Whether you’re earning a degree on a full- or part-time schedule, seeking personal enrichment, or exploring professional development, our online art courses give you the flexibility to pursue your creative goals wherever you are.

Online courses meet through Canvas, a virtual classroom for learning. To access course materials all that you need is a connected device with a modern web browser. Live instructors provide a syllabus listing important assignments, deadlines, and virtual office hours.

You’re free to manage your own time, online classes follow the same semester calendar as on campus classes. Instead of attending class at specific times during the week, you’ll access course materials and lectures, participate in discussions and research, take quizzes, and submit work according to your own schedule, as long as you meet the assignment due dates and other deadlines.

Online courses cover the same objectives and competencies as courses offered face-to-face on campus, giving you the full outstanding UW–Madison experience. Enrolling in online courses saves you money to complete your degree in four years, rather than taking a fifth year, and you’ll gain more time for internships or other opportunities down the line.

Many courses open to beginners, non-art majors, & special students!

Art 100 Introduction to Art

About this Course

This course seeks answers to the fundamental question “What is art?” Through our lectures, readings, discussions, and creative projects, we seek answers from multiple perspectives—historical, theoretical, critical, conceptual, formal, and experiential. Throughout the course, students develop visual literacy, sophisticated observational skills and a formal language to assist in the interpretation of objects and experiences in the context of art. Through both theory and practice students develop an understanding of the ways artists arrive at the ideas that inform their creative processes. This course includes a survey of developments in art media and looks broadly at art movements, trends and styles throughout history and in varied world cultures. We maintain a tighter focus on Modern and Contemporary art from approximately 1800-present.

Course Content

The intellectual, cultural and physical components of the visual arts are presented as an essential and interrelated whole.

  • Why Art? Concept, necessity, awareness, perception, aesthetics, creativity, persona, perspectives. Representational, and Non-Representational forms of art.
  • Form and content; style and iconography. Elements of visual communication. Aesthetic evaluation.
  • Themes and Purposes of art: major subjects; personal and cultural functions.
  • Visual Elements of Art: line; shape and mass; light, value and color; texture; space; time and motion.
  • Principles of Design: unity, variety, balance, emphasis, proportion, scale, rhythm and repetition.
  • Visual mediums and methods: Drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, cinematography, television, electronic imaging, sculpture, clay, glass, metal, wood, fiber, architecture, urban and regional design.
  • Art of the past: overview of ancient through Baroque & Neoclassical art in the western world; art beyond the western world, geographically, thematically, and formally.
  • Art of our time: 19th, 20th and 21st century cultural upheavals that yielded Modernism and Post Modernism. Issues of expression, structure, cultural diversity and internationalism.
  • Art for today and tomorrow. Art reveals the past and the present. Art as a tool for shaping the future.

Art 102 Two-Dimensional Design

About this Course

ART 102 provides an introduction to the fundamentals of two-dimensional design. Develop a clear understanding of visual communication through problem-solving and formal and conceptual experimentation. Learn the elements and principles of design and manipulate those using analog and digital processes. Introduction to the Adobe Creative Suite of products, including InDesign, Illustrator, and (to a lesser degree) Photoshop. Serves as an introduction to professional presentation skills and techniques to hone craftsmanship.

Learning Outcomes
  • Describe and apply the elements and principles of design / principles of composition (visual hierarchy, layers, transparency, unity/harmony & rhythm, balance, contrast)
  • Efficiently and aesthetically employ Adobe Creative Cloud software products in design projects
  • Generate creative concepts through research
  • Generate multiple solutions to design problems
  • Develop presentation skills and craftsmanship in design solutions. Utilize two-dimensional design as a language in art and design fields
  • Analyze and critique work on the basis of visual language, design, and content
  • Cultivate visual literacy skills to become astute, sophisticated “readers” of our culture’s text and image messaging.

Art 107 Introduction to Digital Forms

About this Course

An introduction to a range of digital media techniques for artists and designers, including digital imaging, vector graphics, web design and 3D digital modeling. Emphasis on creative development along with technical skill building.

Learning Outcomes
  • Use basic vector, raster, 3d design, video and code technologies in the creation of works of art;
  • Effectively combine elements of visual, spatial, and networked organization to create narrative, associative, and metaphorical compositions;
  • Speak and write critically about personal and peer artworks and propose alternatives.

Art 108 Foundations of Contemporary Art

About this Course

Foundations of Contemporary Art surveys the movements and theories of the twentieth century that inform contemporary art production. Special emphasis will be placed on the shift from modernist models of art making to postmodernism’s critical deconstruction to our current post-historical phase.

In this class students will…

  • describe basic qualities and conditions of Modern art as well as several exceptions.
  • describe the technological, political, social, and economic conditions that created the backdrop for the emergence of various Modern art movements.
  • describe at least 8 Modern art movements, key artists in the movement, important works and media, and the content of the manifesto when applicable.
  • identify the work of a variety of artists and critics and describe their contributions.
  • identify key figures that shaped the culture of the 20th Century including Freud, Walter Benjamin, and Karl Marx and describe their significance.
  • be able to describe both impediments to the participation of women and people of color as well as specific strategies various individuals and groups used to access and participate in the art world.
  • describe examples of non-western art of the same period.
  • discuss the concept of “male gaze” and how this evolved during the 20th century.
  • define and apply a range of art-related terms such as appropriation, the uncanny, purity, manifesto, and
  • identify a variety of art media and discuss the emergence and impact of new media such as film and use of the “ready-made.”
  • engage in discussions and demonstrate development in both your ideas and your ability to articulate those ideas.
  • create several original works in response to the course content.
  • demonstrate an understanding of the institutions and practices related to Modern art.
  • relate specific artists’ work and practice to issues of identity, perspective, spirituality, etc.
  • demonstrate an ability to be critical consumers of visual culture.

Art 208 Current Directions in Art

About this Course

Current Directions in Art (Art 208) examines current artists’ motivations, intentions, processes and their relationship to general developments in contemporary art.

Art 428: Digital Imaging Studio

About this Course

Digital Imaging Studio is an intermediate level studio class using both still and moving digital images. During the class students will learn a range of techniques that will allow them to both create and manipulate images, video and animations using Photoshop and After Effects. During the class we will look at the history and current practice in this emerging field of fine art and the implications of these tools for artists. We will look at the work of many artists working with these tools.

Learning Outcomes
  • An understanding of 12 principles of animation.
  • Preproduction techniques including mind mapping, storyboarding, screenplays & animatics.
  • An understanding of common video formats.
  • An understanding of the techniques involved in the following animation types, 2D digital limited animation, 2D digital full animation, 2.5D digital full animation, rotoscoped hand animation.
  • An understanding of the elements and principles of design in the context of the moving image.
  • The ability to create simple and complex hierarchy based 2D digital animation in After Effects.
  • The ability to create rotoscoped 2D animation from a video reference in Photoshop.
  • The ability to create 2.5D animation using 3D space in After Effects.
  • The ability to use Photoshop to prepare images for the above types of animation.
  • Painting with a Wacom tablet and customized brushes.
  • Audio editing for video using Audition.
  • An understanding of contemporary practice in the field, including the use of image manipulation in fine art, design and entertainment.
  • Graduate students will be able to incorporate techniques and information covered by the class into their own research.

Art 438: History of Graphic Design and Typography

About this Course

Examine the major developments and changes in graphic design and typography as the fields emerged and defined themselves during the last one hundred years.

Art 608: Interdisciplinary Critique in the Visual Arts

About this Course

Group critique for advanced students working in the various disciplines of the visual arts.

Learning Outcomes

Central to the project of this class is the idea that interdisciplinary critique in art can be both provocative and constructive. In our experience, this class has served to engender stimulating and productive conversations. The atmosphere of the class encourages the exchange of ideas, group problem solving and general brainstorming. The class is an opportunity to have a broad range of artist/colleagues focusing on your work; bringing their perspective to bear on your research and contributing to the growth and development of your artistic practice.