The painting emphasis at Western is solidly grounded in tradition, providing rigorous, professional courses that investigate the relationship between painting and drawing, combining the materials and techniques of each.
Beginning painting courses introduce the concepts and materials of painting, furthering students' understanding of space, image, and color. In beginning drawing courses, students gain awareness of drawing as a way to organize thoughts, feelings, and image-making. Painting and drawing at Western cover a range of materials, forms, and traditions, both representational and non-representational. The painting and drawing faculty are recognized working artists and experts in color, landscape, still life, watercolor, and the figure. Intermediate and advanced courses in painting materials and techniques cover the properties and possibilities of modern media: grounds, supports, methods, adhesives, and pigments. In advanced painting and drawing classes, students build upon their technical facility and conceptual base to develop personal directions.
All classes emphasize individual aesthetic choices and expression, and the exploration of contemporary critical issues. Like all emphases here, the painting and drawing program encourages inquiry and experimentation in other media and disciplines. Besides studio instruction and practice, regular mid-semester and end-of-semester critiques help students articulate their intentions, analyze their success, and evaluate their progress. One student's response to these critiques: "I hate them and I love them. People hold me responsible for my work, so I've had to learn how to defend it. Sometimes it's frustrating when I have to admit that a painting just doesn't capture what I'm trying to do. But the critical comments help me figure out what to try next." In addition to individual contact with faculty members, painting and drawing students benefit from personal interaction with visiting artists, gallery exhibits, and field trips to Denver, Taos, and Santa Fe. Giving lectures, shows, and workshops, and sometimes even participating in critiques, these artists increase students' awareness of various styles and approaches.
Western painting and drawing students not only develop skills and sensitivity; they emerge with a strong, comprehensive education and a positive-but realistic-enthusiasm for art as a way of life.