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Joy, imagination, and creative self-expression characterize the experience of the visual arts program at St. James’. Students are invited to observe the world around them and to respond to it artistically. The beautiful and colorful results of their efforts capture their unique perspectives, as well as the gaze of anyone who walks through the school’s perennially decorated hallways.

The visual art program at St. James’ exposes students to historically significant works and artists from around the world and prepares and inspires them to create their own art. As they explore portraiture, landscape, the still life, and abstraction in a range of media, students learn about art elements and begin to develop their own visual vocabulary. In keeping with the culture of the school at large, St. James’ artists cultivate respect for each other and their diverse community. All students are encouraged to take creative risks in the studio, and different learning styles are respected and accommodated as students work both independently and collaboratively in the art studio. Annually, the St. James’ community celebrates the creativity of its young artists with a school-wide art exhibition.

As students progress through the curriculum, the investigation of art elements is reiterated and expanded upon. In the upper grades, a greater emphasis is placed on the principles of design and critical thinking. Classes come to the art studio once a week; there is also an opportunity for students to enroll in after-school enrichment visual art classes that are offered four days a week.

By Grade Level


Kindergarteners look at artists such as Alma Thomas, Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh for inspiration as they explore dots, lines, and making marks.

1st Grade

1st-graders examine works such as Picasso's Three Musicians before creating their own figurative compositions, in which they explore shape, space, and color. 

2nd Grade

2nd-graders take on collaborative projects focusing on line, color, texture, and space. Color mixing and fine motor skill development is reinforced throughout the curriculum.

3rd Grade

3rd-graders take inspiration from works like Louise Nevelson’s monochromatic sculptures to create their own sculptures. They investigate form and spatial relationships and learn to repurpose discarded objects to achieve artistic goals. Other projects include watercolor paintings inspired by Grecian vases and also mixed-media "Wild Things.”

4th Grade

Principles of design and compositional arrangements are emphasized with greater focus in the higher grades. 4th-grade artists use cut paper to create Japanese notan-inspired designs; they also spend time drawing from life in their sketchbooks.

5th Grade

5th-graders explore form and proportion as they construct masks of cardboard and other media for the annual Halloween mask parade. They also study color and composition in mixed media and repeating print designs.

6th Grade

6th-grade artists create the illusion of depth on a flat picture plane using one-, two-, and three-point perspective. Students also study paintings by artists such as Masaccio and Al Held, as well as murals at the Getty Villa, for inspiration.