Acrylic Painting I: Abstract Painting

Instructor: Lia ter Heide
Thursdays 5:30-8:30pm
10 weeks: September 21 to November 23
Location: In-person Williams Building room 118
$375 (supplies not included)
Prerequisite: None

This course is a survey of techniques for producing a variety of styles of abstract acrylic paintings, from a formal and conceptual perspective. The intention is to create a toolbox of skills which can be combined or further refined in future work by the individual artist.  Techniques will be correlated to their historic artistic movements, relevant artists, and contemporary presentation. Each class will include a short contextual lecture/slideshow, demonstration, guided active studio work, constructive group discussions of student works in progress and supportive review of completed pieces. Creative freedom, artistic exploration, and enthusiasm for the journey are emphasized.


  • Discussion of surface preparation and materials, including tools, specialty mediums, and pigments
  • Techniques for a variety of applications:
    • Brushwork
    • Resist
    • Layering
    • Splatter 
    • Stringing
    • Pouring
    • Staining
    • Drops
    • Texture
    • Sculptural elements
  • History of abstract art movements
  • Representative abstract artists, historic and contemporary 


  • 18” x 24” pad of cartridge paper
  • Sketchbook 
  • Pencil 
  • Eraser 
  • Black Sharpie marker, fine tip 
  • Small bottle of rubbing alcohol 
  • Several soft synthetic short handled acrylic paint brushes, suggested:  1” flat, ½” flat, #8 round, #4 round, ¼” dagger striper 
  • Stretched canvases (at least 8) (dimensions as preferred): minimum 10” x 10”, maximum 24” x 24” (can be purchased at low cost from dollar stores or Amazon) (or gessoed hardboard planks, artist’s board, or canvas board may be used).  
  • Paints: Fluid acrylics* (Golden Acrylics is preferred, but Liquitex or other brands are acceptable), in a variety of colours, as desired, but including: 
    • black, 
    • titanium white
    • at least one iridescent or interference colour (such as gold, copper, interference green, blue or violet, etc.) 
    • *Note: Heavy body acrylics may be used. 
  • Mediums: Clear Tar Gel, Molding Paste, Course Pumice Gel (or Soft Matte Gel mixed with sand) (Golden Acrylics is preferred) 
  • Liquitex Pouring Medium or Golden Acrylics GAC 800 
  • Elmer’s Glue-All PVA white glue 
  • Flexible plastic squeeze bottles with cap, 4 oz size, minimum 6 (available from Amazon, Canadian Tire, or restaurant/kitchen supply stores) 
  • At least one offset painting knife (approx. 3” blade) or small silicone spatula 
  • Spray bottle 
  • Masking tape (green painter’s tape) 
  • Squeegee (available from Dollarama) 
  • Cotton rags 
  • Recycled plastic yogurt or other container for cleaning brushes 
  • Plastic ice cube tray 
  • 36” x 36” or larger plastic or canvas drop cloth (available from home renovation stores) may substitute an old flat sheet, small tarp, or butcher paper. 


  • Small disposable plastic cups 
  • Airtight plastic resealable containers 0.5 cup size, minimum 6, (such as Rubbermaid) for storing mixed pigments (available from Amazon/Superstore/Walmart/Canadian Tire) 
  • Disposable nitrile gloves