Virginia Commonwealth University
Virginia Commonwealth UniversityVirginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts
VCUarts is ranked #1 among public art schools by US News & World Report

Art Adventure Weekends


Here’s what’s offered in 2015:

The following Art Adventures are designed to supplement students’ Summer Intensive experiences.  Each Adventure brings students from different disciplines together, empowering them to enhance their creative thinking and problem solving abilities, collaborate in groups, and turn their ideas into realities. Students do not need prior skills or knowledge to participate in any of the Adventures.

Click here to download the information packet

Each two-day Adventure will run from 12:15 – 4:15 pm on Saturday and Sunday.  Please review the following Art Adventure descriptions and select one Adventure per weekend.  The $50 fee per weekend entitles students to eight hours of art-centered instruction.

Participant work will be displayed during the final exhibition on August 1st.  The adventures provide another way for students to build credentials for college applications and their portfolios.

Students who do not wish to participate in the Art Adventures must go home for the weekend.  Students who are going home may be picked up at Rhodes Hall (710 W. Franklin Street) at 4:30 pm on Friday and may return to campus at 7 pm on Sunday night. When picking up students please have your ID available for the Senior Counselors to check. Also, those going to Northern Virginia, DC, Maryland or Delaware may want to ride the train or a bus home. We are happy to call a cab for students going to the station to go home. There are vans available that can take students going to the same station together. Make your reservations for approximately 5 pm or later on Friday.

Please note that space in each Adventure is limited to 20 or fewer participants.  Adventure(s) will be filled on a first come first served basis. To assure a spot in your preferred Adventures return page 4 ASAP. Deadline: May 15th


WEEKEND #1: JULY 18th and 19th

Experimental Printmaking Sampler: Relief, Dry-Point and Monotype
Instructor:  Brooke Inman, MFA

Students will expand their visual vocabulary through printmaking. They will learn visual and technical approaches to two-dimensional imaging by creating multiples. What connects printmaking’s various techniques is the initial production of a matrix from which the image is printed under great pressure to paper & may be reproduced multiple times.

Students will create Experimental Hand-cut Dry Point Plates, a process that is easy, fast, and perfect for learning basic intaglio printing techniques. The image to be printed is scratched into the surface of a metal plate, and then inked up to be printed under great pressure using an intaglio press. All participants are encouraged to put on an apron & try numerous printmaking techniques.

Participants will see relief printmaking and learn about the artists who specialize in the medium. There will also be a carving and printing demonstrations.

Materials to bring:
– Imagery or photographs from which to draw
– Printing paper: 4 sheets of Arches Lightweight or Rives Lightweight (19 x 26″ each)
– Extra fine point sharpie – black or blue
– Sketchbook (one in use is fine)

Expressive Figure Painting
Instructor: Charlotte Rodenberg, MFA & MA

The goal of this workshop is learn about color theory, proportion, gesture, texture & expressionist mark making. Students will gain knowledge of European expressionism, impressionism, and 21st century/contemporary figurative paintings through lecture and videos. Students will draw a series of expressive poses on paper. Next, students will create with acrylic paint, various sized brushes & palette knives on stretched canvas in the style of Velasquez, Van Gogh or Jenny Seville.

On day 2 students learn more about color theory and art history before creating more expressive poses on paper. Then they will continue painting by overlaying planar tones, translucent glazes, and finishing details before the final critique.

Materials to bring:
–  A basic set of 5 brushes of various sizes
–  A palette knife
–  A stretched and pre-primed 18 x 24″ canvas

Earth, Body and Vessel
Instructor:  Lauren Miller

Ceramics has often been tied to the human body in both utilitarian tradition and creating with this versatile medium. Students will create a ceramic vessel using basic hand building techniques that conceptually ties into our understanding of our own body and/or life experiences. Discussions will focus on encouraging technical understanding while linking it to our unique creative voice. Students will view videos of Grayson Perry-Turner Prize winner ceramics, and then be introduced to coil, pinching, and slab building techniques. Students will begin work with hands on help from professor and teaching assistant. The final discussion will focus on ideas for surface with built vessel near completion and a demo of surface techniques. Day two will give students time to finish their objects and/or work with the surface. A selection of underglazes will be available. Objects will be once fired. Students will begin surface ornamentation with one-on-one assistance. Class size is limited to 12 so sign up quickly.

Materials to bring: 
– Pencil
– Plastic grocery bags to cover project overnight
– Old forks and knives to be used as tools
– A small, cheap brush and anything you want to use to texture your object
– Wear clothes and shows you don’t mind getting dirty or bring an apron

Introduction to Videogame Level Design in Unreal Development Kit
Instructor: Zach Kurth-Nelson

Students will be introduced to the Unreal Engine 4 (UE4) and its prevalent use in the professional and amateur game development worlds. Students will follow instructor to build everything he builds, so that by the end of the first day they will have saved two small levels as examples to which they can refer for subsequent building. Next, the class will tackle the interface. Students we get an overview of what the buttons do bit by bit. Zach will next demonstrate tricks for navigating the 2D view of the 3D world through the 4 orthographic and perspective viewports. Students will practice navigating a pre-made level with these new techniques. Using BSP brushes students will build a few simple adjoining rooms. Next, they will add textures/materials to the walls, floors and ceiling. Rooms will be populated with static meshes, and Zach will explain how game engines simulate reality almost entirely through the manipulation of static meshes. Students will also create an outdoor level with terrain and a skybox. Day 2 will focus on creating gallery presentations for the final day’s Show Your Stuff exhibit. Previous experience with UE4 is not required. Sign up quickly! Class size is limited to 15.

Materials to bring: 
-USB hard drive at least 512 MB for storing work

Jewelry Design through Casting
Instructor: Danielle Stevens

Stevens is fascinated with relationships, value and social status. She references the intimate interactions between people and organic plant forms by using cast elements. During this two-day workshop, casting techniques and different possibilities that can be achieved using casting over Metal Fabrication will be investigated.

Day one students will carve wax pieces to make a pendant. They will learn the basics to make molds and then learn how to rivet and texture metal.

On day two students will sand cast; this method is very low tech and most commonly used in industrial production. The metal casting process dates back to 3000 B.C. Students will learn finishing techniques for metal surfaces. Class size is capped at 15 so sign up early.

Materials to bring:
–  Sketch pad
– A normal metal (bastard) file (6 or 8″)
–  Pencils and pens
–  Found objects (e.g., plastic toys, plants, gears no bigger than a quarter)

Important:  Students must wear long pants and closed toe shoes on Day 2.


WEEKEND #2: JULY 25th – 26th  

Handtools: Activating Ceramic Objects
Instructor: Lauren Miller, MFA

In this class students will be creating hand tools to be used to be used in their lives beyond this class. Discussion will with students sharing what they intend to build (please bring an industrial/mass produced version of what you are interested in creating. Bring a set of tools used in activities such as gardening, sports, health/beauty, cooking, etc. A short video will be shown featuring artists working in this concept, followed by a demo of hand building techniques such as coil, pinching, and slab building techniques. Day two, students will have time to finish constructing their clay objects and/or working with the surface. A selection of underglazes will be available. Objects will be once fired with a cone 04 food safe clear glaze. Class will end with a group discussion regarding the work created, as critique is an important element of college art courses. Class size is capped at 12 so sign up quickly.

Materials to bring:
– A small, cheap brush and anything you want to use to add texture to your object
– Pencil, fork, plastic grocery bag.
– Recycled cup/bowl
– Wear clothes and shoes (such as old sneakers) you don’t mind getting dirty or bring an apron

Cover to Cover: An Adventure in Handmade Books
Instructor: Meg Murtagh

Students will learn a variety of bookbinding techniques to create journals, sketchbooks, and photo albums.  The instructor will give an overview of bookmaking, including the tools, materials, and a variety of processes.  Day 1 the students will learn Japanese stab-binding, how to make a pamphlet book and a notepad. Day 2 they’ll learn a more intricate stitching method called “Coptic Binding”. Emphasis will be placed on personalizing and embellishing all books.

Materials to bring: 
– Scissors
– Ruler
– 1 or 2 sheets of handmade paper that are about 18″x 24″. These may be purchased from an art supply store. (Recommended store in Richmond is Plaza Art.)  Tell art supply store personnel you will be using the paper to cover books and they can help you find the appropriate paper. Make sure the paper isn’t too thin (nothing that is as thin as tissue paper) but nothing as thick as card stock.

Beginning Screenplay Writing
Instructor: Todd Raviotta, MFA

This workshop will offer students tools and formatting tips appropriate for writing a short film or video. (Screenwriting will only be touched on very lightly during the Filmmaking class so this program is recommended to supplement that course, as well as the Theatre class.)  Participants will watch movie clips about screenplay writing and the job of a screenwriter.  Rules and vocabulary, as well as samples of featured scripts and short film scripts will be reviewed.  Students will begin writing prompts and completing exercises.  Outlines of scripts will be begun by the end of session 1. On day 2 revisions of scripts will continue with work sessions in mini-groups.  Rewrites will be finalized.

Materials to bring:
-Flash drive memory stick
-Notebook, pencils and pens
-A file folder or binder to hold the handouts received

Inventive Typography Workshop
Instructor: Kelley White, MFA

Students will learn about graphic design through the creation of a picture-based font. They will explore brainstorming techniques, the basics of text and image relationships, and methods for designing symbols.  This adventure will begin with a visual overview of the history of graphic design, as well as the importance of typography and its beginnings, from cave dwelling to modern day.  Students will develop a theme for a collaborative font, set up parameters as a group as to what the marks need to incorporate to be a working set.  A picture font will be created using sharpie markers.

Drawings will be collected, digitized and reproduced to scale so they are all relative size to work as a font.  Font will be utilized the second day in designs which can be used on a variety of usable objects.   

Materials to bring: 
-Chartpak Blender Marker
-Black Sharpie
-Sketchbook and other pencils/pens for sketching

GIF: Untapped Fine Art Medium
Instructor: Nia Burks, MFA and MA

Students will gain exposure to and understanding of GIF (graphic interchange format) as a creative medium.  Students will be challenged in their conventional ideas of art making, art objects, process, and animation as it applies to the world of digital photography and filmmaking.  The essential history of GIF’s will be explored, as well as their application throughout web history.  Once a basic historical context and understanding is established, students will learn how to use Photoshop to manually create a GIF animation.

Finally, the students will use their own GIF, and apply sequential web animation to a fine art context.  Students will create a work of art that is to be displayed in GIF format.  A specific prompt will be given to the group that they will create their animation based on. Students will be given homework at the end of day 1 so they can come to class Day 2 with drawings, writings and ideas for their animation.

Materials to bring:
-A jump drive to save your work.  Don’t spend more than $10 for one