Visual Arts
Program Description

All visual arts programs in Baltimore County are based on four standards, aligned with and adapted from the Maryland State Standards for Visual Arts. The Baltimore County standards for art education are:
Standard 1: The student will demonstrate the ability to perceive, interpret, and respond to ideas, experiences, and the environment through visual art.
Standard 2: The student will demonstrate an understanding of visual art as a basic aspect of history and human experience.
Standard 3: The student will demonstrate the ability to organize knowledge and ideas for expression in the production of art.
Standard 4: The student will demonstrate the ability to identify, analyze, and apply criteria for making visual aesthetic judgments.

There are twelve emphasis areas in all programs. These are introduced to students at levels appropriate to their developmental stage and become increasingly complex as students enter the upper grades:

  1. working from observation
  2. working from memory, imagination, and observation
  3. understanding design, style, and meaning of art
  4. understanding that art expresses ideas and feelings
  5. understanding the purposes of art, how art reflects society, and the factors that influence art
  6. understanding style and context
  7. making interdisciplinary connections
  8. working with media
  9. problem solving through the artistic process
  10. applying processes for idea development
  11. identifying and generating criteria
  12. valuing one’s own and the work of others.

Comprehensive Visual Arts Program (PreKindergarten-grade 12)
The Comprehensive Visual Arts Program is the general program taught in all Baltimore County schools. It provides a sequential program of art education, PreKindergarten through grade 12, that builds a foundation for developing the knowledge, skills, and processes for visual literacy and creative expression. Students study the art and cultures of different times and places, learn processes of visual problem solving and critiquing artwork, work with traditional and non-traditional art media, and express ideas in the production of their own art.

The sequence of study in the PreK-grade 12 Comprehensive Visual Arts Program includes:
Elementary Art, PreK-grade 5
Middle School Art. grades 6-8
High School Course sequence:

  • Fundamentals of Art (fine arts graduation requirement), Fundamentals of Art GT
  • Intermediate Art, Intermediate Art GT
  • Studio, Studio GT/AP
  • Studio Advanced, Studio Advanced GT/AP
    (This is the comprehensive visual arts sequence – students may also select an elective program sequence concurrent to the visual arts sequence if their schedule allows. For descriptions of art elective sequences, see high school elective programs below

Gifted and Talented Art Program

The Gifted and Talented art program is a secondary program that is available in all secondary comprehensive and magnet schools for students who exhibit a strong interest and high level of achievement in art. Eligibility for the program is determined by a nomination process (by parent, elementary and secondary art teachers, self-nomination by the student) and submission of a portfolio of required art works.

Students in the GT art program are provided differentiated instruction in general art and magnet art classes. Students are required to maintain sketchbooks and a portfolio of work. Art experiences are designed to provide greater depth and rigor, develop and refine observational drawing skills, broaden experiences and develop mastery with a variety of media, solve challenging problems of visual composition, and expand creative thinking. As students move into high school, emphasis is placed on practicing productive artistic behaviors requiring students to become increasingly articulate in talking about their work and independent in pursuing and expressing visual ideas with depth and mastery. Portfolio expectations are based on three criteria adopted from the Advanced Placement Studio Art program: quality (originality of ideas and concepts presented, visual impact, use of media), concentration (ability to focus on an idea or concept and explore several ways to present the idea or concept), and breadth (willingness to explore new media).

At the upper levels of high school courses, gifted and talented program expectations merge with the Advanced Placement program criteria of quality, concentration, and breadth. Students wishing to pursue advanced placement credit at a selected college have the option of submitting their portfolio to the College Board for review and scoring.

The intensity and rigor required to maintain sketchbooks and a portfolio has limitations at the elementary level; therefore, there is no formal elementary GT art program. High achieving elementary art students are provided differentiated experiences in their general art classes and may be provided additional art experiences in after school workshops or studio pull-out classes where scheduled. Students who wish to do so are encouraged to keep sketchbooks and samples of their best works.

During 5th grade, art teachers begin nomination procedures of students who have demonstrated consistent high achievement and accelerated skill development. Students complete a diagnostic drawing which is forwarded to the receiving middle school along with teacher nominations. These forms are used to inform receiving art teachers to include the incoming students in the middle school GT nomination and portfolio preparation process in the fall of the next year.

5th grade and Middle School GT Program Application

High School GT Program Application

Magnet Art Programs
Magnet programs in visual arts are offered in five middle schools and two high schools. The magnet art programs are intended for students who wish to pursue the visual arts in greater depth through a more sustained schedule of study. Based on the same standards as the comprehensive fine arts program, magnet programs provide students opportunities to explore in greater depth traditional media in the areas of drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, printmaking, and new media of photography-digital imaging, digital graphics, and multimedia. Students are guided in developing a portfolio of work, keeping sketchbooks, practicing the skills of articulating their art processes, and evaluating their progress. At the high school level, magnet art students continue to expand their portfolios as they create more sophisticated visual images and develop greater mastery and advanced proficiencies in all media.

Middle schools offering visual arts magnet programs:

  • Sudbrook Magnet Middle
  • Deer Park Magnet Middle
  • Loch Raven Academy
  • Parkville Magnet Middle and School of Technology

High schools offering visual arts magnet programs

  • Carver Center for Arts and Technology
  • Milford Mill Academy
  • Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts

Magnet Office

High School Elective Programs and Elective Courses
Upon completion of Fundamentals of Art, the prerequisite course for all upper level comprehensive art courses, or Foundations of Art, the prerequisite course for all upper level magnet courses, students may choose to continue in the comprehensive visual arts or magnet program sequence. For students who wish to concentrate on specific media and who have time in their schedule to add other art courses, the following elective art programs are available.

- Photography: This four course program begins with experiences in traditional photography in the entry level courses. Students learn the basic processes and techniques of photography which include elements of the 35mm and digital camera, design and composition, and film processing. At the upper levels, students expand and refine skills with both analog and digital photography while exploring the purposes of photography, pursuing self-generated visual design problems, and developing a portfolio of work.

- Digital Arts: This three course program is designed for the student who is interested in pursuing a career in graphic design, multimedia design and visual communication. It is intended to develop skills that will enable students to enter the workforce upon graduation from high school and/or enter a two-year or four year institution of higher learning. Students work with both traditional and digital media, gradually working toward the development of both a print and electronic portfolio at the upper levels. Students become skilled in using a variety of electronic equipment including computers and graphic software applications.

- Design in Clay: This four course elective is open to all students in comprehensive schools. Its focus is on three-dimensional design with clay and mixed-media. Students study past and contemporary functional and non-functional 3D forms. Knowledge gained from the study of these forms is used in the creation of their personal 3D artworks.

Enrichment Programs

Summer Art Enrichment Program: The Baltimore County Summer Art Enrichment Program provides opportunities for students in grades 3-12 to build their personal art skills and add to their art portfolios during the summer. This two-week, highly intensive program offers a choice of courses to meet the varied needs and interests of the student. Whether a student is seeking to improve his or her art skills or is preparing a portfolio for application to the G/T or magnet art programs, entrance to a college program or preparation for an Advanced Placement portfolio, his or her needs can be met.

Students work in a sustained studio environment for approximately 5 hours. Studio experiences vary from day to day but generally include group interaction, individual exploration and experimentation with selected media, instruction in the use of art elements/principles, and introduction to art history, criticism and aesthetics. Ongoing critiques or discussions of works in progress are conducted regularly to give students opportunities to apply the language of art in making critical judgments.

Students in all programs participate in at least one field trip during the two week session. During Thursday evening of the second week, an Open House/Exhibit Reception is held to give students, parents, and teachers an opportunity to share in the experience and see the art products created over the two week period.

Limited transportation is available for this program based on enrollment patterns. This is a tuition-based program that covers all art materials, transportation, and consultant fees.

Scholarship Opportunities
(Information on scholarship opportunities)

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