WSS CERTIFICATE PROGRAMS

Washington Studio School’s  MASTER CERTIFICATE PROGRAM  has been a hallmark of the school’s offerings for over 20 years.  As a program for students with both a strong foundation in the visual arts and a commitment to the discipline required for the life of a practicing artist, it functions as a non-degree alternative to a Masters in Fine Arts.  Students do coursework at an advanced level for several years, with set requirements, and are expected to put in additional independent studio time to further their growth.  They are mentored through the program by a faculty advisor and independent study instructors, as they transition from faculty provided classroom lessons to self-generated questions explored on their own in the studio.  The program builds on the painterly tradition that the school is rooted in, and students develop a vocabulary that stems initially from direct observation.  However, the path each student takes in terms of visual language, level of abstraction, and content becomes unique and personal. Student work is assessed by faculty review, and the determination of next steps is based on reaching a certain level of mastery rather than simply completing a menu of classes. 

 

The program culminates in a thesis exhibition of work, and graduates have had successful careers as gallery affiliated artists and as instructors of drawing and painting.

Launched in the Fall of 2018, the WSS FOUNDATION CERTIFICATE PROGRAM is a formalized version of our core beginning and intermediate level classes, as a means to prepare students for the rigors of the Master Certificate Program, or simply to provide strong foundation skills, This program takes students through a structured sequence of beginning and intermediate level drawing and painting classes, as well as an introduction to figure sculpture, art history/appreciation, and methods/materials.  Students will learn to use the formal elements of line, shape, value, color, form, space and texture to convey principles such as weight, balance, movement, rhythm, tension, emphasis, unity, repetition and variation.  They will work primarily from direct observation using still life, interior space, the human figure, and landscape as source, and will use time tested materials such as graphite, charcoal, ink, paint and clay for their explorations.  Classes are taught through a responsive rather than formulaic academic tradition because if one is truly working from observation there are no formulas.

 

 OVERALL GOALS 

  • To develop literacy in the use of visual language – formal elements and principles

  • Learning to see and translate visual relationships rather than rendering objects

  • Ability to translate observed 3-D world into a sense of space and form on a 2-D surface

  • Craftsmanship and technical skills in use of materials

  • Use of visual language as a means to communicate

  • Discipline and commitment

  • Discovery / Empathy

  • Basic knowledge of history of art, and how it relates to contemporary work

  • Critical thinking about one’s own and others’ work

  • Ability to talk and write about work

  • Preparation of a body of work for exhibition in the certificate program

Foundation Program

 2 YEARS (if pursued, full-time)  

This structured introductory program is designed to develop strong, fundamental proficiency in drawing, painting and sculpture based on direct observation, including the human figure. The curriculum will introduce students to the materials, techniques, language, concepts, and history of visual art.  Students who complete the program will be able to translate the observed world with both a sound degree of technical skill and empathic response. By the second year, students will be exposed to a wide variety of traditional and contemporary practices and will begin to see how they each connect to the visual world in their own personal way. The program can stand as an independent course of study, or can prepare students for application to the more advanced Master Certificate Program. Hard work and commitment are expected, including work outside of the classroom.

 

Each student is assigned a faculty advisor to steer her/him through the program and provide feedback.

We are now accepting applications for our Fall Term (September 2019). Applications are due by August 1. Application is by form, statement, interview and application fee ($50). As students can enter at a beginning level a portfolio is not required, but previous work will be looked at if it is available.

 

Master Certificate

 APPROXIMATELY 3 YEARS  

The Master Certificate Program is designed for serious, advanced students at various stages of life as an alternative to a university MFA program. Students who are accepted into the program enter with strong skills and a commitment to the rigor, seriousness of purpose, and curiosity necessary to the life of an artist.  During their time in the program, they will deepen their existing skills and use them to begin producing work that is meaningful and personal to them. Work comes from a vocabulary built out of direct observation, but can move into abstraction, memory or imagination. The program involves both course work at the advanced level and independent time in the studio and is based on achieving a level of mastery in the use of visual language and material technique. While there are listed class requirements, the goal of the program is to develop sound studio practices, discipline, and independent thinking. Art history and appreciation begins to serve as source and catalyst for work outside of the classroom as students absorb the lessons of old and modern masters. Students work with a faculty advisor throughout. The final year of the program is primarily independent study with a faculty mentor. Additionally, the culminating thesis exhibition is a means to develop the professional skills needed to produce and mount a cohesive and personal body of work.

 

We accept applications on a rolling basis. Application is by form, statement, portfolio (10 drawings, 5 paintings), recommendations and application fee ($100).

 
 

Fall Term Certificate Program Information Sessions

RESCHEDULED: Tuesday, October 22, 5-7pm (during Fall Term Happy Hour)

Thursday, October 31, 5pm 

Questions about the Certificate Programs may be directed to instructor Milena Spasic. Office hours are on Wednesdays from 2 to 4pm beginning September 25. Please email Milena to schedule an appointment.

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FAQs

What is the Foundation Certificate Program?


This 2-year structured introductory program is meant to develop fundamental proficiency in drawing, painting and sculpture based on direct observation, including the human figure. The program will provide students with a firm foundation in the materials, techniques, language, concepts and processes of visual art. It can stand as an independent course of study, or can prepare students for application to the next level Master Certificate Program.




What is the Master Certificate Program?


The Master Certificate Program is designed for serious, advanced level students at various stages of life as an alternative to a university MFA program. Students who are accepted into the program enter with strong skills and a commitment to the rigor, seriousness of purpose, and curiosity necessary to the life of an artist. During their time in the program they will deepen their existing skills and use them to begin producing work that is meaningful and personal to them. The program involves both course work at the advanced level and independent time in the studio, and is based on achieving a level of mastery in the use of visual language and material technique. The goal of the program is to develop sound studio practices, discipline, and independent thinking. Completion is dependent on an achieved level of mastery as assessed by faculty review.




Who is eligible?


Foundation Certificate:

Anyone who is serious about committing to a structured course of foundational studies in the language and materials of drawing, painting and sculpture from observation. Prior study is not required.

Master Certificate:

Students who have a strong foundation in the language and materials of drawing, painting and sculpture from observation, including the figure, and have demonstrated a high level of commitment to advanced and independent studies in the visual arts.




Why earn it?


Foundation Certificate:

Students who complete the Foundation Certificate will have received a comprehensive, sequential course of study in the basics of visual art, and will emerge being able to see as an artist does and translate that response with assurance, skill and a vocabulary of visual elements and principles.

Master Certificate:

Students who complete the Master Certificate will emerge with the necessary skill, discipline, curiosity and independence required to maintain a strong studio practice. They will be prepared to go on as professional artists, asking individual questions and producing personal work.




Am I ready?


Foundation Certificate:

Anyone willing to make the commitment to the sequential, structured study of the basic foundations of art is ready.

Master Certificate:

Program Directors and faculty are available to help assess whether you are ready to apply to the Master Certificate program. However, strong skills at the intermediate level as well the willingness to put in time both inside and outside of classes helps determine the readiness for the rigor of this program.




Why participate in a Certificate Program rather than just take classes?


Students in the Certificate Programs immerse themselves in a structured, sequential course of study that provides them with a faculty advisor to guide and mentor them. Additional critiques and exhibition opportunities are also available through the programs. While students can benefit greatly from classes without being enrolled in a formal program, the structure often adds discipline and depth to their growth.




How do I apply?


Application forms and other requirements for both programs are posted on our website. Foundation Program click here . For the Master Certificate Program click here.




Do I submit a portfolio, and if so what should I include?


Foundation Certificate:

A portfolio is not required for this program as the assumption is that applicants are beginners, however we are happy to look at previous work if it exists.

Master Certificate:

A portfolio of 10 drawings and 5 paintings is required for application. Work should be primarily from observation (rather than from photos), and Included should be work that demonstrates an understanding of the structure and gesture of the human figure.




What do you look for in a portfolio?


The portfolio, which is only required for the Master Certificate Program, should demonstrate skill in seeing visual relationships (shape, value, color, etc.) and how they find form, space, movement, and feeling. Reviewers will look for both depth and breadth in media used and subject matter, with a special attention to understanding of the human form. Portfolios are expected to portray a high level of proficiency, but with the understanding that it is student work rather than professional level.




How many pieces should I include?


Please submit a portfolio of 10 drawings and 5 paintings, primarily from direct observation (rather than photographs) and with a selection of work from the figure.




How do I submit my work?


It is preferable that work be submitted in person, with drawings carefully presented in a portfolio. However, if that is impossible we will gladly review digital images. Digital images must be labeled with size and medium.




What else is included in the application process?


Foundation Certificate:

Foundation applicants should submit

  1. a statement (maximum 1-page) telling us about themselves and why they are interested in pursuing the certificate. A resume may be included.

  2. A letter of recommendation is optional, but may be included.

  3. A $50 application fee is required.

Master Certificate:

In addition to the portfolio, applicants to the Master Certificate program must submit:

  • A statement (1-page) telling us about themselves, their previous art training, and why they are choosing to apply to the Master Certificate at WSS (a resume may be attached);

  • 2 letters of recommendation from previous art instructors;

  • A $100 application fee is required.




Is an interview required?


After reviewing other materials, the Program Directors may schedule a brief interview to further assess applicant’s commitment and compatibility with the program philosophy.




Should I include letters of recommendation?


Foundation Certificate: A letter of recommendation is optional, but will be read if submitted. Master Certificate: Two (2) letters of recommendation are required from previous art instructors.




How long will the program take?


Foundation Certificate:

If the recommended sequence and schedule is followed, the program will take two academic years. However, it may be extended up to four years.

Master Certificate:

The program will take approximately three years. This is dependent on both dedicated classroom time and independent studio time. Completion timetable is individual and differs from student to student as it is based on achieving a level of mastery determined by faculty review. Some students take more time to achieve that level than others.




Can I start any time?


Foundation Certificate:

It is recommended that students begin this program in the fall to best benefit from the sequential aspect of the three terms (Fall, Winter and Spring).

Master Certificate:

Applications to the Master Certificate program are on a rolling basis. Students can apply to begin any of the three 10-week terms.




How much will it cost?


Foundation Certificate:

Most 10 week classes at WSS cost $455. There are three 10-week terms per year. The recommended full time course of study for the Foundation Certificate involves three classes per term.

Additionally, there is a $200 certificate fee per term to cover advisor and administrative costs. Full time study plus fee is approximately $4700 per year.

Students may opt to go through the program on a part time basis by determining a schedule with WSS that will prolong the length of time to completion. However, the sequential nature of drawing and painting classes is important to this program. One way to study part time is to complete the beginning drawing sequence year 1, the beginning painting sequence year 2, followed by two more years of intermediate drawing and painting. That schedule combined with the additional required classes could allow students to move through the program more slowly.

Occasionally students who have successfully completed the sequence of beginning drawing or painting classes at WSS prior to application may place out of some classes. This will be determined by faculty review.

Students are encouraged to enroll in additional classes or workshops of interest to them if they choose. These will supplement their learning greatly, however these classes are outside of the official certificate curriculum.

All art supplies are provided by the student.

Master Certificate:

Most 10 week classes at WSS cost $455. There are three 10-week terms per year. The recommended full time course of study for the Master Certificate involves three classes per term.

Additionally, there is a $275 certificate fee per term to cover advisor, administrative costs, and critiques.

Full time study plus certificate fee is approximately $4920 per year. Master Certificate students often opt to take advantage of additional workshops and visiting artist master classes to supplement their studies. This is highly encouraged, but is outside of the official certificate curriculum and costs are additional.

Students may opt to go through the program on a part time basis by determining a schedule with WSS that will prolong the length of time to completion.

Occasionally students who have successfully completed some of the required classes at WSS prior to application may place out of these requirements. This will be determined by faculty review. The total duration of the program varies from student to student as the assessment is mastery based, thus making the overall cost variable. However, students who take a full time course load and engage in independent studio time should be able to finish in three years.

All art supplies are provided by the student.




Is financial aid available?


At this time, only very limited scholarship funds and work study opportunities are available. Please visit the Financial Aid page to learn more.




Who are the instructors?


Faculty at WSS are all practicing artists who are highly trained, experienced instructors. While they all have individual artistic styles and teaching styles, they are chosen to teach at WSS because of an overall shared language and teaching philosophy. This makes it possible to move from instructor to instructor without hearing conflicting lessons.




Are my classes only with certificate students?


No. Certificate and non-certificate students enjoy classes together. Many strong students do not have schedules that allow them to participate in the certificate programs, yet all students benefit from the combined nature of our classes. Occasionally a class is planned just for Certificate students.




How much time is required outside of class?


Foundation Certificate:

Full-time students are expected to put in a minimum of 10 hours per week beyond class time. This includes keeping a sketchbook as well as attending drop-in figure drawing sessions.

Master Certificate:

Full-time students are expected to put in a minimum of 15 hours per week of independent work in addition to coursework. This includes sketchbook/journal, transcriptions, drop-in figure sessions, and independent studio time.




Do I have to complete the program in 2 to 3 years?


No. While it is most ideal to immerse yourself in fulltime studies, WSS will work with students who need more time and flexibility to complete either of the programs.




What is the structure of the Foundation Program?


The Foundation Certificate Program is designed as a two year sequence of beginning and intermediate level drawing and painting classes supplemented art history/appreciation classes, methods and materials, design, anatomy, and sculpture.

It is suggested that Foundation Certificate Program students follow a fulltime course of study such as one listed below, however flexibility can be built in for those who wish to study part time (ie. first year beginning drawing, second year beginning painting, etc., extending the program to four years.)

An example of possible sequence (subject to variation):

Year 1

Fall:

Beginning Drawing

Beginning Painting

Elements of Design

Winter:

Beginning Drawing

Beginning Painting

Art History / Appreciation

Spring:

Beginning Drawing

Beginning Painting

Methods, Tools and Materials

Year 2

Fall:

Intermediate Drawing

Intermediate Painting

Anatomy

Winter:

Intermediate Drawing

Intermediate Painting

Figure Drawing

Art History / Appreciation

Spring:

Intermediate Drawing

Intermediate Painting

Clay figure Sculpture




What is the structure of the Master Certificate Program?


Designed to span three full time years, the master certificate is structured as a two year course intensive program, with one additional academic year of independent study (and elective courses) to put together a thesis show. Course selection is determined with the help of a faculty advisor, and is unique for each student.

Full­-time study is considered to be a minimum of 9 hours per week, per term, in addition to independent studio work.
A slower paced part time study is possible with a minimum course load of 3 hours per week, per term in addition to independent work. Part-time study should be continuous and not intermittent. Continuous enrollment in the fall, winter and spring terms is required to stay in the program. Independent study with a member of WSS faculty is required in the final year of the program.

Coursework during the first two years:

Drawing ­ every term
(may include some of the classes below)

  • Painting ­ every term
(may include some of the classes below)

  • Sculpture ­ minimum 2 terms – (every term if electing to focus on 3D work.)

  • Anatomy/Figure Drawing ­ minimum 3 terms


  • Color ­ minimum 2 terms


  • Methods and Materials ­ 2 terms

  • Elements of Abstraction/Design – 1 term


  • Drawing at Museum or Working from Masters Class ­ minimum 2 terms


  • Art theory/Criticism/Appreciation/History ­ minimum 2 terms

  • Electives (2 are required) can be selected from classes such as:

  • Landscape

  • Printmaking


  • Watercolor/ Wet Media


  • Mixed Media


  • Sculpture


  • Portraiture


  • Pastel

  • Text based

  • And other WSS course offerings – classes with a conceptual direction can become important at this point, using the vocabulary that comes out of perception

  • Some specialized intensive workshops and seminars may qualify towards fulfilling part of the elective course requirements

  • Electives (2 are required) can be selected from:
  • Landscape
  • Printmaking
  • Watercolor/ Wet Media
  • Mixed Media
  • Sculpture
  • Portraiture
  • Pastel
  • Text based
And other WSS course offerings – classes with a conceptual direction become important at this point, using the vocabulary that comes out of perception. Some specialized intensive workshops and seminars may qualify towards fulfilling part of the elective course requirements




Are there prerequisites?


Foundation Certificate:

There are no prerequisites for this program, as it is expected that many applicants will be beginners.

Master Certificate:

Applicants are expected to have strong skills in observational drawing and painting at the intermediate level. Classes in these areas can have been taken at Washington Studio School or other art institutions.




Can I take classes before committing to a program?


Foundation Certificate:

Yes. If you would like to try a class before applying to the program you may. If the review committee feels the work meets standards, the class may be applied to the program requirements.

Master Certificate:

Almost all applicants to the Master Certificate program have taken classes at WSS before applying to the program.These classes prepare them for the rigors of the Master program and allow them to experience the culture and philosophy of the school, ensuring that it’s a good fit.




Can I take another class in place of a required course?


Our curriculum for both programs is carefully considered to give the most depth and growth possibility to the students’ experience, but we will consider on a case by case basis the substitution of a class for another if there is reason.




May I take a leave of absence? For how long?


Continuity is important in the growth of an artist. Occasionally a student must take a leave of absence from the program for health, family or work matters. We may accommodate a maximum of one year leave. After that students must reapply to the program.




Who are my classmates?


WSS students are a diverse group in terms of age, ethnicity and gender. Since our programs are alternatives to degree programs, many students have had wonderful careers in other areas before deciding to pursue a second career in the arts. Certificate students and non-Certificate students co-exist and learn from each other in many of our classes.




Will I have an advisor, and what role do they play?


Foundation Certificate:

Students will have a faculty advisor who they will meet with three hours per term to discuss progress and recommendations for classes. The first year, advisors may be assigned to students. Thereafter they may choose a faculty advisor to work with.

Master Certificate:

Students will have a faculty advisor who they meet with three hours per term, with increments to be decided by the student and advisor. Meetings are for the purpose of discussing progress, struggles, artists to look at, and recommended classes.

In the first year of study students are assigned advisors, thereafter students select their own advisor. Working with an advisor is a separate aspect of the program from the Independent Study component. Students are expected to maintain a journal of their process and growth and to submit it for review by their advisor at the end of every term. A minimum of two entrees per week are expected in a ten week term.




How am I evaluated?


Foundation Certificate:

Teaching faculty, as well as the advisor, will evaluate work based on a set of criteria established to demonstrate understanding of visual language at different levels of learning. Successful candidates will complete all coursework with regular attendance and evidence that they are working outside of class in sketchbooks and open sessions.

Master Certificate:

The Master Certificate is based on reaching a high level of mastery, rather than the mere completion of a list of classes. Therefore, students who reach the level most quickly are working regularly outside of classes generating their own ideas and explorations. Evaluations are based on skill of hand in translating the observed world into believable form and space, as well as use of visual elements and principles to develop a personal vocabulary for communication. Students meet with their faculty advisor multiple times during the term, and all available faculty meet for an end of year assessment of certificate student work each summer. This final assessment directs students to next steps, including graduation.




Are there opportunities to show my work?


WSS holds an annual juried student show in its exhibition space each summer. Every couple of years a group certificate show is held, and Master Certificate graduates are given the opportunity to hold a solo exhibition of a body of work.




Is there a formal graduation?


There is no formal graduation, but there are opportunities for exhibition.




What can I do with the certificate?


Foundation Certificate:

Graduates of our Foundation program with have developed a portfolio of work that will be appropriate for application to our more advanced Master Certificate, or to other schools of art.

Master Certificate:

Graduates of our Master Certificate program are professional practicing artists who are showing their work in galleries and alternative spaces, and a number are teaching in non-degree visual art schools.





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