Visual Arts

Affirming that the arts are fundamental to every child’s development, that the arts convey knowledge, meaning and skills not learned through the study of other subjects, and that the arts can be used to enhance understanding of other subjects, it is the mission of School District 54 to provide a comprehensive fine arts program. Through instruction in the arts, as well as integration of the arts throughout the curriculum, every student will be engaged in activities which foster the creating, analyzing and understanding of dance, drama, music and the visual arts, enabling students to reach their full potential.

The District 54 Visual Art curriculum is based upon the elements and principles of design in which students experience hands-on instruction in the use of a variety of media. Students in kindergarten through sixth grade attend visual art class once a week. Junior high students have the opportunity to explore creativity through hands-on activities as they develop their own artistic skills and build a portfolio of work in the areas of drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics and digital art.

Visual Arts Essential Outcomes

Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work. 

  • Engage in exploration and imaginative play with materials.
  • Collaboratively engage in creative art-making in response to an artistic problem.

Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.

  • Through experimentation, build skills in various media and approaches to art-making
  • Identify safe and non-toxic art materials, tools, and equipment.
  • Create art that represents natural and constructed environments.

Revise, refine, and complete artistic work. 

  • Explain the process of making art while creating.

Analyze, interpret and select artistic work for presentation.

  • Select art objects for personal portfolio and display, explaining why they were chosen.

Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation.

  • Explain the purpose of a portfolio or collection.

Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work.

  • Explain what an art museum is and distinguish  how an art museum is different from other buildings

Perceive and analyze artistic work. 

  • Identify uses of art within their environments. 
  • Describe what an image represents.

Construct meaningful interpretations of artistic work.

  • List details and identify subject matter of works of art. 

Apply criteria to evaluate artistic work.

  • Explain reasons for selecting a preferred artwork.

Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art. 

  • Create art that tells a story about a life experience.

Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding. 

  • Identify a purpose of an artwork.

Language of the Arts

  • Demonstrate knowledge of different types of lines, shapes/forms and textures.
  • Exhibit knowledge of primary and secondary colors.
  • Show spatial relationships in a work of art (e.g. overlapping).
  • Demonstrate the concepts of repetition and pattern.
  • Create artwork that portrays a theme, idea, feeling or story.
  • Show knowledge of the four fine arts.


  • Use appropriate tools correctly and safely with simple materials when creating 2D and 3D artworks.

Arts and Civilization

  • Name an occupation associated with an art form (e.g. actor, painter, dancer, musician).
  • Create a work of art that tells about people, times, places and/or everyday life.

Language of the Arts

  • Demonstrate understanding of a six-color color wheel.
  • Discriminate between foreground, middle ground and background, and create the illusion of depth in an artwork.
  • Show understanding that repeated lines and shapes form patterns.
  • Use symmetrical and asymmetrical balance.
  • Show understanding of similarities between visual art and another art form (e.g. mood in Starry Night and Peer Gynt Suite).


  • Apply the processes of creating 2-D or 3-D artworks with different media (e.g. drawings, photos, paintings, weavings, prints, ceramics and sculpture).

Arts and Civilization

  • Name a variety of occupations associated with visual art (e.g. painter, sculptor, architect, art teacher, commercial artist, cartoonist).

Create a work of art about a celebration or that could be used in a celebration (e.g. masks, costumes, banners, songs, dance).

Language of the Arts

  • Demonstrate knowledge of organic/geometric and positive/negative shapes and spaces.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of warm/cool colors, intermediate (tertiary) colors, and the 12-color color wheel.
  •  Show how using different elements can create contrast.
  • Create and/or identify different moods or emotions in works of visual art.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of story, feelings, expressive ideas and/or vocabulary shared among the arts.


  • Demonstrate fundamental processes in a variety of art media (e.g. painting, weaving) through observation, research or imagination.
  • Create a piece of artwork from direct observation.
  • Visually express a verbal or written idea (e.g. illustrate a story/poem, create a poster with a message).

Arts and Civilization

  • Create a work of art with cultural characteristics.
  • Create a work of art that illustrates people or events from history.

Language of the Arts

  • Distinguish between figure and ground.
  • Demonstrate light and dark values.
  • Demonstrate that a repeated element creates a rhythm.
  • Plan and create a work of art that expresses a specific idea, mood or emotion.
  • Use and/or compare the vocabulary and tools of visual art and another art form.


  • Execute the same idea in 2-D and 3-D media.
  • Demonstrate tools and processes of various media.
  • Plan a work of art using background knowledge or research.

Arts and Civilization

  • Demonstrate understanding of ways in which the four fine arts play a part in everyday life (e.g. education, architecture, landscape design, political cartoons, fashion design, television, history, and entertainment).
  • Demonstrate understanding of how the arts are used in commercial applications (e.g. posters, TV commercials, package design, industrial design, and graphic design).

Create a work of art inspired by a significant artist.

Language of the Arts

  • Use parallel and converging lines in linear perspective.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of various color schemes: complementary, analogous and monochromatic.
  • Use the elements to create unity in an artwork.
  • Use movement in an artwork.
  • Use elements, principles, and/or expressive qualities shared between two art forms that express a similar idea (e.g. mood in music and art).


  • Select specific tools, materials, and processes to communicate an idea in an artwork.
  • Create a realistic 2-D artwork.
  • Create an artwork based on a plan incorporating research, innovation and/or problem solving.

Arts and Civilization

  • Create an artwork that demonstrates how arts function in history, society and/or everyday life.

Language of the Arts

  • Use a specific element or group of elements that create the emphasis in an artwork.
  • Analyze a completed work of art noting its components (i.e. elements, organizational principles, expressive ideas; tools and technologies; creative processes).


  • Create unique specific effects using a combination of media, tools and processes (e.g. ruler and pencil to draw in one-point perspective, clay tools to texturize, glue to attach textural objects, computer word programs/fonts and sizes) in an artwork.
  • Develop a series of pictures for a story board, cartoon strip or draw with a sequence of actions.
  • Create an abstract work using shapes and color to convey mood.

Arts and Civilization

  • Create a modern or contemporary piece of artwork.

A Form of Communication

  • Reflect on works of art produced
  • Examine, describe, discuss and interpret what they see in a range of art
  • Understand that a story or message can be conveyed through design

An Expression of Cultures and Diversity

  • Understand cultural differences through art expression
  • Recognize diversity
  • Recognize how society impacts art
  • Recognize how art impacts society

Comprised of Technical Skills and Foundations

  • Recognize the elements and principles of design
  • Understand the differences between different medias and tools
  • Exhibit use of different medias and tools
  • Recognize various subject areas in art
  • Understand how there are various forms of art (i.e., visual, computer, music, dance and drama)

Developing Creativity and Higher Order Thinking

  • Demonstrate creativity and show thinking through various projects
  • Demonstrate problem-solving skills to distinguish artistic processes
  • Understand possible motives for creation of ranges of art