High School
Departments & Courses, In Brief

High School Courses

Visual Arts

Dalton’s Visual Arts program is unique in its breadth and focus. Two-dimensional, three-dimensional, digital, and multi-media art courses are offered at beginning and advanced levels. These courses develop visual perception, aesthetic judgment and technical skills in a variety of media.
The visual arts curriculum enriches the students’ program with a genuine studio experience. Working with their teachers, students are thoughtfully engaged in the creative process. Faculty members also provide guidance for advanced students who choose to do Senior Projects.  Some students attend professional art and architecture schools while others study art to broaden their liberal arts college experience.  Teachers also assist students in preparing portfolios for college admission.
See also Visual Arts Program


Students are required to take 2 full credits of an art for graduation. This requirement includes electives from the Dance, Theatre, Music, or Visual Arts Departments.
Within the Visual Arts Department, students may take a third year in one medium if they have taken at least one different medium.


The Visual Arts major program gives the student a well-rounded background in many aspects of the visual arts.  Enrollment in the program benefits applications to all colleges, especially art schools. Special emphasis is placed upon college portfolio preparation.
Students interested in becoming a Visual Arts major should consult with the Art Department Chair at the beginning of their junior year.  At that time, the student will be assigned to an art faculty advisor.

Art Major Course Requirements:

  1. The following required courses form the basis for electives in specific areas of interest: 
    • Beginning Drawing      
    • Any 2-dimensional art course
    • Any 3-dimensional or media art course

  2. In addition to the required courses above, the Visual Arts Major must take at least 2 additional electives (total of 2 credits) during the High School years:
2-Dimensional Art Courses:
  • Beginning Drawing
  • Life Drawing I
  • Life Drawing II & III
  • Drawing & Design 1
  • Drawing & Design 2&3
  • Painting 1
  • Painting 2&3
  • Painting, Collage and Assemblage
  • Watercolor Painting 1
  • Advanced Water Color Painting
  • Printmaking 1
  • Photography 1
  • Advanced Photography
3-Dimensional and Media Art Courses:
  • Beginning Architecture
  • Advanced Architecture
  • Beginning Ceramics
  • Advanced Ceramics
  • Book Arts: Papermaking and Handmade Books
  • Woodworking
  • New Media
  • Film and Video Art
  • Advanced Video Arts and New Media 


Seniors with proven commitment and interest may choose to work with a faculty advisor on a Senior Project in Visual Art. Senior Project students must take a variety of art courses at the high school level before they participate in the experience.
At the beginning of the senior year, students select a faculty advisor and submit a written proposal that includes a portfolio of recent work.  The Art Faculty reviews the proposals and chooses a select number of seniors to participate in the program.  Students develop their ideas, working with the guidance of their advisor, and present their artwork during small group critiques that meet bi-weekly throughout the semester. They also participate twice a semester in large group critiques. In May, the final projects are presented to the Dalton community in an exhibition or screening.
  • Adv. Experience in Printmaking and Design

    Description currently unavailable.
  • Architecture (GOA)

    In this course students will explore the field of architecture through a series of units covering elements architectural design, materials and structure, architectural analysis and 3D design. The course will start will students learning the basic elements of Architectural design and then using Google SketchUp to build models of these elements. In the second unit students will study buildings like the Stonehenge, the Parthenon in Athens, the Roman Aqueduct of Pont du Gard in France, and the Pantheon in Rome to develop an understanding of materials and structures. At each stage students will learn how changes in materials, technology and construction techniques lead to the evolution of architecture over time. In the third unit students will learn how to analyze structures using Ancient Greek temples as an example. The course will end with a final project in which each student will have the opportunity to design and build a sacred structure of their choice based on their new understanding of architecture, construction, and engineering.

    Requires Preapproval
  • Architecture 1

    Architecture is the study and design of buildings and structures as they relate to form, function, and their relationship to a built and natural environment.  This course introduces students to the fundamentals of architectural design by using the computer as a primary tool of investigation.  Students learn two CAD software and how to display and present their work clearly and effectively.  Three-dimensional modeling software allows students the flexibility and ability to produce high-quality models and subsequent renderings.  Students discover their capabilities as designers through a series of preliminary architectural drawing exercises and the study of architectural materials, styles and green strategies. The course culminates in a final residential project.  Field trips, critiques and presentations are integral components of the course. 
    Prerequisite:  none
    Full Year Course, 1.0 credit
  • Architecture 2

    Architecture 2 expands upon the basic knowledge and skills acquired in the beginning level course.  The students continue to develop their computer skills and virtual model-making, however, they learn advanced rendering, lighting and walk-throughs along with 3D output and physical model-making. A variety of individual and group projects focus on a range of subjects, including elements related to tectonics (structure and building), community and environmental design, and a variety of architectural principles. Field trips, critiques and presentations continue to be integral components of the architecture program. In the advanced course, students study of materials, structures and styles, with an emphasis on contemporary design and methodology. The final assignment is a self-defined architecture project stemming from the students’ respective interest.
    Prerequisite: Architecture 1
    Full Year Course, 1.0 credit
    Requires Preapproval
  • Beyond Photoshop The Art of Code; The Code of Art

    In the 21st century, artists regularly use computer technology as part of their practice, and that use goes beyond using software tools like Photoshop to make images. Arts practice may involve writing programs that generate artworks, that control devices, or that help artists explore design spaces. In this course, we will explore models of arts computing using the Processing programming language. We will consider programs for both 2D and 3D images, for both still and animated images, and for independent and interactive programs. Along the way, we will also develop skills in computational thinking and consider relationships between the arts and technology. Regular work will include arts programs that will be judged in terms of both aesthetic and program design criteria as well as readings about arts programming. Across the semester, students will assemble a portfolio of projects and analyses. No prior programming experience is required.
    Prerequisite: Students should have taken a course in mathematics that includes the study of trigonometry.

    Requires Preapproval
  • Book Arts 1: Papermaking & Handmade Books

    Students create books with paste paper, Japanese marbled paper, stamped paper and other handmade papers. These books incorporate Western and Eastern binding structures from different time periods. After developing skills in bookbinding with paper and book cloth, students use leather and sheepskin as cover materials. Students may alter old books, giving them new life as sculptural objects. They can also scan photographs and artifacts to create family albums or baby books. Second-year students may work with nontraditional materials to develop the text, imagery, and sculptural aspects of the book. 
    Prerequisite: None 
    Full Year Course, 1.0 credit
  • Ceramics 1

    This course surveys the diverse and deceptively simple medium that is clay.  Students learn a broad range of forming techniques and receive intensive instruction in wheel throwing.  This curriculum lets students choose their own assignments and set their own goals.  Assignments are often long-term and ambitious in scope.  Students are encouraged to pursue this medium in a variety of ways from sculptural to functional.  Participants in this course also consider the issues and ideas that accompany the making of objects in historic and contemporary contexts.
    Prerequisite: None
    Full Year Course, 1.0 credit
  • Ceramics 2

    Students work on individual assignments based on previous experience and explore increasingly ambitious forms.   Advanced techniques are introduced as students explore multi-part forms and focus on the formal and technical challenges of complex forming strategies.  Glaze formulation, working with porcelain and increased involvement with kilns and firing are all part of the curriculum.
    Prerequisite: Ceramics 1
    Full Year Course, 1.0 credit
    Requires Preapproval
  • Design Workshop: Fabrication Lab

    This project-based "Make" class introduces computer based design and fabrication through the vinyl cutter, laser cutter, and 3D printer. Basic Adobe Illustrator and Google SketchUp are taught. Projects may include; laptop stickers, water bottle stickers, heat transfer designs for T-shirts, puppet pull toys, laser cut boxes, laser cut puzzles, laser cut gears, and 3D printed fidget toys. This course is suitable for all skill levels and no prior experience is needed.
    Prerequisite: None
    Fall Semester Course, 0.25 credits
  • Design Workshop: Skateboard

    In this project-based "Make" class we will create skateboards, almost from scratch, using a vacuum press system and 7 layers of wood veneer. We will design and laser cut the grip tape, and create art for the bottom of the board using vinyl stickers and paint. This course is suitable for skaters and non-skaters alike. You create a fully functional custom board.
    Prerequisite: None
    Spring Semester Course, 0.25 credits
  • Digital Photography

    In an era where everyone has become a photographer obsessed with documenting most aspects of life, we swim in a sea of images, whether posted on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, or another digital medium. Yet what does taking a powerful and persuasive photo with a 35mm digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera require? Digital photography explores this question in a variety of ways, beginning with the technical aspects of using and taking advantage of a powerful camera then moving to a host of creative questions and opportunities. Technical topics such as aperture, shutter, white balance, and resolution get ample coverage in the first half of the course, yet each is pursued with the goal of enabling students to leverage the possibilities that come with manual image capture. Once confident about technical basics, students apply their skills when pursuing creative questions such as how to understand and use light, how to consider composition, and how to take compelling portraits. Throughout the course, students tackle projects that enable sharing their local and diverse settings, ideally creating global perspectives through doing so. Additionally, students interact with each other often through critique sessions and collaborative exploration of the work of many noteworthy professional photographers, whose images serve to inspire and suggest the diverse ways that photography tells visual stories.

    Requires Preapproval
  • Drawing

    This intensive drawing course trains the eye to see.  Through a deliberate process, the student acquires the ability to perceive three-dimensional form accurately and render it convincingly in two dimensions: that is drawing.  This course helps students to understand the world around them by learning to grasp visual relationships and interpret what they see.  Drawing is a primary building block that will help students in any further artwork and in many other fields as well.  This course is appropriate for all levels of development.
    Prerequisite: None
    Full Year Course, 1.0 credit 
  • Drawing & Design 1

    Students explore fundamentals of design and drawing by using colored pencils, pastels, watercolors, pen and ink, printmaking, collage and computers.  Sources for content include landscapes, plants, and animal forms, with a focus on the imaginative and fantastic approach to these and other subjects.  Trips to the Reservoir, Central Park, and the Botanical Garden provide students with experience in working from nature.
    Prerequisite: None
    Full Year Course, 1.0 credit
  • Drawing & Design 2 & 3

    In this advanced studio course, students work independently to expand ideas and concepts explored in the beginning class.  Projects relating to imaginative and observational drawing, color and composition are emphasized.  Assignments combining the works of different artists are explored.  Other assignments include a CD or album cover, a book jacket, and a personal memory composition.  Materials include colored pencils, watercolors, tempera, printmaking, collage, charcoal, and pastels.
    Visits to artists' studios, museums, and galleries will augment the studio time.
    Prerequisite: Design and Drawing 1
    Full Year Course, 1.0 credit 
  • Film and Video Arts

    This course introduces students to the basics of digital filmmaking through assignments covering a broad range of historic and contemporary time-based media practices. Students will work with digital video cameras, like the Panasonic HMC40 and the Canon 7D DSLR (with a variety of lenses), learn video editing and effects in Adobe Premiere Pro, how to use a digital audio recorder, and how to set up video lights. Assignments include: stop frame animation, music video, found footage, and interview/documentary. While much of the class is “hands-on” production, we will also screen films and videos throughout the year.
    Prerequisite: None 
    Full Year Course, 1.0 credit
  • Filmmaking

    This course is for students interested in developing their skills as filmmakers and creative problem-solvers. It is also a forum for screening the work of their peers and providing constructive feedback for revisions and future projects, while helping them to develop critical thinking skills. The course works from a set of specific exercises based on self-directed research and builds to a series of short experimental films that challenge students on both a technical and creative level. Throughout, we will increasingly focus on helping students express their personal outlooks and develop their unique styles as filmmakers. We will review and reference short films online and discuss how students might find inspiration and apply what they find to their own works.

    Requires Preapproval
  • Graphic Design

    What makes a message persuasive and compelling? What helps audiences and viewers sort and make sense of information? This course will explore the relationship between information and influence from a graphic design perspective. Using an integrated case study and design-based approach, this course aims to deepen students’ design, visual, and information literacies. Students will be empowered to design and prototype communication projects they are passionate about. Topics addressed include: principles of design and visual communication; infographics; digital search skills; networks and social media; persuasion and storytelling with multimedia; and social activism on the Internet. Student work will include individual and collaborative group projects, graphic design, content curation, some analytical and creative writing, peer review and critiques, and online presentations.

    Requires Preapproval
  • Life Drawing 1

    This intensive, full credit course meets for 4 hours per week (2 hours drawing from the model and 2 hours of assigned drawing projects, including portraiture, anatomical casts, and, as scheduling permits, the antiques at the Metropolitan Museum of Art).  Students also maintain a sketchbook/journal.  Instruction is structured for the achievement of controlled scale and placement of the figure on the page.  Along with these expectations, the student is taught to articulate basic structural characteristics of the human figure and to express directional and space relationships observed in any given pose.  Work in a variety of media such as charcoal, conte crayons, graphite, pastel, watercolor, pen, and wash is taught.
    1. One year of Beginning Drawing (706)
    2. Written permission from a parent
    Full Year Course, 1.0 credit 
  • Life Drawing 2 & 3

    This class meets once a week for two consecutive hours of drawing from a model and students maintain a sketchbook.  At this level, the student is guided to a literate command of modeling: the use of light and dark values as compositional as well as form-enhancing factors.  Students are also taught to observe and articulate tension, torsion, and weight, as exerted by any given pose upon the model's limbs and torso.
    Prerequisite: Life Drawing I
    Full Year Course, 0.50 credit
  • New Media 1

    Students work with digital tools in an art and graphic design context. These tools include: Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, pressure sensitive tablets and stylus pens, computer driven vinyl cutters, iPads and digital paint applications,  Adobe Flash (for animation), and Google SketchUp. "Hands-on" methods are woven throughout the digital curriculum: stickers for laptops, heat transfer designs for T-shirts, screen printing, and product labels for food packaging. Assignments are grounded in the work of relevant fine artists and graphic designers.
    Prerequisite: None 
    Full Year Course, 1.0 credit 
  • New Media 2

    This course expands upon skills and concepts from New Media.  Students are supported in developing their artistic voice through challenging assignments in lettering, pattern design, digital photography, branding, and motion graphics.
    Prerequisite:  New Media 1 or instructor's permission
    Full Year Course, 1.0 credit
    Requires Preapproval
  • Painting 1

    Using the medium of acrylic paint, the student completes a highly structured series of assignments, designed to teach the fundamentals of color theory.  Students learn to identify the hue, intensity, and luminosity of an observed color, and replicate these qualities by mixing paint.  Assignments become increasingly complex as the student masters each given problem and learns to paint detailed complex still-lifes and portraits.  An important aspect of the course is learning the subtleties of paint application.  Initial assignments are painted with thick impasto paint, using only the palette knife (no brushes) to apply paint to the surface.  Later assignments deal with brush painting methods such as under painting, layering and blending. 
    After completing this course, the student can successfully mix colors and paint artworks that create the illusion of form, space, and light.
    Prerequisite: None
    Full Year Course, 1.0 credit
  • Painting 2 & 3

    Working from the fundamentals of color learned in Painting 1, students develop a personal style by studying the work of master painters through art history.  Students experience a hands-on approach to art history by experimenting with authentic materials and techniques such as egg tempera, gilding, and glazing.  The course takes students through prehistoric cave paintings, Egyptian scrolls, Early Greek black-figure technique, medieval gilding, Early Renaissance egg tempera, High Renaissance glazing techniques, and Impressionist pastel painting. Rather than memorizing names and dates, we look at paintings through slide shows and museum visits. Students begin to discover artists whose style they want to emulate.  A portrait model is used in an assignment that compares figure styles throughout art history. The chronological presentation of information helps students to order and make sense of styles in history. This combined study of master artworks and a consistent painting practice helps the students develop a personal direction in their painting.
    Prerequisite: Painting 1, Painting, Collage and Assemblage or Watercolor Painting
    Full Year Course, 1.0 credit
    Requires Preapproval
  • Painting, Collage, and Assemblage 1

    Students take an experimental approach to making art with a variety of unusual media. Subject matter includes still life, landscape, and portraiture, with an emphasis on color and composition, Using encaustic, or hot wax mixed with pigment, acrylic paint, and found objects, they create ticket sculptures, altered books, clothespin sculptures, paintings, collages, and other inventive works of art. Additional assignments develop compositional skills, personal imagery and confidence in aesthetic choices.
    Prerequisites: None
    Full Year Course, 1.0 credit
  • Photography 1

    In this introductory black and white photography course, students use the camera as a tool for art making.  They learn to use a 35mm SLR manual camera, process negatives, print photographs in the darkroom, and mat a finished piece of artwork. Students work on a semester-long assignment, "Studies in Composition," in which they explore the formal aspects of art such as perspective, texture, pattern, shadow, and line. Other assignments include depth-of-field, blurred motion, self-portraits, double exposure and night photography. We introduce Digital photography at the end of the year. Assignments are to be photographed outside of class time.  Class critiques occur after the completion of each photographic assignment. A 35 mm film camera with manual controls is needed for this course. See Ms. Zexter if you need to borrow a camera for the semester.
    Prerequisite: None 
    Full Year Course, 1.0 credit
  • Photography 2

    This course offers students an opportunity to refine further and increase their understanding of exposure, development, and the finished print. During the first semester, they explore portraiture, documentary photography and sequential imagery, with the option of printing 11" x 14". Students also experiment with digital photography, mixed media techniques and medium format film. They use Holga cameras and do large-scale color printing from digital files. In addition to using film cameras, students photograph with digital cameras and use Adobe Photoshop to manipulate their images before printing them. Class trips to museums and galleries supplement the curriculum. Students also give a visual presentation on a photographer of their choice.  Class critiques occur after the completion of each photographic assignment.  Assignments are to be photographed outside of class time. A 35 mm camera with manual controls is needed for this course. See Ms. Zexter if you need to borrow a camera for the semester.
    Prerequisite: Photography 1
    Full Year Course, 1.0 credit
    Requires Preapproval
  • Printmaking

    This course is an introduction to the basic techniques of printmaking: linoleum cuts, woodcuts, drypoints, collographs, and monoprints.  Design and composition, experimentation with media and the development of skills to convey personal imagery and style are emphasized. The computer may be used to facilitate image making for prints. Some of the assignments may include a poster or book design, printing on fabric or designing a t-shirt.  Class critiques are held during the creative process and at the completion of the print.  Students supplement the studio experience with trips to galleries, artists' studios, and museums.  Visiting artists will also be invited to speak to the class.
    Prerequisites: None
    Full Year Course, 1.0 credit 
  • Watercolor Painting 1

    Watercolor is a vibrant and exciting medium well suited to self-expression. In this class, students develop their understanding of this transparent media.  After gaining control of the basic tools, students explore a variety of painting methods and concepts. In the second half of the course, students create paintings that illustrate individual ideas or atmospheres in landscape, figurative, spatial and still life formats.
    Prerequisite: Beginning Drawing or Painting 1
    Full Year Course, 1.0 credit
    Requires Preapproval
  • Watercolor Painting 2

    Second-year watercolor students develop individual assignments based on previous experience and skill. Experimentation and practice of advanced watercolor techniques are included.  Students develop strategies for independent thinking while cultivating a personal direction in their work.  The assignments include the creation of a series painting.  Second-year students play an important role during class critiques.  The course provides an excellent opportunity for students to learn more about their artistic vision while expanding their watercolor skills.
    Prerequisites: Watercolor Painting 1
    Full Year Course, 1.0 credit
    Requires Preapproval
  • Woodworking

    Students design their own projects and draw accurate plans for them.  To realize their designs, participants use a variety of hand and power tools to shape and join wood. The properties and appropriateness of various kinds of wood will also be discussed. The first assignment is to design and build a lamp.  The second assignment is to make a small table or box in which the joinery is the focus of the design.  Function, craftsmanship, and finish are explored in this class.
    Prerequisite: None
    Full Year Course, 1.0 credit


  • Ellen Stavitsky

    Middle and High School Visual Arts Teacher and High School Art Department Chair
    (212) 423-5274
    Brandeis University - B.A. Magna Cum Laude
    Harvard Graduate School of Education - Ed.M.
    Pratt Institute - M.F.A.
  • Richard Bottwin

    Middle and High School Visual Arts Teacher
    (212) 423-5495 x3160
    Lehman College, City University of New York - B.F.A.
  • Carol Bowen

    Middle and High School Visual Arts Teacher
    (212) 423-5495 x8207
    Mount Holyoke College - B.A.
    Rhode Island College - M.A.
    Tulane University - M.F.A.
  • Lotus Do

    Middle and High School Visual Arts Teacher
    (212) 423-5495 x8205
    Cooper Union - B.F.A.
    Massachusetts College of Art - M.S.A.E.
  • Mira Gelley

    Middle and High School Visual Arts Teacher
    (212) 423-5495 x3022
    University of California, Irvine - B.F.A.
    Art Institute of Chicago - M.F.A.
  • Linda Hanauer

    Middle and High School Visual Arts Teacher and Middle School Art Department Chair
    (212) 423-5275
    Cornell University - B.S.
    Teachers College, Columbia University - M.A.
  • David Rubin

    Visual Arts Teacher
    (212) 423-5495 x3029
    University of Wisconsin, Madison - B.S.
    Cranbrook Academy of Art - M.F.A.
  • Emily Wilson

    Architecture and Visual Arts Teacher
    (212) 423-5495 x3178
    Kingsborough Community College - A.S.
    Smith College - B.A.
    Yale School of Architecture - M.Arch.
    M.I.C.A. - M.F.A.
  • Melissa Zexter

    Middle and High School Visual Arts Teacher
    (212) 423-5495 x3103
    Rhode Island School of Design - B.F.A.
    New York University/International Center for Photography - M.A .