Summer Workshops

We will offer in-person arts & writing studio workshops on The Putney School campus in Vermont in the summer of 2021. We’re currently monitoring the COVID-19 situation and will be designing our on-campus programming to be safe and within State of Vermont guidelines. 

We will update the list of workshops and information about the teachers as we know more. These are some of the workshops that we regularly offer, many of which we expect to be able to offer in the summer of 2021.

Animation

Art / Activism / Impact

Ceramics

Culinary Food Lab

Dance

Drawing

Farm

Fashion Design

Filmmaking

Glass Arts

Jewelry

Painting

Photography

Printmaking

Sculpture

Songwriting

Storytelling

Theater

Vocal Ensemble

Weaving & Fiber Arts

Writing People, Writing Place

Animation

“I want to expand my knowledge about animation and find what types of animation suit me the best. I want to continue to do art in the Putney atmosphere.”

– Audrey, student summer 2020

Animation allows you to tell powerful visual stories. In this workshop you try your hand at stop-motion animation, claymation, rotoscoping, and time-lapse photography, while learning the 12 Principles of Animation. You will develop foundational animation skills and apply those techniques through the production processes, using digital tools and physical mediums. Students will have a chance to work through a variety of exercises and to create a final work of their choice.

Through individual and group projects, you bring your ideas to the screen and gain proficiency with digital tools like Photoshop, AfterEffects, Premiere Pro, and iStopMotion.

Art / Activism / Impact

Art/Activism/Impact is a laboratory for young people hungry to engage the challenging issues of the day, open to learning from peers and professional activists, and ready to work collaboratively on artistic projects that provoke, educate, and force us to act.

In this immersive, multi-disciplinary symposium, you explore current and historical examples of art for social change and use your own artistic practice to create work centered around issues that are important to you. Choose a topic to engage with, and create work in collaboration with your peers or individually to reflect your ideas and possible solutions to the issue.

Students taking part in this workshop will learn to be effective communicators through an artistic medium they are already comfortable using.

Ceramics

Throw exquisite and functional bowls on the potter’s wheel, sculpt slabs into expressive forms, explore glazing techniques, and witness your work come to life through gas and electric kiln firings.

In this workshop, you will create collections of work along specific aesthetic themes of your choosing. You will experiment with surface treatments, including the application of glazes, low relief, and three-dimensional decoration to distinguish your work. While beginners are exposed to a range of clay techniques, advanced students work to expand their portfolios.

Through class discussions, collaborative explorations, art books, technical articles, and one-on-one instruction, you will gain a greater understanding of what ceramics is and what inspires you to create.

Culinary Food Lab

Dive into the craft, culture, and science of food. In Culinary Lab you develop some of the skills needed to become a chef: sensory evaluation, mise-en-place, knife skills, and product identification.

Learn how to build complex flavor profiles and explore how seasonality and regionality can take your cooking to the next level. Techniques include sautéing, blanching, poaching, frying, searing, braising, baking, and pan roasting. Move beyond recipes and gain confidence in your culinary knowledge and instincts. Join this workshop to cook adventurous, nutritional dishes and, along the way, eat fantastic food.

Dance

Move in new ways in this modern dance workshop where you will study technique, practice improvisation, delve into partnering exercises, and develop your own choreography.

While modern dance technique is the foundation of the workshop, you may draw inspiration from yoga, ballet, jazz, African dance, and other movement forms. In addition to choreographing your own performance piece, you will also contribute to a group project that will be performed at the end of the session.

This workshop is tailored to each student’s physical and intellectual desires with emphasis on the creative process. Anyone with an appreciation of movement is welcome in this workshop.

Drawing

With our shady trees and green mountains, the Putney campus offers a variety of locations for you to work and build your understanding of perspective, proportion, volume, and composition.

In this class you will develop an understanding of traditional and non-traditional approaches to drawing using charcoal, graphite, pastel, ink, and other materials. Students draw from careful observation of a still life, from the human figure, and the landscape. Group critiques, individual critiques, and evaluation of student work are key components of this class.

Advanced students joining the workshop will be able to work at their own pace,  taking part in introductory work to refresh their skills, or diving straight into developing their body of work.

Farm

Have you ever dreamed of growing your own food? Putney is located on a working farm with vegetable gardens, a dairy herd, a small animal barn, and a managed forest woodlot.

Led by farm educators, you work side-by-side with the school’s professional farm crew. You will learn about and  be able to discuss sustainable farm practices and the future of small-scale agriculture.

Students are introduced to dairy farming by taking turns working early morning chores. You will visit small- and large-scale farms and meet a number of local farmers. Learn about Vermont cheeses by visiting a local artisan sheep cheese maker and tour a nearby cheese factory.

Work hard, get dirty, and experience the satisfaction that comes from this unique combination of labor and learning.

Fashion Design

Take your fashion designs from sketch to dress—or shirt, or pants, or whatever you want to wear.

In this workshop you not only learn the fundamentals of sewing and construction, but you also begin to explore your own artistic sensibilities through discussions of themes and trends in fashion and applications such as costume design and haute couture. You’ll create mood boards, sketch your own fashion collection, adapt a pattern to your own design, and sew by hand and on a sewing machine. 

Each student constructs garments which are presented in a group runway show and gallery exhibit at the end of the session. Experience with a sewing machine is recommended but not required. 

Filmmaking

Whether you are an experienced filmmaker or completely new to the craft, this workshop will challenge your knowledge of the medium and give you the skills you need to make effective and engaging films.

Students learn to direct, shoot, and edit through hands-on training. You’ll learn how cinematic techniques significantly impact the viewer’s perception. How does lighting change the mood of a scene? What does a dolly zoom tell you about the shot? Mise-en-scène, camera movement, lighting, sound design, and editing all converge to tell your stories on screen.

Glass Arts

Working with glass lets you create using color and light. You will cut, frame, and arrange  pieces of glass using both traditional stained glass as well as fused glass techniques.

Play with color, texture, transparency, and opacity as you combine these elements to create windows, boxes, frames, or three-dimensional sculptural pieces.  Students also learn slumping, where you arrange pieces of fusible glass on a mold for use in a high-fire kiln to create colorful bowls or platters. Come explore the myriad of possibilities for using glass to express yourself and to create something beautiful.

Metal Jewelry

Hammer, cut, solder, twist, and shape silver and brass to create unique pieces of wearable jewelry. You’ll set precious stones in delicate bezels and bend thin wire to create a single chain or an intricately woven piece.  You’ll develop skills to create rings, pendants, chains, pins, bracelets, and small-scale sculptural pieces.

Jewelry making is a discipline in which students pay heightened attention to technical and aesthetic detail. Instruction and projects are individualized and students with more experience work independently on advanced projects.

Painting

You will expand your knowledge of fundamental technical and theoretical approaches through painting on paper, canvas, or wood panel with acrylic paint.

After an initial overview of value, color, and composition, students learn the basics of color mixing and paint handling. Students consider a wide variety of forms through exploration of themes and ideas from different art periods up through contemporary works. 

You will primarily paint from life. Projects include an in-studio still life, painting the figure from a model, and landscape painting in a variety of locations on The Putney School campus.

Advanced students work at their own pace. You may take part in introductory work to refresh your skills or dive straight into developing a new body of work.

Photography

Sharpen your camera skills in this black and white photography class and explore the multi-step process of using a manual 35mm camera. Learn the fundamental skills necessary to process your negatives and print your images in a wet darkroom.

Learn how to optimize aperture and shutter speed and how these variables affect your images. Experiment with different contrast filters and burning/dodging techniques to produce the most expressive prints.​

Advanced students will be able to work at their own pace, taking part in introductory work to refresh their skills or diving straight into developing a new body of work.

​​Students who enroll in this workshop should bring their own manually adjustable 35mm camera. 

Black and white film is supplied.

Printmaking

Create original plates to produce a unique series of prints. You will learn techniques in relief printing where a reproducible image is created by carving wood or linoleum, as well as intaglio printing where the lines of an image are incised into copper and printed.

Students are introduced to drypoint, engraving, and etching techniques. You will learn how to prepare plates, work directly into copper, apply ink, and print on a press. You’ll use these skills to work on individual projects of your choice, such as an artist’s book or an edition of finished prints.

Students of all levels are welcome and advanced students will be able to move ahead with projects of their choosing with the guidance of their lead teacher.

Sculpture

Chisel, cut, hammer, sand, bend, and pound materials into three-dimensional pieces of art. Learn to work with different types of materials including wood, clay, stone, plaster, wire, and steel.

You will create sculptures and assemblages from found objects. Electric and gas welding is taught for those wishing to work in metal. Our studios offer opportunities to work with mediums rarely found in traditional high school settings.

You will be able to develop your unique vision as a sculptor as you experiment with texture, scale, and space, as well as amorphous and figurative forms. Students will draw on their sense of design and balance to explore and complete a variety of assignments before undertaking independent projects using materials of their choice.

Songwriting

If you enjoy playing instruments and singing, this workshop is a great place to delve into the artistry of songwriting and composition. 

A strong foundation in music theory, structure, and form will provide students with the fundamental skill set necessary to write and record interesting and unique songs. Students will also have the opportunity to perform their work for the entire community.

You will have at least one private lesson a week with plenty of time to write and experiment with your compositions. The Putney School has a lab equipped with Sibelius, Garageband and Audacity, as well as other specialized music production programs.

Experience in songwriting is not required; students should, however, be able to play a piano or chordal instrument and be fluent in traditional music notation or tablature.

Storytelling

Why do we tell stories that aren’t even true? Why do we tell stories at all? Whose truth are we telling, and how do we decide the best ways, the best angles, to craft the telling? In this workshop, we’ll create stories— on the page, certainly, and beyond it— in audio form, perhaps in monologue form, perhaps as a graphic novel/story— and consider the questions central to that telling.

How do we create character, setting, tone? What’s left in, and what’s left out? What are the narrative structures that might best suit the work? What’s the best medium for the telling? In this creative writing workshop, we’ll work across genres as we consider possibilities and elements of story, of craft, and the many ways that stories come to life as we make them into so many new realities.

Theater

Delve deeply into the process of acting and creating theater. Use collaborative exercises to create a sense of ensemble and the “phantom note” that develops when artists truly work together as a unit.

In this workshop students use improvisation exercises and monologues to awaken their creative voices, overcome inhibitions, build confidence, and hone their abilities as performers. 

You will delve into some method acting and work with sense memory to discover the unique emotional palette that makes up our individual identity as actors. You will also explore the technical aspects of theater and gain a basic understanding of lighting, blocking, and direction.

The workshop culminates with a final performance of an original work written and performed by students under the guidance of their lead teacher.

Vocal Ensemble

Explore an array of singing styles by learning music from different time periods and regions of the  world. Students are involved in arranging music and are exposed to harmonies not typically included in choral repertoire.

Under the guidance of your ensemble leader, you will develop individualized vocal technique and broaden your knowledge of musical genres. 

Instruction is grounded in the fundamentals of group vocal production, including breath, alignment, tone production, ear training, and diction. Students discover and foster healthy singing techniques as they learn about the construction, development, and expression of emotion and meaning through music. You will reinforce your musical skills and enjoy opportunities to sing solo and to perform during the session.

Weaving & Fiber Arts

Learn to express yourself creatively through fiber, color, and pattern. Weaving, quilting, sewing, needlework, knitting, crocheting, spinning, and dyeing are all forms for you to explore.

You can choose to focus on one area or explore a variety of techniques. The fiber arts studio is equipped with a remarkable collection of four- and eight-harness floor looms, spinning wheels, sewing machines, and a knitting machine, as well as a large collection of natural fiber yarns and fabrics.

The school farm provides fleece for spinning and plants for natural dyeing. We have an extensive library of contemporary and historical textile books and periodicals for inspiration.

Writing People, Writing Place

Writing the world around us opens a lens to the world of ourselves.

In this workshop, we’ll explore ways to write people— how are characters formed, what makes them work, what’s at stake, what choices and risks might they take— and consider how we might most effectively bring characters to life within and on the page. We’ll also think about how to make meaning of place, using the environment around us as a way to begin our exploration, but will also consider the landscape of memory in our explorations. 

This class will work across genres as a way to write beyond, and within, ourselves and the lenses we bring into our experiences.