Abstract Painting for Intermediates

33 TUTOR: Michael White (Dip Fine Art)

This course is a continuing journey into the wonderful, intriguing and mysterious world of abstract painting, either for those who enjoyed the 2022 Summer School introduction to Abstract Painting, or for those of you who paint and wish to explore abstraction further. Through a series of exercises that act as starting points, you will delve further into abstraction. This will provide you with the in-depth opportunity to develop your own personal style and direction as abstract painters. Bring an apron or overalls and your favourite art tools and materials. Acrylic paints and basic materials will be provided

2 Full Day
Full day course

Course Notes

Monday: I will talk briefly about my journey as an artist showing examples of my work starting with my early figurative work and culminating with my current abstract work. I will ask participants to introduce themselves and talk about why they have an interest in the abstract and what they hope to learn from this course. This will be followed by a brief discussion and questions.

After this I will present a slide show consisting of a collection of random contemporary and historical abstract paintings. Then we will proceed with a brief course outline with its aims and objectives and material choices. For paint I suggest we use a good acrylic paint mainly because it is most similar to traditional oil but it is less toxic and has has faster drying properties.

We will then talk about the shift from the figurative to the abstract in terms of the two dimensional surface. There are of course almost an infinite number of ways to make this shift, and I will suggest three solutions or paths to make the shift. On day 1 I will talk about possible solution for students to consider.

Students will also be encouraged to consider the appropriate scale to their work, be it tiny or huge, and to experiment with scale. Suggestions for mixed media will also be discussed.

Solution 1. Find a natural object that has interesting colours and use this object as a reference for your colour palette. Mix this palette and then apply it randomly to an A4 piece of card. Choose an area of this card as a starting point to a larger study. Spend the rest of the day developing and resolving the study.

Tuesday: At the beginning of days 2, 3 and 4, I would like to start with a talk and slide show on the work of a famous abstract painter. I would like the participants to bear in mind that they need to make choices in terms of how they would position themselves as an abstract painter. Do they see themselves as expressionist, spontaneous or a more analytical artist?

A talk with slides about the work of famous Abstract painter, Wassily Kandinsky 1866 -1944 

We will then consider Solution 2. Spend the rest of the day developing and resolving the study.

Solution 2. Choose an adjective from the following: lyrical, gritty, chaotic, expressionist or harmonious and find an abstract painting that embodies that adjective. Using the chosen painting as a starting point do an abstract painting.

In the process of considering these solutions I will talk about visual problem solving, line, tone, colour, texture, materials, surface, surface ground and composition. All these issues can be contentious in regard to the abstract. For example one can substitute traditional brushes and palette knives with sponges, twigs or any other tool. Paints could be traditional artists' materials but similarly they could be commercial paints and glues etc. Colour can be a difficult starting point for the abstract artist. The artist's palette could be "borrowed” from the figurative world or chosen from commercial paint samples.

Solution 3.Spend the rest of the day developing and resolving the study.

Solution 3. Drawing from recent memory choose a colour that has somehow stayed in your memory. Mix this colour and load a brush with it. Make a random mark with is loaded brush. Then pause and hopefully that mark and that colour will tell you what to do next. Proceed until the study is resolved.

After the lunch break we will look briefly at the work of the contemporary British artist Jade Fadojutimi, Born 1993. The rest of the afternoon will be spent painting.

Wednesday: This day will start with a talk on the work of Paul Klee (1879 - !940) and a look at his work. The day will be spent developing their final solution. This colour study will be done on card and the day will be spent developing their idea. Students now have 3 possible solutions to choose from, one of which they must choose and start working on to a larger scale.

After the lunch break we will look at the work of the contemporary British painter Cecily Brown, born 1969. The rest of the afternoon will be spent painting.

Thursday: We will start with a talk on the work of Zao Wou-Ki (1921 - 2013) and then we will look at his work. At this point the work produced to this point will be hung and students will be encouraged to review their work and talk about the plan for their next piece. Students will then with guidance and discussion start on the final piece from the colour studies. Students will be free to work on a scale appropriate to their chosen direction, be it bigger or smaller. If they manage to complete the abstract canvas they can proceed with developing another solution.

After the lunch break we will look briefly at the work of the contemporary British painter Frank Bowling Born 1934.

The rest of the afternoon will be spent painting.

Friday: This day will be spent finalising the final piece and then presenting the work to be appraised by myself, the artist and the other participants. The final piece will belong to the students and they will take this with them, after hopefully allowing me to photograph it.

Equipment Required: Basic tools and materials will be supplied, but you might find it useful to bring a mobile phone camera or other camera with you as well as an apron, overalls and your favourite tools and materials.








Course Tutor

Michael White

Dip Fine Art

About Michael

Michael was born in Chivu (rural Zimbabwe) in 1956 and attended The University of Kwazulu Natal (South Africa) where he studied Fine Arts. He has worked as an artist, craftsman and lecturer and has worked with canvas, oil paint, film, wood, leather, paper, cloth, ceramics and stone. Currently, Michael lives in Seend (near Devizes) and spends part of the year in Harare, he loves both worlds and they could not be more opposite - the contrast helps keep him alive.

Michael has exhibited widely, including the National Galleries of Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mauritius, in South Africa and in the UK. His work hangs in many private collections all over the world.

I paint and photograph to no formula, no known outcome. I deliberately avoid a slickness, even a method…”

Michael has always been fascinated by the abstract. He finds his abstract paintings a fascinating journey, which allow him a freedom and provide a puzzle that figurative work no longer does.

His work can be viewed and he can be contacted on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mikewhiteart

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All courses run for 5 days

WK 1 8 Jul - 12 Jul

WK 2 15 Jul - 19 Jul

WK 3 22 Jul - 26 Jul

WK 4 29 Jul - 2 Aug

Morning Courses

9.15AM to 12.15PM

Afternoon Courses

1.45PM to 4.30PM

All Day Courses

9.15AM to 4.30PM