Welcome to Visual Arts at DSA

Visual Arts Audition 2021 Admissions


Jim Cliff

Marty Loftus


Required for all Visual Arts Majors in class everyday

Students must replace supplies as they are used up or lost.  Write your name on the outside of your tool box, portfolio and all tools with a permanent marker.
 Supplies can be obtained at Meiningers, Guireys,  Michaels Arts & Crafts, Hobby Lobby,  Office Depot and Wal-Mart/Target.

Students will share a studio locker with several others to house their tool box and portfolio.  Lockers are 39 x 30 x 9”.  All tool boxes and portfolios must fit easily into the locker space.

  • Plastic or metal tool or tackle box with handle, at least 14” long but no deeper than 9”  (please do not bring a tool box that will not fit in the locker)
  • Sketchbook with at least 70 pages (minimum size 8 x 10, maximum 9 x 12) brought to class EVERY day
4 Ebony pencils 
(4 2H or HB pencils)
2 regular white plastic erasers
  • 2 small kneaded erasers
  • 4 black Sharpies (or other permanent pens), 2 wide and 2 fine tip
  • 1 flat paintbrush #8 or 5/8”, nylon or natural bristle
  • 1 #6 round paintbrush, synthetic or natural bristle with fine point
2 glue sticks
1 pair large scissors
1 set of color pencils (minimum 8 pencils)
 Prismacolor or comparable artist quality preferred but not required
1 set of color markers (minimum 8 colors), any brand or thickness
  • 1 roll of masking tape (3/4” wide)
  • 1 roll of scotch tape, any width
  • 1 roll of painters tape, any width
1 compass
  • 12” ruler, (metal with cork bottom lasts longer)
  • other size brushes and art supplies as desired


Portfolio no smaller than 24 x 30

Portfolios can be easily made from corrugated cardboard hinged with heavy packing or duct tape.  Put a sheet of cardboard inside large envelopes or soft-sided nylon bags to protect from bending.  The portfolio must be left in the VA studio with finished work until the end of the school year. (Students may want to make two portfolios, one to use as a carrying case for work in progress and one to leave at school for storage of completed projects.)





Denver School of the Arts Visual Arts Summer Assignments

Summer Assignment Options
Choose from any of these prompts for Summer Assignments
Be inspired by the prompt and see where you can take it
Some of these have been used in the prompt bank before so select new or find a new solution
These are due as finished pieces on the first week of school
Each finished piece must include a 4 sentence artist statement explaining how it fits the prompt
Remember these are not sketchbook assignments but finished pieces of a high quality
You cannot do all of these in August and still create quality artwork
Please plan ahead and start working

Middle School Students– 6 finished pieces of high quality
Select prompts from the Summer Assignment list. Two must be based on observational drawing.

Freshman & Sophomores– 6 finished pieces of high quality
Select prompts from Summer Assignment list.

Juniors & Seniors– 5 finished pieces of high quality
Each piece represents or is part of a possible concentration concept. See details below…

Summer Assignment Bank
Collage or sculpture of things found around your house

Work based on Observation…

Interpreting Symbolism…

Visual Culture- Processing the images that surround you (advertising, social media, etc.)

Alternative Materials…

Identity…Art Based on Your Reflection of Self

Editorial Cartoon

Bad Habit

Social or Political Statement

Create an original way to capture landscapes

Create a watercolor design and work with pen and ink on top

Working in layers…build up layers of paper or paint of cardboard etc to create art

Human presence without the human form

Create a puppet that can move

Design a piece of furniture using unique materials in 2D or 3D

Draw a mess in detail

Draw a close up view of an object as if viewed through a magnifying glass.

Create a sewn piece (2D or 3D)

Research a time period and artistic styles and events from that time period to create a piece of art

Still Life Storytelling- Setup and draw a still life using objects that tell a story or have meanings.

Paper Cuts- Study the work of Henri Matisse and create a collage of cut paper pieces.

Star Art- Incorporate astrology or the history behind constellations into a piece of art

Word Art- Pick a word and visually represent the meaning

Food Art!

Nature- go outside and be inspired by what you see

Inspired by Architecture.                                                                                                     

Design a food truck- vehicle, menu and branding 


Visual Arts Junior AP Summer Assignment

The AP 2-D Art and Design course framework presents an inquiry-based approach to learning about and making art and design. Students are expected to conduct an in-depth, sustained investigation of materials, processes, and ideas. The framework focuses on concepts and skills emphasized within college art and design foundations courses with the same intent: to help students become inquisitive, thoughtful artists and designers able to articulate information about their work. AP Art and Design students develop and apply skills of inquiry and investigation, practice, experimentation, revision, communication, and reflection.

Develop five potential Sustained Investigation themes for AP Portfolio.
Create five finished pieces of high quality based on these possible concentrated ideas.
Each piece represents or is part of a possible concentration concept.
Three of these finished pieces must be from your strongest concept for the Sustained Investigation for the AP Portfolio. The other two pieces can be from the other ideas or experiments.

Another option you may be interested in is to create all five pieces from the best concentration concept if it’s really great and is working as a series. For this option we need to have a conversation in regards to your concept before you commit to this series.

Remember these are not sketchbook assignments.
These are finished pieces of a high quality.
Set a schedule for yourself.
One finished piece every two weeks during the summer.
These will be part of the 15 pieces of your Sustained Investigation that you will produce over the course of the school year.
You cannot do all of these in August and still create quality artwork that will be included in the AP Portfolio. Please plan ahead and start working.
Please contact me with questions and feedback on your progress.


Fill the Gap and become a Perennial Patron!

DSA is a unique school with unique needs! The actual cost of educating a DSA student with an extraordinary arts and academic education is beyond the funding that is provided by the district. In order to fully fund DSA’s nationally competitive arts and academics, we are faced with a gap. This year the gap is $1,500 per student.

With all DSA parents coming together to Fill the Gap with a monthly, unrestricted contribution, we will be able to provide quality educational programs in the arts and academics, capital improvements for DSA’s unique needs, increased security for DSA’s extended hours, and more. A school-wide culture of philanthropy is essential to the success of our students and fulfilling our mission…and together we will be stronger!

Your monthly support of the Fill the Gap Campaign at a level that fits your budget will help us reach our goal of 100% participation and is 100% tax deductible. Join the hundreds of DSA parents who are already supporting DSA and become a Perennial Patron! Please click on or copy the link below to make a donation:


 Visual Arts Department Philosophy our primary goal is to create lifelong advocates for the arts with a sophisticated sense of visual literacy.   DSA students develop skills to create, decipher, comprehend, and evaluate meaning in our contemporary world.  Our department nurtures individual vision, personal voice, and creative spirit while  promoting a strong work ethic.  We believe that success requires hard work, regular practice, and a commitment to evolve and grow.   
Our Mission is to provide students with a strong interest or ability in visual arts the opportunity for in-depth study of all aspects of art.
Our 7-year curriculum spirals out from solid foundation classes at the middle school level to advanced techniques and individualized projects in high school.  Strong technical skill, conceptual thinking, critical analysis, aesthetic awareness, and historical background play integrated roles in our program. Emphasis is placed on reading, writing, and talking about art as well as the creation of unique works in a variety of media.  Although our graduates choose many fields for advanced study, VA seniors exit with an accomplished  art portfolio and appreciation of the visual arts.

Help us raise money at no cost to you by shopping at King Soopers! Using a VA King Soopers Gift Card card to buy your groceries or gas at any King Soopers (or City Market) provides 5% of your purchase ($400 – $700 per month average!) to the VA Department for free!  Simply reload the card with your credit or debit card (or cash or check) whenever it runs out.   You can still get miles on your credit cards!  Contact  an instructor to obtain a card and start helping the VA Department today!  We have used these funds to purchase butcher block worktables, new sinks, computer software and our new art gallery.