Resources and Support for Students, Faculty and Staff
Click here to learn more
Watkins student works with clay to create a dish
Undergraduate | In-Person

Studio Art, BFA

In Watkins' B.F.A. in Studio Art, you will refine a wide range of artistic techniques and styles while discovering your artistic voice and area of focus.

In This Section

Request Information


Ready to Apply?

Start Your Application

Contact Us

Watkins College of Art

Elise Haines
Admissions Coordinator
Email Elise

Why Major in Studio Art? 

The Watkins College of Art's B.F.A. in Studio Art begins with a core art and art history foundation. We offer six concentration areas in drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, ceramics and sculpture. We believe that all mediums of art inform and enhance one another. Upon completion of the program, you will emerge a polished, well-rounded fine artist with strong vocational footing.

During your time at Belmont, you will have the opportunity to attend many artist talks, workshops and studio visits. You will be able to professionally exhibit your work in one of our four gallery spaces. Your senior year, you will create your final, cohesive body of work in the senior exhibition course; a class that culminates your time here as an artist.

The program will prepare you for a career as a professional artist, for employment opportunities in a wide variety of art-related fields or for admission to graduate school. Studio majors work closely with their advisor and teachers in the department to best plan their career or graduate education path. Most graduate M.F.A. programs require that students have a broad range of studio courses with an exceptional portfolio of creative work, something we pride ourselves on helping students achieve.

What You'll Learn

  • Painting
  • Drawing and Figure Drawing
  • Printmaking
  • Photography
  • Ceramics
  • Sculpture

Career Possibilities

  • Fine Artist
  • Gallery/Museum Curator
  • Art Conservationist
  • Art Director
  • Professional Photographer
  • Art Therapist
  • Muralist
  • 3D Product Design
  • Production/Set Design

Watkins student Lane Carnell in patterned shirt in front of colored lights

"My time as a studio student has empowered me to explore a marketplace of ideas and allowed me to capture my own true lens for this world. Without the guidance of the faculty and staff at Belmont, I would not have made the dive into the art realm." -Lane Carnell, Class of 2021, Bristol, TN

Program Details


Students in the Studio Art program are required to complete the Foundation Program, three levels of Drawing and Painting, two levels of all other studio courses, 12 hours of Art History and present a Senior Exhibition of their work.

Students use their art electives to choose classes from Drawing, Illustration, Figure Drawing, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, Ceramics or Sculpture.

See All Program Requirements

Courses you'll take include:

  • ART 1000, Introduction to Visual Interpretation

An introductory study of Art and Design emphasizing the analysis and interpretation of images drawn from various global and historical contexts. Conceptual and formal links between the visual arts and the cultural frameworks through which they are produced, viewed and critiqued are stressed.

  • ART 1011, 2-D: Principles of Color

An introduction to subtractive color mixtures, using the 12-hue subtractive color wheel as a basis. Projects will include studying value, saturation, disharmony, color matching and emotional color.

  • ART 1020, 3-D Design

An introduction to the basic principles of 3-dimensional design, this course combines design theory with projects created by each student. Students will explore the basic components of 3-dimensional art, which includes subject, form and content. A variety of materials and techniques will be introduced. Projects and discussions centered around 3-dimensional design and creative ideas help foster an understanding of basic 3-dimensional concepts and serve as a foundation for sculpture, ceramics and design.

  • ART 1030, Drawing I

This course will introduce the basics of drawing practices and concepts through various materials that will be used to explore topics such as, space, shape, proportion, scale, contour line, linear perspective, mark making and value. An emphasis is placed on the process of perception through hands-on assignments that focus on accurately creating the illusion of three-dimensional forms in space on a two-dimensional picture plane, most often from direct observation.

  • ART 2030, Drawing II

This course will review, continue and expand upon practices, concepts and techniques introduced in Drawing l. An emphasis is placed on the integration of visual elements with the personal expression of ideas through conventional and unconventional materials, surfaces and approaches to create credible illusions. An in-depth investigation of drawing and its opportunities and possibilities will be explored through various assignments that promote creativity, discovery and artistic development.

  • ART 1400, Introduction to Digital Imaging

This introductory course in digital imaging will introduce students to the basic Macintosh hardware and operating system. In addition, the course is a survey of basic animation, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. Project may incorporate a variety of mediums including print and motion media.

  • ART 1010, Creative Visualization

This course serves as a studio-based investigation of visual creativity and is based on core concepts introduced in ART 1000. The course experiences will focus on the active exploration, analysis and practice of the multiple stages other creative process, which includes the use of formal procedures, experimentation and accidental discovery. The course topics will examine the root sources and processes of inspiration, while the course projects will cultivate the use of borrowing, synthesizing and remixing of visual forms. Students will actively learn to observe, reflect, brainstorm and self-critique while engaging in visual expression, and be able to demonstrate this knowledge and skill required of all creative visual practitioners.

  • ART 1040, Figure Drawing I

The course practice will consist primarily of observing and drawing the human figure in a wide range of poses, lighting conditions and time frames and learning to use a variety of media and techniques. Special emphasis will be on placing a figure within a composition and using correct anatomical proportions. Additional out-of-class drawings with figurative elements will be assigned in order to further develop perceptual sensitivities. Students completing the course should be able to draw the human figure using conté crayon, charcoal and graphite as well as understand several historical approaches used to make successful figure drawings.

  • ART 2040, Figure Drawing II

This course continues the basic disciplines learned in Figure Drawing I. Students will also learn to integrate color with more perceptive interpretation of the human figure. A wider variety of drawing media will be used, including oil pastels, colored pencils, sharpies and pastels. Equal emphasis will be placed on creating expressive drawings and on using realistic anatomical proportions.

  • ART 1050, Painting I

An introduction to the techniques, materials and methods used in acrylic, oil, watercolor and mixed media. Exercises include color wheels, color matching and brushwork techniques. Painting assignments include landscape, portrait, watercolor and mixed media. Composition, color mixing and problem-solving are stressed.

  • ART 2050, Painting II

A continuing exploration of the painting process, with emphasis on technical development, experimentation and individual creative expression. Students might explore several visual concepts including genre, narrative, color interpretation and personal interpretations of masterworks. Students will also complete free-choice paintings. Composition, color mixing and problem-solving will continue to be stressed.

  • ART 1060, Introduction to Darkroom Photography

An introduction to the basics of black and white photography. This class emphasizes the basic parts and operation of an SLR (manual) camera, black-and-white film processing and darkroom use. Students will study the basics of composition, design, lighting, printing, processing and final print presentation. Students will learn to develop film, process prints and other printing controls such as dodging, burning, split filtering, experimental printing techniques and the use of filters. Concentration is on photography as a fine art medium. Students must have a 35mm manual control camera.

  • ART 1100, Digital Photography

This is a beginning-level class, starting at and expanding on the basics of DSLR color exposure, processing in Camera RAW, Bridge and Photoshop as well as the basics of using the scanner as a means of photographic capture. This class will cover the basics of photographic color theory, composition fundamentals in photography and the applications of color in photography. There will be a strong emphasis on developing the ability to communicate ideas effectively through the photographic medium as well as the ability to talk about photographic works analytically, formally and conceptually. Concentration is on photography as a fine art medium.

  • ART 2300, Intermediate Photography

This course is a continued study of digital photography through advanced digital capture, advanced Photoshop techniques, scanning film, digital printmaking and artificial lighting. Students will move from physical media (film) to digital files, and back to physical media through the process of digital printmaking. Students will be able to experiment with a variety of digital papers as well as scale in printing and the narrative potential of video art and photo books. Through lectures, readings and library visits, students will engage with both the virtual and physical spaces of photographic production.

  • ART 1070, Clay I

This course provides an introduction to the design and creation of ceramic forms. Students will be introduced to a variety of clay bodies, basic construction methods—including pinch and coil pots, slab-building and wheel throwing—and the demonstration of different firing techniques. Additional focus will be made on the use of glazes, slips and engobes. Students will gain a visual awareness of the aesthetics of original ceramic pottery and/or sculpture and learn to identify and use the techniques, tools, processes and materials associated with them.

  • ART 2070, Clay II

A continuation of the work in clay in which the student concentrates on hand-building, sculpture and/or wheel throwing. A refinement of Clay I techniques plus the possible introduction to raku (including firing in a modern raku kiln). Clay I techniques are to be refined with an emphasis on individual creative expression. Students will continue to explore the creative possibilities of original ceramic pottery and/or sculpture with a greater emphasis on decorating and glazing techniques.

  • ART 1080, Sculpture I

This course emphasizes the development of artistic expression in sculptural form. Students will explore traditional and contemporary sculptural materials, techniques and concepts. Media explored include: woodworking, modeling, carving and fabrication. Students are encouraged to explore sculpture in more conceptual depth a medium they find to be of interest. Students will be exposed to historical and contemporary artists with an emphasis on sculptors.

  • ART 2080, Sculpture II

Continues from Sculpture I. Intensive exploration of sculptural concepts through the use of selected techniques and materials, with an emphasis on the development of individual expression.

  • ART 1090, Printmaking I

This course will explore the potential for fine art image-making within the field of printmaking through an introduction to the techniques and materials of monotype, relief, intaglio, lithography, serigraphy and other print media. An emphasis is placed on developing an understanding of the medium and its processes through critical judgement and print assignments that promote creativity and artistic growth. The historical and contemporary context of printmaking in the visual arts is examined and explained through lectures, readings, demonstrations and studio practices that reinforce the basics of this course.

  • ART 2090, Printmaking II

This course will continue exploring the potential for fine art image-making within the field of printmaking by expanding upon the techniques and materials of monotype, relief, intaglio, lithography, serigraphy and other print media. Advanced methods and approaches will be introduced with an emphasis on the process and classifications of color printmaking through assignments that promote creativity and artistic growth. The historical and contemporary context of printmaking in the visual arts is examined and explained through lectures, readings, demonstrations and studio practices that reinforce the basics of this course.

  • ART 2850, Portfolio Practices

Through inquiry, reflection and integration, students will bring coherence to, synthesize and integrate learning experiences inside and outside of the classroom in the context of a liberal arts university by producing an electronic portfolio for both academic and professional purposes. This course will introduce students to the basis of documenting, curating, reflecting on and showcasing learned proficiency as shown through such artifacts as visual and written work. The course will emphasize both visual and written/reflective components of creating and critique. Students will also be introduced to professional practices in preparation for an internship.

  • Art 2800, World Art - Pre-Modern

This course offers an introductory overview of visual art, material objects and architecture representing cultures from around the world beginning in the era of Prehistory to ca. 1300. Visual analysis of forms, techniques, styles, subjects and symbolism is grounded in an understanding of related historical contexts and societal beliefs.

  • ART 2810, World Art - Early & Modern

This course explores visual art and architecture across many cultures and geographies from the early modern period to the present day. Visual analysis of forms, techniques, styles, subjects and symbolism frame global narratives and cross-cultural connections within a chronological overview.

  • ART 4740, Contemporary Art

A study of the visual arts from 1980 to the present. This course moves beyond the considerations of modernism to examine the revolutionary theories and practices in contemporary visual art, and explores how these works reflect current social, political, psychological and technological realities.

  • ART 4800, Advanced Studio

This course will focus on the continuing development of self-directed research and critical analysis within the art studio genre. Students are encouraged to pursue a focused personal vision through a combination of studio practice integrated within the context of a lager culture that is shaped by literature, history, philosophy, politics, economics, technology and contemporary art theory. Critical thinking, argumentation and analytical skills will all be emphasized extensively. The course seeks to produce student artists who engage both critically and imaginatively with the world around them. Students are given challenging, direct individual critiques which help them conform the more complex problems facing artists who already have a strong grasp of techniques and who have a need to solve the difficult but fascinating challenge of developing a personal visual language. Emphasis on critical studies and professional practices in the arts.

  • ART 4820, Advanced Studio: Exhibition/Portfolio

This course will focus on the continuing development of self-directed research and critical analysis within the art studio genre. Students are encouraged to pursue a focused personal vision through a combination of studio practice integrated within the context of a lager culture that is shaped by literature, history, philosophy, politics, economics, technology and contemporary art theory. Critical thinking, argumentation and analytical skills will all be emphasized extensively. Ultimate goal is development of a visually coherent and conceptually unified body of work, exhibition and thesis. This course can be repeated twice.

Your major will provide you with a wide array of opportunities including but not limited to:

  • Study abroad (Semester, Maymester or Summer)
  • Study away for a semester in alternate markets through Belmont USA (N.Y.C., L.A., Washington D.C.)
  • Internships- Our relationship to Nashville’s professional creative community is personal and rich. We will assist you with internship placement to ensure the experience is a good fit.
  • Four campus gallery spaces to professionally exhibit your work
  • Opportunities to present at campus-wide research symposiums and professional conferences
  • Kappa Pi, an international honorary art fraternity
  • Compete in local, regional and international art/design competitions

We encourage you to explore the exceptional work our students create in their programs.

View Student Work

The Watkins College of Art requires all students applying for a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree to submit a portfolio as a part of the admissions process. You must first be admitted to Belmont before hearing a decision from Watkins. 

Portfolios submitted before December 1 will be considered for the Watkins Merit Scholarships. Any applications submitted after December 1 will be considered for admission, but not for departmental scholarships.  

View all Portfolio Guidelines

Deadlines for the Portfolio and Belmont application: 
December 1 for scholarship consideration 
April 1 for incoming freshmen students 
June 1 for incoming transfer students 

What if I am accepted to Belmont but not the BFA program? 
Any applicants not accepted into a BFA program will have the option to be enrolled in a second major of their choice. We encourage applicants to select one of our Bachelor of Arts (BA) majors (See below). At the end of the student’s freshman year and completion of foundational courses, the student will be eligible to reapply to the BFA program through another portfolio review. 

The Watkins College of Art has significant scholarship opportunities for students. Last year, the college offered more than 55 scholarships to incoming students valued over $380,000.

Applicants who intend to pursue a degree in the Watkins College of Art and wish to be considered for the merit-based scholarship must submit an essay and portfolio of work in art and/or design. Students must have their Belmont application and portfolio submitted by December 1 to be eligible for the scholarships.

Please visit the Portfolio Guidelines page for more specific details.

Learn more.

Need-based scholarships will be determined from a student's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This is the official form that families use to apply for college financial assistance from the federal government.

Studio Minor

A studio minor is an excellent way to balance or integrate your creative interests with the practical concerns of your chosen major. All courses in this minor have a relationship to the fundamental practices of visual art.

Students engage in a full range of creative expression in both 2D and 3D forms and can use those experiences to expand, enhance and refine their visual skills and knowledge. In addition, the minor serves as a means to develop better powers of critical analysis.

Painting Minor

The primary goals for the painting minor are knowledge of and proficiency in painting practice, supported by craftsmanship, individual initiative, creativity and the ability to interpret ideas through artistic expression. Students are required to demonstrate a thorough understanding of value, color, composition, drawing and expression, and the role these elements play in conveying meaning in their work. Students study the use of acrylic, oil, watercolor and mixed-media, and demonstrate through the development of their work proficiency in a range of painting methods that may include landscape, portrait, the figure, abstraction and experimental paint application techniques.

Photography Minor

Photography minors first study the basics of composition, design, lighting, processing and printing film and producing effective prints. With additional classes students are enabled to explore photography as an expressive, personal tool, reflecting its status as a fine art medium. Students primarily explore traditional darkroom techniques, in addition to digital photography. Students also have the opportunity to explore non-traditional techniques in upper-level classes. At all levels, emphasis is placed on creativity, personal expression and the quality of finished prints.

Illustration Minor

The Illustration program allows students to dig deeper into narrative and visual development, sequential art, graphic novels, children's books, art licensing and more. This minor is the perfect companion for every storyteller at Belmont. Visual stories predate oral and written traditions by a long shot, so dive into the deep end of human DNA and show your stories. Learn how to craft successful images combining what you see with what you imagine. Excellent drawing skills are not required but a sense of play and purpose will aid in your journey to visualize short and tall tales.

In addition to Belmont University's Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) accreditation, the Watkins College of Art is a fully accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

Request Information

Contact Us

Watkins College of Art

Elise Haines
Admissions Coordinator
Email Elise