Observation and painting for a deeper understanding of people and society

A course  in oil painting emphasizes the essence of painting to train expressive artists and creators who are not swayed by fads or trends. Students develop a unique perspective by grappling with what it means to paint as they carefully observe their subject matter and make their own paints, easels, and other tools. In class, students also study topics related to art history and touch on shifts in artistic expression as well as the techniques and messages of past artists. Students and faculty share dialogue on their insights in class, which helps them establish their own style. To paint is to seek what it means to live as a human being in our world. The thinking skills and values students acquire here will give them the resilience to overcome various difficulties they will face in life, far beyond any painting.

Subject Highlights

  • Using handmade painting materials to truly understand the fundamentals of painting.

    [Studio Art / Year 2]
    Students will try their hand at making painting tools and materials, including easels and the paints themselves. We believe that to paint is to see, and students practice their painting by observing people and landscapes closely to try and capture their essence. In the class, students think about what it means to paint and develop the ability to discern the true nature of things.

  • Contemplating what to express as an individual in society and in history.

    [Art Expression / Year 3]
    Students form groups to learn about the history of art in the West and Japan and discuss contemporary social issues. They then make their own works with the self-awareness that they, too, are part of art history and contemporary society. Students gain a broader perspective as they continue to contemplate what needs to be painted today.

What You Will Study

  1. 1STYEAR

    Laying a solid artistic and creative foundation

    Students take common subjects at the Faculty of Art to improve their observational skills, critical thinking, imagination, and other skills needed to build a firm artistic and creative foundation. They also learn the basics across all seven courses and start to explore which fields they would like to pursue.

  2. 2NDYEAR

    Learning about materials and art history

    Students make art materials from wood and clay and learn how they are formed. While working on their oil painting assignments, students also study all kinds of painting and other forms of artistic expression, philosophy, and art history to gain a comprehensive understanding of art.

  3. 3RDYEAR

    Applying Artist Research to the Creative Process

    Students are divided into groups to study modern and contemporary artists, learn about the connection between expression and society, incorporate what they have learned into their own expression, and create a series of multiple works.

  4. 4THYEAR

    Pursuing a unique expression of their own

    Students work on their graduation projects, making full use of the skills and expressive abilities they have developed over the past four years. They aim to complete a work that fully encapsulates their pursuit of originality and individual expression in their final university project.

What You Will Learn

  • Observational skills to discern the essence of things and society
  • Critical thinking to dig deeper and see things from multiple perspectives
  • The ability to express one's thoughts and feelings to others

Selected Artwork



Individual spaces are available in the studio. There is plenty of space to accommodate large-scale paintings.


  • The student-run 7-23 Gallery always features a variety of exhibitions.


Career Opportunities
Artist, curator, art teacher, graphic designer, and many more!

Major  Employers
Art museums, educational institutions, design agencies, and many more!


  • SENDA Kaede Current Student

    Learning to see the extraordinary in the ordinary.

    Before starting university, I was undecided about what I wanted to do, so I was attracted to the Faculty of Art at Kyoto Seika University, where I could postpone choosing my course  until my second year. I took full advantage of my first year, experiencing Nihonga painting, printmaking, and other things I was interested in until I realized that I was best suited for the Course in Oil Painting. Recently I’ve been drawing moss as a motif, which suddenly catches my eye whenever I’m walking down the street. I think the most significant benefit of choosing this course was learning to observe and understand my subjects—to see things for what they really are. Now, I try to carefully observe each ordinary moment in the everyday landscape. Our studio isn’t divided into separate areas, so it feels pretty open, and I am often inspired by the works of my classmates who have entirely different styles. I’ve also tried my hand at abstract painting, something I was never good at in class. Since I mainly work with realistic expressions, I struggled with the assignment, but I managed to complete something that I am satisfied with. In my artist research class, we split into groups to research the artists assigned by our instructor, which taught us to deepen our understanding of diverse values, interpretations, and modes of expression. My next goal is to have a solo exhibition of my work, and I never want to stop growing or making progress with my work.

  • SAGAWA Koji Academic Faculty

    Learning what it means to paint from the ground up.

    Part of what makes the Oil Painting Course unique is students are challenged to actually make paints as their first assignment. Students come to understand painting through crushing stones, roasting soil, and creating color. I began my career in painting and have since created large-scale works all over the world. Themes found in my work include the relationship between constructed spaces, the people who live there, and the surrounding environment. In my late 20s, I moved to Germany before living in the Netherlands and the United States, and I am now based in Kyoto. There are many things I consider when working on a piece— meticulous planning, careful handiwork, daring ideas, a consistent approach, and, on occasion, the courage and determination to start over. It is also important to carefully consider why you are creating a piece in a particular space and why it is needed there. While I am focused on developing and presenting a work, I am also involved in planning exhibitions. It goes without saying that one needs technique in order to paint, but I believe that learning how to see an object is more important than learning how to paint. I want students to carefully observe and then draw in order to be able to see and think in their own ways. Kyoto Seika provides students with natural beauty in a quiet environment, slightly removed from the hustle and bustle of the city, and it is in this environment that we will pursue universal and authentic modes of expression.