Natalia Poehner drawing a self-portrait in her studio

BFAPainting + Drawing

Transcend the boundaries of the medium and engage with critical issues through an imaginative and expansive fine arts practice.


Develop your voice as an artist

CCA Painting + Drawing students develop their voice as an artist during open crit sessions

We provide aspiring fine artists with a supportive community and rigorous culture of critique. Students develop their technical and conceptual skills in drawing and painting studios while sharing and debating ideas with faculty, peers, and visiting artists. With a broad notion of what fine arts can be in the world, and the opportunity to make all kinds of art objects, our students prepare for MFA programs as well as lifelong careers as practicing artists.

Studios + Shops

Turn an idea into material form

A studio full of students working on canvas paintings

We are one of the best painting and drawing programs in the country for artists who enjoy working across disciplines, including photography, sculpture, film and video, textiles, and performance. From oils on canvas to sculptural environments, we provide the materials and resources you need to make compelling arguments through objects and exhibitions.

To complete a polished body of work, you’ll develop and hone the following core skills:

  • Formulate a creative question or solution in response to a critical issue
  • Conduct material and conceptual research
  • Identify an appropriate artistic form
  • Present your work in a public context
  • Document your work
A painting student documents their work

Beyond the studio and into the world

The fine arts programs at CCA host a diverse group of visiting artists each year. You’ll be exposed to new trends and practices in contemporary arts, which helps you confidently engage with the ideas you’re most passionate about in studio. Most of our drawing and painting studios take students to Bay Area museums, galleries, and nonprofit spaces, many of which are within walking distance of our San Francisco campus. These opportunities encourage you to think critically about your contributions to the field, as well as make meaningful connections to arts professionals in the world at large.

Materials and resources

  • Easels
  • Halogen lights and options for staging
  • Rolling painting walls
  • Extensive props
  • Painting racks for storage
  • Large tables and palette tables
  • Material Reuse Center
  • Special collections at CCA libraries
  • Private studio spaces for seniors


Work with renowned practicing artists

Our fine arts faculty exhibit and publish widely. They mentor students through material and conceptual experiments, drawing from their experiences in mixed media, video art, abstract painting, photography, printmaking, and more.

Linda Geary talking with students in the Nave painting studios

Linda Geary, Interim Chair of Painting and Drawing

Interim Chair Linda Geary’s work ranges from book-sized to monumental and is inspired by material processes and reinvention. She's been featured in exhibitions at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Mills College, Kadist Foundation, Oakland Museum of California, and Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. Her critical writing has appeared in Artforum, Huffington Post, Art Practical, San Francisco Chronicle, and elsewhere.


We think with our hands

Every undergraduate student participates in the First Year Core program, an opportunity to explore a wide range of materials and tools. Faculty from many different disciplines guide studio projects, group critiques, and discussions on foundational theory to help set students up for success.

BFA Painting + Drawing

Core Studio

Drawing 1
3 units
2D, 3D, and 4D
9 units

Painting + Drawing Major Requirements

Painting 1-4
12 units
Drawing 2
3 units
Materials and Methods
3 units
Digital Tools
3 units
Painting or Drawing Workshops
6 units
Junior Tutorial
3 units
Media History 2: Living Painters
3 units
Senior Project: Painting
6 units

Additional Studio Requirements

Interdisciplinary Critique
3 units
Interdisciplinary Studio
3 units
Diversity Studies Studio
3 units
Studio Elective (1 of 4)
3 units
Studio Elective (2 of 4)
3 units
Studio Elective (3 of 4)
3 units
Studio Elective (4 of 4)
3 units

Humanities + Sciences Requirements

Writing 1
3 units
Writing 2
3 units
Introduction to the Arts: Antiquity to Early Modern
3 units
Introduction to the Modern Arts
3 units
Foundation in Critical Studies
3 units
Media History 1: Dead Painters
3 units
Literary and Performing Arts Studies (200 level)
3 units
Philosophy and Critical Theory (200 level)
3 units
Social Science/History (200 level)
3 units
Science/Math (200 level)
3 units
Visual Studies (200 level)
3 units
Humanities and Sciences Elective (200 or 300 level)
3 units
Humanities and Sciences (300 level)
9 units
Diversity Studies Seminar
3 units

Total 120 units


Build a sustainable art practice

By the time students graduate from the program, they’re already used to generating their own project ideas and connecting their art to social causes. Alumni go on to attend leading MFA programs in fine arts and have successful careers as independent artists.

Potential career paths

  • Professional artist
  • Arts educator
  • Business owner in the creative field
  • Cultural innovator
  • Artist’s studio assistant

News + Events

What’s happening in our community?

How to Apply

Breakthrough experiences

A painting student using her hands to apply pigment to canvas

Our students are open-minded, creative, and critical. They thrive with a healthy balance of faculty mentorship and private, undivided time and space for creating, whether they think of their practice in terms of brush and canvas or something more expansive. Our goal is to provide you with the critical, conceptual, and technical skills you need to flourish as an artist.

Find your creative community at CCA

Apply now