Whether your passion is rooted in abstract or realism, or you simply desire to share your voice through color, St. Ambrose will help you grow as a fine artist so you can achieve your professional dreams.

Art graduates work at Augustana College, Erie (Illinois) Community School District, Genesis Health, and Jeff Koons Studio New York.

Ambrose Advantages

  • Outstanding Student Art Facilities
  • Faculty Support and Collaboration
  • Focus on Original Voice

Kristin with student outside

student painting outside

Emma painting abstract

Our faculty excel at one-on-one interaction and guidance and apply it to everything from mixing paint to discussing your creative growth and ambition.

Read our Fact Sheet on Painting (pdf)

More information on the Art Program

What will I learn?

You will take foundation courses in drawing, design, visual narratives and art history, and specialized courses in figure drawing, professional practice, and painting.

Our integrated, liberal arts approach to art making is very valuable. This major will challenge your creative growth. Oil painting, drawing, and other media will become your voice, and we help you incorporate life experience into your exploration of form and content.

Many of our students have been accepted into graduate studio art and art therapy programs, including at the University of Vermont College of Art, University of Iowa, University of Minnesota, Boston University, Lesley University, Mt. Mary College, and Marquette University.

What are some possible career outcomes?

Painting majors can work as a gallery director, curator, marketing assistant, visual communications specialist, production artist, illustrator, museum educator, museum preparator, design assistant, sign painter, media designer, fine artist/craftsperson, or teach.

It is not uncommon for fine artists to work on their own terms. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2016) about half of all fine artists are self-employed and the annual median wage is $48,780.

Where will I learn?

The Art Department and student art facilities are housed in the Galvin Fine Arts Center.

Our main drawing and painting studio is 1,600 square-feet of beautifully-lit open space. Graphic design classes are held in Mac computer labs (complete with the latest design software, Wacom tablets, scanners, laser printers, and a large-form inkjet printer).

Our book arts/printmaking/papermaking studio is not only unique – it is fully equipped:

  • One brand-new 34" x 60" Takach etching press
  • One 28" x 48" Sturges etching press
  • Rembrandt lithography press
  • Griffin lithography press
  • Two Chandler & Price letterpresses
  • Vandercook 325 Letterpress
  • Vacuum table for screen printing
  • Two exposure units
  • Polymer plate maker (essential for digitally-created imagery)
  • 100 drawers of lead type and 20 drawers of wood type
  • Nipping press
  • Three book presses
  • Multiple sewing frames
  • Papermaking studio: Hollander beater, paper press, and more than a dozen moulds and deckles

Galvin also features two public galleries – the Morrissey and Catich – for students to exhibit their work.

Some foundation and advanced courses are held in studios at the Figge Museum, and our students can visit the museum's collection, attend lectures, and participate in workshops for free.

What about scholarships and grants?

Scholarships are available for students who show exemplary talent in their artwork. If you have that type of creative passion, we want to talk to you about how studies at St. Ambrose can enrich your talent and help lead to several fulfilling career paths.

An art scholarship recognizes and rewards your special gifts and can provide important financial help for your studies. Click here to learn more about the Art Scholarship

Portfolio Requirements

Scholarship Portfolio Guidelines

Digital submissions are accepted on an ongoing basis, but preference is given to those who submit before March 10.

Portfolio Requirements for a Scholarship

In order to adequately evaluate your portfolio for a financial award, the following must be included:1. 10-12 original works of art/design work (high-resolution .jpg or .pdf) in a variety of media - 2D and 3D (if applicable) - that show the breadth of your technical and creative skills. These files can be submitted online or mailed on a CD/flash drive.
2. A list with the following information:

    • Name
    • Medium
    • Date created
    • Class project or independent work

Click here for additional tips on how to create an art portfolio.

Submit Your Portfolio

Portfolios can be submitted online, emailed to, or mailed to:Terri Buesing-Flynn

St. Ambrose University

518 West Locust Street

Davenport, IA 52803Schedule an appointment by contacting Terri Buesing-Flynn, 563/333-6001.

Creating Your Portfolio

Creating an effective portfolio is not as easy as it seems. What you are creating is a rank-and-file representation of how smart, experienced, hip and aware you are as an artist, and this takes some doing.Although no portfolio will contain all of the items on the list below, a strong one will contain a diverse sampling. Cover as many bases as you can and don't hesitate to ask advice from your teachers, trusted friends and, of course, professional artists. Art programs are looking for evidence of the depth and breadth of your artistic proficiency and dedication, but this is tricky to communicate to an audience that doesn't know you well.For convenience sake, most projects created in high school are done inside the art room. Occasional sketchbook assignments take you out of the classroom into the "real world" but result in very few finished works from observation. Scenes with bridges, commercial buildings, trees, bodies of water, suburban yards, clouds, weather conditions, various qualities of light, and candid views of daily activity are, sadly, very rare in portfolios. Anywhere an artist might take a camera should be considered an artistic possibility for images in other media.The portability of a sketchbook facilitates easy chronicling of what you see and think in a given day. It's also an excellent place to catalogue and comment on your influences. When you travel, when you study art history, when you find important artists and art works you like, when you discover interesting patterns or ideas, include them in your sketchbook and comment on them. Write down why you find them interesting-why you'd like to be influenced by them.Series of thumbnail sketches are useful to demonstrate the way you analyze a complex scenario and the way you choose an appropriate aspect of the subject for composition and content. Accompanying your sketches with written descriptions of what, when, where, why, and how of your chosen subjects will make the drawings more valuable later.The following is a list of works that might be found in an unusually diverse and strong portfolio:· Examples of all the major media you've worked with (prints, drawings, watercolors, photography, sculpture, printmaking, graphic design, oil/acrylic, jewelry, etc.)
• Stylistic variety from loose to tight; exacting to expressionistic; realism and expressive distortion· Color and black-and-white work· Work on-site from observation (still-life, landscape, architecture, portrait, figure studies, etc.) (analysis)· Work from invention and imagination (synthesis)· Quick sketches/sketchbook-rapid stylish notation of ideas from both imagination and direct observation· Extra depth in areas of keenest interest (2-4 pieces of your specialty)· Realism (see note below regarding photographs) and abstraction· Personal work made independent of class exercises-shows that you have a mind of your own!· Graphic design ability-computer skills, software knowledge· Use of and knowledge of type, approaches to illustration and layout• Examples of your design abilities (T-shirts, brochures, posters, flyers, CD jackets, books, advertising layouts etc.)
• Use of traditional art media in a design context, especially for graphic design and book arts majors

Additional Guidelines

Don't copy photographs unless you significantly transform them or the photographic image is just one of multiple sources of information you use to create the art work.Avoid logos (unless original), cartoon figures, pop culture heroes and heroines (unless your artistic personality overcomes likeness). Avoid muscle cars, unicorns, bloody skulls, pets, dewy-eyed babies, and flowers unless you are capable of nudging these sentimental or clichéd subjects into an original and powerfully expressive form. If this sounds cruel, remember that every art teacher has seen these stale genres in droves and are predisposed NOT TO LIKE THEM!This is an exciting, formative time of your life when growth, learning and self-realization are everyday challenges. Let your portfolio reflect the complexity of your life and your struggles to understand and master your unique circumstances. This unique, artistic "fingerprint" will make your work stand out and give you the best chance to get you where you want to go. Good luck!

What have alumni of this program done?
  • After earning her painting degree, Lauren Connolly '09 earned a master's in museum studies. Today, she is the membership coordinator at the Science Museum of Minnesota.
  • Emma Hubner '17 is using her undergraduate education in Painting, Art Education, and English to teach in the Pleasant Valley (Iowa) School District.
  • Beth VanDerMolen '07 is an art therapist at Loyola University Medical Center.

Degree Requirements

Bachelor of Arts Degree in Painting (27 credits)

Majors also must satisfy the general art requirements. (24 credits)

ART 310 Figure Drawing
+ART 340 Painting I
ART 350 Painting II
ART 410 Professional Practices
ART 420 Painting III
ART 430 Painting IVThree credits of 300-level art history.
Six additional credits of ART or DSGN.

Optional: ART 400 Senior Honors: Fine Arts.

+ Satisfies a General Education requirement

Click here to read course descriptions for Art

Plan to Graduate

This is the suggested plan of study to graduate in four years with a degree in Painting. This plan assumes the student has not taken three years of foreign language in high school.

Year One

ENGL 101 English comp. 3 IL 101 Information Lit. 1
NSS 101 New Student Seminar 1 COMM 129,132,203,228,329 3
ART 100 Drawing 3 ART 203 2D Design 3
KIN 149 Wellness Concepts 1 PHIL/THEO 100/200 LEVEL 3
MATH 131 OR CSCI 140 3 ART 207 SF Drawing 3
Total Credits 14 Total Credits 16

Year Two

ART 303 Figure Comp* 3 ART 330 Painting I 3
PHIL/THEO Elective 3 Natural Science 3
AH 250 Art through the Ages 3 KIN Fitness 1
Social Sci 3 AH 251 Art through the Ages II 3
ART ELEC 3 ART 208 SF 3D Design 3
Elective 3
Total Credits 15 Total Credits 16

Year Three

ART 331 Painting II 3 330 ART 430 Painting III 3 331
ART 304 Figure Drawing 3 303 PHIL/THEO 300 level 3
Electives 6 WI ELEC 3
AH 300 Elective 3 251 ELECTIVE 300 level 3
Total Credits 15 Total Credits 15

Year Four

ART 431 Painting IV* 3 HONORS (Elective) 1
PHIL/THEO Electives 3 ART 403 Professional Practices 3
Electives 3 Electives 9
Electives 300 level 6 Internship 1
Total Credits 15 Total Credits 14

*Requires prerequisite

Meet One of Our Alumni

Our alumni and students are doing fantastic things, something that has become a hallmark of anyone associated with the Bachelor of Arts in Painting at St. Ambrose. Learn more about one member of our community:

Apply Visit Info


Kristin Quinn, MFA, Department Chair

Galvin Fine Arts Center 132
518 W. Locust St.
Davenport, Iowa 52803

So, what's next?

Are you ready to take the next step? St. Ambrose offers more than 60 programs and 26 athletic teams and sports to join on campus. Become an Ambrosian today!