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Visual Arts

Brentwood School offers a wide array of visual arts experiences. Students, using the elements and principles of art as their guide, turn basic concepts into personally relevant art. Teachers direct, and students imagine, experiment, practice, and grow in a supportive atmosphere that fosters creative self-expression. This creativity spreads contagiously throughout each class, the department, and the school, producing actively engaged artists and the outstanding artwork that is prominently displayed in numerous campus locations.

Our dedicated gallery space has a full yearly calendar and serves as a dynamic display center for student art, guest artist presentations, and faculty exhibitions. Regularly, art education extends beyond the classroom through a series of artists' talks that make concepts and imagery come alive for our school community. In April, our All-School Art Show spotlights K-12 visual art in a week long celebration that honors each artist and gives an overview of our comprehensive visual program. Each year, two department wide collaborative projects engage each visual discipline in the exploration of a shared theme, with opening receptions that invite the entire campus to participate in art and ideas. Additionally, our Theater Lobby Gallery presents work that enhances and supports performing arts events, and our Library display space engages all who congregate there.

Students also submit to and are accepted in various art competitions at the local, regional, and national levels. Preparation, production, and presentation are at the heart of Brentwood School's visual arts program.


Ceramics & Sculpture


Drawing & Composition

Stained Glass


Studio Art


Ceramics & Sculpture

Ceramics and Sculpture classes offer students the opportunity to build technical and creative skills in the concentration of clay and mixed media. Projects range from traditional functional pottery forms to conceptually driven expressive art pieces. Beginning students develop technical skills such as hand-building, wheel throwing, and glazing. More advanced assignments investigate the art making process as a vehicle for critical thinking, personal inquiry, and discovery.

Click here to watch the new BWS Ceramic video to see the Fall semester Ceramic student accomplishments.

Drawing & Composition

Drawing and Composition classes are structured sequentially to give students the skills to translate their ideas into drawings, paintings, and mixed media pieces. Art history and the work of contemporary artists are integrated into lessons. In Drawing and Composition I, working from observation is emphasized. Experiences using resources and the incorporation of perspective and light sources are introduced into projects to help students illustrate personal and social ideas or themes.


Brentwood School's new film program is designed to introduce students to all the essential skills and techniques necessary to create their own films. Now entering its second year, the program currently offers three one-semester classes available to all students from grades 9-12: Introduction to Filmmaking, Advanced Filmmaking, and Video Editing. Over the course of the semester, students learn the fundamentals of storytelling and how they apply to the film world, and develop skills in all phases of the production process, including concept creation, shooting techniques, and video editing. Students also develop the ability to analyze and critique the film medium, enriching their experience as viewers in our media-saturated world. Throughout each course, selected student work is submitted to local and regional film festivals for consideration, and shared with the school community on our YouTube channel, BWS Eaglevision.

Check out these and other one minute movies on YouTube:
Hideaway, Directed by Taylor L. '17
Archer, Directed by Daniel V. '17
Stalker, Directed by Austin J. '17


Photography courses in the Upper School at Brentwood School are open to all grade levels 9th - 12th. These courses are sequential and range from Photo 1 on up to Honors Photo 6. These classes are designed for students who simply want to learn to take better pictures, and for those who are accomplished photo enthusiast. Photography at Brentwood presents an exciting in-depth understanding of both Darkroom and Digital techniques. Students learn about attaining proper exposure, camera functions, creating black & white prints in the darkroom, and learning Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator & InDesign).

The AP 2D Design course is an advanced course in photography and design. This class is a survey of ideas and techniques regarding the visual structure of 2D design, including the elements of design (line, color, shape, value, texture, space) in relation to the principals of design (unity/variety, balance, emphasis, contrast, rhythm, repetition, proportion/scale, and figure/ground). Students investigate all facets of abstraction through design, composition, and theoretical elements relative to the medium via studio projects, lectures, group critiques, gallery/museum visits,and presentations on contemporary & historical artists and designers. Studio projects, critique participation, journals, and critical writing projects are required. The course promotes a sustained investigation of all three aspects of portfolio development - quality, concentration, and breadth - in 2D design throughout the duration of this one-year course.

Stained Glass

Sun light shining on colored panes sends rainbow hues reflecting throughout the studio as students learn to design and fabricate using art glass. Expressing creative ideas in this medium, those who enroll in the many levels of stained glass classes offered will experience both "Tiffany" and leaded glass construction in two and three-dimensional formats. Continued investigation and use of the elements and principles of art are explored through a series of student oriented, teacher directed experiences. Techniques are honed by experience and support an evolving artistic vision as projects gain in sophistication over time, both mechanically and aesthetically.

Studio Art

Our Advanced Placement Studio Art program is a full year course that follows guidelines established by the College Board. The "2D Design," "3D Design," and "Drawing" portfolios are offered. Through an evolving series of teacher directed exercises, students will learn to develop techniques into acquired skills and gain a meaningful understanding of the use and application of elements andprinciples of design for self-expression and portfolio completion. At the completion of the course, portfolios are submitted to the College Board for assessment.

Poster Competition

The Performing Arts Department and the Visual Arts Department collaborate together on the poster designs for various performances. Students prep thumbnail sketches and discuss their ideas in one-on-one meetings with the photography teacher. Once posters are completed, they are submitted anonymously to a board of judges who evaluate, write comments, and select a winning design. The photos below showcase some of the posters that have won over the years.

"The Laramie Project" by Julia E. '20
"The Laramie Project" by Julia E. '20

This is the first winning design for Freshman Julia E. '20 in the 2017 Performing/Visual Arts poster design competition. This also marks the first time a Freshman student has won this highly competitive poster competition since 2012. Sharing her thoughts on her first place poster for the tragic nonfiction play "The Laramie Project" she comments: After I heard the introduction of this play by the director and I saw the movie, I immediately thought my design should have a dark feeling. The photo I used has gloomy clouds in the back and depicts a long road going deep into the hills. This symbolizes the journey of tragedy Matthew Shepard and the community of Laramie had to face after Matthew's death. The rainbow combined with the US flag ironically represents the gay community and the US as a united community, which they are not. I wanted the text to be simple and classic, so the viewer would clearly see that this is a very real and tragic play. I was thrilled to find out that I had won this poster contest, especially because of how meaningful this play is and continues to be.

"Guys and Dolls" by Mia B. '19
"Guys and Dolls" by Mia B. '19

This is the first winning design for Sophomore Mia B. '19 in the 2017 Performing/Visual Arts poster design competition. As a second semester Photo 1 student, this is also Mia's first time competing in this highly competitive poster competition. Sharing her thoughts on her first place poster for the iconic 1950s musical Guys and Dolls, she comments: "When taking on the Guys and Dolls poster assignment, at first I wasn't sure which direction I wanted to go. I figured out that sometimes the best inspiration comes from going back to the original. I found a vintage Guys and Dolls posters online and was automatically drawn to the vibrant colors and playful feel. I decided that keeping the design simple and bright with a retro feel was the best way to go. When I found out I had won I did not believe it was true, as I never expected to win with so many other amazing entrees. I feel extremely honored!"

"DIVAS" by Gavin D. '18
"DIVAS" by Gavin D. '18

For the past two years, Junior Gavin D. '18 has competed in all of the Performing/Visual Arts poster competitions. This is Gavin's first winning design. Sharing his thoughts on his first place poster for the Brentwood Dance Companies production of DIVAS, he comments: "I was inspired by the famous 1959 "Giselle" poster designed by legendary Swiss designer Armin Hoffman with its minimalist dance figure and bold typography. I had an original idea to use the silhouette and dark background, but was not sure how to arrange the type. Mr. Donis showed me the "Giselle" poster to help inspire me on how to arrange the overall design; luckily it worked and I won!"

"Lysistrata" by Joe S. '18
"Lysistrata" by Joe S. '18

For the past two years, Junior Joe S. has competed in all of the Performing/Visual Arts poster competitions. This is Joe's first winning design. Sharing his thoughts on his first place poster for the anti-war Greek comedy production of <i>Lysistrata</i>, he comments: "I drew inspiration for my Lysistrata poster from the minimalist designs of the famous graphic artist Saul Bass. By using as little elements as possible to convey a double meaning of sex and war, I punctuate the message rather than bringing the viewer's attention to the design itself. It's a highly symbolic and fun piece, and it provided its own unique set of challenges along the way. I'm very happy that I got the chance to design for such an ancient play, but one that still maintains relevance today."

&quot;Voices Carry&quot; by Danielle S. '17
"Voices Carry" by Danielle S. '17

For the past four years, senior Danielle S. has competed in the Theater Arts poster competitions and has placed in the top ten almost every time. This is Danielle's first invitation to create a special project for the Performing Arts Department. Sharing her thoughts on her recent poster design she comments: "When I first met with BWS Music Director Mr. Hilbert, he informed me that he wanted the poster to be lively and inspirational. I wanted to communicate an uplifting poster by the use of bright colors and delicate fonts. The Voices Carry concert represents how one's voice can create a powerful message for all kinds of people. Knowing that the concert was around fall, I knew that a pumpkin was a good idea for my poster design. I felt as though the hanging leaves would have a seasonal flare and still add a clever concept to my minimalistic design."

&quot;Playboy of the Western World&quot; by Charlie N. '18
"Playboy of the Western World" by Charlie N. '18

This is the first winning design for Charlie N.'18 in the 2016 Performing/Visual Arts poster design competition. Charlie has placed in the Top Ten since the beginning of the Fall semester. Sharing his thoughts on his first place poster for this turn of the century play by Irish playwright J.M. Sygne The Playboy of the Western World, he comments: "When I designed the poster, my aim was to create something symbolic that referenced some of the play's themes and characters within the artwork. I used lots of dark earthly tones in order to convey the setting of a rural Irish landscape. I decided to use a shovel as one of the main symbols, because it is a recurring prop in the play and I thought it would fit well with the dirty, run-down feel of this production. The two faces on either side of the shovel symbolically portray two of the main characters in the play. I had a lot of fun putting this poster together and couldn't be happier to have had it chosen."

&quot;American Jukebox&quot; by Eli B. '18
"American Jukebox" by Eli B. '18

For the past two years, sophomore Eli B. '18 has competed in all the Performing/Visual Arts poster competitions. After placing in the top ten almost every competition since freshman year, "American Jukebox" is Eli's first winning design. Sharing his thoughts on his first place poster for the Spring Music Concert "American Jukebox" he comments, "When I first started designing this poster I made several thumbnail sketches. I had many ideas, but I finally decided on creating a classic jukebox and to stick with the 'red, white, and blue' color scheme. I chose a stencil font to drive home the idea of American culture in the 1950s.This is my first time winning a poster competition after so many defeats. I'm so happy and excited that mine was chosen. It's a nice feeling to finally win!"

&quot;The Importance of Being Earnest&quot; by Lina D. '17
"The Importance of Being Earnest" by Lina D. '17

For the past year Junior, Lina D. '17, has competed in all the Performing/Visual Arts poster competitions. This is Lina's first winning design. Sharing her thoughts on her first place poster for the Oscar Wilde comedy The Importance of Being Earnest, she comments: "For this poster, my idea was to have an enormous bustle on a Victorian dress. I thought it would be really interesting to have the woman be large since so many of the women characters in the play have such over-the-top and powerful roles. I also tried to keep it playful since the play is a comedy. I absolutely love the costumes that were created for this show, so this was also part of my inspiration. I made sure to match the dress to the same color as the one created. This is my first time winning a poster competition, and I feel so honored and excited that mine was chosen when there were so many amazing designs."

&quot;Love Gone Wrong&quot; by Amelia R. '17
"Love Gone Wrong" by Amelia R. '17

For the past three years Junior, Amelia R. '17, has competed in all of the Performing/Visual Arts poster competitions. This is Amelia's first winning design. Sharing her thoughts on her first place poster for the comedy production of "Love Gone Wrong," she comments: "For my poster design, I decided to put emphasis on the typography. I wanted to use fun type to extenuate the light-hearted theme of the night. I focused on the contrast of the bold colors and wanted to match the poster to the fun and lively mood that a night of music and comedy would bring! I'm so happy to have been chosen and I can't wait to see the performance!"

&quot;Les Misérables&quot; by Rafe F. '16
"Les Misérables" by Rafe F. '16

This is Senior Rafe F.'s first winning design in the Visual/Performing Arts poster competition. Sharing his thoughts on his first place poster series for the All School Musical "Les Misérables" he comments: "My original plan for the poster was much more complex and busy. It probably would have looked terrible! I started working on it and after adding the first layer of my initial design I realized that keeping it simple would make it work better. A lot of the elements of the posters are created by hand because I'm more used to working with traditional materials and love the way they look when incorporated into graphic design. I'm so glad the judges decided to pick my entry! "

&quot;Voices Carry&quot; by Sawyer T. '16
"Voices Carry" by Sawyer T. '16

Graduating Senior Sawyer T. 16' has been a wildly successful competitor in the Performing Arts poster competitions. This is Sawyer's first special project for the Music Department to design the 2015 "Voices Carry" poster and his second design featured for the Performing Arts Department ("Boeing, Boeing" 2014). Sharing his thoughts on designing this special project he writes: "When I met with our Music Director Mr. Hilbert, he told me to think of the phrase 'We are the World' when designing this poster, so that's the idea I tried to get across. I employed unconventional colors on the main figure to stand for the different cultures and ethnicities around the world. I also wanted to communicate how voices have the ability to provoke change across the globe – from loud protests to political debates to choral concerts – so I made the voice in the poster look like a projection onto the world. In short, the poster embodies the power that verbal expression has over others."

&quot;Middletown&quot; by Ali W. '16
"Middletown" by Ali W. '16

For the past two years Senior Ali W. '16 has competed in all the Performing/Visual Arts poster competitions. This is Ali's first winning design. Sharing her thoughts on her first place poster for the play "Middletown" she comments: "For this poster I had an idea of a small town on the edge of the earth, drifting away into the universe. I wanted lots of stars trickling down and dropping over space as if coming down to earth, and the house floating up like it was going to meet the stars. I have always loved everything about the Northern Lights, so the background was largely inspired by that; I chose colors and patterns that to me mirrored the beauty and haziness of those lights, and lots of clouds to add an indistinct glow to the weirdness of a house floating away into them. I particularly followed the thought of the Northern Lights because I cannot imagine a more literal translation of the earth and space meeting than a real life small town that sits under them, so for this poster that was definitely a big inspiration and pretty much entirely how I pictured "Middletown". There were so many great posters designed for this competition and I think many of them deserve to be shown. I am honored that the judges believed my work was worthy of recognition."

&quot;The 39 Steps&quot; by Eric G. '17
"The 39 Steps" by Eric G. '17

Throughout this journey of creating my "39 Steps" poster I was inspired by numerous designers and concepts. Since this satirical play essentially begins with a woman getting mysteriously stabbed in the back, I wanted to highlight the importance of her death. Furthermore, to symbolize her dramatic death, I added a subtle hint of a hand with a knife as a shadow. After some research I was also inspired by a poster for the film "Rocky", which was done as an homage to the designer Saul Bass, who was the poster designer for many of Alfred Hitchcock's early films. The character of "Rocky" on this poster had a shadow that led to stairs. Similar to this design, I decided to recreate the steps beginning from the dead woman's leg and up diagonally across the poster. I also spent quite a while trying to find an appropriate font that was both comedy-oriented and had a 40s retro feel.

&quot;Cabaret&quot; by Nicole R. '16
"Cabaret" by Nicole R. '16

When the "Cabaret" competition was assigned to class, I was immediately eager to design a poster for such a fabulous production. While this poster may not scream "musical" or show women in scantly clad lingerie (as might be expected for this play), it stands out as an original approach that is unlike any that have been created for previous productions of this musical. I was fortunate to have already created a photographic homage to the photographer Richard Avedon, whose portrait of Liza Minnelli I recreated, which couldn't be more fitting for "Cabaret"! To give this photo more of a graphic feel, I carved the image onto a rubber block and made a hand-printed stamp that created the wood-block, which was a common technique used on posters and graphics of 1930s Weimar era Germany. The emphasis of the design was placed on the eyes, which gives an alluring and emotional stare to the viewer without being racy or controversial, which is hard to avoid when creating a poster for a production such as "Cabaret."

&quot;On Broadway&quot; by Gabby G. '16
"On Broadway" by Gabby G. '16

For the past two years, Gabby G. '16 has competed in the Performing Arts poster competitions. This is Gabby's first winning design. Sharing her thoughts on her recent "On Broadway" poster entry for the Winter Music Concert she comments: "I based my 'On Broadway' poster design on the art deco motifs that flourished during the 1920s and on into the 30s and 40s. I mixed this aesthetic, which inspired architecture and graphic design - among other art forms, with the fashion and glamor of Broadway's Golden Age from the 1940s and 50s. The excitement of a Broadway musical experience can be truly unbelievable. Therefore, I added a dreamlike element to my design, an unusually large powerful, captivating showgirl on top of a stylized New York City skyscraper. I am pleased with my poster's ability to capture the fantastic essence of Broadway and the feeling it generates in all who experience it."

&quot;Dance to the Music&quot; by Elizabeth G. '14 and Max C. ' 14
"Dance to the Music" by Elizabeth G. '14 and Max C. ' 14

Elizabeth G. '14 and Max C. '14 have been wildly successful competitors and collaborators in the Performing Arts poster competitions. This is Max and Lizzie's second collaborative poster (The Winter Concert, 2011) and together they rank as the all-time most winning designers for the Performing Arts Department with a total of eight poster designs to their credit. As a fitting end to their collaborative design careers here at BWS, the Dance Department enlisted their expertise on the Spring Dance Concert titled "Dance To The Music." Sharing their final thoughts on working on this project they write: "Working together is always a fun challenge, although with designing this dance poster we had to confront something new: designing a poster without a theme or a title and on a short deadline! We decided the best way to get an idea of what the performance would be about, was the talk to the BDC dancers themselves. After some quick discussions, we noticed the emphasis was on the music, which is why we decided to title the concert "Dance to the Music" which is taken from an old school 1968 album by Sly & The Family Stone. The music of the concert is all very modern, and this led us to design a classic ballerina silhouette with red high-top converse sneakers, in order to emphasis the meeting of classical dance with modern, pop music. We are both deeply saddened by the fact that this is our last collaboration for BWS. It has been an honor to design posters and to be a part of Performing Arts & Visual Arts family for the last four years."

&quot;The Winter's Tale&quot; by Emma K. '16
"The Winter's Tale" by Emma K. '16
&quot;Bat Boy&quot; by Brannen H. '14
"Bat Boy" by Brannen H. '14

For the past four years, Brannen H. '14 has competed in the Theater Arts poster competitions and has earned 2nd place almost every time. This is Brannen's first winning design and his final competition as graduating Senior. Sharing his thoughts on his recent "Bat Boy" winning poster design he comments: "My poster was inspired by my imagination and many 2nd places. I wanted to keep things simple while being detailed and delicate. I wanted something dark and scary, but light and beautiful at the same time. I approached this idea simply by drawing the face with very thin lines and simple colors. After many tedious years of losing, I decided to turn on the afterburners. I am very pleased with my performance on the 'Bat Boy' poster as it was my last shot at the gold and I snatched it. Going out on top makes me feel extremely rapturous!"

&quot;Peter Pan&quot; by Emma K. '16
"Peter Pan" by Emma K. '16

For the past two years Sophomore, Emma K. '16, has competed in all the Performing Arts poster competitions. This is Emma's first winning design, and the first 3-part series to ever be produced in this competition. Sharing her thoughts on her first place poster series she comments, "While designing my poster series for Peter Pan: The Musical, I was inspired by the minimalist Disney posters by Rowan Stocks-Moore. I liked his concept, but I put my own twist on them. I used a simple format, one with not too much going on, but using my illustrations as the main focus with a little more typography. Each of my three posters has a single focus, a drawn character in the middle, accompanied by a clean handwriting font that I think captures the child-like, lyrical essence of Peter Pan. It was extremely rewarding to win this contest because I spent so much time on each illustration and truly loved the process of bringing them to life."

&quot;Under the Stars&quot; by Micheline A. '15
"Under the Stars" by Micheline A. '15

As a final swan song to her last semester at BWS, Micheline A.'15 won this competition hands-down. Before leaving our school to pursue her passion for tennis, she shared her thoughts on her first, and sadly last, poster design for BWS: "This being my last semester at Brentwood, I was thrilled to have won the "Under the Stars" winter concert poster contest. I wanted my poster to explore the general theme of music and not just specifics, like singers or musicians. I decided to draw a tuxedo representing not only the conductor but also the formal attire of the performers. Much of my inspiration came from the Art Deco style. There are many clean-cut lines in this particular design style and following this general idea it gave my poster a simple and minimal look. I used midnight blue and a dark purple to portray the darkness of the night. I then used yellow, marigold, and white for the type in order to highlight the important information. I also put the type 'under' the star buttons due to the title of the show. I did not feel as if the stars had to completely cover the poster, rather they should be a small addition that flowed and worked nicely with the bow tie. It was rewarding to have my work recognized and I had a wonderful time designing underneath the stars."

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