First Year Experience (FYE)

FF161: Tradition and Innovation

FF161: Tradition and Innovation Course Description

Drawing is an active form of thinking and a cultivable skill that can be used to support a range of art and design disciplines. This studio intensive course explores the principles, techniques, media, and applications of drawing through analog-based perceptual drawing practice. Central to this course is the “Tradition and Innovation Research Project,” in which each student researches a historical tradition of drawing, presents on that chosen tradition, and, in a culminating sustained project, creates a drawing or set of drawings that innovates on that tradition.

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

At the conclusion of the course, students will be able to:


Student Learning Outcome Required Content

Use drawing as a means to think through visual and conceptual problems.










  • Explore the multiple ways that drawing can be used to think through visual and conceptual problems

    • In class and homework assignments can be used to articulate a problem for the student to solve using drawing (and/or they can be challenged with formulating a problem)

    • Introduction to a variety of perceptual drawing conventions

      • Including: representational, expressive, objective, analytical, abstract approaches etc.

    • Introduction to a variety of drawing formats

      • Including: preliminary, sketchbook and thumbnail sketching; diagrammatic, schematic, notational and analytical drawing; narrative and metaphorical pictorial imag

      • Discuss significance of “unfinished” vs. “finished” drawings (ie. variations of resolution in a drawing)

Create drawings that demonstrate mark making, image formation and compositional arrangement, using a variety of drawing tools and materials.






Perceptual Drawing - drawing from and based on the senses

  • Observational drawing is of primary importance

  • Analog Drawing -Drawing using hand implements and physical materials

    • May include: graphite, charcoal, pen, ink, watercolor, gouache, paper and various types of material supports and substrates etc.

  • Image Formation and Composition

    • Basic visual organization strategies (Including but not limited to the Elements and Principle of Design)

    • Emphasis on black and white media

Engage with classroom community through collaboration/teamwork

At least one group in class project or one team / pair homework assignment

Through visual and verbal means, demonstrate an understanding of a tradition and innovation in drawing.













Tradition and Innovation Research Project

  • Students will conduct on a project whereby they research a specific tradition of drawing, and make a drawing(s) that attempt to innovate upon that tradition. FDC defines “innovation” as any means, ways or ideas that are new to the student, while being based on the tradition that is researched.

    • Students should give a visual and verbal presentation in class that presents the findings of their research. This is an active way of helping students learn about and contextualize a multitude of drawing traditions, historically and culturally, while promoting intercultural learning in the drawing classroom.

      • Special MICA Library Tradition/Innovation Research Page: 

      • There is no standardized format for this project

      • Projects should be documented and shared with Foundation as a way for the department to assess this course in relation to Foundation’s Program Learning Outcomes.

      • Examples of Research Projects will be Archived in the Tradition and Innovation Google Folder

Create a sustained archive that documents ideation, practice, documentation and iterative thinking.

Documentation of projects for both personal and professional use

Foster a sketchbook / journal practice