Centre for Continuing Education

Art Basics Course

Visual Arts. Open to everyone.

Learn Visual Arts the smart way with Visual Arts courses at CCE, the University of Sydney.

This art basics course will allow you to put theory into practice and develop your artistic competency by learning the ‘rules’ to art. Working with the elements and principles of design, participants will learn perspective, how to draw illusions, create powerful designs, utilise value and imply texture, understand colour schemes and the colour wheel and practice drawing the face. This art basics course will allow participants to develop techniques through a variety of mediums including ink, colour pencil, pastels and paint. There are no prerequisites.


Upon successful completion of this course, participants should be able to:

  1. Discuss and synthesise the elements and principles of design into practice.
  2. Draw in perspective.
  3. Discuss how light affects form.
  4. Discuss colour theory.
  5. Draw the human face in proportion.


The course covers the following topics:


  • Theoretical underpinnings and stages of artistic development.
  • Elements and principles of design are defined and practiced.
  • Master artworks are analysed in relation to the elements and principles of design.
  • Colour theory packets are distributed.
  • Visual Diaries and course materials are discussed.


  • The aesthetics of line are defined and analysed.
  • One-point perspective (horizon line, vanishing point, orthogonal) and various other methods are practiced in order to achieve a three dimensional appearance on a two dimensional surface.
  • Participants develop a line design utilising at least one vanishing point.


  • Organic, geometric, asymmetrical and symmetrical shapes are defined and analysed within the context of fine art.
  • Contour drawing exercises are practiced.
  • Repetition, reverse repetition, overlap repetition, reverse overlap repetition, mirror overlap repetition and emphasis overlap repetition are practiced by utilising a single asymmetrical shape.
  • Participants develop a shape design.

Texture and value

  • Texture and value are defined and discussed by viewing a variety of images including cartoons, photographs, material objects, and fine art.
  • Value charts utilising hatching/cross-hatching, smudging and stippling techniques are practiced.
  • Circles are shaded to become spheres through the indication of a light source.
  • A ‘Texture Monster’ is rendered through rote activity.


  • Participants use watercolours to create a warm and cool colour weave.
  • Discussion of how humans see colour.
  • Subtractive and additive colour wheels are defined.
  • Participants paint a colour wheel using only the three primary colours.
  • Participants work with shades and tints to paint a value chart that demonstrates the gradation of a single colour.
  • A variety of colour schemes are outlined and discussed while the colour theory packet distributed in the first session is analysed in further detail.

Self portraits

  • Discussion and image viewing of portraiture in fine art over the centuries.
  • Critical junctions and tangents are defined.
  • Participants engage in rote activity to learn the basic ‘rules’ to drawing the human face.
  • A self portrait is developed utilising soft chalk pastel on a black canvas.
  • Hand-outs supplement the lesson with further detail.

Intended Audience

This art course is suitable for all skill levels, but is tailored to the needs of beginners.

Before the course

Please bring an A3 (or larger) visual diary to Session 1. Your tutor will then speak with you regarding the other supplies required for Session 2 onwards (cost of total supplies is approximately $50).


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Small class sizes
  • Free, expert advice
  • Student materials – yours to keep
  • Statement of completion

What others say.

  • The tutor was terrific and created a very safe space for people which is really important, especially when you are a beginner – very positive and optimistic, and provided great encouragement to all students.

  • Great class. I’m looking forward to Art Basics 2 and beyond!

  • The tutor planned the course effectively to allow the class to learn the principles of the course and apply it outside of the class in our own time, making sure that the hours spent in the classroom were put to good use.

  • Excellent course – interesting presentation and wide scope covered.

  • The course was better than I expected and the tutor gave so much extra information which helped me.

  • This course was well organised and very supportive. The tutor was an excellent teacher and I learnt so much from them.

What others say.

  • The tutor was terrific and created a very safe space for people which is really important, especially when you are a beginner - very positive and optimistic, and provided great encouragement to all students.
  • Excellent course - interesting presentation and wide scope covered.
  • This course was just what I was looking for and has given me a good grasp of the basic principles of art and how to apply them. I really enjoyed the course. It's also great value for money. Really good job, thanks.