So, here's the nutshell: You get to paint a live figure 3 times throughout the semester (or at least that's what happened with us). There's little to no instruction in class and 99% of the homework is done with coloraid paper where you cut out your design from the coloraid and glue it down. There are no grades given throughout the course and Colin never really has a bad word to say about anyone. However, this doesn't mean you're necessarily getting an A. Most ended up in the B+ to A- range. Anyway, that's that. He's not a bad guy, actually he's nice. Really. A little reserved but friendly none the less.
One of the few critiques I have for this course is about his teaching, or lack thereof. I was a beginner when it came to painting, drawing and the like and I did fine. I'm actually proud that I was able to do as well as I did, but what I learned about painting I learned through actually doing it and being around others who were as well. Now, Colin is very nice and will encourage you to keep moving through your painting, but generally his comments will sound something like, "I really like the way you____. You should check out (insert name of painter)." While it's great to have another artist find something they like about your work, it doesn't really help you to grow or to learn how to improve.
Now I have to say that as far as grading was concerned I think I was just lucky. About 30% of your grade is based on the final project, which can sound intimidating if you're a beginner painter who has muddled through the course without really feeling like you've received any instruction. But, I'm going to give Colin the benefit of the doubt and say that he had a sense of the overall experience of his students and chose a project that was "doable" for all. Now the concepts that he uses for his final projects are a little crazy (this have been conferred with his past students from other classes as well), but more crazy in a "were you on acid when you thought up this idea" than a "this is totally undoable-I'm not Michelangelo" kinda way. Nothing is beyond your ability, doesn't matter the level and you can do well, but the A is reserved for his favorite(s).
Now for my chief complaint. I put an INSANE amount of time into this course. Dedicated so much effort in my homeworks and tried my very best in class and yet I had to fight for an A-... That. Is. Frustrating. Very. Very. VERY. Frustrating. I have tried to not let that temper my overall review, but it needed to be said. Effort alone, even if it results in something beautiful that Colin himself likes, will not result in an A. I understand this is Columbia, and professors have to combat grade inflation, but when you give it your all and DO WELL and the subject matter is relatively subjective, you should get an A. Sorry, this is not very buddhist of me. But here's the syllabus you won't get in class should you take this course: know you 1. MUST participate in class ad nauseam (aka till your tongue hurts and your voice goes hoarse). 2. Doesn't matter if you come to this class not even knowing what paint is, take risks with your composition as if you're a master painter. Do what you'd like to be able to do if you painted nonstop for the next 15 years. 3. Chillax, you've done all you can.