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New this Fall!

Buy 2 or more classes at the same time and save 25% off the total.

Experiencing Nature Through Art – The Cultivation of Perception

Save 25% when purchasing this with other classes from this Fall's semester.


Instructor: Bruce Elliott
Thursdays, October 19 – November 9, 3:00 – 5:00 PM, East Rec
4-week session, Cost: $65

Course Description:
If beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder, such would be true of art as well. When poets seek metaphors for beauty, they invariably turn to nature: blossoms in springtime, poignancy of sunsets, the cathedral quality of redwood groves. This course will explore the aesthetic relationship between fine art and nature, as viewed through the lens of perception.

We will begin by working from the outside in, tracing the evolution of artistic depictions of natural settings from the Renaissance to Impressionism. We’ll then proceed to pieces by modern artists like Alexander Calder and Mark Rothko that invite active participation by the viewer in the artistic process. The course will culminate by touching upon innovative visual practices that enable viewers within a nature setting to themselves generate a luminous aesthetic experience.

Instructor Biography:
Dr. Bruce Elliott, along with offering numerous classes over the years at Oakmont, Bruce teaches courses in cultural history for lifelong-learning programs at Stanford, Berkeley, Sonoma State and Dominican Universities. His Art History classes highlight key aspects of the dynamic relationship between historical developments and artistic expression.

Course Outline:

Week 1 – Stages in the Cultivation of Perception

Objective Art – Gallery Art Observed – Primacy of the Artist in the Aesthetic Process

Experiential Art – Viewer Participation – Interaction of Viewer with an Art Object

Creative Art – Viewer creating Aesthetic Experience – Selecting Found Art in Nature

Architectural Contrasts – Renaissance versus Gothic – Regularity versus Organic

Renaissance Innovations – Single-point Perspective – Introduction of Dimensionality

Masaccio – Fra Angelico – Botticelli – Piero della Francesca – Titian – Patinir – Bruegel

Baroque Dynamics – Mythological Narratives – Elsheimer – Rubens – Salvator Rosa


Week 2 – Objective Art – Artistic Depiction of Natural Settings

Dutch Golden Age – First Pure Landscapes: Van Ruisdael – Rembrandt – Vermeer

Enlightenment Art – Rococo vs. Classicist: Claude Lorrain Watteau – Fragonard

Romantic Scenes – Sublime vs. Beautiful: Constable – JMW Turner – Caspar Friedrich

Transcendental Art – Hudson River School: Thomas Cole – Frederic Church – Bierstadt


Week 3 – Modern Art – Artwork with Experiential Emphasis

Impressionism – Subjective Experience – Play of Light: Monet – Renoir – Van Gogh

Kinetic Sculptures – Art in Motion: Alexander Calder – Jesus Soto – Joyful Trees

Abstract Expressionism – Application of Optics: Rothko – Pollock – Clyfford Still


Week 4 – Experiencing Art in Nature – Cultivating the Eye of the Beholder

Cultivation of Presence in Spiritual Traditions – Taoist Practices – Zen Buddhism

Three-Dimensional Viewing – Planes of Vision: Foreground, Midground, Background

Vision in Motion – A Viewer creating an Aesthetic Experience within a Nature Setting

Click here if you have already purchased this class and need the Zoom info or recordings.