume and form, and the use of various media.

Foundation Outcomes

Upon completion, students will be able to:

  • Depict objects, including the human figure, in space
  • Use a variety of traditional drawing and painting mediums
  • Apply color theory both in the depiction of objects (including the human figure) and in non-representational design
  • Apply the principles of perspective
  • Employ design principles and theories
  • Present and evaluate artwork