Emphasizing Abstraction

stuart shils
house near corciano
Stuart Shils
Stuart Shils
Stuart Shils


Emphasizing Abstraction
Master Class Intensive with Stuart Shils
Intermediate to Advanced
April 5 – 7, 2019

Note: Class will start with a digital presentation April 4 at 7:00 p.m.

Day 1 and 2 we will be focusing on interpreting visual history, examining forms of abstraction in painting and drawing by way of our own responses graphically.

Working in the studio from reproductions including older and 20th century masters, we’ll move through a guided series of exercises to understand that abstraction – composition with color and shape – is THE foundation, the great engine behind all painting. Significant emphasis will also be placed on drawing interpretively from the images, as the most abstract graphic language, with part of each day spent engaged in a series of exercises using crayons and graphite to complement our examination of form with paints.

As Maurice Denis said at the beginning of the 20th century:

‘Remember: a picture before being a battle-horse, a nude woman or some anecdote is essentially a flat surface covered with colors arranged in a certain order.’

This is NOT a “copy” class, we will not be copying the superficial appearance of paintings, but rather, trying to get inside and see what they are made of and learning to use abstract shorthand to describe both what is there and also what we see and how we see it.
Materials will be crayola crayons, acrylic paints and pencils.

Some painters explored in this scenario might be:
Euan Euglow
Henri Matisse
Simon Martini
Edward Hopper
Piero de la Francesca
Michelangelo, Caravaggio
Morandi, Degas, Duccio,Dekooning
Fra Angelica and more!

This one day class will introduce and cultivate the perceptual tools of rapid visual summation and notation, both in terms of how to understand what you see and how to remake that into clear and intelligent graphic formats on paper. Working in very ordinary places in downtown Sedona we will focus on noticing how everyday architectural space is really extraordinary visually and then, with how to translate that awareness into drawing.

This is an intimate class in which there will be focus on each participants work. Using pencils in sketchbooks and onsite collage with cut and torn paper, we’ll investigate issues of how to recognize and understand the interior structure of the ‘perceptual moment’ through drawing. We’ll also casually use the digital camera as a viewfinder and photographic tool to examine and identify what camera vision does to our seeing and how the camera informs and enhances direct perception.

Opportunities for dinner gatherings and ongoing discussion and critique are arranged on an ongoing basis giving this workshop a broad scope and richness.


Payment Options: Students may pay in full or choose the payment-plan option during registration. The payment plan requires a non-refundable $125 deposit with the balance due 30 days before the first day of the workshop.

Stuart Shils

Stuart Shils

Stuart Shils is a sensitive painter of the abstract, as seen through the composition in his urban work, and the dramatic weather depicted in his Irish coastal work. His Italian series seems to be bathed in warm-to-hot sunlight. An ever-evolving artist, his recent explorations have taken an even more abstract turn involving collage and assemblage.

Inspired by work done on his monotype press, his paintings have become abstract fields of beautiful hues, and textures with small accents of surprise that punctuate and shape the broad environments of color. Even more recently, his photography of collages in the making and ever changing street scenes reveal an alert eye that constantly sees the shifting compositions of daily life, revealing just how they can be plucked out of context by the camera, leaving the scene undisturbed.

Shils has shown his work at Rothschild Gallery, Tel Aviv, Tibor de Nagy, NY and Hackett-Freedman in San Francisco among others. He has been awarded numerous grants for his work including awards from the Pollack-Krasner Foundation, the Ballington Arts Foundation and the NEA Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. He has been a visiting artist at numerous colleges and arts organizations including University of Washington, Hamline University, Lyme Academy School of Arts, University of Utah, Johns Hopkins University, and the Sedona Arts Center.

There is a rich abundance of material available on Stuart Shils online.

Explore his Website –

An Article on Painting Powers of Observation –

A “Savy Painter” Podcast

Numerous Articles and Interviews on “Painting Perceptions”

    This class is going to use a variety of media: acrylic paints (rather than oil because they dry quickly and more importantly, are useful for circumventing many of the clichés so easily acquired over time with oil paints.) crayons, a nice big box of Crayola and, different drawing tools like litho crayon, pencil and marker.
  • Paints
    Acrylic paints: for these days the 2 oz tubes will be good, except get a larger for white. I usually recommend GOLDEN acrylic paints, but as economy is usually a consideration, you will be fine with Dick Blick brand acrylic. Your choice is up to you. Blick is the most economical but still decent quality : Try to get Artists Grade. Cheaper paints are not appropriate.http://www.dickblick.com/products/blick-artists-acrylic/Colors:Titanium White - a large 4.5 oz or 5 oz tube. Yellow Medium Azo Yellow Ochre Pyrol Red Quinocridone Red Ivory Black Light Green Blue Shade Pthalo Green, Yellow Shade Cad Orange Cobalt Blue Cerulean Blue Ultramarine BlueNot required, but these can always be supplemented, if you like, with cad red light, cad yellow deep and Cad Yellow light.
  • Palette knife
    Palette knife: you will need a knife for periodically cleaning your palette. I recommend this style pal knife, NOT a painting knife:http://www.dickblick.com/items/03107-1003/
  • Paper
    Paper to paint on:Please bring 1of these Canson 9x12 inch Mixed Media Pads:http://www.dickblick.com/items/12468-1912/ANDDick Blick itemBlick Bristol pad, 14x17 inches, smooth surface. (please DO NOT bring the 9x12 inch size.)http://www.dickblick.com/items/13329-2017/when you click on this, the 9x12 might come up but scroll down below and you will see the 14x17.
  • Sketch Book
    A sketch book, approx. the size of a piece of copy paper.
  • Brushes
    Brushes: for acrylic only the soft artificial hairs, inexpensive and they last a long time. http://www.dickblick.com/items/05381-1014/The link above is for a #14. I would bring a #16, #14, #12. And a #8 if you are feeling ambitious. These are Blick long handled white synthetic hair brushes with a blue handle. You don?t have to use that specific brush but you can find the equivalent. And it can be in short handle as well. But PLEASE, DO NOT bring the standard oil painting stiff bristle, hog hair brush for use with acrylic paint, it is not the same and doesn't work well at all. NO FLATS.
  • Glue Stick
    GLUE STICK: UHU clear, .75 oz: http://www.dickblick.com/items/23822-0030/
  • Scissors
    SMALL SCISSORS OF ANY KIND, nothing fancy
  • White Artists Tape
    Roll of white artist tape, ¾ inch or 1 inch:
  • Eraser
    Pink Perl eraser
  • Black Crayon
    Like a caran d'arche crayon or a litho crayon
  • Metal Triangle
    Small Metal Triangle for Drawing:
  • Small Ruler
  • Woodless Pencil
    Koh I Noor Woodless Pencil: 6B, 8B, And you can bring a few regular drawing pencils also, something like 6B and 8B.
  • Sharpener
    Pencil Sharpener - whatever you use, a small metal one or a mat/exacto knife for doing it by hand.
  • Palette
    Disposable palette, this is 16 x 20 inch and I really recommend that, you want lots of room to mix:
  • Gloves
    I suggest protecting your hands, even with acrylic, you don't want it all over your skin. But it's up to you. Link above is a good glove, choose the size best for your hands. I use a medium for a snug fit. You can call Grainger and order them. Or perhaps you can find something similar at the hardware store.
  • Canvas Bag
    When drawing outside, I tend to put all the supplies in a canvas bag, the kind one gets from LL BEAN or Lands End, like what many people take to the beach. A good-sized one will carry just about everything we need. The beauty of those bags is that they hold everything together in one place. And, they last for 20 years. Just so that you can see what I mean if in doubt, Click the link above.
  • Paper Towels
    Bounty Microwave is very heavy duty.