Art Appreciation and Techniques

Purpose of Course  showclose

Please note: Our faculty members have indicated that several important changes need to be made in order to improve the course and your experience as a student. In 2013, we will be re-releasing this course under the simplified title: ARTH101: Art Appreciation and Techniques. Until then, you are welcome to work through this course at your own leisure; there’s still a lot to learn here! After that date, you will still be able to access this version of the course as an “archived” course, but we will no longer be maintaining it.

Please let us know if you have any questions or suggestions at

This course is an exploration of visual art forms and their cultural connections for the student with little experience in the visual arts.  It includes a brief study of art history and in depth studies of the elements, media, and methods used in creative processes and thought.  In this course, students will learn how to develop a five-step system for understanding visual art in all forms based on:

1) Description: Explaining a work of art from an objective point of view, its physical attributes, and formal construction.

2) Analysis: A detailed look at a work of art that combines physical attributes with subjective statements based on the viewer’s reaction to the work.

3) Context: Any historical, religious, or environmental information that surrounds a particular work of art and which helps to understand the work’s meaning.

4) Meaning: A statement of the work’s content.  A message or narrative expressed by the subject matter.

5) Judgment: A critical point of view about a work of art concerning its aesthetic or cultural value.

After completing this course, students will be able to interpret works of art based on this five-step system of analysis; explain the processes involved in artistic production, themes, and the political, social, cultural, and aesthetic issues that artists examine in their work; and explain the role and effect of the visual arts in societies, history, and other world cultures.

Note that this course is an alternative to ARTH101A, and that you may choose to take either ARTH101A or ARTH101B in order to learn the basics of Art Appreciation and Techniques.  These courses cover the same material, but in a slightly different way.

Course Information  showclose

Welcome to Art Appreciation.  Below, please find general information on this course and its requirements. 

Course Designer: Leslie V. Wallace, PhD

Primary Resources: The course materials were originally arranged by faculty from the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges for theirArt Appreciation course.

Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials (readings, lectures, web media, and assignments, assessments).  Pay special attention to Unit 1, as it lays the groundwork for understanding the more advanced, exploratory material presented in the latter units.  You will also need to complete:

  • Subunit 1.1 Assignments
  • Subunit 1.8 Assignment
  • Subunit 1.9 Assignment
  • Unit 2 Assignment
  • Subunit 2.2 Assignment
  • Subunit 2.4 Assignment
  • Sub-subunit 3.1.8 Assignments
  • Unit 3 Assessment
  • Subunit 3.2.7 Assignments
  • Unit 4 Assignment
  • Subunit 4.4 Assignment
  • Subunit 4.6 Assignment      
  • Subunit 5.1 Assignment
  • Sub-subunit 5.1.4 Assignment and Assessment
  • Sub-subunit 5.2.9 Assignment and Assessment
  • Sub-subunit 5.3.3 Assignment
  • Sub-subunit 5.3.4 Assignment and Assessment
  • Subunit 6.2 Assignment
  • Subunit 6.7 Assignment
  • Subunit 6.8 Assignment and Assessment
  • Subunit 7.3 Assignment
  • Subunit 7.7 Assignments
  • Subunit 8.3 Assignments
  • Final Essay
  • Final Exam

Note that you will only receive an official grade on your Final Exam.  However, in order to adequately prepare for this exam, you will need to work through the assignments and assessments mentioned above.

In order to “pass” this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the Final Exam. Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it.  If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.

Time Commitment: This course should take you approximately 123.5 hours to complete.  Each unit includes a “time advisory” that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit.  These should help you plan your time accordingly.  It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories and to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit, and then to set goals for yourself.  For example, Unit 1 should take you 12.25 hours. 

Tips/Suggestions: It is recommended that you take notes as you work through the resources.  Reviewing these notes will be a good way to prepare for the Final Exam.

This course has been developed through a partnership with the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. Unless otherwise noted, all materials are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. The Saylor Foundation has modified some materials created by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges in order to best serve our users.

Learning Outcomes  showclose

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
  • Interpret examples of visual art using a five-step critical process that includes description, analysis, context, meaning, and judgment.
  • Identify and describe the elements and principles of art.
  • Use analytical skills to connect formal attributes of art with their meaning and expression.
  • Explain the role and effect of the visual arts in societies, history, and other world cultures.
  • Articulate the political, social, cultural, and aesthetic themes and issues that artists examine in their work.
  • Identify the processes and materials involved in art and architectural production.
  • Utilize information to locate, evaluate, and communicate information about visual art in its various forms. 

Course Requirements  showclose

In order to take this course you must:

√    Have access to a computer.
√    Have continuous broadband Internet access.
√    Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins (e.g. Adobe Reader or Flash) and software.
√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.
√    Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.).
√    Be competent in the English language.

√    Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

Unit Outline show close