St. John's Prep

Skip to main content
Mobile Menu


The Fine Art Department at St. John’s Preparatory High School has long fostered the creative talents and artistic expressions of our students.  We offer a wide range of classes including Drawing, Painting, Sculpture and Portfolio Preparation.  Students begin their art exploration with Studio Art, a foundation course that covers basic approaches to drawing and painting as well as collage and art history.  From here students are open to electives in specific mediums such as Drawing and Painting.  Each elective course has advanced levels that delve into more specific and intricate projects.  Students that wish to pursue a career in the arts, or attend an art college or university, or simply work towards a cohesive body of work that expresses a unique part of their identity can take Portfolio Preparation in their Junior or Senior Year. This class focuses on the completion of an art portfolio made up of 10-15 finished works that will be submitted for review and used towards a application to art school.  Students need no prior experience with the arts.  Every year, our students experience new and exciting ways of expressing themselves through art.  We develop the skills sets needed along with the nurturing guidance needed to help our students grow in confidence and enjoyment of the arts.  


Unique Qualities of Program:


St. John’s Fine Art Department is unique in many ways.  Our teachers are working artists themselves, with terminal degrees in their field of expertise.  Our Department Coordinator, James Vanderberg, MFA Hunter College ‘08, is a working artist with a studio in The Brooklyn Army Terminal. 


Our proximity to the countless museums and galleries in New York City and the Five Boroughs allows our students access to cutting edge contemporary art, internships and opportunities at cultural institutions, and precollege courses at art colleges and universities.  Our classes take at least one field trip per semester to a major museum or gallery to expose students to new creative ideas that put their class work in a greater context with the art world and art history. 


Students are provided with high quality artist materials and supplies and they have very flexible access to the studios during class time, study periods and during after-school clubs.




Our graduates have gone on to pursue the arts at the university level and beyond.  With the help of our one-on-one portfolio prep course, graduates have gone on to study at some of the best art schools in the country, including The Fashion Institute of Technology, Pratt Institute and The School of Visual Arts.  In the 2016/2017 academic year seniors in our Portfolio Prep Class were accepted to The School of Visual Arts, The School of the Arts, Institute of Chicago, and Pratt Institute.  They have received well over $150,000 in direct scholarship from art programs at these schools.




Class Descriptions:

Studio Art:


This beginner course sets a solid groundwork for an exploration into visual expression and a fundamental understanding of art history.  Students learn basic concepts such as composition, use of color, and shading.  Lessons in observational drawing, collage and watercolor set a foundation to be continued in advanced elective courses.


Drawing I & II:


Drawing is an essential aspect of human communication.  Before we used written language, we drew pictures to express ourselves and tell stories.  In this studio elective course students will learn the fundamental principals of drawing including observational drawing, still life and self-portraiture.  Students will explore different drawing mediums such as pencil and charcoal, ink and pastel techniques. 


Painting I & II:


In the painting electives, students will explore basic techniques in painting while exploring their own expressions and ideas through the medium.  A heavy focus is placed on color theory and how we can understand and manipulate color through paint.  From here, we explore different types of painting, painting styles and movements.  Students will make at least one copy of a masterwork from art history and will strive to develop their own unique style through personal projects.




In sculpture, students will learn basic principals of artistic expression in three dimensions.  Projects will center on volume and scale, and aspects of three-dimensional design.  Working mainly in clay, stone and wire, projects will focus on traditional aspects of self-portrait, the figure and mixed media techniques.  Students explore historical and contemporary artists working in sculpture to inspire their own creations. 


Collage and Mixed Media:


Contemporary artists work in a wide range of mediums that expand on our traditional understanding of art.  Collage allows for the reconsidering and recycling of objects, images and ideas to create new and exciting forms of expression.  Using simple techniques and easily acquired tools students will work to create projects such self-portrait, landscape and abstract pictures.  We will also discuss the art history of collage from folk art to Picasso to modern artists like Joseph Cornell and Romare Bearden.



 Any questions, please