Marathon set-ups

The School's internationally-recognized Marathon programs were developed in 1988 by Dean Graham Nickson, initially as a measure for the rest of the semester at the start of the program year. The program has since expanded to become a core component of the School's curriculum. Meanwhile, intense outside interest led to the extension of the Marathons to a wider audience of participants outside of the full-time student body. Renowned artists, art historians, dealers, collectors,  art educators, writers, journalists and students of all levels and affiliations have since experienced the intensity of the program.

The Marathon course hours are 9:00am to 6:00pm, with a lunch break from 1:00pm to 2:00pm. In some Marathons, there may be critiques. The specific critique schedule will be determined once courses have commenced.



Originally designed to address the importance of drawing as the basis of understanding one's experience in the world, the Marathons are based in an exploration of this most direct route to an enriched understanding of the language of the plastic arts. The innovation inherent in the Marathon program reawakens the way that drawing is experienced by artists and appreciators alike.

The Marathons are intensive, all-day programs that run for two weeks at the beginning of each semester and during the Summer Session. Drawing, Painting and Sculpture marathons are offered, both by full-time faculty and distinguished visiting artists, who are present for the entire session. All programs operate along the same basic model of immersing the student in their chosen discipline.

The level of commitment reached by participants during the Marathon is extraordinary. Each individual must confront the problems of drawing, painting and sculpture with vigor and intensity if they are are to show that they are equal to the fierce demands of concentration and stamina necessary for the program. Not only are participants fully engaged in the physical aspects of making art, they are also intellectually challenged and stimulated by extensive group and individual critiques. The strong and surprising works made often work as catalysts for future work.

Marathons are open to beginning and advanced artists, regardless of their affiliation. Admission follows the same requirements and procedures as for the full-time program. Fees for the ten-day course must be paid in full upon registration.



(Please click on each Marathon heading, for a pdf with Full description, including Materials list)

Week 1:  Tuesday, September 8 > Saturday, September 12 

Week 2:  Monday, September 14 > Friday, September 18

New York Studio School closed for Labor Day:  Monday September 7

Drawing Marathon: Graham Nickson & Guests, September 8-18, 2015

In this Marathon, students learn the importance of drawing as the basis of understanding one's experience of the world. Drawing is seen here as the most direct route to the examination of our perceptions. Unorthodox tools and exercises will be introduced to broaden the student's drawing vocabulary.

This course will investigate many implications of drawing as a physical and cerebral activity as well as drawing as a philosophy.  It will discuss key issues, including those of scale, tiny to huge; the use of different formats; the use of the rectangle; the vertical axis and its significance; the nature of distortions; the compression of space and depth; the search for 'form' and its consequences; space and its meaning, functions and the different kinds of space; and the nature of relational drawing.

We will approach the meaning of images, investigating what contributes to a "powerful image".  We will discuss "pictorial" subject versus narrative subject: the diversities of structure, especially using strategies like the grid, the organic spiral and geometry, all of which play a part in research into the language of drawing.

The class meets everyday for two consecutive weeks from 9:00AM - 6:00PM, five days a week. Evening critiques will be held most nights during during both weeks, from approx 6:30pm - 9pm. This course is open to students of all levels. Cost: $1625.

Sculpture Marathon: Garth Evans, September 8-18, 2015

This Marathon offers physically demanding exercises that provoke exciting dialogues between two and three-dimensional interpretation. In the past, experiencing the full two weeks of this course has resulted in important breakthroughs for painters and sculptors of all levels of development.

The course is an introduction to working in three dimensions for those students who have no experience of doing so. For the student who has some experience, the course will provide additional experience which will be integrated with important aspects of the language of sculpture. For the more advanced sculpture students, it will facilitate a reconsideration of their practice.

Students will acquire or extend practical skills in the manipulation of various materials. They will develop or improve their understanding of structure. They will develop or improve an ability to make constructions from a variety of materials. They will deal with issues of sources, both in terms of subject matter and in terms of their choice of the physical material used. They will experience working from a model with materials that explicitly defeat any attempt at "copying" and require them to abstract and analyze what they see. During the first week students will complete not less than six small works and make at least as many drawings. In the second week, they will concentrate on a life-size single work.

Cost: $1625 + Materials Fee: $150



Drawing Marathon: Frank Galuszka September 8-12, 2015

"The content of painting is painting" -  Kandinsky

In this marathon we will address art that has no discernible reference to things in the world.

Abstract art tends to create a self-contained world.  The abstract drawing, like the abstract painting is a world unto itself.

Abstract draughtsman and painters invent language-like styles out of parts derived from the formal aspects of drawing and painting: such things as color saturation, facture, contrast, eye movements controlled by gestures and by intervals, and so on. Abstraction also includes attitudinal signifiers such as crisp tidy edges or hesitating marks, or the smudge, or the drip.

Begin with a random photographic page of images.  Progressively de-emphasize content, especially including recognizability, detail and three-dimensionality while emphasizing and exaggerating shape, texture, flatness, color and composition. Simplify. Put the image through this process each step of the way.  This assignment will strengthen your sensitivity to formal principles and to the rich possibilities of abstract art. This class is designed for both the beginner and the more advanced student.


Dates: Tuesday September 8 through Saturday September 12, 2015. Cost: $890


Drawing Marathon: Gina Werfel, September 14-18, 2015

"I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it." - Pablo Picasso

This drawing marathon is about developing your perceptual skills using line, value and measuring space. How does one really start to look and locate the human figure in space as opposed to drawing what we know?  We will explore a range of drawing methods and materials to locate the figure(s) in its spatial environment. This intensive exploration will provide a range of options as you develop your own style in drawing. Outcomes include abstract drawings as well as abstracted realist works derived from perception. Our Marathon will be enriched by a museum trip to draw from works of art in the Met.

Willingness to go beyond familiar solutions and expand one's vision and thinking are essential to the sort of development expected in this course. Drawings will be evaluated for their thoughtfulness and investigative persistence, for their workmanship and their focus on concepts introduced in class. This class is designed to accommodate all levels of learning

Dates: Monday September 14 through Friday September 18, 2015. Cost: $890


Upcoming Marathon dates:


Spring 2016: January 19 - 29, 2016

NB: All classes are subject to cancellation.


If you are currently enrolled as a full-time student at NYSS, or if you have successfully completed a Marathon or full-time program within the last five years, you are not required to submit an application in order to enroll in upcoming Marathons.

Please e-mail the Registrar Kaitlin McDonough at and provide: (1) the name of the upcoming course in which you would like to enroll; (2) the name of the program you most recently attended; and (3) the semester and year of the program that you most recently attended.

We will ask you to verify your contact information and update your Emergency Contact information.  We will also ask that you submit a non-refundable $45 processing fee along with a $500 Tuition Deposit (which will be applied to your Tuition payment) in order to secure your place in the upcoming program of your choice. 

We look forward to welcoming you back to the New York Studio School!

The deadline for FALL 2015 Enrollment is August 28, 2015.