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ART 1OS3 Observational Studies (C01)

Academic Year: Winter 2019

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Judy Major-Girardin


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 430

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 27287


Office Hours: By Appointment (

Course Objectives:



Art 1SO3 is an introductory studio course that focuses on looking, understanding what we see and processing visual information for artistic purposes. Studio activities will include life drawing, on-site drawing and painting and independent projects. We will investigate both mimetic responses and abstract interpretations derived from observation.



By the end of the course the student will have gained experience in:

  • Sustained looking for the purposes of understanding more fully our visual environment including awareness of complex relationships, effects of light/shadow, behaviour of colour, proportion and perspective.
  • Recording and interpreting for expressive, art purposes requiring editing and prioritizing of complex visual information
  • Manipulating and integrating a range of 2D media
  • Observing and participating in the critique to build critical skills and confidence in articulating ideas and opinions in a public forum with peers.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Course Materials on Avenue to Learn


Gouache Paint (set of 12 tubes)

Conte crayon – white 2B

White Sharpie paint marker

Water-soluble white pencil

Pigma Micron black ink pen

Go Sketch Drawing Set (18 pc)

Heavy weight paper and Mylar film

Birch panel




Teaching Assistants


Visiting Artists

Life Models

Program Administrators

Student Support Offices

Studios, exhibition space, equipment

Studio furniture, props and hand tools

Access to campus resources (Library, McMaster

Museum of Art, Anatomy Lab, Greenhouse, natural areas)


Method of Assessment:


Home Assignments:

  1. Matchbook Compositions Due Feb 7

Students will complete 5 small black and white studies in a series using a matchbook as the subject for observation. The matchbook should be manipulated into 5 different spatial configurations that are all arranged on the same sheet with a focus on composition and inventive positive/negative spatial relationships. Pigma pens and/or other black drawing implements can be used.

  1. Small Scale Painting of Studio Floor Due Feb 7

Each student will tape off a 10”x10” section of the floor in B103 and observe this area to produce a gouache painting (to scale) on the birch panel provided. We will photograph the taped area and painting side by side at the conclusion of the project to discuss how the observed information has been recorded and interpreted through paint.

  1. White Media Snow Drawing Due Feb 7

Using white media provided (paint marker, white conte, white water soluble pencil) and black paper support, each student will produce a drawing based on an observed snow covered object or environment.

  1. Figures in Complex Environment Composition Due March 28

Using individually selected media, support and format, each student will independently produce a complex, composite work incorporating figures (people, animals, objects) in a spatial environment that considers light and shadow, relationship of shape/form, depth, scale and compositional arrangement. Interpretation is encouraged but should be informed by observation. This drawing should reflect a considerable time commitment, as it is the home assignment for three weeks of the term.

  1. Hands and Feet Studies Due March 28

Produce two sketches each of hands and feet in different poses. Use your own body or the hands/feet of someone else that you have access to observe closely. Consider your own hands and feet or those of an infant or elderly person if available to you.


In Class Assignments:

  1. Horse Skeleton Subtractive Drawing – completed during class time and submitted Mar 28

Using powdered charcoal or graphite provided, each student will blacken a sheet of heavy weight paper and use erasers to construct a subtractive drawing based on observation of the horse skeleton or a portion of it.

  1. Human Skeletal Drawing – completed during class time and submitted March 28

Using a variety of graphite pencils, each student will explore line value, weight and variety while composing a drawing based on observation of the human skeleton. Accuracy in proportion will be a focus of this drawing and the full skeleton will be represented.

  1. Life Model Drawings (gesture and blind contour) – completed in class and due Mar 28

Students will practice observation and learn to decipher and record efficiently through a series of fast paced drawing exercises using the life model. Drawings can be produced on newsprint or bond paper.

  1. Life Model Drawings (Figure in Motion) – completed in class and due March 28

A moving body will provide a series of complex scenarios for observation-based drawing focused on understanding the body as a dynamic shape moving in space. Multiple drawings will be layered onto on sheet of paper.


Participation and Engagement in class Activities:

  1. Simultaneous Colour Contrast Exercise
  2. Visits to Upper Level Critiques focused on building critical skills
  3. Acrylic Workshop exploring mediums
  4. Monoprinting Workshop
  5. Cell phone photography excursion
  6. Critiques of ART 1OS3 work (Feb 7 and March 28)



Students will be assessed with the submission of a midterm (Feb 7) and final portfolio (Mar28).

Students will have received at least 20% of the grade by March 15, 2019.

Midterm Assessment 40%

  • Participation 10% (attendance, promptness, simultaneous colour contrast workshop and critique participation)
  • Skeletal Drawings 10% (horse and human)
  • Home Assignments 20% (floor painting, snow drawing and matchbook series)




Final Assessment 60%

  • Life model in class drawings and hands/feet homework drawings 20%
  • Figures in environment composition 20%
  • Participation 20% (Anatomy Lab visit, acrylic workshop, monoprinting, photo excursion)


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

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:




Arriving on time and making efficient use of class time is crucial for your success in this course. Late assignments will automatically result in a letter drop in grade (A becomes B). Late assignments will be graded but not discussed outside of critique session deadlines. Assignments that are not received within 1 week of the due date will no longer be accepted and no projects may be submitted beyond the last day of classes.


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.


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. Please review the entire policy prior to submitting any requests. ? or_Missed_Academic_Term_Work

If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean’s office.



Office hours are intended to provide additional assistance and 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 can sometimes occur and requests for accommodation should be discussed with the instructor a.s.a.p.




The University provides a variety of support services to help students manage their many demands. Reference librarians can provide invaluable research assistance. The Student Accessibility Services Centre (SAS) provides assistance with personal as well as academic matters. MUSC B107 and





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.


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:





Due Date

Thurs. January 10



Review of course outline, materials

distributed, PP, Health & Safety

Matchbook compositions in series


In class participation

Due Feb 7

Thurs. January 17



Simultaneous Colour Contrast exercise

Upper Level Critique visit/exercise

Paint to scale a 10” x 10” section of studio floor in TSH (tape off area)

In class participation

Due Feb 7

Thurs. January 24


Horse skeleton subtractive charcoal drawing

White media/black paper snow drawing/ptg.

In class drawing

Due Feb 7

Thurs. January 31


Human Skeletal drawing in graphite

Complete above assignments for midterm

In class drawing

Due Feb 7

Thurs. February 7

Group Critique of assignment of choice

Hand in all assignments for midterm grade

Critique & work due

Midterm Assessment

Thurs. February 14



Midterm portfolio with grades returned

Acrylic workshop and critique visit/reflection

Figures in environment composition 2D/3D



Due March 28

Thurs. February 21


Winter Recess


Thurs. February 28

Life Model (gesture, blind contour, motion)

Figures in environment composition 2D/3D Winter Recess

In class drawing

Due March 28

Thurs. March 7


Work Period for Figures in Environment

Hands and feet drawings

In Class participation

Due March 28

Thurs. March 14


Monoprinting Workshop and intro to the Print Studio

In class participation


Thurs. March 21


Critique Figures in environment composition.

Prepare final portfolio for next class


Thurs. March 28

Final Portfolio submitted/peer feedback

Critique Visit/ critique bingo

Home and class work due for final assessment

Thurs. April 4

Connections (photographic collection with phone camera to record observations)

Return of portfolios

In class participation



Other Course Information:


Working in the Studios


It is mandatory for all studio art students to have read the Studio Safety Art Manual for Students available on

The art studios are only for art students in the program or those enrolled in an art course. If you have a special project requiring involvement from someone outside the program you must seek permission from your instructor. Volunteer forms are on Avenue to Learn and require Director’s signature. There is no food or drink permitted in studio spaces. Exceptions to the food policy may occur in the flex studio, 114 or Atrium when art materials are not present. Steel toed shoes must be worn with the exception of 114, flex and atrium. If the policies are violated, loss of studio access will result as a consequence. Do not bring any chemicals or hazardous materials into the studios without the permission of your instructor. Do not decant any materials into food containers. All materials not in original containers must be labeled according to WHMIS regulations.



Appointments must be made with the Studio Technologist in regards to consulting and/or executing specific projects requiring the use of wood shop, metal, or ceramics facilities. Please ensure appointments and arrangements are made well in advance of deadlines and critiques.


Studios are accessible through access cards and are open from 7 am to 11 pm, 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.


Steel toe shoes are not required and eating/drinking are permitted in the following public studio spaces as long as art materials are not present:

Flex Studio 105


New Space 114


Non-art students are only permitted in 105, 114 and Atrium spaces unless accompanied by their class or with special permission of their instructor.





If a student should have an accident in any of the studios, the incident (no matter how minor) must be reported to a faculty member, or the Studio Technologist within 24 hours. If no faculty or technician is 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 medical professionals make the necessary assessments.




University line: ext. 88

905 522-4135; or 905 525-9140, ext. 24281




Ext 27500

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

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday: 7 pm – 2 am