See the World in New Ways with Visual Literacy


In these 24 compelling lessons, you’ll take a deep look at the principles and skills of visual literacy, and how these visual skills directly affect our experience and concerns. The course teaches you the vocabulary of art—line, shape, space, color, and more—and how to evaluate each aspect, as well as how to understand and use the principles of visual design. The lessons also ground you in how visual language operates in art, design, and media, knowledge which sharpens your powers of communication, deepens your insight into visual persuasion and manipulation, and refines your skill and pleasure in the multi-dimensional world of visual experience. 


I believe that my most important job as a professor is to draw attention to the power of the visual. Every person experiences reality and makes decisions based on visual information. And so my most important job as a professor is to draw attention to the power of the visual and its impact on our lives. To teach art at St. Mary’s College of Maryland has been an honor and every year I look forward to meeting new students. Creating this course with The Teaching Company has made it possible for me to reach more people, and draw even more attention to how everyday objects and visual phenomena can impact our daily lives.
— Carrie Patterson

You’ll delve into core subject matter such as:

The Phenomenon of Visual Perception

Learn how the way we experience the visual through our bodies lays the groundwork for how we interpret our own lives. 

Representation vs. Illusion

Observe how artists, designers, and photographers create illusion in their work, and how media and visual communication can blur the line between fact and fiction.

Visual Foundations

Study visual syntax—the underlying structure of visual communication; delve deeply into the formal elements of art; learn the principles of three-dimensional art and design; and investigate visual storytelling.

Principles of Design

Grasp the core principles of visual design that are at work in the creation of any object or artwork, and learn to compose visually like an artist. 

In the final section of the course, Professor Patterson offers you a penetrating look at the parameters of creativity. Among these, you’ll explore how to cultivate powers of deep observation and alternative ways of seeing, how to generate original thought, and how to become a creator of your own art, design, or visual communication.In exploring the ways we benefit from refined visual knowledge as consumers, communicators, and creators, you’ll learn to turn your visual skills into a visually literate and enriched life.