Home-Study and Studio Art Instruction for Children and Adults-Teacher Training

Curriculum Summary

The New Masters™ curriculum is a full fine arts curriculum organized into levels of progressively more advanced instruction in all the major two-dimensional art media and categories. 

The New Masters™ Foundation Course: Levels 1 - 4

The New Masters™ Foundation Course is the entry-level program for all students. It covers the first four levels of a 10 level curriculum. In this course, you will learn the most important skills you will ever learn as an artist: the basic hand postures, drawing movements, drawing strategies, and perceptual/motor skills that form the basis of the drawing process.

 If you successfully complete this course — which you will be able to do — you will eventually be able to master anything in the curriculum. To put the importance of the Foundation Course skills in their proper perspective: of the approximately 195 technical skill groups covered in the entire New Masters™ curriculum, approximately 110 of them are Foundation Course skills. In addition, all the remaining skills in the curriculum are dependent upon Foundation Course skill proficiency. This is why all students, even those with college degrees in studio arts, are required to enter the program on this level. Experienced students can expect to move more quickly through the Foundation Course material than beginning students, if they have not developed too many bad habits during their uninstructed years. If you have done a lot of drawing but are not satisfied with your performance, this course will provide you with a diagnostic analysis of your drawing problems and prescriptions for correcting them.

The emphasis of the Foundation Course is on line drawing. In this course and the Level 5 course, all drawings are done with the aid of a grid, a rectangle divided by evenly spaced lines. The purpose of the grid is to postpone the problem of proportion in order to concentrate on the problems of location and shape. You will learn how to position lines correctly in the grid, how to shape them, and how to do so quickly and accurately. You will also be learning, both in this course and Level 5, the component skills for drawing without a grid – which will prepare you for your first free-hand drawing on Level 6. One of the most important of those skills is sketching: the process of quickly approximating the location of the lines and shapes that comprise a picture.

A step-by-step summary of the Foundation Course

All New Masters™ courses are divided into steps, small groupings of carefully selected worksheets and drawing projects. Step one is composed of a series of preparatory worksheets covering the pencil hold, the two basic drawing strokes, the drawing motions (the movements of the hand), the drawing of lines, the positioning of lines, the straight line sketching process, and the line correction and erasure and beauty-of-the-line processes. On the Step 2 worksheets, you will learn how to draw simple regular curves. On the Step 2 projects, you will learn how to draw pictures composed of straight lines. On the Step 3 worksheets, you will learn how to draw compound regular curves, on the Step 3 projects how to draw pictures composed of simple regular curves. On the Step 4 worksheets, you will learn how to sketch and draw simple irregular lines, and on the projects how to draw pictures composed of compound regular lines. On the Step 5 worksheets, you will learn how to sketch circles and ovals, how to draw irregular shapes and compound irregular lines, and on the Step 5 projects how to sketch whole pictures in a matter of minutes and draw pictures composed of simple irregular lines. On the Step 6 worksheets, you will learn about negative shapes and how to sketch them, how to execute the end-to-end drawing method to attain line precision, how to ink lines of uniform thickness, and how to shade uniform values with a pencil. On the Step 6 projects you will learn how to take a sketch through two stages and how to draw pictures that contain irregular shapes and irregular lines. On the Step 7 worksheets, you will practice sketching actual images and learn how to change the direction of your shading stroke without changing the position of your hand on the page. On the Step 7 projects you will draw pictures using an advanced technique – working in stages from rough sketch to refined line. You will also learn how to draw pictures composed of small shapes and details and how to ink in the lines of a picture. On the Step 8 worksheets, you will learn how to ink lines that vary in their thickness from place to place and practice the skill of free-hand line location. On the Step 8 projects you will learn how to draw pictures composed of lines with subtle changes in their contours and pictures that contain lines of high complexity.


The New Masters™ Levels 5 - 6

Level 5

On Level 5, you will continue your training in grid drawing, working your way from a difficulty level of 201 to 390. You will also begin preparatory work for the free-hand drawing technique to be introduced on Level 6. Level 5 is your introduction to various pen-and-ink techniques including: silhouette drawing — where inking is done with a pen and a brush; variable thickness line inking; formal hatching; and drawing lines and shadows. In addition, you will paint a picture with tempera paints and learn the principles of color harmonies and contrasts in the process. You will learn to draw objects in 1-point perspective, will master the first foundation skill of watercolor painting (achieving uniform color tones) which you will apply to selected drawing projects. You will also begin a series of pencil shading projects involving uniform and graded (smoothly blended from dark to light) values and take the first few steps in an extensive design program that will be carried through the remaining levels in the curriculum. On this and all later levels, you will have the choice of applying any mastered technique to any later project, adding colors to your line drawings with color pencils and watercolors, for example, or combining color media with pen and ink shading methods, or combining two or more pictures into a single scene or design, etc.

Level 6

The primary focus on Level 6 is free-hand line drawing in which the reference is no longer external: a grid, but is a part of the picture itself. A part of your picture will be used as a reference for the rest of the parts. It is against this reference that you will position the other parts and determine their sizes. The two main methods for accuracy in freehand drawing are alignment and measurement. You will complete the grid line drawing series and the pen and ink line shaping and silhouette series and continue your development in pen-and-ink formal hatching and drawing shadows and textures. You will also begin your training in the techniques of cross-hatching (applied to line drawings to achieve the effects of roundness and light and shadow) and stippling — an ink-shading method using small dots. The pencil shading series on this level will involve the technique of modeling which is used to “round off” forms (blending from dark to light to create the illusion of roundness). You will also master the second foundation skill of watercolor painting: achieving graded color tones, and will apply that skill by modeling line drawings in color. Your Design projects on this level will employ the elements of transparency, overlapping, perspective, color, and value and multiple subject compositions, where several subjects are arranged together in a single picture.

The New Masters™ Levels 7 - 8

Level 7

By the time this level is completed, you will be doing free-hand line drawing as skillfully and easily as you had been doing grid drawing on Level 6. The Level 7 pen and ink projects include higher level ink techniques with a brush and more advanced methods of formal hatching with a pen. You will also begin a series of informal hatching ink projects (drawings that involve very rapid pen strokes), and learn to use an “artist’s pen”, a drawing tool with interchangeable points that are dipped into a bottle of ink. You will be introduced to the medium of “scratch board” where drawings are done by scratching away a black coating to expose the white of the paper underneath. You will do a charcoal shading project in which regular line drawings are modeled or rounded-off to look 3-dimensional and will complete the free-hand line drawing series from pictures. You will undertake the challenge of free-hand line drawing from life by drawing pictures of simple cubical forms like blocks, boxes, books, etc., and cylindrical forms like cups and bottles. In addition, you will paint water color pictures from a color original, a process that involves precise color matching and the use of transparent washes. You will also take perspective drawing a step further with the original design of a building interior. Your final black & white pencil shading project will be the duplication of a high-resolution photograph in pencil — one of the major milestones in the program and a preliminary requirement for oil painting.

Level 8

On Level 8 you will do portraits and landscapes from photographic originals in pencil, pen and ink and charcoal duplicating, them as precisely as the media allow. You will learn the foundational skills of oil painting with a limited palette of black-and-white. You will start with a series of exercises in modeling using the techniques of wet-into-wet, glazing, and dry brush. You will then duplicate a high resolution photograph in black and white oil paint. The ink projects on this level include quick sketches from photographs and from life and the use of more intricate techniques with the brush. You will spend more time on design concepts on this level where you will be responsible for the reading and understanding of a short text summarizing the basic principles of design and will employ those principles in at least one project employing both copied and inventive elements. (The purpose of this project is to gain experience in the type of processes used in the graphic design field). You will also begin a series of full-value still-life drawings in charcoal, conte pencil and pen and ink.

The New Masters™ Levels 9 - 10

Level 9

On this level you will draw and paint from photographic subjects and from life in a variety of media including charcoal and pastel drawing pencils on both white and toned paper. The latter will include the application of white tones on gray paper with the tone of the paper serving as the mid-values of the picture. You will have the option of working with pastels, oil pastels, and color pencils. You will also undertake more advanced water color pictures and more challenging life drawings, including figure drawing from life-like miniature models and portraits and landscapes. Life drawing projects will also include the shading, in both black-and-white and color media, of still-lifes composed of objects of various shapes and textures including drapery, objects with transparent and reflecting surfaces, and plaster heads and figures. Your paintings will consist of full-color oil paintings from color photographs and masters’ reproductions. Level 9 also takes you to the highest levels of pen and ink interpretation where photographs are “translated” into the language of formal and informal pen and ink techniques. You will also improve your drawing speed and accuracy by doing a variety of 10 minute quick-sketches from photographs in pencil. During the second part of this level you will use informal pen and ink hatching techniques with a brush and will be introduced to black and white sketching with oil paints.

Level 10

On Level 10, you will take on a challenging and very important project using a process called “cross-contour analysis” interpreting a photograph in ink with a series of carefully executed, closely positioned lines in a manner similar to topographic map making. Your last drawing assignment in this curriculum will be a charcoal self-portrait fully rendered in light and shadow. The main emphasis on this level is drawing and painting from life doing both long studies and quick studies in a variety of media, but with an emphasis on the mastery of full-palette oil painting from life, one of the most exciting (and difficult) challenges in the visual arts field. In the process, you will be instructed in the development of palette strategies similar to those used by the masters of the past. These strategies will enable you to maintain maximum control of your colors and values during all stages of the painting process. You will also continue your quick sketching practice, this time from life, and will do so in a variety of media – including full-value oil painting.
Level 10 is not the end of your training as an artist, it is the beginning. It is what you will be doing for the rest of your life: practice and experimentation. If you wish to be a master, you will continue to be a student.