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ART 3FW3 Field Work:On-Site Exploring

Academic Year: Spring/Summer 2017

Term: Spring

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Andy Fabo



Phone: 905-525-9140 x

Office Hours: Tuesday, 10 am to 12 noon

Course Objectives:

In this course, the local environment and resources are used as source material to explore the rich possibilities of utilizing an expanded sense of place to inform a site-based art practice.

Through a series of on and off campus excursion, students will learn field research practices that support the creation of artworks. Excursions to diverse locations in the Hamilton area will generate source material through sketching, note taking, frottage (rubbing on paper for textures), souvenir hunting and other means. These methods will facilitate both finished artworks on site as well as provide material for later artworks.

Readings, independent research and class discussions will further enable an understanding of contemporary issues in the theory and practice of onsite fieldwork for artists. Both traditional and experimental means will be explored with a focus on an expanded notion of drawing.

By the end of this course students will:

  • Develop and hone observational, descriptive and drawing skills.
  • Develop an awareness and understanding of site-based art practice and related methods of collecting data and information.
  • Develop a rudimentary understanding of how to apply field research skills to an artistic practice.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

A lab/studio fee of $75 must be paid to Sharon in the SOTA office as soon as possible. This studio fee will provide you with an access card to the studios as well as expendable material needed for the course which can include paper, printing, and other materials which are toocumbersome for public transport and it subsidizes general costs related to the studio. You are also responsible for acquiring other materials such as brushes, inks, drawing media, etc.

Supplies needed for class and subsequent assignments:

  • A sketchbook at least 8” x 11” or 11” x 14”. You might consider one of each. You might also find a dollar store file for keeping loose paper and found items from field research.
  • A variety of drawing media: pencils, graphite sticks, conté crayons (black, brown and white, if possible), oil pastels, sharpies (fine tipped) pen and nibs, a small bottle of India ink.
  • Your tool kit should also include scissors, box-cutter blades, X-Acto knives, erasers, all purpose glue, pencil sharpeners, and masking tape.

These supplies can be purchased at:

  • McMaster Bookstore
  • Curry’s
  • Mixed Media on James Street North
  • The more generic items (box cutters, erasers, crayons) can be bought at dollar stores. Curry’s and Mixed Media are the best source for the sketchbook and more specialized drawing supplies.

Method of Assessment:

Your performance and evaluations will be based on the following:

1) In-class work, due at the end of each day, a total of 5 exercises: 50%  (10% each exercise)

2) One assignment due for presentation on Friday, May 5th: 20%

3) Final assignment due for presentation on Friday May 12th: 30%

You will have at least 10% (or more) of your grade confirmed by May 31st

All assignments (the drawing project plus a short 50 to 100 word statement of intent) are to be submitted to the instructor in the Flex studio (TSH 104) and/or the critique space (TSH 114) after the work has been presented. Student work will be considered late and/or incomplete if accompanied by this require labelling and submitted in the student’s portfolio:

  • Student Name, 3FW3
  • Date
  • Assignment Name

This labelling must be clear and legible. It should be located on the back of work, on the bottom right hand corner of the page. Also the typed statement should have all this information at the top of the page above your text.

Each assignment has its own array of assessment criteria, and student performance will be evaluated in terms of:

  • Technical proficiency: how you demonstrate a command of technical skills to communicate visually
  • Conceptual development and focus: how you generate, put together and employ ideas/concepts which can be demonstrated through research and planning
  • Synthesis/presentation: how you bring all your skills together, how you choose to communicate your ideas/concepts and how you present and/or reflect these ideas. Synthesis also includes how you refine, resolve and choose to present your ideas/concept through visual language
  • Work ethic/personal investment: how effectively you engage and in your studio practice, using course content as a method of learning as well as a point of departure for creative exploration (includes experimentation, problem solving).


Grade Equivalent Grade Point Equivalent Percentages

A+ 12 90-100

A 11 85-89

A- 10 80-84

B+ 9 77-79

B 8 73-76

B- 7 70-72

C+ 6 67-69

C 5 63-66

C- 4 60-62

D+ 3 57-59

D 2 53-56

D- 1 50-52

F 0 0-49

OUTSTANDING (A+ = 90-100; A = 85-89; A- = 80-84)

  • Work assessed at the A level consistently exceeds expectations and exhibits the following:
    Conceptual rigour
    Deep critical engagement
    Complex, ambitious and prolific production
    Meets deadlines with time for reflection before presentation
    Advanced technical proficiency and risk taking
    Comprehensively researched responses linked to focused goals, personal interests and artistic vision
    Independent and self-directed approaches
    Highly professional presentations
    Engagement with all aspects of the course (requires promptness and stellar attendance)

GOOD (B+ = 77-79; B = 73-76; B- = 70-72)

  • Work assessed at the B level consistently meets expectations and exhibits the following:
    Good grasp of concepts
    Evidence of developing critical skills
    Meets deadlines
    Technically sound demonstrating sensitivity to materials and their connection to ideas
    Evolving research skills and good understanding of personal goals and interests
    Some independence, self-motivation and risk taking evident
    Satisfactory presentation
    Engaged with most aspects of the course

ADEQUATE (C+ = 67-69; C = 63-66; C- = 60-62)

  • Work assessed at the C level fails to meet some expectations and exhibits some or all the following:
    Inconsistent grasp of concepts
    Little evidence of critical skills
    Work is regularly late or presented in an undeveloped state
    Struggling with technical skills and conservative approach to exploration and risk
    Requires regular assistance to understand assignments
    Unsatisfactory presentation (unprepared, late)
    Minimal engagement with course (poor attendance, few contributions evident)

MARGINAL (D+ = 57-59; D = 53-56; D- = 50-52)

  • Work assessed at the D level consistently falls short of expectations and exhibits some or all of the following:
    Significant struggle with concepts and objectives
    No evidence of critical skills
    Missed deadlines
    Simplistic technical approach with little sensitivity to materials
    Arbitrary or no research evidence
    Unacceptable presentation (inappropriate or wastes the time of the group)
    Unsatisfactory engagement with course

UNACCEPTABLE (F = 0-49) Work assessed at the F level fails to meet enough of the course requirements to obtain credit.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:


  • Assignments are designed as frameworks for creative investigation, and will incorporate the techniques and content learned and discussed in class. Students are encouraged to personalize, explore, and expand on the expressive and communicative potential of these skills.
  • A penalty of 5% per day will be deducted from assignments submitted late, or those not presented in the required format. You must make arrangements to submit late assignments with the instructor. Assignments will not be accepted after seven days without official documentation (see the MSAF section for details), and will receive a grade of zero. Studio work will be considered late and incomplete if not accompanied by required written work (i.e. project proposals, etc). Late studio and/or written work will not receive the benefit of detailed verbal/written feedback from the instructor or other members of the class.
  • Studio Art is a hands-on learning experience. Students who miss more than 3 classes or 25% of the course risk a failing grade due to the impact of this percentage on your ability to demonstrate your abilities during in-class activities.
  • Late submissions for in class assignments will not be accepted.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

  • Week/Day/ Date

    Course Schedule: 3FW3 Field Work: On-Site Exploring (Subject to Change)


    Week 1

    May 1


    Review of syllabus and course content, expectations, studio policy, evaluations • Drawing lecture • Assignment 1 presentation, due Friday, May 5, quick exercise using automatism • Curry’s visit- talk about art supplies • Field work: Drawing around the Cathedral Basilica of Christ the King, 714 King W.

    Week 1

    May 3

    Lecture on architectural drawing perspective, history of frottage and grattage • gathering rubbings (frottage) • architectural drawing on campus • contrasting representations of interior space and building exteriors.

    Week 1

    May 5

    • Discussion of the John Berger essays • collage exercise
    • Assignment 1 due • presentation for class critique • Next assignment introduced to the class.

    Week 2

    May 8

    • Field work: botanical drawing on campus • Exercise • Afternoon: Hamilton Aviary, 85 Oak Knoll Drive

    Week 2

    May 10


    Lecture on referencing art work (intertextuality) and exercise • McMaster Museum drawing in the museum,

    Week 2

    May 12


    • Discussion of the Michael Taussig essay • Presentation of final projects and class critique. 

























Three readings that are in the public domain will be posted on Avenue to Learn: two short essays by John Berger (Drawing is Discovery and To take Paper, to Draw )and one longer one by Michael Taussig (What do Drawings Want?). The Berger essays will be discussed on Friday 5th and the longer, more difficult Taussig essay will be discussed on May 12th after the experience of drawing in diverse situations.

Other Course Information:


  • You will be expected to fully engage in all studio activity. This means arriving on time, and actively participating through the duration of the class. Participation requires the student’s attention and joining in discussion to provide constructive criticism for your peers. The success of the class is largely dependent on each student’s engagement with the course work, each other and our studio community.
  • You are expected to interact with each other collegially and with respect, mindful of how you will contribute to each other’s learning experience in a positive and challenging way, particularly during class critiques. 

Students are expected  for each class with the supplies and material required to work on various projects. This becomes doubly important because weather will play a factor in the excursions. Everybody arriving on time will help us be flexible in our fieldtrips which will be somewhat determined by whether it rains or shines. Each unexcused absence without medical documentation will reflect in the evaluation, because this field research and art making both rely on direct experience and interaction.

Although a certain amount of time is allotted for in-class project work, students will be expected to spend additional time outside of class developing technical and representational skills introduced in the course, conducting independent research, completing assignments and preparing for discussions and presentations.

While smart phones may come in handy as cameras in gathering research or immediate looking up an artist or art movement, the recreational or extraneous use of cell phones (especially text messaging, or social platforms) during class time will not be tolerated. Please use common sense in this regard.

Students are expected to use Avenue to Learn to find information including assignment requirements, general announcements, technical info, etc. It is the student’s responsibility to keep up-to-date with the information on A2L.Studio |Art Technologists:

Michael Syms, TSH 414,, Phone: 905-525-9140 (Ext.24237) • Office hours: Mon-Thurs. 8:30 – 12 pm, 1 – 4:30 pm; Fri 8:30 – 12:30 or by appointment.

Agata Derda, TSH 105A,, Phone: 905-525-9140 (Ext.22632) • Office hours: Mon-Fri. 8:30 – 12 pm, 1 – 4:30 pm, or by appointment.


Working in the studio:

Studios are accessible through access cards and are open from 7am -10pm, seven days a week. Students are not permitted to work in the studios alone. Please arrange to work in the studio with a peer when working after hours.

Guests (people not enrolled in studio art courses) are not permitted in the studios unless proper permission and documentation is provided.

There is no food or drink permitted in the drawing studio. Please do not bring any chemicals or other materials into the studios with out the permission of the studio technologist or instructor. Spray adhesives and fixatives are prohibited in studios.

Appointments must be made with the studio technologist in regards to consulting and/ or executing specific projects requiring the use of woodshop, print studios, metal and ceramics facilities. Please ensure appointments and arrangements are made well in advance of deadlines and critiques.

Incident reports:

If a student should have an accident in any of the studio, the incident, (no matter how minor) must be reported to a faculty member, or the studio technologist within 24 hours. If there is no faculty or technician available, and immediate attention is needed please call 88 for all emergencies. Do not hesitate to call 88 in any circumstance, please do not make medical judgments for yourself or others, you must have a medical professional make the assessment.


University Lines – Ext. 88

Emergency Response

Fire, First Aid, Crimes in Progress, Personal Safety, Bomb Threats, Alarm Systems, Vehicle Accidents, Maintenance Emergencies (off hours)

905 522-4135

905 525-9140 Ext. 24281

Note on Correspondence: The instructor will use Avenue to Learn as a communication forum for general announcements, changes to the course schedule and relevaßnt class news. For personal correspondence between instructor and student, you are required to use the McMaster email as listed above. Please do not communicate with instructor through the Avenue email.

Instructors’ emails are checked on weekdays only. Students will receive responses to relevant inquiries within 48 hours. A response not received within this timeframe indicates that the message was not received. It is the student’s responsibility to follow-up with subsequent attempts.