Continuing Education Blog

PNCA offers evening and weekend classes for adults and young people. For adults we offer courses in art, craft, and design, as well as professional development classes. For children we have Saturday classes during the school year and week-long camps during the summer. In addition to our regular teen classes, we also offer immersive summer Pre-College Studios. Our blog below gives you an idea of some of the goings on, and you can see our full course catalogue online here.

Electronic Instruments

With are re-running this interview with Theremins and Monophonic Synthesizers, instructor Mark Keppinger, who is bringing the class back this term.

Our Creativity Labs courses are designed for students interested in creative experimentation while learning about art, design and craft in ways that are meaningful, fun and educational. Examining craftsmanship and design-oriented thinking, each course introduces students to new ways of art making with unique curriculum and engaging instruction.

Mark Keppinger has been teaching with PNCA Continuing Education for over eight years. For the second time, we are excited to offer a class on Theremins and Monophonic Synthesizers, a great passion of Mark’s. A professional Theremin builder, his instruments are used by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, among others.

Can you talk about what drew you to creating electronic instruments?

I started out life as a musician, playing piano for school plays,
assemblies, etc. My interest in electronics came early on. The Theremin was a good mix of music and electronics, and seemed to be a natural for me.

The analog Theremin and moog synthesizers are still popular in this
 digital world what make these instruments special for musicians and 

In addition to having a cult following, both are capable of generating
 sounds that can be difficult to replicate. I think that the Theremin
 popularity became mainstream when it was given credit (which is actually incorrect) as having been used on “Good Vibrations”. The early Moog synthesizers, although very expensive at the time, were still a fraction of what you would pay for similar equipment. “Popcorn” by “Hot Butter” was the first hit song performed exclusively using a Moog synthesizer.

You build Theremins professionally along with your work at OMSI, how did
 you first get involved with this?

I saw the Theremin documentary around 1995, went home, and decided to see
 who was making tube Theremins. I found a number of people who claimed 
that they had either been building or were going to start building tube
 Theremins, although none had anything to show for their efforts. I 
figured it would take me six months from start of design to production. 
Five years later, I finished my first one. I put a posting on one of the
 Theremin sites, and was greeted by much skepticism. Jason Barille, owner
 of  the website said he wanted to see my accomplishment. At the 
time, he was living in Redmond, WA, so I drove up one week-end and we
 geeked out like you’d expect from a couple of Theremin nerds.

What can students expect to build in the class?

Second guessing what students will want to do is a good way for me to get
 in trouble. I guess a better question would be, what can they build? I 
have a simple optical Theremin that can easily be built in one evening, 
even when we are sharing soldering irons, etc. Synthesizer circuit boards 
are much more complex, but still something that can be done over the 
duration of the class. For those with too much time on their hands, I
 have made the design of my high-end tube Theremin public domain. A group
 of individuals building Theremins based on my design tend to hang out on
the Yahoo group “kepptheremins,” which is administrated by a guy in
 Atlanta. Once you have your Theremin running and properly tuned, you will 
be given a serial number. I think there are now between 20 and 30 out 
there, with a number more in progress.

What are good resources for people interested in learning more about
 Theremins and Monophonic Synthesizers?

The internet is a wonderful place to gather information. However, there
is as much if not more misinformation as there is factual information
posted. Many years ago, you would go to a library, and if a book had
information that was corrected or updated (I remember a book that was 
printed before two more elements had been discovered), it would be marked
in red. There is no “Truth Filter” for the internet. I regularly have
 Theremin designs forwarded to me that have no chance of working. The 
discussion groups are good clearing-houses for what’s real and what’s not.

Mark’s Theremins and Monophonic Synthesizers, class starts April 3. To learn more about it and our other classes visit

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The New Registration System

Welcome to CE-Reggie, our new online registration system. A unique collaboration between the Continuing Education Program and the Information Technology office, this custom-built application allows students to set up an account and manage their purchasing. From CE-Reggie you can register for classes, find syllabi, manage your schedule and find your classroom assignments.

A unique part of CE-Reggie is the social component that people can opt-in to. After uploading your photo, it will appear on the class site visible to you and to other people who signed up for your class and opted in to the program. Because we respect your FERPA rights to privacy, this aspect of your account is totally voluntary. Your profile will not be visible to the general public and those who have not opted in will never show up.

I have signed up for a class at PNCA in the past, do I still need to set-up an account?
Yes. This is a brand-new system, so CE-Reggie is starting fresh with accounts. While we still have your information in the college’s central database, CE-Reggie is a stand-alone application and will be your primary connection to PNCA Continuing Education. If you have already registered for a summer 2012 class there is no need to re-register, your spot in the class is secure.

Can I sign up for a class multiple times?
Yes you can. While it is preferable that each adult student have and manage their account, you are able to sign up a family member or friend. For parents, after completing checkout, you will be asked to enter the name of the child.

After signing up my class status says pending?
This a temporary status from when you have signed up and your order has been processed on the administrative end. After you have signed up your space is reserved and when your status changes to enrolled all financial and administrative functions are complete.

Where do I find my room number and syllabus?
Under the student account tab you can find your schedule, room number and syllabus. Classroom assignments do occasionally change so please check this page before coming to your first class. From this same page can also download your payment receipts. This page will update as you sign up for more classes enabling you to manage your experience at PNCA and compare classes.

Is this registration system safe?
Yes this site is fully PCI compliant so transactions in transit cannot be viewed by third parties.

What are your refund policies?

Dropping prior to the 1st class = $45 processing fee
Dropping prior to the 2nd class = 80% refund
No refund after the 2nd class

For Workshops or Classes 4 sessions or fewer: Students must withdraw no later than one week prior to the 1st class to receive a refund, less a $45 processing fee. No refund is available after that time.

Pre-College Studios
Dropping prior to June 15 : PNCA retains the program deposit (10% of tuition and fee total) and, if applicable, the housing deposit (25% of housing total); PCS scholarship applicants are refunded in full save for a $45.00 processing fee
Dropping after June 15, but before the first day of class = PNCA retains 50% of program tuition and fee total and, if applicable, the 50% of housing fee
Dropping prior to the 3rd class = PNCA retains 80% of program tuition and fee total and, if applicable, 80% of housing fee
No refund starting 3rd class

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Director’s Message

Welcome to the Continuing Education program at PNCA. In my blog entries I share what we do and why I am passionate about the opportunities we create for you.

I am proud of the excellent and creative educational experiences our program delivers consistently and enthusiastically. Here follows two of my highlights from our course evaluations of the recent winter quarter. With more than a third of our students in the adult program responding, 95% of our participants tell us that our instructors always create a respectful and supportive class atmosphere. This is definitely the learning environment that I want to experience for my own education and development.

Yes, we also heard, and take seriously, issues about temperature control of a few of our studios. Yet, at the end of the day our students told us the quality of teaching and learning was outstanding. An incredible 98% of our participants would recommend the course they just completed to friends.

This is a great challenge to repeat or exceed for our program, notwithstanding our extended record of participant satisfaction of above nine out of ten students.


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Creative Professionals

Recently, we caught up with three Certificate Program students making a career transition together. Experienced graphic designers, Chris, Carol and Marti came to PNCA’s continuing education to take part in the Digital Publishing Certificate program to compliment their extensive print design backgrounds.

Carol: After interviewing with counselors with other programs I realized at 59, I was not comfortable with the rigid format and all the requirements involved. my main goal was to augment my extensive Graphic Design experience with updating my creative Suite skills and honing my ability to produce websites.

Chris: PNCA offered something different. The only other 2 year program that met the criteria was web design or web technical creation-type programs. The idea of studying web creation for 2 years was more than I could fathom and I was afraid that my other Graphic Design skills would be compromised. While needing to add web understanding and creation to my skill set, I was drawn to the fact that I could also take creative classes as part of this certificate.

Marti: Being outsourced after almost 20 years of working for one company makes it really hard to trust yourself, and gave me doubts about my skills, especially having to start all over again. Interviewing and finding another job makes me really uncomfortable, but PNCA is willing to work with me, giving me more confidence in myself, as I realize that I am not too old to learn.

Carol: My goal is updating my creative Suite Skills and getting familiar with web development. I hope to take advanced classes in Adobe Photoshop, InDesign and web development. In addition, because PNCA has been so adaptable to our circumstances, we have been able to substitute classes that were redundant to our decades of work history.

Chris: I also knew that the teachers at PNCA were of a caliber above the other programs. Whether that is true or only my perception, I am not sure. My experience here so far has validated that opinion to be true. The fact that the classes could be taken in the evening or on the weekend was also a crucial factor, in case I need to work during the day.

Carol: Also, when Marti, Chris and I walked into PNCA we were thrilled to see art all over the walls. It took us back to our own art school experiences. It was like coming home.

Marti: What really drew me to the certificate program at PNCA was the environment, the art on the walls, the friendly campus, and most of all the courses that would keep my skills updated.

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Painting Birds!

During the first two weeks of our Draw, Paint, Sculpt. class students worked on large tropical bird watercolor paintings. The final images are so vibrant and full of wonderful textures and paint treatments. Here is the evolution of one particular student’s painting over the course of our last class.
Draw, Paint, Sculpt.
Draw, Paint, Sculpt.
Draw, Paint, Sculpt.
If you would like to see more of the beautiful work created during this project visit our Draw, Paint, Sculpt. Collection on Flickr. In the collection you will find birds of paradise, parrots and much, much more.

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First Day of Spring Term

Draw, Paint, Sculpt.
Art Explorers
Draw, Paint, Sculpt.
We had a super first day of Spring Term on Saturday. Wow! So much great art is already in the works! We can’t wait to share it with you. If you would like to see more images from any of our classes running this term, including Art Explorers, Draw, Paint, Sculpt. and Design Studio, visit our Flickr Site!

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Last Class of 2012 Winter Term

We’ll, it’s that time again. We have to say goodbye to another session of Youth classes at PNCA. The last 8 weeks have been amazing! We’ve had the pleasure of working with some exceptional students, and been witness to some incredibly creative responses to the projects that our instructors present. Here are some moments we will remember.
Drawing + Painting
Portland Perspectives Exhibition
Art + Storytelling
Fabric Design
If you would like to see some of the awesome artwork that our students have made this term you can visit our Online Exhibition Venue on Flickr. If you would like to see more images from our classrooms you can do so by visiting our In the Classroom Collection.

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Spring and Summer with PNCA Continuing Education features a number of Printmaking classes including Etching and the return Master Printmaker Jim Reid’s summer workshop. Printmaking classes are taught by artists working in the medium that they teach and are held in the Gordon Gilkey Print Center with a full range of printing presses and screenprinting equipment.

  • Collagraphy -the art of making printing matrixies from found materials;
  • Etching – this class explores a variety of basic intaglio techniques including drypoint, line etching, soft-ground, aquatint and simple approaches to color printing;
  • Printmaking: Inside + Outside the Frame – a unique opportunity to work with Jim Reid on idea generation and print proofing, not editioning, and to develop your creative process and work;
  • Screenprinting – an immediate process, carries a rich serial range and unique possibilities for translating drawn, painted, photographic and digital images into complex explorations of color and composition;
  • Screenprinting Pre-College – for ages 15-18, this class introduces this popular printmaking technique;
  • Textile Design + Printing – bring imaginative fabrics to life by using a variety of handprinting methods.

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This March Continuing Education’s Director Patrick Forster, and I will be hopping a plane to NYC to attend the National Art Education Association’s annual convention. It’s quite the event with four days of presentations centered around all aspects of Art Education. This year the convention is focused on Emerging Perspectives: Connecting Teaching, Learning, and Research. Patrick and I attended last year’s convention in Seattle and had a great time! Here are a few images of our exploits.

With over a thousand sessions to choose from, I’m are already trying to sort out my schedule for the convention, which is hard given the number of the options available. The session at the top of my list: A Century of Art Education with presenter Patrick Forster! Patrick and I will be sharing our time at the convention via this blog and our flickr site. If you would like to see more images from last year’s convention click the jump —>

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In Progress

We’re gearing up for our annual Youth Program Exhibit which takes place during the month of March in PNCA’s Commons. Our students have been hard at work getting their projects completed for inclusion into the exhibition. This year’s exhibition theme is Portland Perspectives, artwork about living in Portland and what makes this city so special. Below is a sneak peak at some of the work in progress that will be included in this year’s exhibition.
Drawing + Painting
We will also be exhibiting artwork from PNCA’s Youth Archive which houses over 1,000 works by Youth Program students created over the last century. Very cool! We can’t wait to share this work with the community. The exhibition will be in the Commons from March 1 – 30. Make sure to stop by and take a look!

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