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ART 1OS3 Observational Studies

Academic Year: Fall 2017

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Briana Palmer


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 429A

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23155

Office Hours: at request of students

Course Objectives:

This course focuses on observation-based studio activities and development of critical perception to deepen understanding of visual information and phenomena related to art practice.

Through in-class exercises, independent assignments, class discussion and group critique, students will gain basic knowledge of various media practices related to the fundamentals of visual art, learn research methods that apply to the production of studio projects, learn to maintain safe practices in the studio, learn to develop critical dialogue through group discussions and begin to envision their practice from a globally informed perspective.


Due to the nature of this course it is mandatory that students attend every class. There are demonstrations, lab instruction, that can not be repeated. If a student is absent from class they must follow McMaster’s policy for missed classes. Students missing classes due to team sports, work or other will not be excused, missing classes with out good reason will result in a failing grade as projects will not be repeated nor made up.


Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Studio Fees

The studio fee of $80.00 provides students with the basic materials necessary for this class, as well as, expendables used in the studios such as newsprint, glue, sandpaper, and other select studio supplies. Materials will be given to each student at the beginning of term. Students must pay the SOTA office by the end of fall recess; failure to pay studio fees will result in loss of after hour studio privileges, as well as, materials for any courses the following semester. Please note the studio fees covers the basics materials allowing students to sample various materials without a large cost associated. The school is able to purchase supplies in bulk, however students should be aware that these supplies do not cover the cost of all materials; and the responsibility of replenishing or purchasing other materials need is up to the student. If materials have been lost /stolen students must replaced the materials at their own expense.

Tuition covers instruction, technical and administrative support, equipment, tools, facilities/utility costs, models, visiting artists, and resources such as McMaster Museum, Library, and Anatomy Lab.

Method of Assessment:

Class Format

Four hours; two terms

Beyond class contact time, students will be expected to spend a minimum of 5 hours per week independently.

The use of electronic devices will not be permitted during critique (laptops, cell phones, etc.) unless an accommodation has been approved

Students are expected to use Avenue to Learn to access information including project outlines, deadlines, general announcements and revisions and other relevant information. It is the student’s responsibility to check the site regularly.

Project due dates:

Please see project assignments on avenue to learn for further information:

Project One: Reflecting on water October 3rd 30%

Project Two: Observing Space October 24th 35%

Project Three: Observing the match box November 28th 25%

In –class assignments:

  1.  There will be weekly in-class assignments which allow students to gain technical, and conceptual skills which will aid in the development of ones artistic endeavours in the studio art program. The following projects will be graded from these in class assignments:

2 10 x10 drawings of Bee hotels October 17th 5%

2 10 x 10 drawings just pick it up Nov 7th 5%

Mid term

A mid term grade will be given no later than October 17th


Demonstrate knowledge of materials and techniques acquired through observation activities.

  1. independent study and creative thinking through development of ideas and materials.

Demonstrate a willingness to explore new techniques/processes and undertake challenges in order to expand personal boundaries and creative outcomes.

Participation in-class discussion/critiques, workshops and in- class exercise.


Resolution/completion of project(s): the development of work(s) through explorations of materials and ideas express through observational studies.

Innovation/creativity: the work must exhibit an exploration of visual language through the visual imagery, and, concepts that are expressed in the work, as well as, topics, and discussions, from class time.

Conceptual Knowledge: an understanding of the imagery and why it was created. Student must look beyond the set value of “ just liking it” or making them “feel good” and ask why?

Technical skill: students must demonstrate the ability to execute works that they have learned through technical demonstrations of this course.


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Late Assignments, Extensions, and Accommodations

Scheduled critiques for the presentation of your work are the equivalent of exams. Projects that are not presented by the student during their scheduled critique day will result in an automatic 0. In cases where a MSAF has been submitted, late assignments will be graded but not discussed at an alternative critique session.

Assignments that are not handed in on the due date will receive one full letter grade deduction each day it is late, after one week a 0 will be given for the project, i.e. A = B, B+ = C+.

Extensions or Accommodations

Extensions or other accommodations will be determined by the instructor and will only be considered if supported by appropriate documentation. Absences of less than 5 days may be reported using the McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF) at If you are unable to use the MSAF, you should document the absence with your faculty office. In all cases, it is YOUR responsibility to follow up with the instructor immediately to see if an extension or other accommodation will be granted, and what form it will take. There are NO automatic extensions or accommodations.

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:

There are no required readings for this class.

Other Course Information:

Office Hours:

Office hours are intended to provide additional assistance. You are welcome to visit often to discuss course projects or seek assistance on difficulties you may be experiencing. It is always better to deal with an issue while there is still time remaining in the term to seek solutions. Office hours are not a replacement class for those opting to miss class time without valid excuse. Office hours will not provide feedback sessions if you miss a critique deadline. It is important that you learn to manage your time. Of course, extenuating circumstances may sometimes occur, and requests for accommodation should be discussed with the instructor a.s.a.p.

Clean up of studios at year end- Thursday Dec 7 th at 9am

Students must participate with the cleaning of the studios; if a student cannot attend they are to see the technologist or instructor for a clean up task before hand. Please note this date may change during the semester, an announcement will be given during class


Support Services

Student Walk Home Attendant Team (SWHAT)

Ext 27500

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday: 7 pm – 1 am

Thursday, Friday and Saturday: 7 pm – 2 am

Centre for Student Development:

Students who are experiencing (or anticipate) personal or academic difficulties (e.g., time management problems, language and / or writing challenges, undue personal stress, critical family issues, etc.) during the course of the semester are urged to consult with a disability coordinator at Student Accessibility Services (SAS) located in the McMaster University Student Centre, room B107. For further information on the SAS and its services please call (905) 525-9140 [ext. 28652], email

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, let a medical professional make the assessment.

Emergency Response

University Lines – Ext. 88 905 522-4135 or
905 525-9140 Ext. 24281

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



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)



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




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)



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



F = 0–49

Work assessed at the F level fails to meet enough of the course requirements to obtain credit. 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 their ability to demonstrate abilities during in-class activities.

The success of studio courses is dependent on the active engagement of all participants. Learning is accelerated in a hands-on environment where work and ideas can be discussed as they evolve and challenges and successes can be shared. Important health and safety information and safe operating procedures are communicated during class time. You must receive this information to work independently in the studio and you may not operate any equipment or use any process that you have not received safety training for. Class Discussions and Critiques empower individuals to take risks in their art practice and learn from each other. It is of utmost importance that all students participate fully by attending all classes and remaining welcoming and open to all points of view. The atmosphere of the studio should be characterized by courtesy and mutual respect. Participating in group critiques is an important part of providing constructive feedback for your peers. Active questioning and differences of opinion, respectfully expressed in a spirit of collaboration and mutual exchange, contribute to a positive and supportive group dynamic. It is your responsibility to contribute positively in this shared 

space and come to class prepared, on time and ready to contribute to the activities of the day.