Summer 2005

ARTS 640
Painting the Narrative


06/27/2005 - 08/10/2005
Tuesday & Thursday 06:00 PM - 09:00 PM

Davison Art Center 300

In this painting course, we will create narrative paintings in oil, acrylic, or other media according to students' abilities. We will create story-based representational paintings to construct images in (or in response to) the genres of epic or history painting, sequential art (the comic strip, before/after, continuous narrative, diptych, triptych, etc.), or art relating to or illustrating a written text.

We will discuss ways of interpreting content as we view contemporary and historic examples of narrative painting, from the caves of Lascaux to the contemporary painting of Mark Tansey and Dana Schutz. We will also explore and gather the visual and content-based resources needed to construct a narrative painting. Students will use these discoveries to form strategies in constructing their own paintings. We will discuss slides of historic and contemporary narrative painters, analyzing them in terms of cultural or historic meaning, asking how effectively the formal elements reveal the meaning, and looking at how the scale, composition, paint application, color, and contrast help or hinder the persuasiveness of the image.

Students are required to gather reference material for their painting(s). This may include written sources, Web images, reproductions, photos, comics, cartoons, film stills, objects, books, and more. Using varied photographic, natural, and written sources for reference in a painting is a difficult task. The student will be challenged to negotiate a credible visual space for these diverse references to inhabit. The difficulty of narrative painting is in trying to provide a convincing relationship between form and content. The students should use the critique forum and one-on-one time with the instructor as an aid to improving their communication skills visually and verbally.

We will read Walter Benjamin's Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, and selections from Norman Bryson's Looking at the Overlooked and Gerhardt Richter's The Daily Practice of Painting.

Students will create paintings in response to a series of assignments, will create one to two large-scale narrative paintings or a series of smaller interrelated narrative pieces, and will give a brief presentation (15 minutes) on a contemporary or historical narrative painter. Students will present their work to the class and will comment on other students' work in a class critique forum. After each assignment, there will be an open critique where we discuss the conceptual issues evoked and formal success of each student's painting.

Students should have previous coursework or experience in drawing or painting. Students will supply their own materials; a list of required materials will be posted to the GLSP Web site.

Additional course fee: $15. Enrollment is limited to 12.

Nathan Lewis (B.F.A. Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts; M.F.A. School of The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Tufts University) teaches at Paier College of Art. His work has been exhibited in more than 35 solo and group exhibitions, most recently, The Paintings of Nathan Lewis at the Stonington Vineyards Gallery (Stonington, CT).


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Studio

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 12

Texts to purchase for this course:

A course packet will be available by the instructor during the first class meeting.

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Copyright Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, 06459