Core Curriculum Description
Course Title: INTRODUCTION TO DECORATIVE ARTS (IDA)/ SVT
Prerequisite Courses: (PR1) AWSS Pre-Orientation and (PR2) AWSS Situational Assessment
Duration: Ten (10) consecutive weeks (not including holidays/breaks)
Days: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays
Time: 9:30am – 5:00pm
Overview: During this 10-week skills-based course, students will learn fundamental components of color, color theory, surface preparation, faux finishes, transfer techniques, plater and troweling finishes, gilding, stamps, stencils, printing, and decorative painting. The IDA course is intentionally designed to enable students to see, understand, and analyze the foundational aspects of visual art and the creative process more deeply. Understanding the above elements and principles will help students begin to develop pre-technical skills and concepts.
Although not required, it is helpful to be familiar and comfortable with basic math and the architectural scale ruler (a specialized ruler designed to facilitate the drafting and measuring of architectural drawings, such as floor plans and orthographic projections). Because the scale of drawings is often smaller than actual size, an architect’s scale features multiple units of length and proportional length increments.
Supplies: The AWSS supplies each IDA trainee with all necessary tools, equipment, and materials. An onsite design library offers a curated selection of books about the history and application of the decorative arts. Exclusive field trips to museums, show houses, and historic houses provide context for skills learned in the classroom.
Portfolio & Portfolio Review: A key component of the IDP course is the portfolio that each student creates. The portfolio is made up of sample boards, papers, and small finished objects showing the student’s best work. The portfolio is used to evaluate each student’s grasp of the various techniques covered during all ten (10) weeks. A comprehensive portfolio, showing samples of the student’s previous work, is one of the most important tools that a working artist can utilize to visually demonstrate the mastery of the techniques involved in decorative painting and individual sensibility.
Attendance: In-person attendance is a critical aspect of successfully progressing through and completing this course. Students who acquire more than three (3) absences [or 19.5 hours] within the 10-week period [195 hours total] will not be allowed to continue in the course.
Trainees must attend a minimum of 175 class hours and produce a full portfolio of samples to obtain a certificate of completion. Weekly written evaluations grade each trainee’s development of practical skills and classroom conduct. A final portfolio review determines which trainees are invited to progress to the advanced course.
Evaluation: Students will receive a formal written evaluation after the first five (5) weeks (mid-point in the course) and final evaluation (end of the course). In addition to these two formal evaluations, the instructor will complete a weekly, written progress report for each student to be provided to the School’s Director for review. All documents will be kept in the student’s file.
Course Title: ADVANCED DECORATIVE ARTS (ADA)/ SVT
Prerequisite Courses: Introduction to Decorative Painting/ SVC; Enrollment in ADA by invitation only.
Duration: Twenty-Six (26) consecutive weeks (not including holidays/breaks)
Days: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays
Time: 9:30am – 5:00pm
Curriculum: Advanced Decorative Arts [ADA] / SVT Curriculum
Overview: During this 26-week course students spend 4 hours per week receiving classroom lectures and demonstration of each outlined topic, and 17 hours per week in practical on-the-job training. Students will have ongoing supervision and assessment by the course Instructor and by the Project Manager of the practice area that s/he/they are working in. The student will focus on developing technical mastery in gilding, glazing, Venetian plaster, faux finishes, casting and more. Coursework emphasizes The Alpha Studios’ three primary areas of production: wall treatments/decorative finishes, hand-painted wallpaper, and three-dimensional projects.
Students master a comprehensive set of decorative techniques over the six month course and typically explore a different skill each week. Practical skills such as measuring, drawing to scale, calculating square and linear footage, and maintaining professional job etiquette are taught alongside decorative techniques that revisit and build upon elements from IDA. Topics include advanced drawing methods, complicated faux finishes, foam carving, and assembly, casting and mold making, wall treatments, Venetian plaster, restoration techniques, hand-printed wallpaper design and production, flat design, and color matching. In addition to a full portfolio of technical samples, students execute several in-depth individual projects, including the design and production of a unique hand-printed wallpaper, gilding an object, and creating a mold from which a bookend, paperweight, or other small object is cast in plaster. Instructors evaluate students on a weekly basis and deliver formal written evaluations that assess mastery of specific techniques, coursework, and job readiness skills midway through the program and upon its completion.
Field trips to cultural institutions such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, The Frick Collection, Gracie Mansion, and The New Whitney, as well as tours through designer installations at The Kips Bay Showhouse, Holiday House, or The Showtime Showhouse, further enable ADA students to see the decorative arts in context and gain an understanding of what they can achieve in their career specialty.
Attendance: In-person attendance is a critical aspect of successfully progressing through and completing this course. Students who acquire more than three (6) absences within the 26-week period will not be allowed to continue in the course. Students must put in a minimum of 455 hours of studio time and finish a full portfolio of samples to receive a certificate of completion.
Evaluation: ADA is intentionally designed with an intensive pre-vocational focus and students are evaluated on their mastery of specific commercial techniques and completion of coursework. Furthermore, students are evaluated on “job readiness” skills, including but not limited to:
- Time Management
- Critical Thinking/Problem Solving
- Oral and Written Communications
- Lifelong Learning/Self Direction
- Professionalism/Work Ethic/Workplace Demeanor
- Ethics/Social Responsibility
This mid-point written evaluation will be conducted by the Instructor and will focus on concrete suggestions and recommendations to help the student improve his/her prospects of employment in the field.
Students will receive a formal written evaluation after the first 13-weeks (mid-point in the course) and final evaluation (during their 26th week) assessing their mastery of all of the techniques covered during the course, their general job performance, and recommendations regarding employment. In addition to these two formal evaluations, the instructor will complete a written weekly progress report for each student to be provided to the School’s Director for review. All documents will be kept in the student’s file.
Learning Outcomes: Learning Outcomes refer to observable and measurable gains in (1) knowledge, (2) skills, (3) attitudes, (4) consistency, and (5) accountability. Upon completing the ADA course, Alpha’s goals for graduates include an increased probability of employment, greater efficiency in the employment search, improved quality of employment options, improved quality of life, improved sense of self, self-esteem, and purpose.
Special Projects: Students who demonstrate responsibility in personal choices and consistently take actions which lead them toward their educational and personal outcomes may be nominated or selected to undertake special renovation projects at partnering nonprofits throughout New York City. These innovative onsite initiatives serve both educational and community development purposes and provide the students with invaluable experience in the application of large-scale decorative painting, plastering, and etiquette of working on professional job sites. The partnering nonprofits receive a free custom installation that enhances their lobby, conference room, or other public area and benefits their clients and staff.
Past projects have included: An abstract mural of Broadway theaters for the client conference room at The Actor’s Fund; a “wallscape” for Bailey House’s client lounge featuring flowing waves and a sunburst; a feature wall finished in vibrant orange Venetian plaster for the recreation room at Praxis Housing; and the creation of a large mural and striped wall for the reception area of AIDS Center of Queens County.