Laura Ruby

Spring 2011


Introduction to the Visual Arts


Art 101A (DA  &  W)

Course Objectives
Course Content
Writing/Great Debate Criteria
Visual Art Grading Criteria
Participation--Attendance and Punctuality
Visual Perception

The Cultural Image -- Nature and Culture

Setting the Context--The Form

Ways of Communicating


Getting to the Roots--Western Euro-centric Space and Visual Display
Rendering Perspective
Our Own Spatial Culture


Time and Motion--The Movies--The 4th Dimension

Film Time and Movement


Creating a Mask




This course will explore the nature of the world's visual arts and their influences on the quality of our lives. It will discuss:
  • What is visual culture?:
  • Understanding our own ways of seeing and of becoming visually literate;
  • Employing visual thinking and creating through visual communication;
  • Understanding the roots of visual culture and visual production.
1. To discover the purpose of the visual arts;
2. To realize the scope of the visual arts;
3. To develop an awareness of and appreciation for the diversity of human visual responses;
4. To become aware of and involved in the act of creativity; and
5. To become a motivating force for bettering your visual environment.

Student Learning Outcomes for Art

1) To develop fundamental skills and concepts relative to the practice of art.

2) To develop an understanding and appreciation of the tradition which formed our present approach to the visual arts.

3) To develop the ability to analyze the merits of art works and develop informed opinions applicable to the broad range of human cultural production.

4) To develop specific skills and knowledge of a medium(s) to be utilized as a means of visual communication and self expression

5) To encourage the development of new approaches, methodologies and philosophies of art as well as the understanding of traditional modes and paradigms.

  • Prebles' Artforms 10th edition--Patrick Frank
  • Selections from: The Humanistic Tradition Volumes 3 & 6 --Gloria Fiero
  • packet of 101 handouts at Campus Center Copy Service
  • 40% -- Written Entries/Great Debates (10 Great Debate assignments)
  • 25% -- Visual Entries/Artworks
    • 10% -- mask
    • 5% box
    • 5% -- realistic drawing,
    • 5% -- abstract drawing,
    • 10% -- Global Art History Archive
  • 10% -- First Exam (Part Take-Home, Part In-Class)
  • 10% -- Second Exam ( " )
  • 5% - -Participation
  • (The class may decide to give more weight to some items at a later time.)
All debate position papers should be:
1. typed, double-spaced, 3/4 to 1+ pages long, 1.5" margins;
2. state your position and present your evidence--support your statement; and
3. be prepared for the discussions to follow--small groups and individuals will represent differing points of view.
All visual artwork will be evaluated in terms of:
l. imagination, enthusiasm, and risk taking;
2. clarity of concept, organization;
3. timely participation (come to class, turn in work on time, and participate in discussions); and
4. quality of execution (craftsmanship and thoroughness) and the ability to be self-correcting.
This course requires full attendance. Visual concepts are often only understood after sharing, comparing, questioning, revising and synthesizing, as well as listening. A tardy or absent student diminishes the overall quality of the class. Three tardies will equal one unexcused absence. Three unexcused absences will lower the final grade.
If you feel that you need reasonable accommodations because of the impact of a disability, please speak with me privately to discuss your needs, and/or contact the KOKUA Program (956-7511 or We will be very happy to work with you and/or the KOKUA Program.


  • viewfinder--1 1/2" x 2" interior opening OR digital camera
  • bristol board pad (rough surface--if available), approximately 9" x 11"
  • Prismacolor or Spectracolor colored pencils
  • soft pencil
  • Kohinoor soft white vinyl eraser
  • X-acto knife, # 11 and packet of #11 blades
  • ruler
  • glue stick
  • scissors
  • additional materials to be announced soon (for "mask" see item #1 and for box -- see item #9)
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In-Class Discussion Topics
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Visual Artworks
Written Entries/Great Debates








Week One: Syllabus & the Big Picture
Visual Perception
  • setting the context: the perceptual experience
  • I, the observer, and the "stuff" out there
  • gestalt
  • visual illusions
  • setting the context: the the "stuff" out there depicted










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great debate

1. Look through your viewfinder and capture images of a day in the life of yourself. Create 10 thumbnails sketches or photos of objects you come in contact with--home, school, work, leisure. Use a variety of framed points of view--worm's or bird's eye points of view and select tipped/tilted framing or parallel-to-the-horizon framing. These should be done quickly.

great debate

All debate position papers should be typed, double-spaced, 3/4 to 1+ pages long. State your position and present your evidence--support your statement. Discussions will follow--small groups and individuals will represent opposing points of view.

We will arbitrarily divide up the class to cover these 4 points of view:

a) worm's eye vs. bird's eye point of view

--how is meaning created from this point of view?


b) tipped or tilted framing vs. parallel-to-the-horizon framing

--how is meaning created from this point of view?


if you want to get a head start on your readings here are some of them:

Artforms, Chapters 2 and 3 – familiarize yourself with our terminology

Humanistic Tradition 3, pp. 23-26, 28-29, 44-77



Week Two: The Cultural Image--Nature/Culture
  • How do we look at visual culture?
  • Am I a feral child?
  • The Innocent Eye Test
The Innocent Eye Test, 1981 -- Mark Tansey
  • Treason of Images
Treason of Images, 1928-9 -- Rene Magritte
Captain Cook and the Visual Depiction of Hawai'i
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great debate

2. Innocent eye vs. Sophisticated eye


Answer the Innocent Eye Test questions


Innocent Eye Test questions in packet







Week Eleven:
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Creating a Mask

Create a mask or costume based on your depicted animal image. Research another cultural context and use the forms of that culture or transfer these animal attributes into a wearable form in your own personal contemporary context. Please link to Creating a Mask on the website.

Choose an interesting animal form for your mask. Collect photos of that animal.

Research  cultural context other than your own in Artforms (Chapters 14-24). Collect photos from that cultural  context.

Select visual aspects of that culture that you can merge with your animal form to create a mask.

Humanistic Tradition 3, peruse pp. 86-120



  Week Three: Our Cultural Frame
SHIFT--thinking about self and the world as expressed in visual depictions
The Form--realistic, abstract, non-objective
Cow, 1917 -- Theo van Doesburg
Cow, 1917 -- Theo van Doesburg
Cow, 1917 -- Theo van Doesburg
Cow, 1917 -- Theo van Doesburg


Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, 1907 -- Pablo Picasso
Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2, 1912 -- Marcel Duchamp



2. "Thinking Inside the Box"

3 & 4 Using colored pencils, draw your object 2 times:

3. as realistically as possible

4. in an abstract way

EC. as a study in light and value--aim for chiaroscuro (highlight and shadow) using black pencil only--do not use lines;

EC. establishing a sense of scale--place your object in relationship to another object or in a particular setting. Give some sense of size relationships.

















Artforms -- Chapter 2 -- pp 47-57


see handout in packet
























Thinking Inside the Box


Realistic and Abstract Drawings



Ways of Communicating--icon, index, symbol
Flag, 1954-55 -- Jasper Johns
  • a national icon: the American flag
  • the First Amendment
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great debate
3. Flag by Jasper Johns
a) this is a flag vs. this is an artwork
b) the flag or flag imagery can be used in artworks vs. prohibition of the flag's use in artworks


read handouts in your packet on the American flag exhibitions and American iconic depictions

Artforms -- Chapter 13 -- Evaluating Art



Week Four: Light and Optical Correspondences
Light and Film and the Flicks--The Magic Lantern Show
  • light an illuminating notion
  • light logic
  • influences from:
  • The European Baroque Frame
  • German Expressionist Theater and Cinema
  • Edward Hopper
  • film noir
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read pp. -----in your packet


Chapters 7 & 8--Photography & Moving Images: Film and Digital Arts

 light logic

Light logic
1 highlight--the lightest, brightest spot on the object
2 lowlight/midtone--maximum color intensity--this is the local value that an object would have under ambient/indirect light
3 reflected light--the light that hits other things and bounces back on the object
4 core shadow--the shadow on on and created by the object itself
5 cast shadow--the shadow that cuts out the shining light source--its always the darkest part

Chiaroscuro--light to dark
value notation--the illusion of volume

A 20th Century Foray 

Gas, 1940 -- Edward Hopper
New York Movie, 1939 -- Edward Hopper
Drug Store, 1927 -- Edward Hopper



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Global Art History Archive 1
Gas, 1940 -- Hopper
New York Movie, 1939 -- Hopper
Drug Store, 1927 -- Hopper


Global Art History Archive 2

Rue Transonian

Global Art History Archive 3

High Noon

The Third Man


Artforms -- Chapter 2 -- pp 39-47

Humanistic Tradition 6, p. 82-83



Week Five: Cinematography & Film
  • Casablanca and "Play it again, Sam."
Casablanca, 1943 -- Michael Curtiz
Casablanca, 1943 -- Michael Curtiz


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great debate

4 & 5.

A. Reflect on the Casablanca questions and write on 1 question.

B. Create a value drawing of 1 shot related to your question--do not copy from the xerox images. (Please see separate handout.) This is a study in light and value--aim for chiaroscuro (highlight and shadow) using black pencil only--do not use lines.

C. Sketch a plan view, diagramming the lighting, set and actors.

refer to the questions in your packet



Week Six:
  • Casablanca discussion
  • Carrotblanca
  • film genres
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EC--light in film

Select 1 of the 100 classic films. Write a 1 paragraph synopsis and create a value drawing of a crucial shot.

list located in your packet



Week Six:
Ulysses by James Joyce, 1986 -- Carin Goldberg

Pelikan Ad, 1920s -- El Lissitsky

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EC. On the computer, create a title page using basic design principles.






Week Seven: Getting to the Roots -- Western Euro-centric Space and Visual Display

SHIFT -- thinking about self and the world as expressed in visual depictions


Rendering Perspective -- The Illusion of 3-Dimensional Space on a 2-Dimensional Picture Plane


  • space a 2-D perspective
  • our visual spatial cultural legacy -- 500 years of European Renaissance
  • video: The Day the Universe Changed -- "Point of View"

The Holy Trinity, 1425 -- Masaccio

Global Art History Archive 4 American Gothic










Global Art History Archive 5 The Holy Trinity


EC create a perspective drawing

Artforms -- Chapter 16 -- Renaissance and Baroque Europe


WebCT/Laulima: Humanistic Tradition 3: The Renaissance 




Humanistic Tradition 3, 23-26

-pp. 28-29

-pp. 44-77

-another culture but same time frame



Week Eight: Our Own Spatial Culture

A Nineteenth Century Foray

Japanese ukioye landscape prints and compositinal organization -- in contrast


Wave at Kanagawa c. 1830 -- Hokusai

Naito Shinjuku, Yotsuya, 1857 -- Hiroshige

Global Art History Archive 6 Wave at Kanagawa





Week Eight: Real/Actual Space --Space a 3-D Perspective

  • art in public places
  • Claes Oldenberg -- "Object into Monument"

Clothespin, 1976 -- Claes Oldenburg

Global Art History Archive 7 The Unswept Floor

Global Art History Archive 8 Monk Sewing

Artforms -- Chapter 10 -- Sculpture

Dream Window--A Japanese Sense of Space and Place



Week Nine: Our Own Spatial Campus Culture

Great Debate


6. UH Campus Art -- visit the UH campus and locate at least 9 artworks.

A. Please identify the artworks' and their locations and draw small thumbnail sketches of each work. Please number and identify each of the artworks and answer:

B. Compare and contrast 2 artworks:

a) List each's visual characteristics.

b) How does each artwork relate to its environment?

c) How do viewers/participants interact with these 2 artworks?

d) What is particularly striking about these artworks?


EC Create a colored pencil drawing of 1 campus artwork.

please see 2-page handout in packet


Week Nine: Our Own Spatial Culture

  • the built environment
  • inventing our own myths: inventions and vernacular architecture
  • the balloon frame house
  • international style/modern architecture: the Seagram building imperialism, skyscrapers
  • Learning from Las Vegas



Chapter 12 -- Architecture

Chapter 25 -- Postmodernity and Global Art

Humanistic Tradition 6, pp. 18-22, 85-87



Week Ten: The Postmodern Frame--Art in Our Own Times
SHIFT--thinking about self and the world as expressed in visual depictions
Postmodern Architecture
  • Charles Moore, Frank Gehry, etc. and the pomo Piazza d'Italia
Piazza d'Italia, 1978-79 -- Charles Moore, et. al.


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Humanistic Tradition 6, pp. 160-164



Week Ten:
Exam--Thinking on Your Feet
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on Visual Culture, Light and Space




Week Eleven:
  • museum visits
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great debate

7. Reflect on an exhibition at the HAA--Visit two different galleries (see handout).


great debate

8. Cyber Museum Field Trip

Investigate museum websites, choose one museum, and answer the questions on the handout and collect at least 2 art historical images from 2 different art historical contexts that have some similarities.


see questions in packet




see questions in packet


Week Eleven:
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EC Select an historical or contemporary artwork from Artforms and place it in its cultural context.


Week Twelve: Preserving Cultural Artifacts

great debate


9. To preserve or not to preserve


read handouts from Puzzles and Artforms




Week Twelve:
The Postmodern Frame--Art in Our Own Times--Pluralism


Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Economic Class
  • contemporary visual culture
  • Jacob Lawrence and Robert Colescott
  • Barbara Kruger and the Guerrilla Girls
  • high culture & low culture
  • our own contemporary context and pop art
  • Nancy Drew
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Artforms -- 

Chapter 23 -- Postwar Modern Movements in the West

Chapter 24 -- Modern Art Beyond the West

Chapter 25 -- Postmodernity and Global Art

Humanistic Tradition 6, pp. 93-119




Week Twelve:
Forward Retreat, 1986 -- Mark Tansey
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EC Answer the Forward Retreat questions

see questions in packet




Week Thirteen: Aesthetics--How Might We Judge Beauty?
  • "Beauty, Ugliness, and Aesthetic Experience"
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great debate

EC Beauty and Ugliness--Select 1 "Beauty..." case study--state the different positions and support your preferred position and why.

Puzzles handouts




Week Thirteen: Time and Motion--The Movies--The 4th Dimension
  • the dynamic image
  • implied movement
    • Mark Tansey, Saul Steinberg, etc.
    • comics, storyboarding and continuity
  • apparent movement
    • the framed and filmed and edited image
    • "What's up Doc?"--animation
  • actual movement

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Global Art History Archive 9
Take One


Global Art History Archive 10
How Green Was My Valley

Artforms Chapter 8 -- Moving Images: Film and Digital Arts

Humanistic Tradition 6, pp. 12, 55, 62-63, 79, 105, 140, 142, 151, 160




Week Fourteen: Film Time and Movement
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great debate

10. Film Editing--Select another classic film and create a 20 shot storyboard. (Please see separate handout.)


Humanistic Tradition 6, pp. 5-12, 80-81, 144, 153-157

Week Fourteen:
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EC time and motion in film editing

Select another of the 100 classics and create a short storyboard.


Week Fifteen: Film Time and Movement
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Week Sixteen:
Guernica, 1937 -- Pablo Picasso
  • review &
  • Exam--Thinking on Your Feet
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pp. 84, 365, 383-384 (Guernica) and Space and Time


Laura Ruby
Office 348
Phone 956-5250
December 2010