Continuing Studies Art and Design Programs for Age 4 through Grade 12

Through a variety of courses and camps, Continuing Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) offers children, middle school students, high school students, and families the perfect opportunity to learn creative and critical thinking skills, explore contemporary artistic practices, develop a portfolio for college, and have fun making art.

Our courses take advantage of unique access to the Art Institute of Chicago museum, which houses world-class collections spanning 5,000 years of human history, and provides a rich source of inspiration for individual projects.

In addition to summer courses and camps for youth ages 4 to grade 12, we offer morning and afternoon Family Art Camps, giving multiple generations the chance to spend a half or full day (by registering for two sessions) learning and working together.

Click through the tabs on this page for more information on family, children’s, middle school, and high school offerings.

Children’s Summer Camps

Multi-Arts Camps provide a playful, stimulating environment where kids can practice critical thinking, time management, and creative problem solving. Children work in teams and individually on projects that enhance personal expression and introduce them to contemporary and historical art. Camps include regular visits to the Art Institute of Chicago museum for inspiration.

Projects vary from session to session, so you can sign up for morning (AM), afternoon (PM), or both camp sessions (All Day). In addition, each two-week camp has a new and exciting focus, so students may enroll in one camp or all 10.

Multi-Arts Camp: 4–5

Students experiment with drawing, painting, sculpture, mixed-media, design, and digital art-making. They play through music and dance. And kid-friendly stories connect to the day's projects and allow students to share ideas.

  • Class number 198 (AM): June 16–27
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
  • Class number 210 (AM): July 7–18
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
  • Class number 223 (AM): July 21–August 1
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
  • Class number 350 (AM): August 4–15
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Multi-Arts Camp: 6–7

In addition to daily studio art projects, students take sketchbooks to the Art Institute of Chicago museum and capture creative research, ideas, and reactions to the artwork. Campers work together and experiment with painting, drawing, mixed media, sculpture, and printmaking.

  • Class number 193 (AM): June 9–13
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
  • Class number 195 (PM): June 9–13
    Monday–Friday, 1:30–5:00 p.m.
  • Class number 226 (AM): June 16–27
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
  • Class number 230 (PM): June 16–27
    Monday–Friday, 1:30–5:00 p.m.
  • Class number 227 (AM): July 7–18
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
  • Class number 231 (PM): July 7–18
    Monday–Friday, 1:30–5:00 p.m.
  • Class number 228 (AM): July 21–August 1
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
  • Class number 232 (PM): July 21–August 1
    Monday–Friday, 1:30 p.m.–5:00 p.m.
  • Class number 229 (AM): August 4–15
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
  • Class number 233 (PM): August 4–15
    Monday–Friday, 1:30 p.m.–5:00 p.m.

Multi-Arts Camp: 8–10

In addition to daily studio art projects, students take sketchbooks to the Art Institute of Chicago museum and capture creative research, ideas, and reactions to the artwork. Campers work together and experiment with painting, drawing, mixed media, sculpture, and printmaking.

  • Class number 194 (AM): June 9–13
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
  • Class number 196 (PM): June 9–13
    Monday–Friday, 1:00–4:00 p.m.
  • Class number 206 (AM): June 16–27
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
  • Class number 200 (PM): June 16–27
    Monday–Friday, 1:30–5:00 p.m.
  • Class number 215 (AM): July 7–18
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m
  • Class number 204 (PM): July 7–18
    Monday–Friday, 1:30–5:00 p.m.
  • Class number 216 (AM): July 21–August 1
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
  • Class number 213 (PM): July 21–August 1
    Monday–Friday, 1:30 p.m.–5:00 p.m.
  • Class number 351 (AM):August 4–15
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
  • Class number 352 (AM):August 4–15
    Monday–Friday, 1:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Family Art Camp

One-week family camps include daily visits to the world-class collections of the Art Institute of Chicago museum in addition to visual art projects in the SAIC studios. A registered adult must accompany children, and all campers participate in both museum and studio activities.

  • Class number 192 (AM): June 9–13
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
  • Class number 208 (PM): June 9–13
    Monday–Friday, 1:00–4:00 p.m.
  • Class number 224 (AM): August 4–8
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
  • Class number 225 (PM): August 4–8
    Monday–Friday, 1:00–4:00 p.m.

Middle School Summer Camps

Junior high students ages 11 to 13 can spend the summer exploring art and design in a variety of summer camps tailored to their unique interests. We offer one- and two-week camps focused on animation, architecture, comics and graphic novels, digital design, fashion, illustration, painting and drawing, toy design and 3D modeling, video game design, and web design.

Through exposure to a wide variety of artists and designers and visits to the Art Institute of Chicago museum, middle school camps introduce students to contemporary and traditional art as a source of inspiration.

Animation Camp: 11–13

Students learn animation principles while exploring different techniques, including stop-motion animation, frame-by-frame animation, digitally modified video, and computer-aided animation. Digital tools including laptops, still cameras, video cameras, sound recorders, and drawing tablets may be used in conjunction with sketchbook work and traditional processes to reflect contemporary artistic hybrid methods.

  • Class number 346: June 16–27
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Architecture Camp: 11–13

Students explore their surroundings and investigate how basic human needs, desires, and behaviors influence the design of architectural spaces. Emphasis is placed on the methods architects use to develop their design ideas while examining structures, materials, and technologies of historical and contemporary architecture. Using the city of Chicago and its world-renowned architecture as subject, free-hand perspective drawing, drafting, model making, and digital software programs are introduced. Visits to the Art Institute of Chicago and walking trips/on-site sketching at historic buildings by architects Louis Sullivan and Mies van der Rohe, as well as contemporary structures including Frank Gehry's Jay Pritzker Pavilion and Renzo Piano's Modern Wing of the Art Institute, supplement the studio experience.

  • Class number 333: June 9–13
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
  • Class number 334: July 7–18
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Comics and Graphic Novels Camp: 11–13

Students create their own comics and graphic novels with emphasis on storytelling techniques: character development, plot structure, scripting, and storyboarding. Skills in penciling, inking, coloring, space, and perspective are introduced through the use of a wide variety of traditional and nontraditional media, such as colored pencils, oil pastels, watercolors, digitally edited drawings, and handmade zines. This is an excellent camp to take after our Illustration Camp, but previous experience is not required.

  • Class number 401: July 21–August 1
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Digital Design Camp: 11–13

Students explore the fundamentals of design—layout, typography, and package and product design—and develop ideas using advanced technology resources such as laser cutters, printers, and Adobe Creative Suite software in addition to sketches and paper mock-ups. Students learn firsthand from contemporary designers while visiting the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago and observing examples of design in downtown Chicago.

  • Class number 344: June 9–13
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Digital Design/Web Design Camp: 11–13

Students explore the fundamentals of design—layout, typography, basic website design, and package and product design—and develop ideas using advanced technology resources such as laser cutters, printers, and Adobe Creative Suite software in addition to hand-drawn sketches. Students learn firsthand from contemporary designers while visiting the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago Museum and observing examples of design in downtown Chicago.

  • Class number 345: August 4–15
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Draw and Paint Camp: 11–13

Students investigate contemporary subjects and themes using pencil, charcoal, pastel, ink, gouache, water-based paint, and mixed media through skills such as line, perspective, tone, proportion, composition, value, gesture, and contour. This camp is designed for a range of skill levels and can be repeated for continued skill and idea building.

  • Class number 339: June 9–13
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
  • Class number 340: June 16–27
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
  • Class number 341: July 7–18
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
  • Class number 342: July 21–August 1
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
  • Class number 343: August 4–15
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Fashion Camp: 11–13

Students build fundamental skills in fashion research and drawing, draping, garment construction, and machine and hand sewing. Students also explore sculptural draping by using paper to create exciting experimental garments on the dress form. As their designs develop, additional technical skills are introduced, including fabric printing, fabric dyeing, and embroidery. Visits to the Art Institute of Chicago, SAIC’s Fashion Resource Center, and the Flaxman Library provide inspiration and supplement the studio experience. Working with hand-dyed fabric and deconstructed thrift store garments, each camp ends in an exciting runway show for parents and friends. Projects change each camp, so students may enroll in multiple camps over the summer.

  • Class number 335: June 16–27
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
  • Class number 336: July 7–18
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
  • Class number 337: July 21–August 1
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
  • Class number 338: August 4–15
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Illustration Camp: 11–13

Young illustrators create characters, animals, objects, vehicles, and environments using traditional and digital media including graphic markers, illustration pens, watercolor, ink, sculpting materials, digital drawing tablets, Adobe Photoshop, and Corel Painter. Campers also experiment with traditional and digital stop-motion animation techniques to bring movement to their illustrated world. This is a great camp to take in preparation for the Comics and Graphic Novels Camp.

  • Class number 347: July 7–18
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Toy Design and 3D Modeling Camp: 11–13

Campers develop a character by creating a series of traditional illustrations and models before drawing the toy version of the character at scale using drafting conventions and equipment. Using 3D modeling software, students produce a 3D model of their toy based on their drawings. Students also conceptualize and develop their toy’s accessories and packaging. Finally, a plastic prototype of each camper’s character is made using 3D printing technology at SAIC’s Advanced Output Center.

  • Class number 349: August 4–15
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Video Game Design Camp: 11–13

In this fun and challenging camp, students code and illustrate a series of playable computer video games, even sharing some of their creations with friends on the web! Students use traditional and digital such as sketchbooking, storyboarding, writing, HTML5, JavaScript, Stencyl, sound effect editors, and Wacom digital drawing tablets.

  • Class number 348: July 21–August 1
    Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Early College Program

Whether you are preparing a portfolio for college or exploring new modes of self expression, Continuing Studies at SAIC has a range of summer courses that focus within a discipline, but offer opportunities to explore freely across media.

Courses focus on artist materials and techniques, architecture, digital photography, figure drawing, studio drawing, fashion illustration, rethinking ad culture, portrait painting and drawing, landscape drawing, water-based painting, DIY publishing, creative writing, oil painting, and portfolio preparation.

Students develop ideas and inspiration from visits to the Art Institute of Chicago museum and downtown Chicago and take their projects from concept to completion using traditional and digital techniques where applicable.

All courses are open to a range of abilities from beginners to those looking to improve their current skills unless otherwise noted.

Architecture: Design and Drawing

With Chicago as its backdrop, projects incorporate basic drawing, perspective and drafting techniques, and 3D modeling. Students are presented with a design problem and propose solutions through sketches and a “kit-of-parts,” which allows free play with columns, piers, planes, and volume to enclose space and see their ideas in three dimensions. The parts are easily rearranged to demonstrate how the design can be improved. Students complete the course with a final presentation of their design solution, which includes schematic sketches, elevation drawings, a 3D model, and computer-aided drawings.

  • Class number 362: June 9–13
    9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
  • Class number 371: July 7–18
    1:00–4:00 p.m.

Artist Materials and Techniques

Students are exposed to what is happening right now in the art world and are able to experiment with a variety of methods such as drawing, sculpture, image transfer, collage, laser cutting, and 3D printing. The course starts with small exercises, demos, and discussions to help develop a large, final project that reflects individual interests. Classes are supplemented with presentations of current art concepts and issues and the work of significant contemporary artists. This is a great course for freshman and sophomores, or those new to art making.

  • Class number 385: June 16­–27
    Monday–Friday, 1:00­–4:00 p.m.
  • Class number 386: July 7–18
    Monday–Friday, 1:00­–4:00 p.m.

Creative Writing

Students push their creative limits through journaling, free writing, writing through music, digging through memories and dreams, and other methods of responding to the world in written form. Students learn how to edit and revise a work, as well as respond critically to the writing of others and learn how to craft short stories, monologues, poetry, and personal essays. With faculty guidance and peer support, students share their literary efforts in class and are assigned reading and writing exercises to clarify, expand, and challenge written expressions.

  • Class number 367: July 7–18
    9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.

Digital Photography I

This course focuses on the technical aspects of completely manual digital camera functions. Students must use their own digital Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera with manual settings. They will also learn the process of digital workflow and output, creating high quality prints using Adobe Bridge and Photoshop software, Canon inkjet printers, and high-resolution laser printers. Classes are supplemented with discussions of contemporary art concepts and issues, the work of significant photographic artists, and the ideas behind communicating thoughts through photographs. No experience is necessary for this course.

  • Class number 356: June 9–13
    9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
  • Class number 378: August 4–15
    1:00–4:00 p.m.

DIY Publishing

Students publish limited edition books and zines using Adobe Photoshop and InDesign software, printing from low- and high-quality printers using a variety of papers, and a range of bookbinding methods. Students also learn about pricing and how to promote editions for sale or distribution.

  • Class number 372: July 21–August 1
    1:00–4:00 p.m.

Drawing Studio

This course focuses on drawing as a tool for organizing thoughts, feelings, and images. Students develop and strengthen fundamental skills as well as investigate a range of traditional and contemporary drawing materials and concepts, exploring essential elements of 2D design and contemporary art. Through the study of line, perspective, tone, proportion, composition, value, gesture, and contour, students experiment with a number of wet and dry media such as charcoal, graphite, ink, and water-based paints.

  • Class number 358: June 9–13
    9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
  • Class number 370: July 7–18
    1:00–4:00 p.m.
  • Class number 374: July 21–August 1
    9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
  • Class number 382: August 4­–15
    9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.

Fashion Illustration

Students develop drawing skills and fashion illustration techniques with an emphasis on individual style and expression, inspired by live, clothed models and garments from SAIC’s Fashion Resource Center. Students learn the principles of drawing specific to illustration for a variety of fashion applications, from retail to editorial, including the study of body proportions, movement and position, perspective, and how to apply appropriate exaggeration and stylization to create evocative and effective illustrations. Study of fabric texture and drape, and its relation to body form and movement, is also covered. Students are introduced to the work and practices of several important fashion illustrators currently working, and those influential to the history of fashion illustration. Students also gain experience with a range of media, including colored pencil, pastel, pen, marker, and water-based paint. Previous drawing experience is helpful.

  • Class number 359: June 9–13
    9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
  • Class number 360: June 9–13
    9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
  • Class number 384: August 4–15
    9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.

Figure Drawing

Working from direct observation of the nude model in fast movement and long duration poses, students draw the human form with dry media such as graphite, charcoal, and Conté crayon. Class exercises explore other visual sources including photographs and the imagination and experimental approaches such as blind contour drawing and drawing from memory. The essential elements of life drawing, including anatomy, proportion, volume, composition, gesture, and the accurate and expressive use of line and tone are addressed.

  • Class number 357: June 9–13
    9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
  • Class number 369: July 7–18
    9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
  • Class number 381: August 4–15
    1:00–4:00 p.m.

Landscape Drawing

In this course students are introduced to traditional and nontraditional landscape drawing methods to build skills in the study of line, perspective, proportion, composition, and value. Working both inside and outside the studio, the class uses the architectural and natural sites of the city of Chicago as its subjects. By working with graphite, charcoal, and ink, students develop an increasing awareness and understanding of observation and interpretation of landscape.

  • Class number 365: June 16–27
    9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.

Oil Painting

Demonstrations on stretching a canvas, laying out a palette, various paint application techniques, and color mixing provide the fundamentals of oil painting and a strong foundation for creating portfolio-quality work. In addition, color theory, composition, structure, proportion, and perspective are explored through observational painting, as well as exercises that encourage students to confidently experiment to find their own direction and style. Please note that a nude model may be used in this course. Basic drawing and water-based painting experience required.

  • Class number 377: July 21–August 1
    9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
  • Class number 380: August 4–15
    1:00–4:00 p.m.

Portfolio Prep

Students in this advanced-level course spend the entire course working in the media of their choice (drawing, painting, sculpture, video, performance, photography, installation, etc.) with an emphasis on interdisciplinary practice. With faculty guidance and peer engagement, students explore a range of creative strategies used by contemporary, working artists to develop their own personal methods and processes to create strong, portfolio-quality work. Students develop individual projects, learn to articulate their ideas verbally and in writing, and develop strategies to craft portfolios that fully represent them as artists. Visiting artist presentations, critiques, and field trips supplement studio coursework. This course is intended for students with previous experience and a deep interest in the visual arts who want to add new work to their portfolio and are comfortable working independently from specific assignments.

  • Class number 364: August 4–15
    1:00–4:00 p.m.

Portrait Drawing Studio

Students use observation from clothed models, appropriated imagery, memory, and/or invention to develop drawing skills while experimenting with a variety of dry and wet materials, such as pencil, charcoal, pastels, ink, and mixed media. This course helps students begin to identify and develop a personal direction through exposure to historical and contemporary artists and approaches to portraiture. Artist presentations and critiques supplement the studio experience. Previous portrait and/or figure drawing experience is required.

  • Class number 373: July 21–August 1
    1:00–4:00 p.m.

Portrait Painting

This course is designed for students with previous painting experience and focuses on contemporary approaches to portraiture and self-portraiture. Students develop painting techniques with an emphasis on traditional and nontraditional painting processes, which may include additive and subtractive methods, painting from observation, appropriated imagery, painting from memory, and invention. Students work primarily in oil-based paint with the option of exploring water-based paint and/or mixed media. Artist presentations and critiques supplement the studio experience.

  • Class number 363: June 9–13
    9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

Visual Communication Design: Rethinking Ad Culture

Students learn the basic principles and elements of design and its impact on culture by reverse engineering the process of advertising. Students view, discuss, and analyze a wide variety of design strategies as they explore the history of advertising and produce their own advertisements through a contemporary art lens. Lectures examine artists and designers who use advertising in nontraditional ways, such as David Carson, Barbara Kruger, and James Rosenquist. Digital tools including drawing tablets and Adobe Photoshop may be used in conjunction with sketchbook work and traditional processes to reflect contemporary artistic hybrid methods.

  • Class number 361: June 9–13
    9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
  • Class number 383: August 4–15
    9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.

Water-Based Painting

Projects include painting from observation and the imagination using current artist practices and historical examples. Working from a variety of subjects, students may use ink, acrylic, watercolor, and mixed media within their works while building skills in color, tone, volume, contrast, and temperature. Students should have previous drawing experience, but no painting experience is necessary.

  • Class number 366: June 16–27
    1:00–4:00 p.m.
  • Class number 368: July 7–18
    9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
  • Class number 375: July 21–August 1
    1:00–4:00 p.m.

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