Talented young artist Jerome Platz (Max Minghella) escapes from high school to a tiny East Coast art school. Here the boyish freshman's ambition is to become the world's greatest artist, like his hero Picasso.
Unfortunately, the beauty and craft of Jerome's portraiture are not appreciated in an anything-goes art class that he finds bewildering and bogus. Neither his harsh judgments of his classmates' efforts or his later attempts to create pseudo-art of his own win him any admirers.
But Jerome does attract the attentions of his dream girl - the stunning and sophisticated Audrey (Sophia Myles) - an artist's model and daughter of a celebrated artist. Rejecting the affectations of the local art scene, Audrey is drawn to Jerome's sincerity.
When Audrey shifts her attentions to Jonah (Matt Keeslar), a hunky painter who becomes the school's latest art star, Jerome is heartbroken. Desperate, he concocts a risky plan to make a name for himself and win her back.