Think about art classrooms, maybe easels, oil paints and clay come to mind. But just as technology has transformed teaching and learning across so many disciplines, art in the digital age can be something entirely different. Our student’s opportunities to be creative and inventive have increased tremendously over the last decade.

Like many high schools, Lake Forest High School’s Fine and Applied Arts offerings are grounded in the tactile: wood and glass-making, sketching and painting, ceramics and sculpture. Young artists use their hands to create, and develop their eye for detail, for light and balance, for perfection. With the explosion of the digital arts, student artists also have the opportunity to learn how to bring their creations to life using technology as a tool. The Lake Forest High School Foundation has made significant investments over the years to make this possible, supporting the art teachers in creating professional environments for students interested in graphic design, photography, and animation while continuing to support the more traditional arts programs in their use of technology.
Digital Arts Technology Impacts Projects Across LFHS
Transformed Digital Arts Lab 2018 Grant
Digital art is an all-inclusive term referring to work made and/or presented using digital technology, and certainly touches many departments outside of the Art department at LFHS. The videographers in the New Media department, journalism students producing web based content in the English department and others across the school are using digital arts technology to produce all sorts of projects. Some might even call students working in the Makerspace, using artists’ tools like the 3-D printer and the programmable laser cutter while studying robotics and engineering, digital artists as well.

This year the LFHS Foundation made a significant investment in the Art Department's Digital Arts Lab which has further transformed the graphic design, animation and photography courses offered into models of collaboration, ingenuity and critique.
Investing in Educational Excellence
Since 2010, Foundation grants totaling over $190,000 have not only refurnished two art studios with flexible mobile furniture and storage designed to mirror professional environments but have also infused the department with high-tech tools that enhance the art making process for students. High-resolution digital cameras, powerful iMac computers, iPads, color printers, monitors, SmartBoards, software and digital wall displays maximize opportunities for students to create, collaborate and critique one another's work. As students learn the many functions of each piece of technology, their creative ideas multiply.
Digital Cameras 2013, 2014 & 2017 Grants
In use below on a Photography Field Trip
Digital Cameras & Beyond
Digital cameras are used to capture high-quality images so that student work – whether it is a drawing, a graphic design, ceramics or photography – is documented as realistically as possible. Granting eight iMac computers outfitted art studios with industry-standard technology. A special printer for photography classes enables students to produce high-quality work with visual clarity, which is critical for displaying and archiving photographic images. SMART Boards and large displays allow for interactive demonstrations of techniques being used as well as instant access to art history media. iPads are used for making suggestions without altering actual student work, projecting work for shared viewing and creating portfolios. The Foundation has even provided storage to properly catalog and curate the growing body of artwork, as well as professional presentation and display systems for showing it off.
iMacs for Art 2010, 2011 & 2014 Grants
ProPanels 2010 Grant
Animation Takes Off

One fast-growing class, Digital Animation, uses the digital cameras to capture their “characters” in various poses, and new Dragonframe animation software to put those characters into motion, bringing an entire story to life. Recently these students created animations for “Beauty and the Beast” that aired in the lobby of the LFHS auditorium as the audience arrived for the theater production. As we celebrate Mickey Mouse’s 90th birthday this year, it is easy to forget that each animated frame was once drawn by hand.
Dragonframe Software 2018 Grant
These are screenshot previews of the animations available for viewing by clicking on the button above.

Creation, Collaboration, Evaluation & Documentation

An artist’s pedestal is no longer just a simple easel – it is also a high-tech visual display system that can show the artist’s craft from multiple angles. Computers and special software can add 3-D effects to photography or sculpture. Each student’s portfolio is uploaded to an iMac, to track their progress throughout high school, for use in college applications or simply to capture and store memories of their talents.
“When I started at LFHS three years ago,” art teacher Jennifer Thomas said, “I had one animation class with 11 students. Today we have 37 students, with interest growing. Before we had the tools the Foundation grants brought, we were able to cover a lot of ground, but the tools were not as sophisticated. These kids learn so quickly and they move fast. With new tools, we are able to move forward at a faster pace.” 
By creating, evaluating, critiquing, and articulating their ideas in art, students grow in appreciation and understanding of their own and other artists’ work. The LFHS Art department hopes to facilitate aesthetic appreciation and artistic development in students who choose art as enrichment, as well as in students who choose art as a career.
“We feel so lucky,” says art instructor Carolyn Bielski, speaking from the newly renovated Digital Art Room. “We hear horror stories from schools in other parts of the country where programs are severely underfunded and art especially is undervalued. But our community gets us,” says Bielski. “They understand the importance of collaboration, critique and cultivating creativity, and their funding supports that.”
Art Grants
Thank you to our generous donors
who make it possible for us to continue
We hope you'll join us for our
9th Annual Spring Luncheon
April 17, 2019
11 AM - 2 PM
Exmoor Country Club
Lake Forest High School Foundation |