Visual Arts Curriculum

Xian Yun’s visual arts department is dedicated to promoting traditional artistry and aesthetics through teaching visual art as a medium for communicating positive and righteous values. An emphasis is placed on students’ personal conduct and moral ethics in addition to comprehensive training in both Eastern and Western artistic styles. The visual arts curriculum is supplemented by design courses to enhance students’ applied skills and creativity.

Fields of Study

  • Drawing: A visual art form in which three-dimensional effects are created upon a two-dimensional medium using instruments such as graphite pencils, charcoal, pen and ink, and chalk. Through learning the fundamental concepts of texture, tone, form, and proportion and applying these concepts to their everyday training, students develop the ability to express their observations accurately in their work.
  • Color Theory: Students will study the characteristics and compositional effects of color in fine arts, as well as the principles and techniques of mixing color. They will develop a mature understanding of color theory and traditional aesthetics as well as the professional skills to apply these concepts to their work.
  • Sketching: A fundamental of visual arts and a required component of professional curricula, sketching involves executing a simplistic freehand drawing in a short amount of time in order to capture the general likeness of still life or moving objects.
  • Chinese Painting: The signature genre of traditional China, Chinese painting is one of the oldest traditions among the world’s visual art disciplines. Aided by knowledge of East Asian aesthetics and expressive styles, students will undergo practicum in the gong-bi (precise brushstroke painting) style of Chinese art.
  • Ceramic Art: A visual art form of utmost significance to understanding the material culture of both ancient civilizations and the societies of today, the art of ceramics is closely tied to drawing, sculpting, and design in its history and practical nature. Learning to work with ceramic materials broadens students’ scope of artistic skill and expression.
  • Elements of Photoshop: A practicum in the Adobe Photoshop software in which students master image processing techniques essential to the design and media industries.
  • Studio Craft: The practice of creating decorative devices via a plethora of raw materials and semi-manufactured products. Students apply concepts of color and form, their manual skills, and their creativity to construct self-designed projects.


Four-Year and Six-Year Curriculum


Course Objectives The goal of this course is to instill mastery of composition and perceptive abilities through practicum in still life and figure drawing. Students will build upon their observational skills and appreciation of the visual arts.

Course Topics and Expectations


First Year

Principles of drawing: The theory of composition, proportion, form, linear perspective, tone, texture and spatial awareness.

Geometric Cast Drawing: Simple, complex, and composite figures

Expectations: Students will observe and analyze the three-dimensional form and lighting of objects, and express these qualities through accurate portrayal of vertices/faces/edges and tonal contrast

Second Year

Still Life: Practicum in drawing inanimate subject matter, including natural (food, flowers, etc) and man-made (vessels, utensils, etc) objects.

ExpectationsStudents will build upon their tonal, textural, and spatial awareness as well as their skills in drawing composite arrangements

Third Year 

Anatomical Cast Drawing:a. Drawing of individual facial features

b. Drawing of a full face

c. Drawing of a full head and bust

Expectations: Using a monochrome plaster cast, the cast drawing method allows developing art students the chance to analyze form and lighting of real life figures without the additional distraction of color and material texture. Students will learn to accurately render anatomical features of the human head as well as the spiritual essence of the subject being drawn.

Fourth Year 

Life Drawing:a. Male head anatomy

b. Female head anatomy

c. Head anatomy of an older person

Expectations: Students will analyze the anatomy of the human head and render precisely the subject’s shape, form, texture, and lighting. Students will explore the methods used to accurately portray a subject’s character, e.g. age, gender, and expression, taking into close consideration the connection between a subject’s mood and the facial features/facial muscles involved in physically conveying it.

Fifth Year 

Cast Drawing (Head and Face)

Expectations: Students will be able to accurately render the form, proportion, and characteristics of plaster cast figures in preparation for live figure drawings.

Sixth Year 

Figure Drawing (Head and Upper Torso)

Expectations: Students will analyze the anatomical features of the human head and torso as well as the defining characteristics of different facial expressions. They will learn to render these elements accurately in their drawings.



Course Objectives The goal of this course is to instill in students the knowledge of color theory as well as the role of color in composition. Students will learn color theory and understand the properties and effects of color on artwork while applying this knowledge to projects and life drawings.

Course Topics and Expectations


First Year

  • Basic knowledge of color theory
  • Simple still life composites in color

Expectations: Students will have a firm grasp of basic color theory and the effects of color on drawing. They will be introduced to beginning methods of life drawings in color.

Second Year

Still Life Drawing in Color

  • Still life of natural objects (vegetables, fruits, etc)
  • Still life of man-made objects (vessels, utensils, etc)
  • Still life composites

Expectations: Students will hone their observation skills and technical proficiency in drawing still life in color.

Third Year

Landscape Drawing in Color

  • Art appreciation and drawing from copy
  • Landscape drawing

Expectations: In observing and appreciating the color of nature, students will learn to perceive the relationship between light and color as well as the effects of color between adjacent objects.

Fourth Year

Still Life Composites

  • Still life with focus on composite figures and color
  • Still life with focus on multi-textural subjects
  • Still life with focus on floral arrangements

Expectations: Students will continue to build upon their observation skills of color and form and apply these skills to still life drawings in color.

Fifth Year 

Landscape and Still Life Drawings in Color

Expectations: Students will explore color contrast and coordination as well as the visual effects of different color combinations in drawing.

Sixth Year 

Life Drawings in Color

Expectations: Students will develop their skills in observing and accurately mixing color. They will gain an understanding of ambient, diffuse, and specular color and apply this knowledge within their works.



First & Second Year:  Sketching of simplistic inanimate objects

Third Year: Landscape sketching

Fourth Year:  Human anatomy sketching

Expectations: Students will begin to familiarize themselves with sketching by studying and imitating model sketches. They will eventually move on to live sketching, where a daily practicum allows students to develop strong foundational skills.


First Year:

a. Characteristics, categorization, and history of Chinese painting

b. Chinese painting appreciation

c. Foundational skills

Second Year:  Floral gong-bi painting

Third Year:  Traditional “bird-and-flower” gong-bi painting

Fourth Year:  Traditional landscape painting

Expectations: Students will understand the origins and history of Chinese painting as well as its distinguishing features and stroke techniques.


Building upon knowledge from foundational visual arts courses, students will work with clay media to construct projects that are both creative and demonstrative of basic art concepts.


Students will learn essential skills and functions of Adobe Photoshop that will allow them to edit and construct simple two-dimensional designs, and gain the skills required to create complex graphic designs.


Students utilize their knowledge of artistic composition and design to create decorative devices via raw and semi-manufactured materials.

Using both raw materials and semi-manufactured products, students will engage in personal projects to create a variety of decorative devices.