Marathon Student working on a large Charcoal Drawing from life

The School's internationally-recognized Marathon programs were developed in 1988 by Dean Graham Nickson, initially as a measure for the rest of the semester at the start of the program year. The program has since expanded to become a core component of the School's curriculum. Meanwhile, intense outside interest led to the extension of the Marathons to a wider audience of participants outside of the full-time student body. Renowned artists, art historians, dealers, collectors,  art educators, writers, journalists and students of all levels and affiliations have since experienced the intensity of the program.

The Marathon course hours are 9:00am to 6:00pm, with a lunch break from 1:00pm to 2:00pm. In some Marathons, there may be critiques. The specific critique schedule will be determined once courses have commenced.



Originally designed to address the importance of drawing as the basis of understanding one's experience in the world, the Marathons are based in an exploration of this most direct route to an enriched understanding of the language of the plastic arts. The innovation inherent in the Marathon program reawakens the way that drawing is experienced by artists and appreciators alike.

The Marathons are intensive, all-day programs that run for two weeks at the beginning of each semester and during the Summer Session. Drawing, Painting and Sculpture marathons are offered, both by full-time faculty and distinguished visiting artists, who are present for the entire session. All programs operate along the same basic model of immersing the student in their chosen discipline.

The level of commitment reached by participants during the Marathon is extraordinary. Each individual must confront the problems of drawing, painting and sculpture with vigor and intensity if they are are to show that they are equal to the fierce demands of concentration and stamina necessary for the program. Not only are participants fully engaged in the physical aspects of making art, they are also intellectually challenged and stimulated by extensive group and individual critiques. The strong and surprising works made often work as catalysts for future work.

Marathons are open to beginning and advanced artists, regardless of their affiliation. Fees for the ten-day course must be paid in full one week prior to the start of the Marathon.




Click on course title to read full syllabus.

Drawing Marathon - Graham Nickson and Guests

2 weeks:  Tuesday, January 17th - Friday, January 27th


***COURSE FULL***  Apply now for waitlist or future sessions.

In this Marathon, students learn the importance of drawing as the basis of understanding one's experience of the world. Drawing is seen here as the most direct route to the examination of our perceptions. Unorthodox tools and exercises will be introduced to broaden the student's drawing vocabulary.

The class meets everyday for two consecutive weeks, 9am-6pm, five days per week. Evening critiques will be held during both weeks. Times of the critiques will be announced during the session. Attendance to each session is mandatory.

Drawing Marathon: The Self Within Non-linear Space - Sarah Walker

first week: Tuesday, January 17th to Saturday, January 21st


This Drawing Marathon focuses on the self within non-linear spaces. We observe with our sense spaces that are increasingly "unreal". Most days many of us slip into digital space, float through memory or fantasy, and view photographic evidence of planes of existence both microbiological and astrophysical, that we can never visit physically. Our minds time travel, bi-locate and assume avatars with alternative identities. The identities we adopt in the world may no longer be so pressurized by strict rules of behavior or appearance. With fuzzy edges and lost horizon lines we ask: where is this place I find myself? Who is the "I" that exists there? This evolving landscape or 'scape comes with visual signifiers. As artists we can create new languages to articulate these frontiers. Through process-oriented drawing we will explore how to grasp and construct non-material spaces that intersect with our tangible ones.

Drawing Marathon: 50+ - Fran O'Neill

second week: Monday, January 23rd to Friday, January 27th


50+ will encourage students to make many works and studies, with the idea of pushing past the threshold of what one might consider to be the final product. We will begin by visiting the MoMA and looking at Matisse's Piano Lesson and other works from the permanent collection, with the objective of exploring ways to push an image from the collection further into abstraction, focusing on how one image can inform the next. Various approaches to drawing will be explored, such as explorations of: shape, line, intersections, scale, collage and mark making.

Students should be dedicated and care deeply enough to be willing to recreate or destroy a work in order to allow a new and different process to come into play. This way of working will be a jumping off point to explore abstraction and a methodology to achieve a new exploration of an image(s) based on pre-existing geometry. We will explore subtle (and not so subtle) shifts that can occur, via scale and variety of mark making, which may result in a very different image than the original source. This course is for anyone with a curiosity to explore and will unfold uniquely for each participant.

Opening Doors - Sculpture Marathon - Lee Tribe and guests

2 weeks - Tuesday, January 17th to Friday, January 27th

$1,625 + $200 materials fee

We shall begin with a series of projects that are put together to loosen up and expand the sculptural thinking of participants. Using a variety of materials, some traditional and others less so, experimentation and play will be encouraged. The projects will oscillate between rigid focus and flexible expansion and may change as the teachers see fit. Amongst other elements, we plan to use rudimentary moulds to cast elements which will then be used as building materials to in turn become the bones of developing sculptures. Sheets of material will be explored and exploited not just as building materials but as surfaces that can be worked on, built up, painted, while being incorporated and integrated into sculptures to introduce expressive and visceral possibilities.

Earlybird deadline: December 5th, 2016 | Reduced application fee of $25

Final deadline: January 6th, 2017 | Regular application fee of $45



If you are currently enrolled as a full-time student at NYSS, or if you have successfully completed a Marathon or full-time program within the last five years, you are not required to submit an application in order to enroll in upcoming Marathons.

Please e-mail the Student Services Coordinator Tanya Steinberg at and provide: (1) the name of the upcoming course in which you would like to enroll; (2) the name of the program you most recently attended; and (3) the semester and year of the program that you most recently attended.

We will ask you to verify your contact information and update your Emergency Contact information.  We will also ask that you submit a non-refundable $45 processing fee along with a $500 Tuition Deposit (which will be applied to your Tuition payment) in order to secure your place in the upcoming program of your choice. 

We look forward to welcoming you back to the New York Studio School!

The earlybird special deadline for Spring 2017 Enrollment is December 5, 2016

The final deadline for Spring 2017 Enrollment is January 6th, 2017.

**Applications will be reviewed as they are received; we encourage you to apply early as some courses may reach full capacity before the deadline.**

Tuition must be paid in full one week prior to the start of each Marathon.

Please note: Courses are subject to change and cancellation depending upon enrollment.




Marathon Students in the Drawing Room