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The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

AP painting class offers new opportunities to students

Sophomore+Sol+Berrellez+works+on+her+latest+painting+project%2C+focusing+on+the+proportions+of+the+human+face.
Photo by Heerah Jayakumar
Sophomore Sol Berrellez works on her latest painting project, focusing on the proportions of the human face.

In previous years, there have been three AP art classes offered at Wootton; AP Studio Art Drawing, 2-D Design and 3-D Design, but there is a new addition set to be offered to students for the 2024-2025 school year: AP Painting.

While in the past students who wanted to focus on painting had to take AP Drawing and then specifically focus on painting from there, this new class allows for students to hone in on their skills in a way like never before. “I wanted to teach this class to give students another level. I feel like painting three already fits in with the AP criteria. This is a more concentrated painting class and this is more for students I’ve already built a relationship with that I want to see grow and improve,” art teacher Unsil Kim said.

Portfolio building is a critical part of AP art classes, as they are the sole material scored by exam graders and they can be used to apply to art schools. For students who have interests that align with the arts, having an opportunity to build a portfolio in school makes art more accessible. It also makes the process of applying to college easier, as multiple people have given the artist feedback by the time it makes its way to any art school. While students may have more time if they were to build a portfolio in a private art class, the skill of learning how to be creative under a strict schedule is one many students will need to learn if they choose the path of art school or something similar. “I want to be an architect so I want to have more of a portfolio to submit and show how I’ve improved over the years,” junior Emily Teague said.

Even though this class is not for beginners, it can be a step in the right direction for students already in an honors art class who want to expand their skills or have the ability to experiment more with different techniques and materials. While honors painting teaches students the fundamentals of painting and how to utilize certain techniques, it rarely dives deeper into more experimental or student-led learning. Students are not expected to express much of their own art style but are instead taught of the different art styles and encouraged to learn within those boundaries. For students who feel confident in their skills, this can be a bit of a roadblock in their journey. The AP painting course attempts to clear that path for them to explore more within their preferred mode of creativity. “This class would have to be both portfolio building and teaching, but the AP is a lot of individual study. I also want to do more experimental things with mixed media and this class will be more experimental than my other classes,” Kim said.

This class would have to be both portfolio building and teaching, but the AP is a lot of individual study. I also want to do more experimental things with mixed media and this class will be more experimental than my other classes.”

— Unsil Kim

Students are thrilled at the prospect of a new challenge and, for long-time painters especially, this class is exactly what they were looking for. Art is often a release of emotions and can be cathartic for its creator, and having the resources to be able to fully focus on the creation of that art can be critical. For rising juniors and seniors, a school day is most likely more stressful than anything they have experienced previously, and having a scheduled time to relax, such as art class, can help relieve some of that stress. Since there are also only three honors painting classes, this new addition allows painters to be able to grow their skills throughout all four years of high school if they choose to do so. “I’m very excited to be able to take an AP art class because it gives me a way to be able to challenge myself and to hopefully grow as a painter. Having an escape during a stressful school day is so important, and I’ve been painting for years so it’s something very important to me. To have time to continue doing what I enjoy is so exciting,” sophomore Sol Berrellez said.

AP painting offers both double and single-period options, so depending on the student and their specific needs, they could have more time to perfect their artwork. At any time during the week, students can be found in art classrooms working during advisory and lunch, whether it’s due to a lack of time or dedication to their project. Having more time can reduce the stress and workload of an AP, especially if the rest of the student’s schedule is rigorous. “I’ve done painting from an early age and grown to love it. I wanted to take this class because it’s a double period and I won’t feel as rushed. It’s frustrating to be in the middle of a brush stroke and hear the bell ringing. Including cleanup and prep, we’re only painting for about 30 minutes and you need to concentrate. Taking AP Painting would allow me to be in my painting zone longer,” sophomore Jenny Brailovsky said.

Students now have the opportunity to focus thoroughly on their painting skills and hone their craft in a way they never could before. For students thinking of attending art schools and for those who aren’t, this new class provides a space for them to express themselves and grow as artists by allowing them to experiment with new materials, and styles and to get more personal feedback from teachers and other professionals. This can foster the right set of circumstances for the confident artist who craves more time in the studio as well as students who otherwise would never have the chance to focus on art rather than their other obligations. Students and teachers alike anticipate the first day of this class.

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