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The visual arts program at Staples High School offers an extensive selection of rigorous courses for both the most serious art students as well as those who want to experience visual art media. All courses expand on a concern for drawing from observation, and build on how the elements and principles of art apply to a student’s chosen medium. Find out more about SHS art at
AP Students were given summer assignments to create a landscape in pen & ink, as well as two self-portraits each, using their chosen medium. Students can include these in their Selected Works portfolio for the College Board, one of two portfolios required.
The landscapes right are by students in AP Studio Art: Drawing in response to a summer assignment that required them to choose an outdoor setting and draw in ink. Note the lush textures and mark-making, skills developed through years in the Drawing track and other courses in the SHS Art Dept. Artists top to bottom clockwise: Nathaniel Kolek, Diana Hoffman, Alexandra Lam .
Summer assignments for AP Studio Art: Drawing included the students creating two self-portraits each. These dynamic compositions create powerful confrontational images, engaging the viewer with intensity as they dominate the picture plane. Artists left to right: Quinn McMahon, Poppy Livingstone.


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After learning about color properties such as value, temperature and intensity, Oil Painting students created still life paintings. Working from observation gives students the added challenge of creating the illusion of 3D form on a 2D surface.


In Watercolor, the students' first painting assignment was to create a monochromatic figure using a range of values from black to white. Watercolor students had the added challenge of learning to paint portraits.


Advanced Painting students have the option to work in a variety of media for this brand new class. Their first paintings include still life and portrait pieces, in their choice of oil paint, watercolor, acrylic or digital media (Procreate on iPads)!

+Sacha Maidique_oil painting_still life.
+Ava Porretta.jpg
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+chloe ashton_still life_oil
+Gabby Messenger_still life_oil painting
c Top to bottom: Still life oil paintings by Chloe Ashton, Gabby Messenger and Mabel Propper.
b Left: Sacha Maidique, practices creating the illusion of 3D form on a 2D surface as she paints a fruit still life; Ava Porretta, working on the negative space around her portrait subject; Noah Salpeter continues work on his painting.

Students in the Painting BIg class have been working hard learning all about Acrylic paints and tools and a variety of techniques and painting styles.  They have learned about Color Theory and how to mix all the colors in the  spectrum using only the three primary colors (red, blue and yellow).  They have learned about Color Value, Color Mixing, Color Intensity and have created paintings to show their knowledge of each of these skills. Next they will learn how to be the designers of a large painting and create the painting from the design.

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c Left to right: JackMcCoy, Defne Merih and a Painting Big class work on their projects.
a Top: Zoe Simonte's color Intensity development swatches; Right: Defne Merih's painting; Bottom: artwork by Keira Lichter 
Zoe Simonte - Color Intensity developmen
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Copy of Photo 1 - Aperture DOF_ Student
Copy of Photo 1 - Aperture DOF_ Student
Copy of Photo 1 - Aperture DOF_ Student

Photography 1 students have spent the past few weeks exploring the creative controls on the camera. We have examined how changing the ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed and experimenting with Short Depth of Field affect our photos.

a Photo by Jasmin P. shows students working with fast shutter speeds.
d Top row: Fast shutter speed photos by  Greta NM., Morgan T., Kevin L. and Siobhan J.
Bottom row show photos experimenting with short depth of field.

The “Technique of the Week” (ToW) is a weekly homework assignment for the students in Photography 2. Each week, in addition to their project assignments, students explore a new camera or Photoshop technique. The ToW will usually relate to the larger, long term unit assignments that we are covering.


Examples of Technique of the Week topics, shown below and to the right, are Extreme Perspective: Bird’s Eye vs. Worm’s Eye, Black & White Conversion, Photoshop Neon Glow Effect, Silverware, Food Photography, Hands, Reflections and Shadows.

c Top left clockwise: Camera techniques of silverware by Franca S.; black & white by Ethan C.; extreme perspective by Harry A.; and shadows by Ava W.
b Left: Camera techniques of reflections by Maddie H.; neon by Mimi F.; hands by Ava W.; and food by Alex H. 
During the first part of the semester, students were immersed in learning how to use Adobe Photoshop to create original designs using shapes, text and effects. Students were also introduced to design concepts such as the Elements of Art. Over the course of several class periods, students created small compositions to explore some of the art elements while using their newly acquired Photoshop skills. Students were tasked with the challenge of creating a series of these compositions that were linked thematically and visually..


The second unit explored some Principles of Design including Emphasis, Balance, Alignment & Proximity. As a class, students discussed some well known pieces of design and analyzed how these principles were applied. The design challenge for this unit was to create a poster that promoted an event. Students applied their knowledge of the principles and elements of design to create their poster design.

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c Top left to right: Poster designs by Ava Dedomenico, Jesus Lacend Duprey and Tom Zhang. g Top right: A group of 3 design series showing  Elements of Art by Jeremy Rosenkrantz, Kashvi Kumar and Wyatt Glenn (top to bottom).
Poster design by Liz Kaczynska.
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Students began the semester by refreshing their design skills and digital software techniques. Classes explored different approaches to brainstorming and sketching. Students also learned how to create mood boards in order to brainstorm and explore approaches to a design challenge. Throughout the course, students are encouraged to create unique and innovative artwork. Learning new software skills like pattern-making and photo compositing gives students the ability to create more sophisticated, original design work.
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e Two poster designs by Akira Madique and Zoe Finger depicting surreal landscape composites.
b The three images lower left are part of an icon development project by (left to right) Jaime Paul, Aedan Kiniry and Jane Krauss.
c Top two pieces represent the "Hello My Name Is" project by Rohan Parmar and Claire Hanley.
c Above left shows Ellety Bodell's sketchbook plans for a branding & packaging assignment.
g Above right, two pieces exploring pattern design by Lane Schanzer (top) and Olivia Stubbs.

Students in the Animation class just completed a project called "Character Key Frame Assignment", where they were instructed

to imagine their own unique character and then to define that character's personality, motivation, and traits. Then, students were to define its physical characteristics, through drawings and give context by creating an environment for the character. Students then animated a movement, action, or brief event that shows understanding and consideration of some of the principles of animation. When the animation was finished they added sounds

or music.

a Two of the Character Key Frame assignments by Helena De Figueiredo Vale, 

"Do You Want to Get Detention on the First Day" and by Addison Moore "An F_3."


Students in the Digital Foundations Honors class are working hard on an animated typography project. They studied TV and Film opening sequences to fuel their creativity. Students were asked to animate two words that are opposites in meaning, and to have them move and interact according to the meaning of the words. They are using Adobe After Effects to create these compositions.
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Linnea Jagenberg - Kinetic Opposites Pro
d AD CAMPAIGN: Students were asked to pick an ad from a collection of vintage ones provided. The assignment was to create an updated approach using contemporary typography and design considerations, then create a traditional print ad and a series of 3 GIFs for social media advertising.
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Students in the Ceramics class have been working hard on creating hand built forms from clay.  They have learned the PInch Method to create Japanese Tea Bowls and Trapped Air forms. They are now learning the Coil and Slab methods and they are working on creating a Coil Pot. They will next be designing and creating a Personal Clay Sculpture using all of the skills they have learned.  They will do this by incorporating the pinch, coil and slab methods into one piece of art that has a personal theme.


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Ceramic Trapped Air Completed Work.jpg

Here in pottery we’re up to our elbow in clay...and loving it!  Students are learning how to prepare clay for the wheel and center it by using accurate pressure points and specific hand positioning.  Understanding how fast to control the wheel, how much water to use, and where to place your hands all the while trying to create a desired shape is only step one of making pottery.  We also are learning how to trim and glaze our first unit, bowls.    


In Advanced Pottery, students are learning how to add pattern and texture into their pottery.  Experimentation with different tools and techniques to create abstract patterns will then lead to how to draw “sgraffito” style onto their pottery. 

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c Left to right: Genevieve Clark details her piece; a student adds stippling to their pot; Graham Reichhelm mixes the clay.
a Clockwise, starting top left: a time-lapse video of Kate Stephan working on the pottery wheel; Timari Rivera shows his piece before color is applied; Timari Rivera's final project; a grouping of distance learning projects;  a student works their piece on the wheel.
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*See student artwork from the Elementary SchoolsMiddle School
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