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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.

Originally designed to address the importance of drawing as the basis of understanding one’s experience in the world, the Marathons are based on 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 by both regular faculty and distinguished vis­iting artists who are present for the entire two-week 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 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 creation of strong and surprising works can be the catalyst for future work. In addition to being part of the full-time program, application to the Marathons are open to beginning and advanced artists regardless of their affiliations. Admission follows the same requirements and procedures as the full-time program. Fees for the ten-day course must be paid in full upon registration.

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.

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. Learn more here.

Virtual Marathons

Virtual Marathons are an incredible opportunity for artists from around the world to experience the high caliber NYSS Marathons from their respective homes and studios. Taught through a combination of Zoom and Padlet, these courses bring the rigorous exercises, profound insights, and deep connections of in-person Marathons to participants via virtual means. Artists of all levels are welcome to join. Virtual Marathons are offered as two-week sessions (10 days) in September, January, and during the summer months. Virtual Marathons are offered as one-week (5 consecutive days, Thursday through Monday) Intersession Marathons in November and March of each year.

Please email info@nyss.org with any questions.

UPCOMING SUMMER 2021 MARATHONS

Summer Session I: Wednesday, June 2 – Tuesday, June 15
Summer Session II: Monday, June 21 – Friday, July 2
Summer Session III: Thursday, July 8 – Wednesday, July 21

*Classes meet daily, excluding weekends, 9am – 6pm EST

SUMMER SESSION I: Wednesday, June 2 – Tuesday, June 15
Drawing Marathon – VIRTUAL with Graham Nickson & Guests
Painting Marathon – IN-PERSON with Clintel Steed
Color Marathon – VIRTUAL with Kaitlin McDonough

SUMMER SESSION II: Monday, June 21 – Friday, July 2
Painting Marathon – VIRTUAL with Graham Nickson & Guests
‘Room with a View’ Landscape Painting Marathon – VIRTUAL with Fran O’Neill
Sculpture Marathon – IN-PERSON with Brandt Junceau
Drawing Marathon – IN-PERSON with Linda Darling & Guests
Painting Marathon – IN-PERSON with Ilse Murdock

SUMMER SESSION III: Thursday, July 8 – Wednesday, July 21
Why Paint the Figure – VIRTUAL with Elisa Jensen & Guests
Sculpture Marathon – VIRTUAL with Jilaine Jones
Painting Marathon – IN-PERSON with Catherine Lepp

All levels are welcome and Partial Scholarships are available.

Apply On Slideroom

Drawing Marathon – VIRTUAL with Graham Nickson & Guests

9am - 6pm

Course Description In this online Marathon, students will 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. The class meets daily […]

Painting Marathon – IN-PERSON with Clintel Steed

9am - 6pm

Course Description In this Marathon, we will explore the idea of creating paintings from drawings. During the first week, we will spend the first half of each day drawing onsite in Harlem and return to the Studio School in the afternoon to create a large drawing from the on-site drawings of each morning. During the second […]

Color Marathon – VIRTUAL with Kaitlin McDonough

9am - 6pm

Course Description This Marathon will elevate and expand our sensitivity to all aspects of color. Placing practice before theory, we will explore the wild richness of color functionality and mutability. Exercises will deepen our understanding of hue, tone, saturation, deception, intervals, boundaries and color relatedness. We will prioritize conclusions drawn from what we observe firsthand […]

Painting Marathon – VIRTUAL with Graham Nickson & Guests

9am - 6pm

Course Description The importance of color cannot be overstated, often derided as too emotional or romantic, its journey throughout history is helpful to know. We will study color from caves of 50,0000 years ago to the color of Egyptian walls, to Indian and European Miniatures leading to the colors of cities and to pastoral color. […]

‘Room with a View’ Landscape Painting Marathon – VIRTUAL with Fran O’Neill

9am - 6pm

Course Description “Room with a View” – In this unique and challenging time, students will look for the possibility of landscape within their own limitations. Depending on where you are in the world, it may be a view out of your window, or it could be that you are able to access landscapes that may […]

Sculpture Marathon – IN-PERSON with Brandt Junceau

9am - 6pm

Course Description The life-size figure is a touchstone of sculpture, which has been remade and passed forward generation by generation, and must be refashioned once again, now. To make something as big as oneself, standing like oneself, with every feature and surface, a head, a face, a gaze like oneself: that is a very peculiar proposition, […]

Drawing Marathon – IN-PERSON with Linda Darling & Guests

9am - 6pm

Drawing and Portraiture: The Extraordinary Person of Everyday Life Course Description In this intensive two-week course, we will engage in the practice of drawing for eight hours per day, a rare opportunity. The focus will be on portraiture, closely observing the unique features and character of the model. We will play close attention to spatial […]

Why Paint the Figure – VIRTUAL with Elisa Jensen & Guests

9am - 6pm

Course Description This figure painting class will explore in depth the development of figurative imagery in art. Focus will be on finding personal imagery and developing that imagery to the fullest extent by working from drawings, from the imagination and from memory. Sources will be drawings from the virtual model, the study of our own […]

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