Bachelor’s Program

Given a mix of freedom and discipline, Painting majors in the four-year BFA program develop the purpose, confidence and critical and technical skills necessary to express their ideas as artists. The department offers an atmosphere that promotes exploration and growth, with fellow students and faculty offering the critical and emotional support you need to create strong personal work.


Sophomores entering the program learn basic concepts and techniques that foster the development of a personal visual vocabulary. Juniors continue to expand and strengthen visual and technical skills through studio work that allows for in-depth exploration of content and meaning.

View the curriculum

Learning outcomes

Graduates are prepared to:

  • demonstrate strong visual, verbal and technical skills.
  • recognize the interdependence of content and form.
  • appreciate context and physical properties vital to works of art not designed for reproduction.
  • demonstrate enhanced critical reasoning with broad historical overviews and social insight.
  • support intellectual and academic freedom.
  • deliver discerning critiques of their own work and that of others.
  • create new works of art.

Inspiring community

Painting majors form a supportive community united by a strong work ethic and an eagerness to experiment. Students and faculty in the department share a respect for the tradition of painting along with a keen interest in its evolving contemporary manifestations.

Visiting artists and critics bring new perspectives to the conversation, and the endowed position known as the Kirloskar Visiting Scholar in Painting supports focused exploration of Indian art and culture.

Learning environment

Headquartered in a former 19th-century church, the Painting department offers the dedicated Memorial Gallery for student work along with studios for electives and home spaces. Just next door, the RISD Museum offers ready access to its amazing collection of painting and sculpture from almost every period and genre, along with countless other works of art from around the world.

Direct study of these works provides students with invaluable insights and inspiration, as does hands-on access to specimens in the Nature Lab and in the Fleet Library's extraordinary collection of artists' books.

Degree project

After gaining increasing control over the direction of their work and thought processes, seniors devote much of the final year to producing an independently conceived degree project subject to evaluation by the Painting faculty, along with peers and outside critics.