Faculty of Art Oil Painting Course

Oil Painting Course

To live as an artist

You know the joy of painting. On a blank canvas, you create the image you alone can see, using lines, colors, and composition. There must be many students who pursue this goal. That is where the enjoyment of painting lies.

But take it a little bit further: Have you ever thought about the meaning of painting? Why—for what purpose—do you paint? What do you want to convey through painting?

Four years in the Painting Course begin with asking yourself these questions once again. Students pursue the answers to this inquiry through painting on different themes, learning about art history, and viewing outstanding works. For oil painting, the origin of all art genres, the most important objective of all is to discover yourself.

We could call painting the act of finding out who you really are. Asking why you paint leads to fundamental questions about your existence and the meaning of life. Discovering “yourself,” leads to artworks that are intensely original, that only you can express.

Pictures give you the chance to know yourself. Continuing to paint is to continue to pursue the essence of humanity, who you are, existence itself. Being an artist is not a profession. It is a way of life. Once you have understood this, you will then realize the real meaning of what you paint.

Four years in the Oil Painting Course

  • 1st Year

    Making original painting materials from clay and rock

    Contrary to students’ expectation, the course does not begin with sketching. Instead, students first build easels and make paints for their initial assignments. In order for students to make paints, they extract pigment, the essence of color, from clay and rock on campus and create original paints. Students then paint self-portraits using both their hand-made paints and others available commercially, thereby perceiving differences of texture and function. In an era where you can buy everything, students work hard to create painting materials just like the painters of long ago.

    What students acquire through this process is not just an in-depth knowledge of texture and the form of the tools you use everyday, but also the simple joy and excitement of creation that has been lost, replaced by convenience—they earn a sense of vitality. The real objective here is to bring this sensation back into the ordinary activity of painting, training students to understand the meaning of painting not conceptually but through their spirit.

    The second semester also involves students tackling painting while pursuing meaning. Examples include sitting in one place and painting there for a whole day, which enables students to see not simply a landscape that is momentary, but rather the essence of a changing environment. While cultivating painting techniques, four years of study in pursuit of the real substance of painting starts here.

    1st year
    1st Year Goals
    Cultivating observational and thinking abilities required in painting.
  • 2nd Year

    A masterpiece from 50 years ago as your stepping-stone

    Beginning from the second year, you emerge from the world limited to “subject and me,” broadening your range of ideas and expression, and studying modern art history as a stepping-stone. Based on the selected themes, students undertake discussions and move forward to engage with individual production.

    For example, in classes on twentieth-century painting, students focus on shape and color as used in abstract painting. If the subject of a painting were a human hand, students would paint a hand omitting concrete description of the joints, wrinkles, and shape of fingernails. How did abstract painting come to exist? Students investigate the spirituality of abstract painting both through studying history and their own experiences.

    Stepping into the world of sculpture, students use the method of “readymades” invented by Marcel Duchamp and learn how “readymade” products can be artworks. If the question “Is this art?” comes into your head, it proves that you have moved one step forward as an artist. There is no right or wrong in art, and what is more important is to keep on questioning what art is.

    Students also tackle a wide range of creativity such as performance art, installation, video art, and photography. While experiencing the unlimited possibilities of oil painting, students reconsider what it means to paint or express something.

    2nd year
    2nd Year Goals
    Learning modern art history and broadening perspective. Cultivating the ability to organize ideas and convey them.
  • 3rd Year

    Students and faculty members work together as fellow artists

    After producing representational painting, abstract painting, sculpture, photography, and video art up till their second year, from now students select the type of creative expression and artwork themes all by themselves.

    Students have arrived at the stage where they can intensively express responses to the questions they have tirelessly asked themselves: “What is my motivation for painting?” “Who am I?”

    Independence comes with responsibilities. Students acquire management skills, including how to write about their tasks and weak areas, as well as time scheduling. While professors give advice to students throughout this process, from the writing to the sketching, drawing, and final production work, both professors and students deepen their mutually stimulating communication as artists.

    Other classes offer study sessions on culture or theory, research on techniques, and field trips to art museums.

    3rd year
    3rd Year Goals
    Selecting theme and technique independently, and acquiring confidence in your artwork. Building the groundwork for final graduation projects.
  • 4th Year

    Finding the meaning of life through painting

    Pursuing the meaning of painting and individual creative expression, students finally engage with graduation projects as the accumulation of four years’ work. Now is the time for you to put the experience you gained each year into your graduation project: The way to address the subject that stands before you; the worldview that expanded by coming into contact with superior masterpieces of the past; and the stimulation and sympathy generated by interacting with fellow students. While some create straightforward large-scale oil paintings, others show complete sculptures, photography, video art, or three-dimensional installations. Though sharing a lot of time together in the Oil Painting Course, students ultimately deliver projects that are all completely different from one another.

    This diversity of graduation projects demonstrates how the meaning of painting that each student discovers differs from one another, and that the meaning of life, including their future career paths, is also different for each student. No matter in which direction you are heading, these four years of dedicated painting, as difficult as your experiences may sometimes have been, will be a great spiritual nourishment for you.

    4th year
    4th Year Goals
    Undertaking group work and coursework in preparation for graduation projects. Establishing an individual theme for your art.

Career paths after graduating from the Oil Painting Course

The Oil Painting Course gets to grips with the fundamentals of human nature through painting. Students pursue an inquiry into creativity within the context of art history. Although highly acclaimed and original artists have graduated from SEIKA, it is not important whether you become an artist or not. Utilizing your painting ability or teaching others as an art educator, your experience in considering the meaning of life will be your nourishment for life after you graduate.

Career choices

  • Contemporary artist
  • Video game designer or animator equipped with drawing skills
  • Art educator at junior high school or high school
  • Curator

Other career options

  • Illustrator
  • Graphic designer
  • Product designer
  • Interior designer
  • Cameraman or photographer
  • Event manager
  • Museum curator
  • Bookbinding artist etc.

Oil Painting Course Faculty Members (in Japanese)