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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection


Visual arts offers a year of discovery

By Helena Moncrieff
Special to the Toronto Sun

From subway advertisements and gallery portraits to computer game graphics and website designs, the visual arts surround us. Exploring this fascinating field doesn't mean having to be born with artistic talent -- a sense of curiosity is ample.

Centennial College's Visual Art Fundamentals program serves students who have an interest in visual arts but may not be ready to take the plunge in a specific course of study. Instead, they get a grounding that can lead to a wide choice of opportunities.

Courses range from traditional approaches to drawing, life drawing and three-dimensional design, to introductory courses in digital imaging, animation and digital design.

Program Co-ordinator Gary Greenwood says it serves many needs and interests.

"Some come to build or enhance a portfolio they need to achieve success in getting accepted to a more specialized program," he says. "Others treat it as an exploratory year."

Greenwood points out that the size of the program helps with the move from high school to post-secondary education. "It's a big change. But with enrolment limited to just 100 students, we know everyone's name and how they're doing."

Others come to the program after a few years out of school, students like Annelise Chew.

"I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I figured I'd take graphic design because that's where the jobs were," Chew says. But after what she describes as an "absolutely fantastic" year at Centennial, she discovered that fine arts was her passion.

She plans to study painting and art history at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia, and now has the portfolio and the confidence to apply. Without the foundation program, Chew figures she'd probably be waiting tables.

"Now, with the background and computer knowledge and an eye for colour, I have an excellent job in the printing industry," Chew says.

Being a constant doodler or having an interest in art may provide the push for some students. But a few discover through the program that a career in art and design is quite different from simply enjoying art or having an aptitude for it. Greenwood says there are real benefits to that, too.

"It's not just a stepping stone to specific jobs but a journey of discovery," he says. "Some students have put down the paint brushes but continue with the creativity and have gone on to become chefs, for instance."

The one-year program is complemented by courses in English, creativity and contemporary art history. Some courses may be eligible for transfer credits in other post-secondary programs, providing students with advanced standing.

To learn more about Visual Art Fundamentals at Centennial, visit the website at or call 416-289-5000, ext. 8630.

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