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Conceptual Boundaries.

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About Contemporary Painting Approaches.


As a Painting major at MECA&D, you will discover and give voice to what inspires you in an environment that supports your creative process and ideas.

You will master fundamentals and alternative techniques using light, space, form, and color to translate what you see and understand about your surroundings. The curriculum is designed to strengthen your ability to make, as well as to read, write, think, and speak about your work. Our experienced Painting faculty will help you establish an aesthetic voice, approach, and perspective that is uniquely yours. They will teach you about best practices when it comes to marketing yourself as a professional artist and selling your work. When you graduate with a BFA degree from MECA&D, you will have all the tools you need to make painting the center of your career and your life.


  • Faculty
  • Alumni
  • Student
  • Arnela Mahmutovic '17

    I have been pushed outside of my comfort, a very tight academic approach to painting, into alternative . . .

    Describe a body of work that you are currently working on. I am currently exploring the contrasts between my Bosnian upbringing and how moving to America created an intense shift […]Read More

  • Meg Hahn '17

    Of the objectives I intended to learn while interning at Elizabeth Dee (the daily operations of a . . .

    By being involved in the gallery’s administrative aspects, I was able to not only work but witness, as well, how the multiple functions of a gallery come together.Read More

  • Meg Hahn '17

    MECA has definitely helped shape how I am as an artist and has increased my passion for learning and making . . .

    Describe a body of work that you are currently working on. Overall my studio practice is focused on formalist abstraction; exploring the relationships between color, material, and shape. Currently I have […]Read More

  • olivier ’19 installs UFO Citing: A tribute to Lynn E. Catoe as the first artist in residence at the Joanne Waxman Library

    olivier ’19 recently installed their site-specific piece UFO . . .

    olivier ’19 recently installed their site-specific piece UFO Citing: A tribute to Lynn E. Catoe in the Joanne Waxman Library stacks, serving as the very first artist in residence for the […]Read More

  • Dan Gillotte '93

    I took a chance and my art school training helped me to be ready for all the challenges I face.

    Dan Gillotte ’93 is “chief executive grocer," as he likes to call himself, of the Wheatsville Food Co-op, a grocery business with sales of $35 million in 2016. He also continues […]Read More

  • Matthew Blackwell '77

    MECA&D, Portland School of Art Alum Matthew Blackwell '77 won a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship. Often . . .

    MECA&D, Portland School of Art Alum Matthew Blackwell '77 won a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship. Often characterized as “midcareer” awards, Guggenheim Fellowships are intended for men and women who have already […]Read More

  • Ahmed Alsoudani '05

    With rudimentary English skills and a vague knowledge Portland, Ahmed Alsoudani fled his home in Baghdad, . . .

    With rudimentary English skills and a vague knowledge Portland, Ahmed Alsoudani fled his home in Baghdad, Iraq and arrived at Maine College of Art & Design. While working several jobs […]Read More

  • Sage Lewis '04

    My passion for artistic expression drives each endeavor.

    Sage Lewis ’04 earned her MFA in Painting and Drawing from Ohio State University (OSU) and in 2015 completed a 10-month Artist-in-Residence fellowship at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, where, […]Read More

  • Painting Department Chair Prof. Honour Mack exhibits "Buoyant Structures" at Cove Street Arts in Portland

    On view until October 8, 2022

    Abstract painter and Chair of Painting Prof. Honour Mack places imagery outside of a didactic framework and finds “inspiration in questions that address the confluence of belief systems, the role […]Read More

  • Keeping Track of Time by Prof. Philip Brou at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth

    On view until October 2, 2022

    Opening with an artist reception on Friday, August 5 (5:00-8:00pm), Keeping Track of Time is a solo exhibition by Philip Brou at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. In addition to […]Read More

  • Philip Brou

    ON HIS ART I love the contradictory nature of painting. It is a language that constantly undermines itself. . . .

    ON HIS ART I love the contradictory nature of painting. It is a language that constantly undermines itself. In my opinion, painting is not a discipline suited for finding solutions, but […]Read More

  • Honour Mack

    I think all artists wear two hats. One is as a maker and the other is as a seer.

    When does the tipping point from private perception to an awareness of public perception occur in your work? How do you know this point has been reached? As a painter, […]Read More

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  • Formal

    Students develop their perceptual skills, including but not limited to: translation of space, light, form, and visual relationships onto a two-dimensional surface. Students gain the ability to interpret color and understand its components enough to manipulate it with control, and develop an understanding of the nature of process with their work and their relationship to it. Students learn to choose appropriate techniques, materials, and formal design language to develop visual vocabulary in service of content, and the ability to maintain a disciplined studio practice.

  • Conceptual

    Students gain the ability to translate personal concepts into visual form and research strategies to support development of personal concepts. Students participate in independent and group critical discourse and leave the institution with a comprehensive understanding of the history of painting, contemporary painting movements, and familiarity with topical issues of contemporary art. Students are able to develop a self-directed body of work and critically present work in relation to art history, cultural influences, material culture, and personal context.

  • Technical

    Students gain competency and confidence in the manipulation of fundamental painting materials including oil paints and mediums. Techniques in oils are easily translated to acrylic and other water-based media. Manipulation of fundamental painting techniques and brushwork effects (e.g., glazing, scumbling, staining, impasto, blending and dry brush) are practiced. Students learn to choose the appropriate tools for a desired outcome. Students possess craftsmanship and technical skills in: creating painting supports and grounds, studio setup, care and maintenance of tools and materials, awareness of standard safety procedures, hazardous materials, and the environmental hazards inherent in painting.

  • Professional

    Students create an artist statement, build a resume, and prepare slide and digital documentation of their work. Students prepare for graduate school, apply for grants and residencies, participate in group exhibitions, and learn about marketing work and sales strategies. Students gain knowledge of general business practices, gain experience in applying for juried exhibitions, and gain access to gallery directors to learn about how to approach galleries. Students have the ability to seek out and research job and exhibition opportunities through the use of the web, professional organizations, publications and periodicals, and access to other professional artists through Visiting Artist program.


  • What is the value in studying painting?

    The history of painting can be traced back to the Caves of Lascaux. It is a primary mode of communication, another kind of model for knowledge, and a way of understanding the world in which we live. The creative force in humans can not be extinguished. Painting is and always will be a primary method by which people create. At this time in our history, society needs as many people that have critical problem solving skills in the work force. Our program not only prepares the students to make paintings and contribute to art history, our program prepares our students to problem solve, to take risks, to be articulate, to be curious, to fully participate in whatever arena that choose, to do the best they can, and to be generous, considerate and supportive colleagues. Society will certainly benefit from these kinds of individuals and the contributions that they will make to our world.

  • What are some of the career paths for someone who majors in Painting?

    Our Painting program has consistently produced individuals prepared to function as practicing professional artists outside of academia. The Northeast provides unique opportunities for artists. Boston and New York considered major art centers draw many of our students. They go onto set up their own studios and exhibit their work regionally and nationally. Many students use their experiences at MECA&D to go on and teach in private and public school systems or at the college level. Others choose to work in museums or become curators, art critics, or arts administrators.

  • What are some examples of what your alums are doing?

    All of our painting students are fully prepared for further study. A significant number of our graduates have continued their education at Master’s programs across the country. Schools attended include Yale, Rutgers University, University of Florida at Miami, University of North Carolina at Durham, California College of the Arts, Pratt, RISD, Chicago Art Institute, and Hunter College. In the recent past, professors from Ohio State University and from the University of Madison have tried to recruit our graduates to their MFA programs. A number of students have also received fellowships to attend the Yale at Norfolk program, Idlylwild, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the Vermont Studio Program.

  • What are the prerequisites to major in Painting?

    The first two years at MECA&D provides the basis for the Painting Department. The curriculum is designed to introduce students to the elements and principles of visual thinking build strong technical skills with materials, develop self-critically through the critique process, open the door to the language of art making, encourage students to take electives outside their intended major, and ground them in art history so that when they enter the painting program they have the solid foundation they need to effectively communicate visually. During the freshman and sophomore years, students are enrolled in elective painting courses that are primarily assignment based. Students are given assignments and exercises with specific parameters in which they are required to problem-solve. There is a specific time frame in which the work must occur and be resolved. Completing all assignments, participating in class critiques and group discussions, engaging in individual dialogue with instructors, attendance, answering questions, demonstrating self-critically by making changes and taking risks in their work, and following safe studio practices, are all ways that students demonstrate their understanding of course work.

  • What unique skills do your students get?

    Art making is one of the hardest jobs because it demands personal discipline, self motivation, internal and external inquiry, and thinking outside of the box. Because the Painting Department requires students to develop a strong work ethic, voice personal opinions and ideas, research and access history, and develop an awareness of contemporary culture, our students are fully prepared to approach unrelated disciplines in any area. Our students have passion, discipling, creative-problem skills, research skills, confidence to take on new challenges, and a willingness to change path when thinks are not working. Our program stresses knowledge of art history and student ability to think and talk about their work in a broader context — culturally and historically.

  • Why should I study Painting in Maine?

    Maine continues to be an inspiring site for many of America’s most notable painters, visual artists, writers, and critics since the mid-nineteenth century. Fitz Hugh Lane, Winslow Homer, John Marin, Rockwell Kent, Childe Hassam, Marsden Hartley, George Bellows, and Andrew Wyeth all came to Maine to capture quaint New England villages, the labor of the lobstermen, the sublime landscape, and distinctive light of Maine’s mountains and coast. Artists colonies in Ogunquit, Deer Isle, and on Monhegan Island became destinations for painters for dialogue and inspiration. Each summer since 1946, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture hosts nationally and internationally renown artists and select students who are pushing the boundaries of art making for an intense art experience on a lake in the woods of Maine. And today, contemporary visual artists and critics from New York and other major metropolitan areas, who have been and continue to be at the forefront of a progressive, changing art world - Yvonne Jacquette, Alex Katz, Rudy Burkhardt, Jonathan Borofsky, Kenneth Noland, Neil Welliver, Robert Indiana, Lucy Lippard, William Wegman - come to Maine to refocus and refresh their work in an inspiring landscape. In the South and to the West, Boston and the state of Mass. offers students an immediate get away to a larger city with access to some of the most cutting edge institutions in the world such as MIT and Harvard. Maine’s legacy and location not only makes our program unique, the state is removed enough to provide students with the solitude that is necessary to develop honest work.

  • Will I be able to incorporate other media or interests with my work as a Painting major?

    Yes. Our curriculum allows a tremendous amount of flexibility within media. Our students have included video, performance, drawing, and sculptural work to name a few.

  • What are some of the expectations for a MECA&D Painting major?

    During the junior and senior year, it is expected that students spend 18 hours per week in their studio and 6 hours per week doing the reading and writing projects that have been assigned in seminar. Evaluation in the junior and senior year comes in a variety of forms. In the studio, the most important aspect is the group and individual critique process. They are also evaluated on participation and articulation in individual and group critique. We expect students to be prepared for critique in the form of questions or sharing research materials. Each week students must present visible progress in their studio practice in the form of new work or significant research. Junior and Senior painters also participate in a review at the end of the spring semester. Three faculty members are chosen and invited by the student to review the work completed during their junior or senior year. Students are expected to: articulate their relationship to the materials, processes and subject verbally contextualize their practice within larger issues of history, society, and culture display evidence of an active intellectual curiosity and a sincere, honest, investigation of ideas and subjects in relation to work presented.

  • What are some of the unique aspects of this program?

    As students identify meaningful subjects, they also pursue a more critically accountable position in relation to their work, ideas, and influences. All students are asked to articulate their ideas concerning their process, work, vision, and art historical context as they develop and improve individual painting techniques, material understanding, and overall quality of their artistic production.

  • Who have you had recently in your Visiting Artist program?

    Saul Ostrow, Shirley Kanadea, Amy Cutler, Bruce Pearson, Sarah Charlesworth, Amy Yoes, Anne Harris, T.L. Solien, Hanneline Rogeberg, Laura Lisbon, Giles Lyon, Ed Valentine, Tom Burkhardt, Barbara Rogers, Ahmed Alsoudani, Diana Cooper, Jennifer Gross (curator), and Allison Ferris (curator).


Preparation (1st & 2nd Year)
Foundation Painting (PT 100), and (1) PT Studio Elective

Junior Year (3rd Year)
Junior Painting Studio (PT 321-322), Introduction to the Discipline (SEM 351), Junior Seminar: Fine Art Topics/Practice (352), and (2) Approved Studio Electives

Senior Year (4th Year)
Painting Major Studio (PT 421-422), Professional Studio (SEM 451), Senior Synthesis (SEM 452), and (2) Approved Studio Electives

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