Visual Arts Camp

July 14-19, 2024 Grades 8-12 (grade completion)

About Visual Arts Camp

If you're excited about art, we invite you to challenge yourself in a variety of art media at our Visual Arts Camp. You'll experiment with new materials and techniques while producing portfolio-quality work.
You'll also experience:

  • Group art and recreation activities.
  • Performance art presentations.
  • Presentations by nationally known artists, art historians and studio artists.

You'll stay in Gilbert Hall during camp. Your experience will end with an art show open to your friends and family. All campers will receive a camp t-shirt!

What to Bring to Art Camp

  • Comfortable/sturdy walking shoes or sandals
    • Note: Flip flops should only be used in the residence hall.
  • Umbrella or rain gear
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Sweatshirt
  • Alarm clock
  • Water bottle
  • Sheets and pillowcase (standard twin size)
  • Towels, blanket, pillow
  • Small amount of money for souvenirs and snacks
  • Old clothes for studio work
  • $10 key deposit: envelope with check/cash/money order with the camper’s name on the outside.


You'll attend two studio classes each day. When you register, you'll indicate your choices for classes. The class content changes every year, providing new experiences for both new and returning students. There is limited space in each class, and classes with insufficient enrollment may be canceled.

In addition to studio classes, you'll enjoy presentations by accomplished guest speakers as they share their career paths in the visual arts. You will receive your studio assignments at camp check-in.

  • Drawing Realism - Becki Miller
    Using a variety of drawing materials, campers will build mixed media still-life drawings replicating realistic imagery that addresses both composition and concept. Techniques are explored that allow artists to render images expressively or precisely, using layers of ink, colored pencil and graphite. Markmaking, visual texture and subtle gradations will be a focus.
  • Portraits in Acrylic - Tim Roloff
    Explore portraiture and personal narrative as they combine traditional and experimental painting techniques to create expressive self-portraits on canvas. Color and textures will be addressed specific to acrylic techniques.
  • Painting with Pastel – Ashley Martinez
    introduction to the responsive and subtle surfaces created by pastel. Using artist-quality hard and soft pastels, this class will explore developing transitional layers of color to build smooth surfaces as well as expressive mark-making. Imagery options will include portraiture and still life.
  • Creating with Color – Samantha Haring
    Explore unexpected and inventive use of color in drawing and painting. Students learn to build visually powerful surfaces using color in a representational or non-traditional way. Using a variety of materials, works are created to reflect symbolic and personal ideas.
  • Figure Sculpting - April Macatangay
    Learn accurate human proportions and how to sculpt the human form with modeling clay. This class includes experimenting with sculpting muscle structures, clothing, textures, and different postures to create figures that show depth and narrative.
  • Experimental Drawing Practices – John Zilewicz
    Exploring a multitude of media, methods and techniques, students will use unconventional approaches to drawing to develop creative and imaginative approaches to art making. Skill building as well as producing works based on chance will allow students to examine the possibilities of mark-making, space, and surface.
  • Metalsmithing - Gretchen Schreiber
    Campers will learn basic hand fabrication skills such as sawing, filing, sanding and soldering, and apply them to a design in copper sheet metal.
  • Life Drawing - TBD
    Learn to draw the human figure while being introduced to college-level life drawing concepts and techniques. A variety of materials will be used while working from a live model within an art studio setting.
  • Printmaking – Alexis Estrada
    Explore a variety of printmaking techniques and experiences. The focus of this class will be to develop a series of prints as students work in the NIU printmaking studio. Drawing and illustration techniques will be emphasized along with concept development.
  • Acrylic Painting - Courtney Haugdahl
    Learning traditional and expressive acrylic painting techniques, students will create dynamic and dramatic paintings that reflect technical excellence.
  • Dramatic Drawing Studies - Elizabeth Nache
    Use charcoal drawing techniques in the creation of dramatic personal narrative imagery. Emphasis will be on identifying tonal values, accurate scale and proportion while developing compositions that are visually dynamic and bold. 
  • Life Drawing – Ailysh Cooper
    Learn to draw the human figure while being introduced to college-level life drawing concepts and techniques. A variety of materials will be used while working from a live model.
  • Sketchbook Reimagined - John Zilewicz
    Benefits of a daily sketchbook practice include quick thinking, responsive drawing, sensitivity to visual stimuli and immediacy of response. Students will focus on idea development and experimentation within a sketchbook format. Using collage, drawing, painting and mixed media processes, students will concentrate on producing imagery reflecting their own personal voice. 
  • Designed Surfaces - Marisol Cervantes
    Develop complex illustration works using a variety of design techniques including tessellation and symmetry. Typography, color, and composition will be emphasized as materials such as ink, colored pencil, and gouache along with collage techniques are used to create finished works.
  • Sculpture – Janelle O'Malley
    Experiment with the construction of 3D forms focusing on exploring a variety of materials, techniques and personal narratives. Developing forms that convey meaning, artists will create final works that consider design concepts as well as use materials in inventive ways.
  • Photography - Amy Fleming and Emma Vitallo
    Explore photography as an art form that tells stories and addresses concepts. Using personal phones or iPads, the photo assignments in this class will challenge students to create images that address composition and value scale as they progress from the photo shoot through the editing process.


Early bird registration fee: $800 (received June 1 or earlier)

Registration fee: $850

Registration Deadline: June 14, 2024

Art supply fee: $90 (mandatory)

Online Registration

Returning camper and NIU family discount: $25 (for campers who have previously attended Visual Arts Camp and the children and grandchildren of NIU students, staff and faculty members)

Camp fills quickly, so register early! You can register online. You'll pay a $100 deposit when you register. The remaining balance is due by June 14.

Need-based scholarship assistance is available!

Replacement key cards and deposit: All campers must bring a deposit to the first day of camp to be given a key to their room. These funds will not be deposited but will be held by the Summer in the Arts office in the case of a lost key. The funds will be deposited only in the case that a key is lost. Key deposits are returned to campers when they return their room keys at camp check out.

  • The deposit can be check, money order or cash.
  • Please put the deposit in an envelope with the camper’s name
  • Deposit Amount: $10

Camp Staff

Our Visual Arts Camp staff includes talented NIU faculty and students, alumni, guest artists, and award-winning area art teachers. The ratio of campers to staff members is about 12:1. Staff members are assigned to each residence hall floor and accompany campers to all meals and activities.

Lynn Stockton (camp director) Lynn Stockton has been a high school art teacher for 30 years. She is a Nationally Board-Certified Teacher. In 2008, she was recognized by the Illinois Art Education Association as the Secondary Art Teacher of the Year. Her students have won numerous awards and scholarships at the local, state, and national levels. She has helped to facilitate and restructure the visual art programs of two Illinois school districts and was instrumental in the addition of Advanced Placement Studio Art as an option for high school students in those districts. In June 2011 she was appointed to the National Prismacolor Advisory Council. She is currently teaching at Rockford Jefferson High School where she heads the largest advanced placement studio art program in northern Illinois. Ms. Stockton has been the director of the Visual Arts Camp since 2001.
Ailysh Cooper (life drawing) Ailysh grew up in Oswego, IL and attended this art camp for four years leading up to college, when she began attending NIU. Ailysh is finishing her degree in Art and Design Education and is currently student teaching junior high.
Samantha Haring (creating with color) Samantha Haring is an artist and educator from Des Plaines, Illinois. She makes quiet paintings that speak to the duality of absence and presence. Haring earned her M.F.A. from Northern Illinois University in 2014 and her B.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2011. She spent a summer in Italy at the International School of Drawing, Painting, and Sculpture; it was there that she fully developed her commitment to light, color and observational painting. Haring was one of the 2015-16 Artists-in-Residence at Manifest Gallery. She teaches drawing and design courses in the School of Design at DAAP and she has been a resident instructor at Manifest Drawing Center since 2016. Haring’s work is published in issues #119 and #123 of New American Paintings, as well as several recent Manifest INDA and INPA publications. She is represented by Gallery 19 in Chicago. Her studio practice is currently based in Cincinnati, where she spends an inordinate amount of time staring at the color of dust.
Courtney Haugdahl (acrylic painting) Courtney Haugdahl is an art education student at Northern Illinois University, an honors student, and a member of the honor society, Phi Kappa Phi. Courtney's favorite art medium is painting, and she enjoys reading and making art in her spare time. Art has been a way for Courtney to challenge herself inside and outside the classroom and she hopes to always continue to learn more about it beyond school. She has worked at the Visual Arts Camp for several years.
April Macatangay (figure sculpting) April Macatangay received her bachelor's degree in art education from NIU in 2005 and earned her bachelor's degree in fine arts from NIU in 2007. She has been an artist-in-residence in Poland, as well as the Philippines, where she learned to make traditional clothing from pineapple fiber. Her work has been exhibited widely and she currently teaches in the Chicagoland area. April has worked with the Visual Arts Camp for several years.
Ashley Martinez (painting with pastel) Ashley is a recent NIU Studio Art graduate. She is currently working as a commissioned pastel portrait artist and bilingual elementary teacher in Rockford Public Schools.
Becki Miller (drawing realism) Becki Miller is currently a local and freelance artist. She has long-term plans for a career in art education. She has been involved in the camp since 1998 as a camper and became a counselor in 2002.
Timothy Roloff (portraits in acrylic) Tim Roloff graduated from NIU in 2017 with a bachelor's degree in art education. He has been teaching art at Woodstock North High School for the past 2 years. Tim has been a counselor at Art Camp since 2014.
John Zilewicz (experimental drawing practices, sketchbook reimagined) John Zilewicz is an artist and educator in the Chicago area. He has an M.A. in painting and drawing and holds a BA in Two-Dimensional Studio Art. With over 20 years of teaching experience, Zilewicz is an instructor with an entertaining style of teaching art and he brings thoughtful and colorful enthusiasm to the classroom discussion. He currently teaches AP and Advanced Studio level courses at Niles West High School where he's been since 2006. Each year, his students are recognized at local, state and national competitions for their excellence in the visual arts. Zilewicz himself was recognized for his contributions to art education and received the Illinois Secondary Art Educator of the Year Award in 2016. He is also the Creator of the Illinois High School Art Exhibition (IHSAE), an exhibition program that has gained national recognition around the country from top art schools, colleges and universities. He currently serves as the organization's executive director. In his personal artistic practice, Zilewicz explores several different themes, but mark-making, intuitive painting and found object assemblage are among his favorites. Zilewicz works from his home studio in Arlington Heights. He exhibits his artwork regularly and has been featured in various exhibitions and local galleries.

Alexis Estrada (printmaking)

Elizabeth Nache (dramatic drawing studies)


A general overview of the camp schedule is below. 

Date and Time Activity Location

1:45-3 p.m.


Check in at Gilbert Hall lobby and pick up camp materials. Free parking is available at the visitor pay lot just south of Neptune hall.

3:15 p.m.


Jack Arends Hall, room 100
Parents are welcome at this orientation session with the camp director and staff.

Sunday to Friday

Camp activities

Jack Arends Hall

5 p.m.

Closing ceremony/art show

Jack Arends Hall
After the show, pick up your luggage from Gilbert Hall.

Contact Us

College of Visual and Performing Arts
Office of External Programs

Music Building 132

Kristin Sherman

Online Office Hours

Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
(lunch from noon – 1 p.m.)

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