We do a couple of things in the art department that exposes students to
the many other classes the levels open to them. One is in the beginning
art class (which is called Foundations in Art and all students who want
to take more art classes have to take this class first), we run it like
a window into the other courses while teaching them vocabulary,
principles and elements, color theory, human figure/face, different
drawing styles/techniques/media, and painting styles/techniques/media.
So, for example we may choose (and again, my colleague and I are not
locked into doing anything particular to accomplish our curriculum, so
we vary projects) to do a simple drypoint etching after extensive study
on pen and ink techniques...then during the drypoint etching intro we
also tell them about our printmaking and commercial art course. The
drypoint (on plastic) mimics what line exercises and qualities they have
just worked on in their pen and ink drawings, and exposes them to
beginning printmaking at the same time. After over 25 years of us
working in tandem, we have built up our classes to a point where some
years we have to turn people away.
Another thing that works for us is that we have a large senior art show
at the end of the year. Students from the entire school can see the
work up close and personal. The seniors/and some juniors put everything
up from freshmen year on, so everyone can see how far they've come. In
this way beginning students as well as non art students see the growth,
and know eventually they too can become proficient.
I do have kids in the beginning classes who want to use acrylics. I
tell them two truisms. The first is this, we can't afford it, plain and
simple. We will be working on watercolors, and tempra in the beginning
classes. The second truism is this: Don't let me stop you from going out
and buying your own acrylics and either experimenting on your own, or
taking private lessons. I am not the end all and be all of your art
experience. Art is 24/7.