Teen Boot Camp: The Winning Strategy for College Applications

Written by
April 26, 2024
Teacher Spotlight
CalColor News

Prioritizing the Results: A Worthy Investment in Art Education

In March 2024, our CalColor team gained an exciting achievement: we dominated the Bay Area Division of the prestigious national Scholastic Arts and Writing Contest, claiming the top spot with our total medals count. This contest is recognized as the most authoritative and competitive art competition for middle and high school students in the U.S., is known for its rigorous standards and the high quality for submission. At this festival of art, CalColor’s Teen and Digital Program participants won 200 gold, silver, and honorable mention awards, securing 10% of the total prizes awarded—surpassing the combined total of the institutions that finished in second, third, and fourth place.

Many of these award-winning pieces originated from our 2023 Teen Boot Camp. Our Summer Camp for older children is deeply rooted in the rich curriculum of our Teen Program, covering fundamental art skills such as drawing, painting, and sketching, while also delving into advanced artistic abilities like composition principles, visual communication techniques, and deep emotional expressions. Throughout this process, students put together a complete artistic picture, acquiring key skills that pave their way to artistic achievements.

We can confidently say that the masterpieces created by students who attend the Teen Boot Camp are fully qualified to be  integral parts of their future portfolio. These meticulously refined pieces not only showcase students' artistic talent and unique perspectives but are also applicable to art competitions, exhibitions, AP Art exams, and applying to arts programs in universities, as well as adding a unique highlight to applications for non-art-related fields. Therefore, investing precious summer time into such an efficient and comprehensive training camp is undoubtedly a valuable investment.

Every Second Counts: Advanced Training to Get Kids Ahead

We understand that for the older children, as academic pressures mount each year, art education has evolved beyond only fostering interest—it has become an essential component of their future academic and career pathways. Parents and students are increasingly recognizing the potential values of art in shaping their developmental road. For students aspiring to careers in high-end artistic fields such as graphic design, game design, and web and interactive design, as well as those who may not pursue art as a career but wish to enhance their college applications with their artistic skills, using summer time to prepare a personal art portfolio is a visionary strategic move.

Thus, our summer camp curriculum for the Teen age group is designed not just to nurture interests but to offer an opportunity for enrichment and to elevate their artistic cultivation. This program, through a meticulous art education plan lays solid foundation for students' future career development and provides a significant advantage in the upcoming college application processes. During this program, every minute is efficiently utilized to ensure that students can maximize their artistic abilities and creative levels in a limited timeframe.

Knowledge Integration: Comprehensive Improvement for All Levels

Our educational philosophy isn't about to deter beginners with complex art theories. Instead, it’s about helping those who are eager to break through their current artistic limitations and improve their creative thinking from childish drawings to more sophisticated, academic art forms. This summer period opens a window to our comprehensive "Portfolio Development Prep Program" and "Teen Program." The camp is meticulously designed and taught by experienced teachers who will tailor personalized learning strategies based on the students' initial artistic levels, facilitating a smooth transition to more advanced stages.

The structure of the Teen Boot Camp aligns with our flagship Portfolio Development Preparation (PD Prep) program, divided into three modules: Drawing, Sketchbook, and Painting, each lasting one week and are offered at different campuses. These modules are designed to provide multi–dimensional teaching and practical support for students with various artistic backgrounds and experiences:

  • For students who have completed one or more CalColor PD Prep courses: The 3 modules are conceived as 3 independent, completed workshops where students can delve deeper into specific artistic skills and concepts, rather than merely repeating previous lessons. These campuses are recommended as advanced courses.
  • For students with extensive artistic experience preparing their portfolios: These modules are similar in nature to the PD courses, aiming to build upon basic skills while enhancing abilities in concepts development, creative expressions, compositions, and artistic insights. It is highly recommended that these students view the courses as an extension of the PD class to create more innovative and profound artworks.
  • For beginners: These courses offer a unique perspective to peek into the overall educational system of our PD Prep and Teen Programs. We recommend that beginners use these courses to gain a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of portfolio preparation—the necessary skills, processes, and mental preparation—serving as a launching point for their artistic journey.

Premier Training: Advanced Art Course Setup

The Teen Boot Camp is designed to provide students with a systematic platform for learning art, suitable for learners at any stage, enhancing both artistic skills and conceptual thinking. Here's an overview of the three camps:

1. Drawing Camp

During the five-day Still Life Drawing Camp, students will delve into the secrets of still life drawing, inspired by artist Avigdor Arikha. The course begins with line drawing and gradually progresses to studies of geometric shapes, values, and compositions, culminating in on-site still life projects. This comprehensive approach enhances students' abilities to observe and capture details from the real world, teaching them how to create three-dimensional effects using two-dimensional media, and adds depth and realism to their work through the skillful use of shadows and lighting. Additionally, by studying Arikha’s work, students will learn to create visually appealing and well-balanced compositions, enhancing their compositional skills.

About Avigdor Arikha: Avigdor Arihka (1929-2010), born in Romania and was an Israeli painter, was one of the most important realist artists of the 20th century. His work, influenced by both abstract and realistic art, features visually striking pieces. By exploring Arikha's artworks, students can learn a unique method of combining realistic and abstract elements, enhancing the visual depth of their works and enabling multi-layered interpretations for viewers. Arikha’s subtle uses of light and shadow brought a vivid sense of order to his stilifes, teaching students how to create forms and space through delicate contrasts of light and dark. He also demonstrated how to skillfully arrange elements within a composition to make each piece visually harmonious and compelling.

2. Sketchbook Camp

Many beginners struggle to distinguish sketching and drawing. Our Plein Air Sketchbook Camp addresses this by emphasizing the differences between the two: drawing tends to involve more detailed, realistic representations of static subjects indoors, while sketching is about capturing dynamic, subjective interpretations of moving sceneses. In this camp, students engage in exploratory and experimental activities. They start with still life drawing exercises indoors to enhance their understanding of forms and lines, then move outdoors to sketch from nature, focusing on altering perspectives and incorporating subtle variations into their work. After the outdoor session, plans include transforming these landscape sketches into short animations, further developing students’ representational techniques and creative thinking. The final assignment involves creating an accordion book to broaden their perspective. The camp aims to systematically improve students' precise observational skills, composition, multimedia integration, and film-making abilities.

Art education and professional development increasingly emphasize students’ sharp artistic perceptions and continual accumulation of skills. Admissions officers and art competition judges look for not only technical excellence but also a student’s ability to observe the world around them, capture details sensitively, and express unique insights and deep thoughts through their art. The sketchbook becomes an ideal platform to showcase these qualities, serving as a personal art diary that records their artistic practices and thoughts, substantiating their growth and sharp perspectives as artists.

3. Painting Camp

This year, our oil painting camp focuses on the creation of portraiture. The course will start with small-scale sketching and gradually progress to monochromatic oil portrait creation. Students will delve into the subtle changes in skin colors under different lighting conditions, exploring warm and cool tones and the contrasts between light and shadow. Inspired by three outstanding artists - Robert Henri, Gustav Klimt and Amedeo Modigliani, students will complete their final project.

The reason why we chose these three art masters as inspirational mentors for students is that they show unique yet mutual artistic qualities in their use of color and brushstrokes. In their works, the use of color is both bold and expressive, capable of profoundly conveying the emotions and atmosphere of the work. The valuable thing about brushworks is that they can accurately express the character's character and inner emotional state through the thickness or lightness, continuity or fracture of the brush. This deep understanding and unique use of colors and brushstrokes make their works not only a visual enjoyment, but also an exploration of emotional and philosophical depth.

In the tradition of art education, learning from a mentor has always been an important way of learning. Apprentices in ancient times gradually understood their master's superb skills by carefully describing their master's works stroke by stroke. However, in modern art education, when we show children the works of masters, what we pursue is no longer just imitation of the physical properties and technical aspects of the works. More importantly, it is more important to use the works of masters to broaden children's horizons, inspire their inner world, and encourage children to observe and express the world with the eyes of masters, so as to find their own unique voice and expression in artistic creation. This kind of learning is not only an improvement in skills, but also nourishes the children's soul and their perception of the diverse beauty of the world.

Sincere invitation: Why to Choose CalColor Teen Program

Creating a comprehensive and diverse portfolio not only reflects students' artistic talents, but is also the key to showing their broad artistic visions and profound creative foundations to the judges. To achieve, we encourage students to have the courage to cross the boundaries of art fields, to deeply explore and refine various art forms, whether they are drawing, sketching, oil painting, or even three-dimensional art and multi-media art , to ensure that their portfolio can not only display technical proficiency , but also reflects unique artistic exploration and understanding.

The CalColor Teen program is proud to have a team of senior teachers with master's degrees or above. Their teaching is not only based on rich practical experience, but also has experience in guiding students to successfully obtain college admissions and achieve good results in national art competitions. In-depth thinking and continuous discussions are integral to our course design process, allowing us to provide an educational experience that is not only outstanding but also immensely inspiring.

This summer, we sincerely invite all young artists to join our boot camp. This will not only be a time full of joy in artistic exploration and creation, but also an excellent opportunity to start their artistic growth journey and write a wonderful chapter in life.

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Changing Perspectives: How Art Transforms Students' Views of the Everyday

CalColor Academy's younger students recently explored car interiors. Students typically draw the outside of cars, but we asked them to focus on the details of dashboards, steering wheels, and AC vents. Different age groups used various techniques: younger students focused on basic shapes and one-point perspective, while older students honed advanced skills like hand drawing and shadow incorporation. These projects highlighted how art can change our perspective, revealing the extraordinary in the every day, a valuable lesson for our students on their artistic journeys.

Dawning Realism

When kids reach middle school and high school age, they become more advanced in their understanding of value, shape, proportion, and want to stretch their ability to mimic real life.