Class Schedule

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Abstract Painting - Pushing the Boundaries

Abstract Painting - Pushing the Boundaries

Saturday and Sunday, August 31 and September 1; 10am - 4pm

Instructors: Diane Williams and Chuck Potter


Do you want your paintings to be show stoppers, grabbing the attention of the audience and juror? In this two-day workshop, we will practice 3 stages of creating abstract paintings that display authentic mark-making, compelling composition, rich color and fine polish.

Stage 1- cutting loose

Pushing the boundaries starts with PLAY. This is where we unlock possibilities. At this stage nothing is permanent, so there are no mistakes. Put your entire being into your movements. Feel the full extension of your body. Be aware of the exciting and varied strokes each brush makes.

Stage 2 - discovering the composition and palette

It is completely natural to fall in love with all of your marks, but here is where you have to sacrifice many of those marks in order to direct your energy into a cohesive painting. Discovering composition is the most difficult stage of the painting, but can be very satisfying. Practice taking chances so that you push beyond good work into really great paintings.

Stage 3 - Finishing touches

Once you are satisfied with the composition and palette, it is time to “kick it up a notch” and polish. How do your colors look? What about your edges and light? Learn about glazing, varnishing and waxing the surface. The goal is, when you are in a crowded group show, or applying for a juried exhibition you want to grab the attention of the and audience and judges. In this workshop you will learn to push your paintings beyond the ordinary to create truly exceptional work.


10:00- Introductions and class overview

Stage 1 - Bold Mark Making

-        Materials and importance of working on multiple canvases

-        Loosening up and dancing with the work

-        Using your body to create movement

-        Mark making techniques and exercises

11:00 - Work on paintings

12:30 - Lunch

Stage 2 - Discovering Yourself In The Work

-        Washes, drips, runs, puddles, and gravity

-        Making rust

-        Stamps and stencils

-        Lino and wood blocks

1:30 - Work on paintings-instructors will circulate to give advice, direction

3:45 - Clean up

4:00 - Dismiss


10:00 - Discuss composition and finishing

Stage 3-Excavation and Discovery

-        Two methods for finding composition: Blocking and/or building form

-        Veiling to create transparency

-        Sanding and removing

-        Blocking out to eliminate marks

-        Creating contrast

11:00 - Work on paintings

12:30 - Lunch

Stage 4-Finishing Touches

-        Finishing stages

-        Glazing

-        Highlights and lowlights

-        Varnishing & waxing

1:30 - Work on paintings - instructors will circulate to give advice, direction

2:45 - Group Critique

3:45 - Clean up

4:00 - Dismiss

Instructors: Diane Williams and Chuck Potter both hold Master of Fine Arts degrees in Studio Art and Consciousness studies from John F Kennedy University in Berkeley. They studied at the University of Hangzhou China, incorporating calligraphy, traditional Chinese landscape painting and Chinese medicine with their western art practices. Their studios are in Crockett, Benicia and Greenville.  

Fee:   Members $300;   Non-members $350                                                                                                                                                   

Where:   Marin Museum of Contemporary Art, 781 Hamilton Parkway, Novato (building behind Beso Café)


Materials list

Acrylic Paint - We suggest you invest in good quality acrylic paints such as Golden, Utrecht, Gamblin or Windsor Newton. A good online source for supplies is or Student grade paints have a lighter pigment load and produce a less intense color.

Choose a variety of colors including warm and cool tones as well as opaque and translucent colors. Quinacridone colors tend to be more translucent while cadmiums are opaque. Manufacturers generally provide a color guide to help determine the opacity of colors.

Be sure to include the primary colors of red, yellow and blue, plus black and white. Note that zinc white is more transparent and better for creating veils of color, while titanium whites are opaque for covering or blocking areas that have been previously painted.

Mediums - Golden or Liquatex polymere mediums in gloss and/or satin (again may purchase online at Jerrys Artaramas or Dick Blick).

Brushes - Bring a variety of sizes including round, flat and filbert (angled) brushes. In addition, bring several "chip" brushes which can be purchased in any hardware store. These are inexpensive house painting brushes. You will need 1/2 inch, 1 inch, 2 inch and 3 inches. Brushes do not need to be expensive and can be purchased at any art or craft store like Michaels.

Canvas or Multimedia boards - Please bring 2-4 canvas surfaces suggested size approximately 24"x 36" each. You may bring stretched canvas or canvas board, the larger the better. If you bring stretched canvas please get the 1.5 inch side (not the thin student grade canvas). Obviously, if you are traveling by plane, or have a small car, canvas board is more convenient. If traveling makes bringing larger sizes difficult for you, put 3 or 4 smaller sizes together to create larger work (bring extra canvases to compensate for smaller sizes).

Although stretched canvases or canvas boards are already primed, please prepare your surface with 3-4 additional coats of gesso for a more professional surface.

Multimedia Boards - If you are traveling, multimedia boards are lightweight and store easily in your suitcase. They may be ordered online or purchased from us in class.

P.O. Box 836, Buford, GA (770) 271-4753

Water containers - Any type of container to hold water such as cottage cheese containers or plastic food storage containers from the dollar store. I like 2-3 water containers at all times when painting.

Bring spray bottles for wetting your surface.

Palette - You may use large paper plates, wax paper or commercial palette pads.

Other Supplies

Paper towels - Palette knives and rubber scrapper - Wiping cloth, sponges, etc.

Rust Solution Recipe

Ingredients: White distilled vinegar, Steel wool pads (without soap), Hydrogen peroxide & spray bottle, Clean plastic or glass container with lid

Fill container half way with vinegar. Then add steel wool pads (8 per gallon). Fill the rest of the container to about ¾ full. Close lid and let rest for 2-3 days. Paint with solution and quicken oxidation by spraying with hydrogen peroxide.


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Cancellation Policy: Fees are due at time of registration. You may cancel up to one (1) week prior to start of class/workshop and the fee, less $25 for processing, will be refunded to you. Should MarinMOCA cancel a class/workshop, you will receive a full refund.

Should you cancel less than one (1) week prior to a class or workshop begins, you will not receive a refund of any portion of your registration fee. There are no refunds for individual classes that are missed within a monthly series.