Contact a Humanities Office or Academic unit.
Find your course outlines.

ART 3TS3 Touchstone:Studio Research

Academic Year: Fall 2017

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Andy Fabo



Phone: 905-525-9140 x

Office Hours: Thursdays, 10am to 12 pm

Course Objectives:

This course is an intensive examination of strategies employed for gathering, editing and generating ideas and materials for art making. Through studio engagement, discussions and critiques, artist lectures, visual documentation, and library/gallery visits, students will identify subject matter, aesthetic directions and resources pertinent to their individual creative trajectories. This is a course that intends to bridge your foundational studies to the evolving self-determined projects that will characterize your progress in the program.

By the end of this course students will:

  • have a basic awareness and understanding of how to develop an artistic practice based on individual research, critical analysis and exploration
  • have developed a body of work that synthesizes the visual, technical and conceptual facets of individual creative practice
  • have practiced articulating ideas in a group critique setting
  • have considered their artistic practice within a broader art context that extends beyond the classroom
  • have prepared for the self determined research and explorations of the graduating year.

Class Format

Four hours of class time once a week.

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

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

Course Components

Critique sessions empower individuals to take risks in their art practice and learn from each other. The atmosphere of the studio should facilitate a genuine support of every student’s best creative practice through: active dialogue, critical constructive feedback and mutual respect. Participating in the 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 productively in this shared space and come to class prepared, on time and ready to contribute to the activities of the day.

The objective of critique sessions is to:

  • support students in presentation and discussion of their work and thus requires active participation in all critique sessions that are documented regularly in the log. (Guidelines on Avenue to Learn)
  • provide a forum for presenting self-directed work to receive regular feedback from faculty and peers
  • provide constructive feedback to your peers
  • challenge ideas and assumptions and promote productive discussions that may not always confirm ones beliefs.
  • practice skills in articulating your ideas and perceptions

Logbook (due Nov.30 and March 22) will be divided into three clear tabbed sections as follows:

Section 1 Visiting Artists (a minimum of 8 visiting artist talks, events, or gallery visits per term) If you can’t make all the lectures you could augment them with lectures that are organized by Centre 3, Hamilton Art Gallery, or Hamilton Artists Inc. Check their websites or phone them to see if there is anything coming up. As a visual arts student you should be becoming familiar with all of these institutions and their programming.

Section 2 Active Research (preliminary idea development, sketches, photo-documentation, resources and inspiration)

Section 3 Reflection on critique discussions, recorded questions that you formulate regarding work presented and reactions to broader discussions. This will be your evidence of attendance and engagement in the course

Because of the small size of the logbook, I would also like you to keep a sketchbook for any over-sized components of Section 2- be they drawings and sketches, photo-documentation, images of source material. Do not put anything for the logbook’s section 1 or 3 in the sketchbook. At the end of the term, hand in the logbook and only ONE sketchbook.

The self-appraisal of term project and/or work (due November 23) is a 500- 1000 word paper that gives a self-appraisal of your term’s work by referencing influences, concepts, context, and critical reflection that are linked to the trajectory of your work. This paper should provide visual documentation of all work presented at critique and include images of any significant influences you cite. Electronic submissions may only be submitted through Dropbox on Avenue to Learn, where they will be dated when received. You may also submit standard paper, or a one-of-a-kind alternative format, by the end of the last class

Participation and Development

Participation and development, as will be evidenced in the logbook and sketchbook and graded accordingly as an integral of the two. 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 divergent 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. Attendance at Visiting Artist talks represents a component of this category. Evidence of participation must be in the log/sketchbook.


Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Studio fees of $30 cover your use of expendables in the studio such as newsprint and select common studio supplies and a log book. This fee must be paid to the School of the Arts office in TSH 414 by the fall recess. Students who have not paid this fee by that date will not present or receive comments on their work until the fee has been paid. 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:


Grade Breakdown:

Introductory critique, September 28: 10%

Showcase critique #1, October 26: 30%

Showcase critique #2, (final critique), November 30: 40%

Logbook and sketchbook, due Nov. 30: 10%

Written self-appraisal of artwork produced throughout the term: 10%

In this course will receive a midterm grade of at least 10% by November 10, 2017.

Achievement Levels

The following scale of percent equivalences is used for calculating final grades:

A+ = 90–100; A = 85–89; A- = 80–84; B+ = 77–79; B = 73–76; B- = 70–72;

C+ = 67–69; C = 63–66; C- = 60-–62; D+ = 57–59; D = 53–56; D- = 50–52; F = 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



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.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

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 or on the deadline 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. No assignment will be accepted beyond one week past the deadline without communication from the Dean of Humanities’ office.

Extensions or other accommodations will be determined by the instructor(s) 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. No work will be accepted beyond the last day of classes.

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:

Readings will be recommended to individual students prompted by the aesthetic, formal, or thematic directions of their work, but these readings will be suggestions and not mandatory.

Other Course Information:

I will also deliver two lectures during class time in late October and early November related to research methodologies for contemporary artists. One, titled “ Key Works by Géricault and the Responses of Contemporary Artists" will deal with my current research for a drawing/painting project and the other will be reflective of the general aesthetic directions that I perceive in the work of the class.