Wednesday, January 19, 2011





Prepared by: Mark Strickland, full-Professor

Semester: 2nd Year: January, 2011

COURSE TITLE: Composition and Painting

Painting from the human figure with emphasis on composition, representing the

form in space with its structure, color theory and laws of light and shadow as a

compositional elements. Contemporary and historical illustrators, painters and

are the basis for lectures and demos.


The student will begin with a basic monochromatic palette, first using “subtractive technique”, i.e. “rubbing out” to give form and value to the figure. The next monochromatic use of the palette will be the “additive process” using an increase of yellow ochre and white to a limited palette. When the monochromatic painting learned competent, the student is taught a more advanced understanding of color and the application of the brushstroke. The style of each artist is developed through copying exercises of contemporary and historical painters and illustrators. When the student learns to handle a fuller palette of color, "thinly painted" then they can evolve to a thicker application of paint showing them through complimentary neutrals how to keep color from turning to mud, being non-unified or too saturated. These are some of the typical problems of the beginning colorist, which this class will give competence to the student. A goal is to develop a stronger brushstroke while using a full palette of colors *Comprehensive research is the key to originality in the personal compositional projects. Each student is expected to keep a comprehensive notebook for each week’s lecture, placing into it, all weekly hand-outs from teacher, downloads,a all research, notes and homework assignments, compositional studies, to be presented with final compositional paintings on the 14th week.


To understand “form in space” How to see "articulated planar shapes" and be able to assign each plane a respective color, value. Learning to have thorough understanding of composition, division of space, depth of field. How the figure moves through the space; turning the head, hands, chest, balancing and counter-balancing, relating to the corners and sides of the visual field. Learning about “first reading, second reading and third reading”,.developing a strict understanding of values, the laws of light and shadow, cores, reflected lights, where to put the accent of dark, highlight and sparks. How to mix color without making it muddy, too saturated, unrelated, too sweet, too pasty. Compositional work is based on contemporary and historical illustrators, painters and entertainment designers. 10 minute demos each class.


Week 1. Overview of the objectives and assignments for the class and expectations.; e.g. Each assignment is accounted for each week, Exact grading criteria is reviewed from syllabus. Compositional principles are explained in detail with references from contemporary illustrators and painters as well as entertainment designers, such as ILM’s Carlos Huante, histororical illustration and painting reviewed. Homework Copy Alphonse Mucha compositions.

Week 2. Subtractive technique. Paint 3 boxes, black white and middle gray, painted with subtractive technique. Composition reviewed as division of space, dominance and subordinance of shape-size, depth of field and color. In class we will paint the model using the subtractive technique with limited palette, relating the compositional principles reviewed with examples of contemporary and historical illustrators and painters.

Week 3. Additive technique with black and white value scale, applied to planes and cast shadow of boxes. Critique of value steps of scale and application. In class, using the same model and pose from week 2, student learning additive technique into the portrait. Homework is 2 views, self-portrait in subtractive technique on same surface, implementing the additive technique on the second portrait Class demo 10 minutes.

Week 4.. Two week pose, wk. 4 concentrates on the subtractive technique in a composition with the nude. Depth of field and 3-d composition with design of lights and darks is discussed Composition of illustrator Dean Cornwell lecture. Homework is to copy Cornwell in sketchbook with Burne Hogarth’s Dynamic Drapery, arrows applied in Cornwell copies to better understand compositional principles discussed. Drawing in oil is applied to painting, using Dean Cornwell design concepts with subtractive technique. Class demo 10 minutes. Student brings camera for following week.

Week 5. Same pose with model, additive on top of subtractive. Several examples of classical use of the technique. Critique of Dean Cornwell dynamic studies. Lecture on Caravaggio movement is compared to Cornwell and illustrated novel artist’s lay-out to see reference between graphic design aspect of composition and traditional. Students use stage to create dynamic poses with volunteers from the class and photograph the compositions. Homework; to make dynamic sketches in notebook for painting compositions. Compositions from storyboard artists, classical and contemporary illustrators are downloaded, copied and pasted in notebook for future reference for personal composition project.

Week 6. Critique compositions, draw and correct with tracing paper. Reviewing the success of the student versus the master being studied. Limited warm and cool colors are shown to turn form with “tints tones and shades” tinting color into the limited palette. Cools tinted into limited palette turn form away from warm lights. Reflected light is created by cadmium warms, demonstrating when the reflected light can be cool or warm when reflected by cool or warm reflective color. Homework; Three 20x30 gessoed masonite subtractive comp studies. 10 minute demo of figure with cores reflected lights.

Week 7. Critique of the three 20x30 subtractive studies for composition, movement, depth of field and content. 10 minute Demo of paint application of building the form towards the light, “low light ,midlight, highlight then spark. “Painting “towards” the light, vs. painting down into the shadows, cores and reflected light. Lecture on relationship to movement and division of space of lights and darks, warms and cools. Homework; use what is being learned in class to the model to apply “additively” to the three, 20x30 subtrative studies.

Week 8. Model stage set-up in class with compositional elements, architectonically round, square, depth of field, with cloth and model(s) (pre-arranged with model secretary). Several books on crit-rail looking at similar scenes painted by contemporary and traditional illustrators and painters. Studio back-ground painters to show how to set the stage. Palette is expanded to move into polychromatic palette, using complimentary neutrals instead of “tinting” color, to unify by reducing saturation and relating color and value with complimentary neutrals. “Reasonable Warms and Cools” ( neither muddy, nor too saturated). Homework; make complimentary color charts on Reynold’s Freezer (palette) paper of several warms mixing into several cools. (exact instructions)

Week 9. Full Pallette. Complimentary neutrals. “Unification using complimentary neutrals”10 minute demo. One simple warm and one simple cool, unifiying all shapes. The expansion of local color comes from mixing and expanding, “dialing the color wheel” to find maximum of color possibilities. Expansion of color, as in color theory, applied to the model and the compositional background elements. Expanded color chart critique. Three 20x30 full color studies for final project.

Week 10. Class Presentation of all paintings. No model. Critique and student presentation of comps, color comps, compositional studies, research for final project using Fibonacci spirals and golden mean division of space, 1-1.618, using contemporary and historical illustrators and painters for research. Presentation of color, thumbnail studies based on the Fibonacci Spiral and golden section division of space, 1-1.618 for the final, large painting due 14th week Student must have final comp painting finished on a 20x30 format, or adjusted according to proportion for the final large painting, 48X60 minimum, which will be presented 14th week.

Week 11. Homework, studying the comparison between Lucien Freud and Cezanne for color theory, “the Cezanne Orange”, turning the form. Articulation in the design between the negative shapes of of Dean Cornwell and movement studies, the brushwork of Repin, Fechin with the layering and division of space of Richard Diebenkorn. Looking at contemporary entertainment designers such a Carlos Huante and the other talents from Pixar, ILM and Disney animation to push the originality and professionism of the final compositions. Homework is to revamp and present color thumbnails; 5, 8.1/2x11 for the 14th week project, with full composition knowledge and color possibilities.

Week 12 Storyboard 7, 4”x5” sketches of the composition in movement, as needed for an illustrated novel, a comic book, storyboard of a film, to see the composition as it would progress in a series. Several example of contemporary storyboard and illustrated novels and children’s books are presented for compositional movement. Working with each student on the large paintings in progress in a personal interview .Week 13.

Week 13. Working in class on final project. Instructor works with each student to solve problems. Assignment: to finish final project and prepare for 14th week presentation.

Week 14. “Career Day” no model; Final presentation of all the class work: Subtractive, additive, value charts, complimentary neutral color charts, 20x30 comp studies, subtractive and additive, boxes, xeroxes and downloads of research from contemporary and historical illustrators, painters and entertainment designers, out of which the final “Fibonacci” composition and the studies for it are reviewed and graded on the last day of class.


Grading is based on the following:

1) Punctuality (3 tardies are equal to 1 absence)

2) Attendance ( 2 absences is a drop in the letter grade)

3) Class Participation….10%

4) Homework Assignments, portfolio of drawings and paintings, )

Assignments such as copying master illustrators, entertainment designers

and painters. 50%

5) Technical Competence……20%

6) Final compositional project (which will be assigned based on personal interview)….20%

*To be presented on time, recorded each class on roll sheet by T.A.k Jason Hsin.

*Instructor is available for critique at all times by mailing digital photographs to;


1.Silicoil.............................................................................. 3.99

2.**For cleaner, Gamsol by Gamblin no others permitted! **For medium, refined linseed oil, no other medium is safe in the classroom.

3.Reynold's Freezer Paper (from Ralph's Market)......................3.00

4.Paper towels…………………

5.Canvas or 11.14 pr-gessoed masonite, other supports also …Varies

WC paper (that comes in a watercolor block is convenient as it can be coated each day with gesso).

6.Container for supplies, toolbox, canvas bag, etc. ............……Varies


7. #3 Winsor newton, university bright …………………………5.07 **

8. #6 Winsor newton, university bright, flat (medium soft)……..8.00**

9.#24 Davinci, optional, (round, soft,pointed)....................…….23.00

10.Peacock, flat, soft..........................................................………1.55

11.#10 Winsor newton university bright, flat, (medium soft)……12.30 **

12.#12 Winsor newton university bright, flat, (medium soft)….15.49

**costs may change from term to term

**Only necessary to buy burnt sienna, burnt umber, titanium white and black for the first few weeks of the semester.

Oil colors, 37 ml tubes: These should be from 10 to 15 dollars with an inexpensive brand such as Grumbacher.

13.Cadmium red light

14.Cadmium orange

15.Yellow ochre **

16.Cadmium yellow medium.

17.Permanent green light**

18.Viridian green

19.Cerulean blue

20.Cobalt blue

21.Ultramarine blue**

22.Carbozal Violet (Dana Colors) or Mauve blue shade (Winsor Newton)

23.Alizarin crimson**

24.Venetian red

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