01: Course Description

West Virginia Wesleyan College // School of Fine Arts & Humanities
Department of Art
Fall Term 2015 // Drawing I // ART111
Classroom: McCuskey Room 116
Mon/Wed Noon-2:30

Professor: Ellen Mueller // Office: McCuskey Room 105
Office Hours: Monday & Wednesday, 3-5:30pm & by appointment
Email: mueller_e@wvwc.edu


BRIEFLY: This course is an introduction to the fundamentals of drawing and seeing. Students will practice analysis and rendering of line, form, value, and texture through the use of various media. We will engage in comprehensive study of the elements and principles of design, and composition.


  • Students will gain basic knowledge and understanding of a wide range of materials and processes such as charcoal, graphite, toned grounds, etc. They will also gain exposure to a variety of applications of materials including gestural, additive/reductive, etc. While utilizing these materials and processes, students will practice the skill of defining space and rendering three-dimensional forms in two-dimensional space.
  • Students will practice identifying and utilizing the elements and principles of design.
  • Students will apply visual language, both written and oral, in various forms of critique.
  • Students will practice forming creative ideas through iterative conceptual assignments.
  • Students will gain awareness of the historical context of drawing by looking at both historical and contemporary artists as frames of reference for their practice.
  • Students will begin to learn the professional practices of an artist in terms of documenting their work and self-discipline to complete all work in a timely fashion. Students will practice taking photos and scans of the drawings, turning in a documentation disk of all their drawing work at the end of the semester. Students will also post images of their homework photos to a blog.



We will encounter frustrations as we deal with unexpected road-blocks, and create workarounds that fit within our timeline. These are important skills to practice, as you will do the same when you leave school and enter the world of professional artistic practice. Our weekly discipline will include a variety of activities which may include, but are not limited to, discussion, active installation creation/viewing, sketchbook entries, and scheduled readings/writings. It is important to know you do not have to be a trained artist to participate in this course. However you must be willing to explore how this medium allows you to develop and refine your artistic practice, regardless of your preferred artistic medium. Please note that an instructor, I cannot force the effort required to practice art. It must come from a desire and aptitude for struggle. Dedication and willingness to create will ensure your success in this class.


We’re about to experience some content that can be, and has in the past been, considered provocative. People in this course have been offended by what we’re about to see, so even if you think this is harmless or funny, keep in mind that this can also offend. Have respect for how other people in the room feel. That said: provocative art might not be directly offensive, but can remind you of difficult experiences, and it can work on you emotionally before your thinking mind has a chance to catch up. This means it can surprise you, and that’s ok, and this room is a place to talk about offendedness and problematic art, and you can also communicate with me via email or office visit. I’ll also try to contextualize this art by putting it in its historical moment where it will hopefully make better sense.


The work created in the course may be of a personal and/or controversial nature. Please respect your colleagues and give their work your best attention. If you disagree with a work or its content, remember that when engaging with others’ work you must be a responsible and professional critic, and as such must work to make your criticism constructive and descriptive. Speak in this class with the expectation of being heard, and listen carefully because it is an opportunity to be changed.


We go to college to for a degree and a job, but we also go to college to become better members of society. We are here to learn…

  • Love of truth: Love of truth is an intellectual virtue because its absence has serious moral consequences. Relativism chips away at our fundamental respect for one another as human beings. Once truth becomes suspect, debates become little more than efforts at manipulation (think of political spin).
  • Honesty: Honesty enables students to face the limits of what they themselves know; it encourages them to own up to their mistakes.
  • Fair-mindedness: Students need to be fair-minded in evaluating the arguments of others (being aware of their own biases).
  • Humility: Humility allows students to face up to their own limitations and mistakes and to seek help from others.
  • Perseverance: Students need perseverance, since little that is worth knowing or doing comes easily. We will practice this skill rigorously.
  • Courage: Students need intellectual courage to stand up for what they believe is true and take risks.
  • Good listening: Students can’t learn from others, or from their professors, without listening. It takes courage to be a good listener, because good listeners know that their own views of the world, along with their plans for how to live in it, may be at stake whenever they have a serious conversation.
  • Perspective-taking and empathy: It takes a great deal of intellectual sophistication to get perspective-taking right. You must be able to put yourself in the shoes of someone else and identify with their unique situation. These skills pay enormous dividends in professional life.
  • Wisdom: Any of the intellectual virtues I’ve mentioned can be carried to an extreme. Wisdom is what enables us to find the balance between timidity and recklessness, carelessness and obsessiveness, flightiness and stubbornness, speaking up and listening up, trust and skepticism, empathy and detachment. Wisdom is also what enables us to make difficult decisions when intellectual virtues conflict. Being empathetic, fair, and open-minded often rubs up against fidelity to the truth. Practical wisdom is the master virtue.[credit to Barry Schwartz]