Advanced Abstract Painting

60 TUTOR: Michael White (Dip Fine Art)

A continuing journey into the wonderful, intriguing, expressive and mysterious world of Abstract Painting. This full day course is designed for those who did the 2023 Summer School Abstract Painting for Intermediates or for those of you who paint and wish to explore abstraction further. Through a series of exercises which act as starting points we will delve further into abstraction and encourage you to develop your chosen direction within abstraction.Bring an apron or overalls and your favourite art tools and materials. Acrylic paints and basic materials will be provided.
3 Full Day
Full day course

Course Notes


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 wish to develop their skills in the abstract, their individual direction 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 faster drying properties.

During the week I will talk about, and show examples of the work of various historical and contemporary painters in order to help you find your direction.

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. Different surfaces will be provided and students will be encouraged to experiment with different coloured grounds and the use of different textures. Attention will be paid to colour, tone, line and composition.

3 Exercises will be suggested as starting points to be carried out during the course of the week, culmination in one large final piece to be exhibited at the end of the week.

Exercise 1. A collection of natural objects will be provided and students will be asked to do a series of loose, rapid, timed drawings. Small sections of these drawings which be used to do a final study, on board.



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 English painter William Turner, whose later work laid the way for future abstract painters.

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


Exercise 2.

Choose a photograph from a magazine. Tear up this photograph and assemble/glue these pieces onto a piece of A4 paper. Choosing an area of this collage 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.

In the afternoon we will look at the work of John Golding.

Spend the rest of the day developing and resolving the study on a small canvas.

We will then proceed with talking about exercise 3

Exercise 3. This exercise will be a free choice exercise and students will be encouraged and guided to develop their own directions on board. Proceed until the study is resolved.

After the lunch break we will look briefly at the work of the French Impressionist artist Claude Monet 1840 - 1926 whose work was influenced by the later work of William Turner. The rest of the afternoon will be spent painting.


This day will start with a talk on the work of Ben Nicholson 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 FayeBridgewater. The rest of the afternoon will be spent painting.


We will start with a talk on the work of Stella Hidden and then we will look at her work. At this point the work produced so far will be hung and students will be encouraged to review their work and talk about the plan for their next and final 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.

After the lunch break we will look briefly at the work of the contemporary painter Betty Franks Krause. The rest of the afternoon will be spent painting.


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.

We will then conclude the course and I would welcome feedback on the week.

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.

Background Reading List

Any reading on Abstract painting would be beneficial as would be reading on any of the artists mentioned.





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

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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