NMC Arts / Fine Arts program students drawing and painting in the Fine Arts building

Drawing & Painting

Whether on a cave wall, paper, or canvas, drawing and painting have been and continue to be two of the best ways to communicate the beauty of an object, the grace of a figure, or the heart of a movement. The ability to move visual information from the mind through the pencil, pen, or paint brush can seem magical but there are also skills that can be learned to improve one's practice.

Painting I (ART 161) introduces the concepts of painting as well as principles of design. Students learn and develop techniques through assignments that incorporate these combined skills. Painting II (Art 162) explores more complex painting concepts including a deeper understanding of color challenges and the development of a personal style. Students will work in either oils or acrylics for both classes.

Drawing I (ART 121) is a foundational course for both the Fine Arts and VisCom programs. It introduces the student to basic drawing skills and techniques through the use of line, form, composition, perspective, and value. By learning to judge proportions, create volume and the illusion of space students will use drawing as a vehicle for seeing and communicating. Drawing II (ART 122) will explore advanced methods in drawing including the effects of lighting, color, multiple panel design, and conceptualizing of compositions with an emphasis on the use of new media and developing a personal style.

Life Drawing I (ART 221) is an elective course that follows the classical method of drawing the figure from a live nude model. Students learn to analyze form in terms of planes, construction, mass, light and shadow, action, attitude, rhythm and proportion. Areas covered consist of gesture drawing, quick sketch, long pose, composition, and focus on the details of the head, hands and feet. LIFE DRAWING II (ART 222) explores advanced challenges in drawing the figure, utilizing new materials, color, and the development of a personal style.

Watercolor I (ART 165) is an introduction to the techniques and materials of watercolor painting, including the use washes, creative effects, additive and subtractive approaches, and mixing of color to create effective paintings in a step-by-step manner. WATERCOLOR II (Art 166) deals with advanced problems in watercolor painting with special emphasis on individual development and creativity particularly in the area of compositional conceptualization. Assignments will stress larger work, series, mixed media, professional presentation, and opportunities for exhibition of work.


The NMC Painting and Drawing studio is located in the historic Shirley Okerstrom Fine Arts Building on the NMC's main campus (#12 on the Front Street Campus map).

Student Work Galleries:

Painting & Drawing Instructor - Rufus James

Rufus James/Snoddy received a Bachelors of Arts degree in Design and and a Masters of Arts degree in Fine Arts, with a focus on sculpture, from California State University at Los Angeles. After graduating he worked as an art director for a supergraphics company, worked as a free-lance illustrator, head of mural and wall graphics division with a major interior design firm, as well as being a scenic artist with television and movie studios. Since graduating he has also exhibited his paintings and sculptures throughout the U.S. and internationally, which continues at present.

Contact Rufus at rjames@nmc.edu or (231) 995-3347

Rufus' current fine art can be seen here.


Drawing & Watercolor Instructor - Glenn Wolff

After attending NMC Glenn Wolff received his BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. His career started in New York City where he worked as an illustrator for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Village Voice, Audubon, The New York Zoological Society, The Central Park Conservancy, and numerous book publishers. Glenn returned to Traverse City with his family in 1987 and has been a full time art faculty member at NMC since 2017. He still works as an illustrator and exhibiting fine artist and brings that real world experience to each of his classes.

Contact Glenn at gwolff@nmc.edu or (231) 995-1329

Glenn's current fine art can be seen here.