Abstraction, Balance, and The Figure with Melinda Cootsona


New Approaches to Abstracting the Figure and the Background.

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DATE: May 17 – 19, 2019
TIME: 10:00am to 5:00pm
FEE: $565
LOCATION: 1401 S. Bloodworth St. Raleigh, NC 27610
MEDIUM: for Oil and Acrylic painters
LEVEL:  Intermediate to advanced | STUDENTS: max 12, minimum 8


In this exciting new course, Melinda will focus not only on abstracting the figure, but also truly seeing the entire design of the canvas. Emphasis will be placed on seeing all shapes as equal in importance. Various abstraction approaches will be covered as well as concepts to achieve balance in your abstract work. You will walk away with specific ideas for abstraction and new ways to bring more emotional content to your work.


Melinda Cootsona is a figurative painter in Northern California. Greatly influenced by the Bay Area artistic tradition, her paintings focus on the strength of the female figure. The paintings are created with layers of oil paint, applied and then scraped away revealing figures that fill the canvas in varying poses of contemplation or reflection in abstracted surroundings. Whether in a soft or harsh surrounding, the strength of the female figure is primary.

Having taught oil painting for almost 20 years to students around the globe, Melinda takes particular care to interact with each student individually to help them discover their own voice and work on their unique needs.

Melinda’s work has been included in exhibitions at the Bakersfield Museum of Art and the Triton Museum in California, The San Francisco Art Market, The Coos Bay Museum of Art in Oregon, and Art Basel Miami, as well as many group and solo shows throughout the U.S.


If a month before the workshop we haven’t reached the minimum amount of students for the workshop to happen the workshop will be canceled and students will receive a full refund.

If you cancel less than 60 DAYS prior to the start of a workshop you will receive half of your registration fee, If you cancel less than 30 DAYS prior the start of the workshop you will not receive a refund. If you must cancel in this time frame we encourage you to find a replacement, and your replacement can reimburse you for your course fee. If you cancel before the 60-day limit you will receive a full refund minus 3% processing fee.  Unfortunately, students who start a multiple-day class and are unable to attend any portion will not receive a refund.


Workshop will be canceled or rescheduled if inclement weather (hurricanes, snow storm, tropical storm, black ice, flooding, etc.) is on the forecast. No one should take any unnecessary risks. If the workshop is canceled, all registration money will be returned to the students minus 3% processing fee.  The workshop will be rescheduled if possible for both parties.


Email Melinda if you have any questions regarding materials.

Always bring a portable standing easel and a small side table for your palette, unless you are flying in! We will provide easel and side table if you are flying in and can’t bring these items.

Please bring several photos that inspire you of human figures. (Bring as many as you can!) These can come from magazines, mail order catalogs, the internet, and best of all your own personal photo stash. The key to good photos is a good sense of light. You want light and shadow on your figure. Flat overall lighting makes the image difficult to interpret. With more experience it gets easier, however when learning to paint the figure it is best to have good shadows (darks) and good lights (light) on the figure in your photograph. Black and white photos are actually preferable, as they open up your interpretation of color.

If you are printing photos be sure to use photo paper. Photos printed on regular computer paper tend to be washed out and lack the values that we want. Decent photo paper makes a huge difference.

Here is a good example of a photo with a strong light source. This is a particularly exaggerated light source, however that makes it easy to really see the shapes:


Here is also a link to my blog where I have posted an article specifically about
working with photographs.

I am not particular about colors. Bring as many as you feel comfortable with. What is important to me is that you have lots of paint to work with. We don’t want to skimp on paint. At the very least you want a warm and cool of the colors you use.

Below is a general guideline, but if you have similar colors there is no need to run out and buy new. Hansa yellow, for example is a perfectly good alternative to Cadmium. Most of you have been painting for a while, so bring the colors you are comfortable with!

Titanium White bring LOTS
Cadmium Yellow Medium  – Warm
Cadmium Yellow Light or Lemon – Cool
Cadmium Orange – Warm
(There is no cool version of orange)
Cadmium Red Light – Warm
Alizarin Crimson or Quinacridone Red – Cool

Manganese Blue – Warm
Ultramarine Blue – Cool

Sap Green Or Green Gold – Warm
Viridian – Cool
A Black of some kind

Gold Ochre – Warm
Transparent Earth Red (Red Oxide) – Warm

-Acrylic Painters
Whatever mediums you prefer. For those of you who are interested in collage, be sure to bring gel medium.
To keep working on Acrylics longer (more like oils) bring Golden’s Acrylic Glazing Liquid, gloss or matte.

-Oil Painters
Preferably Gamblin’s Solvent Free Gel Medium or Gel Medium
Odorless Mineral Spirits ONLY
Cold Wax if you are interested. Not required.Abstraction, Balance and the Figure

Vine Charcoal
Graphite – I prefer 9B (soft)
Inks (for Acrylic painters)
Oil Bars (for Oil painters)
Any other tools you like to use.

Bring what you are used to using. Be sure to bring some larger ones. 1” to 2” size.
These can be inexpensive “Chip” brushes from a house paint or hardware store (about $1.00 each). My favorite brushes are 1” chip brushes that I can throw away when they get worn out.
Just make sure to bring some larger sizes. This class is not about painting
eyelashes! 😉

Palette Knives
Spade shape is my favorite. Bring several sizes.

Bring one! Wood, paper, glass, plexi, all are acceptable

Always bring several different sizes to class to choose from.
1-2 Large canvases up to 24 x 24, if you can travel with them. You do not need to bring any this large if it is not feasible.
2-3 Medium canvases about 18 x 24, 20 x 20, 18 x 18 in that range. (3-4 if you do not bring larger ones) A range of shapes/sizes would be ideal.
2-3 16 x 16, 12 x 12, etc Nothing smaller than 12 x 12

Canvas, Wood panels (gessoed) and the Multimedia Artboards are all
If you are planning on using cold wax in your work you will prefer wood panels (pre-gessoed) or Multimedia Artboard
Link to the Multimedia Artboard website: https://multimediaartboard.com/

Please feel free to bring any old paintings that you are willing to paint over and
essentially use as underpaintings. These can be a great starting point.

For those of you Acrylic painters interested in working with collage, please bring your stash of papers. And your gel medium.

One Full Roll paper towels (Viva brand are the best, mark my words, after you
try them you’ll never get anything else).
Gloves if you use them.

-Oil Painters:
Clean jar with lid to pour out your used OMS.
Start saving pizza boxes to carry your wet paintings in. Saves your car! Or other protective material or travel carriers.

-Acrylic Painters:
Container for your water.

Colour Shaper
This is a unique tool that you will love. They are a bit hard to find. Here is a link to the Dick Blick Website that carries some of their products. Order the “Angle Chisel, Size 10 Firm.”
Catalyst Blades are also great tools. You may want one or two of them:

If you live nearby, please bring a standing easel and a side table for
your palette (like a tv diner foldable table). If you are flying in, please e-mail monica@paintingmiles.com and she will provide and easel and a table for you.
Fingers crossed that I haven’t forgotten anything!

Email Melinda if you have any questions regarding materials.


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