After-School Studio Arts Program for High School Students

Since 1994, PAFA has provided free studio art training to students grades 9-12 from more than 50 public, charter, and parochial schools in Philadelphia. 

The program offers teens who have little or no access to an art program the opportunity to acquire a solid foundation in the fine arts. Students in this model program follow an honors-level curriculum through foundation drawing, painting, and life drawing in the great traditions of American art set by Thomas Eakins in PAFA’s historic studios. 

This non-credit program emphasizes building a portfolio, developing skills, and artistic growth, and is taught by PAFA faculty and graduate students. Courses are offered during fall and spring semesters and take place Monday through Thursday, 3:00 until 5:30 PM.

The After-School Studio Art Program is funded in part by grants from Mary Gregg and John Ryan, The Brook J. Lenfest Foundation, the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, and the W. Percy Simpson Trust.


Fall 2019

Classes end: December 12

Spring 2020

  • Classes Begin: January 27
  • Spring Break: March 9 - 13 (no classes meet)
  • Classes End: April 30


Pre-registration required.  See Eligibility and Application below.    

  • Foundation Drawing (Mondays, 3 - 5:30 PM, Room 1010/Samuel M.V. Hamilton Bldg.) – Essential to all art forms, Foundation Drawing is a primary class for beginning students. Instruction will cover all the essential elements of drawing from observation: shape, line, form, shading, composition and expression. Students will draw from still life, skulls, skeletons, and PAFA’s historic collection of Greco-Roman and Renaissance plaster casts. Charcoal, pencil and pastel will be the primary materials used. 

  • Oil Painting (Tuesdays, 3 - 5:30 PM, Room 1010/Samuel M.V. Hamilton Bldg.) – This class presents a comprehensive introduction to painting from life with oil colors. Instruction will present a variety of methods, mediums and approaches. Students will learn color, brushwork, and composition while painting from still life objects, urban landscapes, and self portraits. Starting with a limited palette and small paintings, students will be guided to more complex full color paintings in larger formats.

  • Introduction to Illustration and Comics (Wednesdays, 3 - 5:30 PM, Room 515/Samuel M.V. Hamilton Bldg.) – This class will introduce the students to the traditions and practices of illustration, focusing on image development, story boarding, and the graphic novel.  Illustration techniques using marker, pen and ink, and other color media will be presented in a series of activities. Students will use traditional imagery, photo reference, and personal narratives as a source for their illustrations.

  • Life Drawing (Thursdays, 3 - 5:30 PM, Room 1023/Samuel M.V. Hamilton Bldg.) – Essential for art portfolios, students will be guided through a series of figure drawings in charcoal and pastel. Students will learn anatomy, gesture, line, shading and expression from the life model, both nude and clothed. Large-scale drawing is an exciting part of this class.

Eligibility and Application


Students from public, charter, and parochial schools within the city of Philadelphia are encouraged to apply. PAFA welcomes applicants from a range of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.

How to Apply

Pre-registration required: Students must be registered in advance by teacher recommendation to the Program Director. Applicants are selected based on artistic talent and potential for enrichment.

To recommend a student for the program, interested art teachers, parents, or students must contact one of the following:


Tuition to  PAFA's After-School Studio Arts Program is free.

Contact Pre-College Programs

Studio art classes and education for high school students to develop their artistic passions and prepare for college.