Non-Objective Objectives

Painting Homework Due 03/29/17

Here’s the skinny on what needs doin’ for next class!


reading_pinky.gifIf you haven’t already, read the following article: ArtNews: The Golden Age of Abstraction

In a comment on this post, tell me which of the categories of contemporary abstraction discussed most interests you and why. Prior to making a decision, I recommend you follow a few of the links within the article and/or search some of the artist names to get a better idea what each category entails.

Please be thoughtful in your response. A paragraph or two should do the trick.


big_canvas.jpgGet yee going on yon big canvas for Project 2! Use what you have learned from your test paintings as well as from the various technique exercises we’ve completed (alla prima, blending, scumbling, drybrush, fluid/watercolor/wash, impasto, knife painting, etc.) Your piece should be far enough along by next class that we can have a meaningful discussion about what’s working and what needs improvement. Remember, for this assignment, composition is key and layering is your very good friend!

Don’t forget to read those nutty Project 2 Guidelines!

Other Potentially Helpful Stuff:


For a reminder on compositional strategies, checkycheck the handout.

For information on the formal principles of art/design, which are likewise key to composition, looksee here at these notes.

For more non-objective inspiration, review your fellow students’ mini-reports on their assigned non-objective painters.

See you next week!



The Second Half Beginith: Painting Edition

Painting Reminders for Class on 03/22/17

Woe that I must be the bearer of bad news, Exuberant Painters, but it’s over. Another Spring Break is coming to a close. *sniffle*


The end of vacation is always a bit melancholy, but it’s not all frowny-face news. We get to spend the next few weeks playing some serious play with paint, and I, for one, can’t argue with that.

And now… a friendly neighborhood reminder about what you need to be prepared for our next class.


  1. Read the following article: In my Spring Break haze, I completely spaced linking it before I left. Sorry! Although I normally give you a full week for homework, if at all possible, please read the article by Wednesday. It lays groundwork for methods of non-objective composition and will be helpful as we start our big canvases. Besides it is short, and I am not requiring a written response, so hopefully you can squeeze in a peruse. Once you’ve read it, use what you’ve learned to refine your test paintings for Wednesday (step 3 below).

  2. Study the guidelines for Project 2 so you are superspecial sure you understand what’s expected of you.

  3. Complete your six test paintings. Remember you’re going for possibilities though hopefully at least a few will have potential for translation into a finished 24″ x 24″ canvas. Stumped for ideas? Read the article in Step 1 and review the handout on compositional approaches you were given earlier this semester. Even though we’re painting non-objectively, layout matters. Also… SUPERIMPORTANT… use the materials you collected in your creativity journal prior to Spring Break for inspiration.

  4. If you haven’t already, check out your fellow students’ mini-reports on their assigned painters. This is another great way to get ideas about what’s possible.

  5. Pack your test paintings, painting supplies and creativity journals (all ART105 journals if you have more than one) for class on Wednesday.

Bonus Info


Bonus dancin’

For those of you looking for a review of color schemes, here are some helpful sites:

• (basic overview)
 (more detail)
• Wikipedia (info + references)


Don’t hesitate to e-mail. I’m back in reliable internet country, so I should be able to answer relatively quickly.

See you Wednesday!


Beginnings and (Odds and) Ends

Painting Homework Due 3/8/17

For next week, please complete the following tasks.

Buy four (4) 24″ stretcher bars (strips)

I would recommend shopping in person so you can examine the bars and ensure they are straight. Sight down the length in the manner we discussed in class. FYI, brand doesn’t matter, but get standard duty, which are approximately 1 1/2″ wide and 3/4″ thick.

If you just can’t conceive of setting foot in an actual store in this mad, mad digital world, here is a link to one of the many online stretcher bar purchase options, in this case at the world’s most nefarious art supply empire (aka Dick Blick). Make sure you put in your order right away so it comes in time. We do not have backup materials available, so if you aren’t ready to go next class, you will have to stretch canvas on your own time. Just a guess, but that will probably end up being the kind of fun that’s not.


why_research.jpgResearch the abstract/non-objective artist you were given in class. You can start by looking at Wikipedia. However, you must also look at least one other reputable source such as a book (you know those weird papery things in the library) or a museum/academic website. The sources listed at the bottom of Wikipedia articles are a good place to find possibilities.

Once you have learned about your artist, find an image you think is representative of his or her main body of work. Post it as a comment on this blog post with the following information:

  • Artist’s name
  • Title of the chosen painting
  • Years of artist’s primary activity (can be a general range like “1950s” or a specific span)
  • Artistic Movement with which the artist is associated (if applicable). In other words, do they go with an “ism”?
  • A paragraph describing the kind of paintings the artist does AND why he or she is considered important. I am NOT looking for biographic details but rather a historical/critical discussion of artwork.
  • Sources you consulted listed in MLA format (the usual standard for art history). If you want easy-mode way to create citations, check out this MLA generator.



Time to let your inner hoarder off the leash, Party People!

In your creativity journal, collect at least 50 examples of formal elements you find visually interesting or which, for whatever reason, generate an emotional or intellectual response for you. These can be colors, color combinations, textures, shapes, lines or compositional arrangements.

Although you can actually sit down and research on yon intewebs, I encourage you  to look for everyday things that catch your eye. Perhaps you see interesting cracks in the parking lot pavement and you snap a photo or you find a candy bar wrapper with an satisfying embossed texture. Page through magazines, look thorough cupboards, snag random detritus and just generally keep your critical eye honed on the myriad of stuff you encounter day by day. The possibilities are endless but hopefully not overwhelming since this is the type of thing you have already been doing in your creativity journal for a month and a half. Right?



Pack what you need for next class:

  1. Your absolutely, positively, totally completed Project 1 painting with any improvements you wanted to make after critique. I will be collecting these for grading (see the “Optional” heading below).
  2.  If you borrowed a light from me to complete Project 1, please bring it back next week. Do NOT put it in the communal bin in the art storage room, since many of units belong to me.
  3. If you haven’t paid for your panel, please bring money next week. Let’s put the wrap on Project 1!
  4. Your painting supplies. We will be working in class.


You have the option of building onto your Project 1 painting to improve it before it’s submitted for final grading next week. Take into account the feedback you received in critique as well as your own evolving feelings about the work.


Hopefully you don’t feel this way!


Extra Credit Opportunity (W00t!)

Possible Extra Credit for Students in All Del’s Spring 2017 Classes


Open Studio Night at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

I am offering 10 points of extra credit this semester to every student who attends an open studio event at a college or university. You must show me proof that you went in the form of a situational selfie or something similar. 10 points may not seem like a lot, but it represents 1% of your grade and can and has made a real difference for students in the past. If you have me for more than one class, you can choose which one gets the points. This is a one-time only offer. You cannot hit multiple events for multiple batches of points.

Why Is This Worth Extra Credit?

Looking at work by other artists is one of the best ways to spark creativity, because you get to see what’s current and what’s possible. For students, it can be extra helpful to see exciting work being made by peers. Finally, for those of you considering art school, seeing how one is laid out and how it functions is an important eye-opener.

Although I will award these points for any one visit to an open studio held at a reputable institution of higher learning, I am going to give my totally unbiased (*ahem*) opinion, that you should go to Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts’ in Philadelphia, which will be held Friday after next, February 17 from 5–9 PM (February 24 snow date). The education section of PAFA’s Hamilton Building is rarely open to the public, and it is a fascinating place. There are 200 individual studios grouped loosely by discipline…

4th floor—post-baccalaureate & others
5th floor—illustration & digital media
6th floor—printmaking & alumni studios
7th floor—sculpture
8th floor—graduate studios
9th floor—mix
10th floor—painting

…there are also cool classrooms including the totally sick printmaking lab with its dozen presses and floor to ceiling windows and sculpture classrooms for wood, metal, casting, moldmaking, stone carving, papermaking and clay/figure modeling. There will be mini events on various floors (print demos on 6, bronze pour on 7, etc.) Usually, there are also refreshments. It’s a supercool experience, especially if you plan what you want to see so you don’t get overwhelmed. Bonus: afterwards you can go Friday evening cavorting in Philadelphia. It’s like getting credit for doing something fun! Well… I think so, anyway, but I kinda dig this whole art thing….


The event itself is totally free, but you will have to pay the bridge toll ($5) and likely also for parking, because PAFA is smack in the middle of Center City.

Where to Go/Park

From SCC, it takes about 45 minutes to get to PAFA. Take 295 north to I676. Go over the Ben Franklin Bridge and follow Vine Street to 15th. Turn left and drive two blocks. Just after Race Street, there is an open air parking lot which is conveniently located right behind the school. The rate is $12 for regular sized vehicles (ie not pickups or SUVs) for the entire evening. Walk to the crashed airplane sculpture and turn left into the Hamilton Building. Make sure you ask at the PAFA desk to get your parking ticket validated or the cost is greater.

If $12 sounds too rich for your wallet, less expensive lots are scattered around. There is metered and/or 2 hour free parking on 15th, 16th, 17th and Race. However, finding open street spots is luck on the level of ordering hamburger and being given filet mignon.

By the Way…

I do have an alumni studio at PAFA. It’s located on the 6th floor (#636). You are welcome to stop by but are by no means expected or required. I’m more interested in you seeing compelling student work.


My studio is not usually this clean.

More information on Open Studio Night at PAFA is located here.

Okay, PAFA blahblahblah… What About Other Schools?

As I said, you are welcome to attend any open studio event for the credit, provided it’s at a college or university. However, you will have to find these other opportunities on your own. If you’re unsure whether something qualifies, I suggest you ask me before attending. Same rules otherwise apply: 10 points upon my receipt of proof you attended.


Locking In, Blocking In

Painting Homework Due 02/15/17

Project 1… let’s do this!


It’s time to lock in that final composition, add it to your panel and—*gasp*—start painting. Complete steps below by our next class.

  1. Make any desired alterations to your drawing based on the feedback you received in class. Remember that composition factors strongly into your grade for this project (don’t believe me? Checky check the Project Guidelines). FYI: if you merely want to move items around you can cut and paste (digitally or physically). Upscaling can be done on a copier or by photographing/scanning your drawing, manipulating it in Photoshop (or similar) and printing the result (you will likely have to print on two halves and tape them together since most printers don’t go to the size of your panel).

  2. Transfer your still life drawing to your primed panel using charcoal coated paper.

  3. Complete a block in by painting a thin layer of color for every object plus the background. Yes, that means the whole panel will be covered. The colors you choose should be as close as you can reasonably get to the main color of whatever object or section you’re painting. However, don’t stress too much if you can’t yet get it perfect. That is to be expected at this point.

Oh, And…

In case you need technical reminders, I have created two tutorial posts:

One More Bit…

In addition to getting Project 1 good and underway, please take some time this week to find an image of a contemporary painting that treats still life symbolically (it doesn’t have to be autobiographical symbolism).

Although you may be able to find something through a standard Googling of that sh**, this particular task will likely be easier using Pinterest or searching relevant tags on Instagram and Tumblr.


Once you find an image, post it in a comment on this homework post along with the artists name, title of the work (if known) and date (if known). If you wish, provide a short explanation of why you chose the piece as an example of symbolic still life (spoiler alert: you will be asked in class). I have provided an example.

Until we next clap eyeballs on one another!


Painting Tutorial: Blocking in Color

One of the most effective methods for starting a painting is blocking in. Blocking in means creating an underpainting that indicates general shapes, spatial positioning, value structure and coloring for a piece.

Okay… um… why do this? Planning compositional and color relationships from the start saves many MANY headaches. Seriously… think of the Advil you’d be popping if you labored on the perfect painted passage for five hours only to find it becomes lusterless once surrounding colors are added. Save your pharmacological budget! Block in!

Blocking in can be handled very simply by putting down a thin layer of the basic color of each object and/or single color section in your painting. Blocking in can also be slightly more complex, establishing a base light and base dark for each thing (which is what we’re doing). The latter is especially useful for representational painting where one of the goals is the creation of a sense of light and shadow on form.

Regardless of which method of blocking in you use, this isn’t the time for blending or finishing. the surface. You’re just establishing the basics.


Light + Shadow Blocking In Step-by-Step

  1. Select an object or single color section of your painting. As yourself what is the base/overall color? You want to see things in terms of a definite hue on the color wheel (blue, green, yellow, orange, red, violet) rather than as “gray” or “brown”. A lion’s mane may be brown, but is it more reddish or yellowish or greenish in cast? In determining base color, it can help to look at areas of your subject that are hit by light, because that is where you will find the most pure color.

  2. Mix colors that represent the light-side area of a single-color object or section of what you’re painting. Match as closely as possible to what you see. You may not be able to reproduce very high chroma color without special paint colors, but do your best.

  3. Paint in the light-side of your chosen object or section. Refine your drawn shapes as you go. It’s a good idea to keep the texture smooth for a block in, because distinct marks will show through later layers.. Use a soft synthetic brush and, if necessary a little water.

  4. complimentary_colorsNext, mix a color for the shadow area of the object or section you’re working on. Shadow colors can be challenging, because they are influenced by many things. A good starting point is to add a complementary color to the light side color you mixed in Step 2. Complementary colors are those appearing opposite on the color wheel. In a subtractive color system like painting, the addition of a complementary color can “shadow” by reducing intensity.

  5. Paint in the shadow area of your selected object or section, refining your drawn shapes as you go (see step 3).

  6. Step back and evaluate. Are the colors as accurate as possible compared to what you’re painting? Do the shapes match your subject or do you need to make adjustments?

  7. Repeat steps 1-6 for every object or single color section in your composition. You can also paint every light area first and then go back in with the shadows.

  8. second_guessStep back and evaluate. You may also need to reconsider/revise color or shape after everything is blocked in, since things may look different with the addition of surrounding colors or shapes.

  9. If you could use a fresh perspective (and who couldn’t), ask a friend to look at your piece. Alternatively, view it upside down, in the mirror or through a camera lens. All of these methods shift things jusssst enough that the boo boos become apparent (more apparent than most of us would like).

  10. Profit!


Painting Tutorial: Transferring an Image

Sometimes in painting it can be helpful to start with a guide image or master image. While it is possible to sketch directly on your surface, for more complex compositions, it may make sense to draw things out on a separate piece of paper first.

How to Transfer an Image to a Painting Surface Step-by-Step

  1. Gather your materials. You will need:
    —your painting surface
    —a drawing or guide image you want to transfer
    —a piece of newsprint or other inexpensive paper at least as large as your panel
    —vine charcoal
    —a piece of tracing paper at least as large as your panel (optional; useful if you are transferring from a drawing or other image you don’t want to mark up)
    —a mechanical pencil or ballpoint pen
    —tape (preferably something easy to remove like painter’s tape)
    —x-acto knife, ruler and cutting mat (optional)

  2. image02_charcoal_paperMake a sheet of transfer paper by rubbing vine charcoal over the surface of a piece of newsprint. Start at one corner and work outward until you have covered a space at least as large as your panel. Avoid leaving gaps or coloring faintly, both of which may cause your drawing to transfer incompletely. Wondering why we use charcoal instead of graphite for this process? Counterintuitive though it may seem given charcoal’s tendency to magically deposit itself wherever you least want it (like the side of your nose or the seat of your new white pants), it is less likely to cause problems with our painting later. Graphite can bleed through paint films.

  3. image06_place_masterPlace the master image you want to transfer face up on the painting surface.

  4. If your master image doesn’t extend to the edge of the paper it’s on, you may want to cut off one or more edges to make it easier to accurately position.

  5. Use two pieces of tape to attach the master image to the painting surface in the correct position. Place the tape on either side of one edge, adhered securely to both the image and the surface. This will create a hinge system that allows you to lift your master to view your transfer while still keeping everything aligned.
    image07_hinge_tape_master image08_hinge_tape_master

  6. image09_place_charcoal_paperWith the master image hinged open, place your charcoal transfer paper face down on the surface.  Make sure the transfer paper covers the entirety of said surface. If you wish, you can cut the charcoal paper down so that it’s just slightly larger than your surface. This will make it easier to ensure complete coverage.

  7. Lower the master image back in place over the surface and charcoal transfer paper. OPTIONAL for drawings or images you want to protect: put tracing paper over the entire system and hinge in the same manner as for your master image.

  8. Begin tracing your master image using a mechanical pencil, ball point pen or other fine tipped utensil. Press firmly, but there is no need to strain, because transfer paper is quite sensitive. In fact, it will create a mark for any pressure put on it, so try to avoid leaning on your image.
    image11_trace_imageIn terms of the drawing itself You can be as general or as detailed as you wish. Typically, however, it’s best to concentrate on the main shapes. You do not need to trace internal textures, form shadows or similar details. Too many lines can actually end up being confusing.

  9. image12_check_trace_imageCheck your progress as you work by flipping up the hinged top sheet(s) and the transfer paper. Viewing the transfer on the surface allows you to see any incomplete or faulty areas. FYI, you can pull out the transfer paper to add more charcoal if necessary, though this is not commonly required.

  10. Once you have transferred your entire drawing, hinge open the
    tracing paper and master image (do not remove them yet),
    and clean up the transfer using a kneaded eraserimage14_erase (the stretchy gray kind) or plastic eraser (the square white kind) to remove excess marks. If you make eraser crumbles, blow them away rather than brushing. Avoid the brutal heartbreak of smearing your transfer after all that hard work!

  11. image15_erase_detailsDetailed areas can be refined using a clean eraser on a mechanical pencil. Mechanical pencil erasers are typically made from the same material as plastic art erasers, and so work well for this task.

  12. image16_touch_upIf you find areas that are faded, didn’t transfer correctly or are missing you can either put the charcoal transfer paper back in place, lower the hinged papers and retrace the affected shape(s) OR, if it is a simple spot, just fill in the line directly using your vine charcoal. Make sure to draw as lightly as possible. Dark lines may contaminate your paint.

  13. Once your drawing is fully transferred and cleaned up, compare it to your master image. Does it look more or less correct in terms of shapes and placements? Can you tell what’s what? Does all feel groovy with the world? All righty then! Go you!!!image16_final