About Art Resources


The mission of our Library and Learning Resource Center is to provide the support for all aspects of teaching and learning at the American Academy of Art.  This will be accomplished by combining current instructional techniques, a qualified, professional librarian, and appropriate library resources for all students and faculty.
Here you will find information about Art 101 courses, valuable online resources, and vocabulary list.  Continue reading “About Art Resources”

Oil Painting History

Oil painting history as we know it started to develop in the 1400s with some of the early Flemish Masters like Jan Van Eyck before spreading to other parts of Europe. Up until the 19th century, artists had to make their own oil paints and part of the craft was learning this under the tutelage of a master. You generally studied under a master artist in their workshop over many years.

How brushstrokes can influence works of art is seen in the above Jill Poyerd groundbreaking video. There are many different brushstrokes that artists can use and it’s interesting to see which strokes the Masters used that made them so famous. In the video, she traces back the history of famous artistic brushwork in the period from the early Renaissance to the late 1800s.

As Van Eyck wanted to move from painting on boards to canvas he realized to get greater detail he had to change his oil painting technique and the qualities of the materials he painted with.

Pigments came from various plants and minerals and were added to a binder to create a paste. The most common binder that was used was egg. This lead to inconsistency in the oil paints created. Something more reliable was needed and this led to the use of oils.

Continue reading “Oil Painting History”

The Era of Famous Oil Paintings

Nowadays the range of media and paints used by artists varies considerably but in previous centuries oil paints were the only type used. Colored pigments from various sources were blended with dry oil to produce brilliant and resistant paints that could be applied to both canvass and wood.

Chief among those using this type of paint were the Northern Europeans in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance painters of Italy. This short piece will look at some of the most renowned oil paintings from these two periods of art history.

The Most Famous Medieval and Renaissance Oil Paintings

Oil paintings in the Middle Ages were predominantly painted by a group of artists living in the Low Countries. They are known as the Flemish Primitives. The most magnificent of all those paintings has to be ‘The Lamb of God’.

Continue reading “The Era of Famous Oil Paintings”

The Origins of Oil Painting

Today, when we think about painting, we tend to conjure up the image of the Renaissance masters and their oil painted masterpieces. However, oil paints were not always the medium of choice for artists, and other methods were once more popular. In this article, we look at the origins of oil painting and find out how its popularity rose to become the iconic artist’s medium we know today. The following video gives a clear idea of the origins of oil painting:

When Were The First Oil Paintings?

The first oil paintings are said to have been dated back to 11th century, however, the art form did not gain major acceptance until many centuries later, when the Flemish painters adopted its use.
So, how and why did the use of oils become so widespread?

The Earliest Oil Paintings

Continue reading “The Origins of Oil Painting”

Chicago’s Great Museums and Local Culture

Chicago offers many museums for art, for children and for air and space and just about anything else you may wish to learn more about. All of the fine museums in Chicago are excellent. Perfect for taking a day to immerse oneself in the learning process.

If you have the kids along on the trip be sure to visit the Chicago Children’s Museum and let them learn as only kids do with the hands-on exhibits and interactive stations. They’ll just love it and you’ll be glad you went too.

Then you will definitely want to make time to visit the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum and delve into the history of the stars. It is quite fascinating and well worth the time. When you have another couple of hours you’ll want to admire the exquisite pieces and art collection at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Surely, you’ll want to make a stop at the Lederman Science Center for the inquisitive side of you.

Continue reading “Chicago’s Great Museums and Local Culture”

Course Art History- First Critique Assignment

The first short critique is due at the beginning of class week 4. The content of the assignment and some suggested questions are listed below. The school accepts both students with a high school and GED diploma. We refer to BestGEDClasses.org’s online GED prep classes if applicants still need to acquire a secondary education degree. This assignment should be formatted as a formal paper; a list of questions and answers will not be accepted.


-> Choose an artifact from a local museum collection (i.e. the Art Institute, the Oriental Institute, etc.). Students must visit the museum of their choice, and should not base their analysis on images from a web page.

-> Write a 2 + page critique discussing the object. Things you should consider when you are analyzing the object:

1. How is the object made? What materials are used? If the object is colored, what colors or pigments are used?
2. What basic size and shape does it have?
3. What distinguishing features does the object have?
4. Where was the object found? What else was found with it?

Continue reading “Course Art History- First Critique Assignment”

The Best Oil Painters in History

The oil painting medium has been a staple in the art world for centuries.
Though it is a common technique, a select few artists have become known for their masterful oil paintings. Here are some of the most renowned oil painting artists in history.

Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci was a famous artist who used oil to create stunning works of art. Perhaps his most famous oil painting is the Mona Lisa. This one painting has been the subject of wide debate in academic and art history circles for centuries, and the public, in general, has been intrigued by this work done in oils. The Last Supper is another famous oil painting by da Vinci, as are The Adoration of the Magi, Virgin of the Rocks, and The Virgin and Child with St. Anne.

Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh’s life is as storied as his art, and he was one of the masters of oil painting. He created many well known still life paintings, landscapes, and portraits as well as one of the most recognized pieces of art in the world: The Starry Night. It was completed in 1889, after Vincent van Gogh’s stay in an asylum following the infamous event in which he self-mutilated his own ear. The Starry Night is considered to be one of van Gogh’s finest pieces and is a stand out of the post-Impressionist era.

Continue reading “The Best Oil Painters in History”

American Academy of Art Irving Shapiro Library

The American Academy of Art’s Library is named for Irving Shapiro (1927-1994). Irving was a Chicago native who studied painting at Chicago’s Art Institute and later at the American Academy of Art (AAA). Irving Shapiro was teaching art at the AAA from 1945 until the day he retired. Watercolor was his world and quite a few artists that work in watercolor these days refer to Shapiro as possibly the most influential of all their teachers.

One of the typical characteristics of watercolor is its transparency. Watercolor is consisting of thin mixtures of paint pigments from a solid block or a tube that are suspended in water, and when the painter’s brush is laying down the paint, the colors spread rapidly which leaves transparent layers of color on the often wet paper. Watercolor paintings are actually built in controlled wash areas.
Continue reading “American Academy of Art Irving Shapiro Library”

Art History-Third Critique Assignment

Second assignment: the content of the assignment and some suggested questions are listed below. This assignment should be formatted as a formal paper; a list of questions and answers will not be accepted.
Choose an artifact from the Byzantine empire or from western Europe through the 9th century. Students are reminded to choose an art object, not a functional object our tool from the period, although architectural structures are acceptable. Students can reference any reputable websites; the library website has some useful links.

Write a 2-page critique discussing the object. Things you should consider when you are analyzing the object:
1. How is the object made? What materials are used? If the object is colored, what colors or pigments are used?
2. What basic shape does it have?
3. What is the size of the object?
4. What distinguishing features does the object have?
Continue reading “Art History-Third Critique Assignment”

Seattle Asian Art Museum takes on bigger role

Works of art are frozen in time, but Art Museums are living entities that can change and grow… The follwing video is slighty dated (2016) but gives you a great insight in what Seattle Asian Art Museum at Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill offers.

But talking of museums as living entities that may change and grow, this is also the case with the Seattle Art Museum (commonly referred to as ‘SAM’). SAM closed its downtown location earlier to allow for an extensive remodeling process that almost doubled the museum’ exhibition space.

In 1994, the Volunteer Park facility reopened as the Seattle Asian Art Museum. In 2007 the Olympic Sculpture Park opened to the public, culminating an 8-year process. Since 1994, the Seattle Asian Art Museum (SAAM) has been located in the original Deco/Moderne SAM facility (dating back to 1933) in Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill, Seattle.

Continue reading “Seattle Asian Art Museum takes on bigger role”

The Life and Paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe

Georgia O’Keeffe is one of the most famous American female artists of the American modernism movement. She was born in Wisconsin in 1887 and lived to the age of 98. After spending her early years in Wisconsin, she moved to Virginia with her family.

After studying in Chicago, she eventually moved to New York, where she lived until she moved to New Mexico in 1949 after settling the affairs of her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, who passed away in 1946. During much of the time she lived in New York she spent summers in New Mexico painting.

Georgia O’Keeffe is best known for her larger-than-life paintings of flowers, although she also painted bones, landscapes and the buildings of New York. Her abstract imagery of the 1910s and early 1920s is among the most innovative of any work produced in the period by American artists.

Continue reading “The Life and Paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe”