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ART 245.pdf


ART 245    Department: Visual Arts

Introduction to Painting: Realism    Credits: 3

FALL 2014


Instructor: Tyler Alpern, MFA

Phone: 303/545-6955

E-Mail:  talpern@Naropa.edu   Class Website: http://www.tyleralpern.com/naropa2.html

Office Hours: Tuesdays 4:50-5:50 by appointment

Office Location: Painting Studio,  Rm 9124, Nalanda Campus, Arapahoe & 63rd



Class Time: Tuesdays, 6:00pm – 8:50pm

Location: Painting Studio, Rm 9124, Nalanda Campus, Arapahoe & 63rd  

Dates: August 26 – December 9, 2014

Online Resources  Use the Learning Management System (LMS) for readings, to review lecture slides, find assignment instructions, get notes or handouts,  etc. Use Digication to turn in finished work and show progress on weeks when you are absent to earn partial credit.

EReserves Statement: You can now access your online sourcebook directly through the ELearning platform of your class. Weekly downloadable readings are located in the Online Sourcebook Tab and links to internet sources are located in the Web Resources tab. It is the expectation that students will check both tabs weekly to access assigned readings.

Extra Expenses: See material list.  $95 approximate cost.



Methods of Instruction

Each period starts with an optional 5 minute sitting practice or other contemplative exercise.  Then there will be a demonstration with art materials, techniques or theory, followed by students working individually on the project assigned. Students are mentored one on one for the remainder of each class. Some classes include a critique where we look at and comment on the finished art assignments.



Course Description

Students develop technical ability as painters and increase their creative options for art making. With the still life as subject, the course focuses on color theory, the formal elements of painting, and the various surfaces, tools, techniques and myriad effects that can be achieved with acrylic paint. Students explore the expressive potential of painting and discuss their process during class critiques. Knowledge gained enables students to be articulate about and have a better understanding of the paintings that they encounter in the world. Materials fee.



Supplemental Course Description

This course is a basic introduction to the field of acrylic painting in contemporary art studio practice Within the context of realism, students will start to develop and experiment with their own styles and content while learning and practicing technical skills and color theory.  Observation will be combined with subjective technical considerations to best create the illusion of three dimensional reality on a flat two dimensional surface. Students thus learn how to paint what they intend the viewer to perceive, not simply what the artist sees.  Working too closely from photographs inhibits this process.


Students will learn to take risks and challenge themselves to make better paintings.  Because of this, experimentation and risk taking occasional awful looking work is inevitable, expected and a part of the learning process.  This class is an exercise and experience as well as a product oriented class.   Just as a musician practices his or her craft for countless hours; to learn to paint, one must make paintings, heaps of them to become good. Students may make some really bad paintings. That is expected as part of the learning process.  Learning to cope with and work through frustration is essential.  This class will focus on creative exploration, development of technical skills and color: seeing, theory and mixing.



Student Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to make art using acrylic or oil painting techniques and understand the basic conceptual and intuitive modalities of two dimensional color art.


Students will be able to identify individual elements of a color: hue, value, temperature, saturation, and be able to apply rules color theory as they mix color and to use non-local layer color.


Students will be able to craft the illusion to three dimensional volume and depth on a two dimensional surface.


Students will be able to use the process of creative thinking to formulate and develop ideas.


Students will be able to use visual language to communicate ideas.





Course Readings

“Contemplative Practice” by Deborah Haynes in Arts in Religious and Theological Studies, 20:2 2009, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, New Brighton, MN.  You can find this our course page thru eLeraning on MyNaropa.



Course Requirements and Grading System

Every aspect and component of this class is important. What is valued in this class is effort, discovery, experimentation, innovation, and moving beyond expectations. Important aspects to be considered:

   Vocal participation in group critiques and discussions is required, both elaborating on your own work and constructive criticism of others

   Homework assignments are expected to involve six hours of work outside class each week

   No late assignments will be accepted unless prior communication with the instructor.


Breakdown of final grade -



Consistent wakefulness, ‘presence,’ and attentiveness is expected as part of the grade.  Being present but not wakeful, attentive or counts as being absent.  A bad attitude on a day when we try something you do not like or not following assignment directions, or not using safe studio practices will count as an absence.


Attendance in the regular class period is mandatory.


Evaluation System

Your grade is based on effort, attitude and attendance, not ability.  I want you to take risks and not worry about beauty, success, or artistic ability of finished work, grades are only based on fulfilling assignment instructions and requirements.  All finished work except sketchbook should be posted in your Digication account.



Grading scale: 100-90 = A, 89-80 = B, 79-70 = C, 69-60 = D, below 60 = F

Sketchbook 9pts., Course Work & Homework 91pts.


2 points deducted for late paintings each period past due when permission to be late had been granted. No credit given for late assignments 2 points or less.  Extra work on assignments based on critiques past the due date can improve grade. Make-up classes or assignments (IF POSSIBLE) must be completed within 2 weeks and count up to 2/3's part credit.  To recieve make-up credit, homework or progress still should be turned in on time in your Digication account.


Grading scale for art projects

A    full engagement in the process; use of the set parameters and suggestions

B    an interesting work that does not quite fulfill the requirements

C    adequate, reasonably competent; a mixture of strengths and weaknesses, partially fulfills assignment

D    poor in content, form, and mechanics, does not follow assignment

F    incoherent, disastrously flawed, or not turned in


Numeric grades:  A = 90 - 100% points, B = 80 - 89%, C = 70 - 79%, D = 60 - 69%, F = 0 - 59%.


Attendance Policy

On-time attendance in the regular class period is mandatory.


You may receive one excused absence when the instructor receives a phone call or written notice that you are either ill, or have an emergency this absence must be made up within 2 weeks in order for it not to affect your grade.  Religious holidays can be made up at full credit if procedure is followed: 1, let the instructor know your plans for the holiday in advance 2, email images of all work completed that week before the missed class AND 3, make up work must be complete within 2 weeks of the missed class. The student needs to initiate the discussion of what will be appropriate to make up for a missed class.


All other absences will lower the grade a full letter grade unless homework is turned in on time via Digication for both that week and the following and any makeup work is arranged and completed within 2 weeks.  There will only be half credit given for make up of an unexcused absence. So two unexcused absences, yet made-up, will still lower your grade one full letter. Four unexcused absences result in an F. T Three of any combination of the following (tardies, early departures, lack of written plans for the upcoming week or excessive breaks) equal one absence.  Tardiness is counted after the bow in, usually at 6:10. Missing more than 10 minutes of a period also counts as a tardy. “Those who are tardy will not receive fruit cup.”


Please continue coming to class even if you are unprepared or have no new work to share or discuss. I understand how this sometimes happens and being in class is essential for the learning process and for me to help you one on one with your work or any obstacles and frustrations you are facing.



Course Projects    

We will do both exercises and finished work. Topics will include: Color, Value, Mixing, Transparency vs. Opacity, Shading and Volume, Local and Non-Local Color, Atmospheric Perspective, Layering, Content and Communication, Creativity, Composition, Style, Imagination. We will look at paintings from many different eras and cultures.


You are required to draw outside of class (at least 20 minutes a week), so get a sketch book for this purpose and date each drawing. You are free to draw what you want in it. Develop ideas for paintings in your sketchbook. You will work on projects in class based on your own ideas that you formulate outside of class in your sketchbook. You will use your sketchbook for: 1.) Drawing and formulating ideas,  2.) Developing your ideas and compositions and making thumbnail studies, 3.) Taking notes.  I will not read anything written in your sketchbook unless you ask me too nor will I mark in it so feel free to journal in it, etc.  If you are required to keep a sketchbook or journal for another class, it is okay with me to combine them.  Bring your sketch book to class every day.  There will be many assignments that you complete outside of class. Explanations are given at the start of each class after contemplative practice so please BE ON TIME. Assignment details online at: www.tyleralpern.com\paint1.html



Schedule of Classes and Assignments (hours for assignments required outside of class time as marked)


5:55 pm or before: Arrive on campus.

6:00 pm: Class begins, set up personal workspace, display work for critique,, contemplative practice, congregate for lecture/discussion/demos/critiques.

6:10 pm: Bow in, attendance taken, lecture/discussion/demos/critiques followed by studio time and individual conferences.

8:35 pm: Wrap up / bow out / clean up.

8:50 pm: Class ends.


Every new painting must have at least 10 compositional sketches completed before image is put on canvas or at a critical decision making point if more applicable than sketching ideas before hand.  This helps find the most dynamic presentation of your idea.  Working from photos as a reference is allowed, but copying individual photos (even your own) is not.  All paintings must be a significant departure from any photographic work, especially those created by other artists or gleaned from other sources.  No credited will be given to work that closely resembles a singular photographic source.   No exact resemblance in portraiture will be allowed until the final project as struggling to achieve a likeness interferes with the lessons to be learned in assigned work.


All finished work and assignments except the stetchbook should be posted in your Digication account.


A few commonly known, popular artists you may not use for any presentations to me or the class are: Leonid Afremov, Thomas Kinkade, Bob Ross, Vladimir Kush, Josephine Wall.  I need you to do research that goes beyond the first few pages of a general google painting search.



For assignment instructions, information and demos see:




1. Aug 26        • Introductions and Digication Demo

                        • Materials needed/syllabus/set up

                        • Color Lecture and first exercise

                        • Assignments – Read article online at MyNaropa (LMS): “Contemplative              Practice” by Deborah Haynes, buy required materials, finish Hue/Temperature                         Exercise & sketch ideas for future projects, research paintings. (6                     hours of work outside class for all assignments combined)


2. Sep 2           • Color Mixing - Value / Saturation Charts    10pts

                          Purpose:  To learn how to see value, temperature and saturation in 

                        color, to understand color theory, to learn how colors mix, how to darken,

                        lighten and neutralize them.

                        •Short Quiz based on reading assignment 2 pts.

                        •Lecture: Inspriational Paintings

                        • Assignments –  Ptg 1 Free Expression Still Life 8 pts., due Class 3.                      Painting should: a] be 18” x 24”,  b]  contain 2 or more very simple three                       dimensional objects that fill the composition,  c] be placed in a simple               three dimensional environment, d]  rendered in a realistic, non-personal                   style. (6 hours for all work outside class) 



3. Sep 9           • Color Mixing - Value / Saturation Charts  10pts continued

• Critique Painting 1

• Continue Value/Saturation Charts

• Due today – Painting 1 Free Expression Still Life  8pts

• Assignments– Finish all Charts,  find 3 high quality reproductions of a realistic painting for Painting 2 2pts,  Make any revisions necessary for Ptg 1.  (Minimum 6 hours outside class for all)



4. Sep 16         • Value Matching / Complement Mixing   5pts

                              Purpose: To fully understand complementary colors and seeing value.               To develop brush technique. Correctly identifying value liberates color                        choices and allows artistic expression without sacrificing the credible                        illusion.

• Due today –  All previous exercises & revisions for Ptg 1,  3 reproductions of actual realistic paintings for Painting 2. 2 pts. for reproductions.

• Assignments – Finish Value Matching, create Painting 2  3pts based on a section of one of your reproductions – due Class 5, roughly sketch 10 different exciting ideas for a painting not based on a photograph – due Class 5. (6 hours work outside class)


5. Sep 23         • Shading / Optical Mixing   5pts

                             Purpose: To review color theory, discover optical mixing, gain confidence with                         the brush and understand crafting three dimensional volume on a flat surface.

  • Due today – Painting 2 Reproduction 3pts, Value Matching  5pts, Rough Sketches of at least 10 exciting ideas for a painting, 1pt.
  • Assignments– Finish Shading Exercise, begin Painting 3 3-D Volume 5pts a 3 dimensional, simple still life using formula shading and maximum value shifts to express volume - due Class 6 for progress review, finished by Class 7, Prepare 10 Compositional Sketches based on one idea from the rough sketches  1pt - due Class 6 in preparation for Painting 4  (6 hours outside class)



6. Sept 30        • Begin Painting 4  9pts - due Class 10:

                        Layering and Transparency      

                             Purpose:  To learn how to craft a painting using an under painting, to                 begin to find an artistic voice.


                        Beyond Local Color

                             Purpose:  To learn how value is more important than hue in crafting an               image. To find expressive, personal color.

• Due today –  10 Compositional Sketches  1pt,  Shading Exercises & Paintings 3 (half complete)

• Assignments –  Continue work on Paintings 3 & 4, sketching (6 hours outside class) - Ptg 3 3-D Volume due Class 7, Ptg 4 - due Class 10.



October 7 is Practice Day - No Naropa Classes.

7. Oct 14         • Simultaneous Contrast Demo

                             Purpose:  To learn how to change a color’s value and intensity with                    different surroundings.

                        • Painting 3 3-D Volume 5pts critique          

                        • Painting 4  Layering & Beyond Local Color 15pts. continued

Due today –  Painting 3  3-D Volume 5pts.

Assignments – Continue work on Painting 4 15pts. - due Class 10 & sketching ideas for Painting 5 that express a sense of distance, research inspirational paintings (6 hours outside class)




8. Oct 21         Painting 4 Layering and Beyond Local Color 15pts continued

Due Today Sketchbook with all drawing and compositional studies; and via Digication: reproductions of 15 Inspirational Paintings from at least 10 artists 10pts

Assignments – Continue Painting 4, produce 10 Compositional Studies  1pt for Painting 5 - due Class 9 & sketching (6 hours outside class)



9. Oct 28         • Painting 5   Depth / Atmospheric Perspective  15pts - due Class 13     

                              Purpose:  To learn how to craft a deep three dimensional sense of                      space on a flat surface.           

Due today – 10 Compositional Studies  1pt for Painting 5

Assignments – Finish Painting 4 Layering and Beyond Local Color, continue Painting 5  15 pts  (6 hours outside class)




10. Nov 4     • Juxtaposition, Substitution, Transformation Demo

Painting 5 Depth / Atmospheric Perspective  15pts continued

Due today – Painting 4 Layering and Beyond Local Color 9pts      

Assignments – Painting 5  15 pts  continued, J,S,T Brain Storm 2 pts  -due Class 11 (6 hours outside class)



11. Nov 11     • Surface Demo/Lecture

Continue Painting 5 Depth  15pts  due Class 13

                        • Discuss individually J,S,T Brain Storm 2pts         

• Due today – J,S,T Brain Storm 2pts

• Assignments – Plan J,S,T / New Reality  10 Compositions  1pts - due Class 12, Painting 5 Depth 15pts continued (6 hours outside class)



12. Nov 18      • Continue Painting 5 Depth  15pts due Class 13

                        • Begin Painting 6 New Techniques 15pts  Use additive and subtractive painting to enliven the surface and. to render your most effective J,S,T / New Reality composition - due Class 15.  Purpose: to incorporate surface considerations and push the possibilities of the medium and to communicate imaginative content in a visual language using contrast.

• Due today – J,S,T / New Reality 10 Compositions  1pt  for Ptg 6.

• Assignments – Finish Ptg 5 Depth 15 pts - due Class 13,  Continue work on Ptg 6  15 pts - due Dec 10 (6 hours outside class)           



13. Nov 25      • Continue Painting 6 New Techniques / New Reality 15pts

                        • Critique Ptg 5 Depth 15pts, 

Due today – Ptg 5 Depth 15pts, Sketchbook 9pts.

• Assignment – Painting 6 New Techniques / New Reality 15pts continued

- due Dec 10 (6 hours outside class) 




14. Dec 2         • Continue Painting 6 New Techniques / New Reality 15pts

• Assignment – Continue work on Ptg 6  15pts - due Class 15

 (6 hours outside class), If you finish Ptg 6, you can do additional paintings to fill out assigned hours. They are part of the 15 pts for Ptg 6. 


15. Dec 9         • Due Today - Painting 6 New Techniques / New Reality 15pts

Critique of Ptg 6  15pts.  No work accepted past this date.

Remove all belongings from Studio.


Potential Make-Up Day if Scheduled: TBA.


Point Breakdown:  Short Quiz 2, Ptg 1 Still Life 8, Charts 10, Value Matching 5, Ptg 2 Reproduction 2+3=5, Shading 5, Ptg 3 3-D Volume 5, 10 Rough Sketches 1 1, 10 Comps 1,

Ptg 4 15, 15 Inspirational Paintings 10, Ptg 5 Depth 15, JTS Brain Storm 2,  JTS 10 Comps 1, Ptg 6 New Techniques / New Reality 15, Sketchbook 5 = 100 points.



Accommodations for Disabilities: Accommodations for Disabilities: Naropa University will provideaccommodations for qualified students with disabilities. To request an accommodation, or to discuss any learning needs you may have, contact Jackie Chavarria, the Disability Resources Coordinator. Her office is located in the Student Affairs Department in the Administration Building on the Arapahoe Campus. You may contact her at 303-245-4749 or email: jchavarria@naropa.edu.



Other Needs:  If you have any other needs that may require accommodations (special arrangements) or if you will miss a class because of a religious holiday, please contact the instructor by the third week of class (so that a make-up plan can be organized in advance.  Students are still responsible for missed classes and work, but there is no attendance penalty.)


Studio Policies / Safety Issues / Miscellaneous

You must wash and clean your working area after each class as others use the room.   Follow all posted studio procedures.

To avoid ingesting hazardous materials, eating and drinking in the studio is not allowed.  

No toxic chemicals or paints shall be disposed of in the sink.  Fixative must be used outside, chemicals properly stored.

USE RESPECT: for yourself, your classmates, the room and materials in it.  Realize that a portion of your grade is your conduct in the studio.  That includes safety issues, respect for the work of others and cleaning up after yourself.

Don’t lose your work.  Label the back with a) Your Name, b) This Semester, c) Teacher’s Name.   Unlabeled, mislabeled and outdated work will be either discarded or appropriated by another student.   Place painting in rack reserved for this class.  Be careful not to smear other work drying in the racks.

Students with disabilities, language conflicts or having special circumstances during the semester should contact me early so that appropriate accommodations may be made. Requesting accommodation or allowances after the fact, or, at the end of the term, is NOT an appropriate solution.

Communication is the key to success in this class. If there is anything of concern, see me, call or e-mail.

Use cell phones outside of classrooms. 

The instructor reserves right to modify syllabus and calendar. (simplifications or extensions, no additions.)

Assignments not finished in class are homework.

 It is the nature of art that some painters are quicker than others, some artists take on more ambitious projects than others.  Simply completing all assignments early does not excuse students from attending classes.  Students must work on projects and be present every week.  Should a student finish all assignments early, new projects will be negotiated with each student as needed.

If there is a fire in the Lefthand Canyon area, I will not be in class and may not be able to call in to inform Naropa.

“All berets must be worn on a slant. If your beret is not on a slant, you spend a night in the box.”


“In an instructional setting, plagiarism occurs when a writer (or artist) deliberately uses someone else’s language, ideas, or other original (not common-knowledge) material without acknowledging its source.” It is the student’s responsibility to understand and avoid plagiarism.  There are many, many sources available to assist the student in producing a properly-documented written or assignment.  In addition to many resource books available at the library, there are excellent online resources, as well.  Once such resource is http://abacus.bates.edu/cbb.  This site contains tutorials and examples.  Visual work should also be original and any source or inspirational material must be shown to the instructor to avoid plagiarism and a potential honor code violation.



Materials (extra expenses)

You can choose to paint in either oil or acrylic paint.  Both are wonderful and versatile.  Similar effects can be made with either but one is often better choice than the other for various effects.  Oil paint is thinned with an odorless solvent, a chemical, or oil or a mix of both; but acrylic can be thinned with water.  Oil paint takes days to months to dry while acrylic can dry in minutes.  If you like to blend paint or have sharp surface texture, or paint slowly oil may be a better choice.  If you like to make radical changes, have flat opaque color, do collage or are adverse to chemicals, acrylic may be a better choice. Acrylic colors can be less transparent and may dry slightly darker.  Acrylic comes in more unusual hi-tech colors but oil paints can be easier to mix to find the right color.  Acrylic mediums are used for image transfers and collages and can be used by both acrylic and oil painters. Acrylics dry so fast that a special palette is necessary to keep paint wet. New “open” acrylics have a much longer drying and working time. Oil goes over acrylic so you can use acrylic products and techniques under an oil painting. Oil painters need more brushes as they do not clean easily. You choose your medium.  AT NAROPA ,OIL PAINTERS MAY ONLY THIN PAINT WITH OIL AND GAMSOL, NO OTHER SOLVENTS ALLOWED.   WATER SOLUBLE OIL PAINTS ARE A GOOD OPTION.



LARGE Stay wet palette and papers, water containers, spray bottle, minimum of ten brushes that are not too soft (#000, #1, #4 or #6 round and flat, #12 flat), glazing medium, sketchbook, drawing materials. Supports such as canvas paper, canvas and stretcher bars will need to be bought as needed (about 18” x 24”).  Avoid canvas board.  Failure to acquire a large stay wet palette system by week 5 will result in lowering the final grade a full letter.


      PAINT: large tube of white (zinc or titanium), 2 oz. tubes:  phthalo (phthalocyanine) blue {by Golden}, ultramarine blue {by Golden},  rose: quindacridone or acra {that looks fuchsia or magenta - Liquitex}, cadmium red deep hue {that looks red not orange - Liquitex Basics}, burnt umber, cadmium yellow medium hue, zinc or lemon yellow.


      Optional colors: thalo green, yellow ochre, orange, purple, burnt sienna, anything you like.  Avoid colors described as light, anything that has titanium in it (other than white) as you can create light colors yourself by diluting dark colors yourself.  Buy primarily saturated, deep, dark colors.  Acrylic painters should open paint and judge color quality by the paint inside not the label.  A bright orange described as red will only frustrate you when red is what you need.  DO NOT BUY BLACK.  Do have at least one cool and warm red and blue.  Check Prices - DO NOT SPEND TOO MUCH - look for cheap brands and ‘hues’ but rich, dark, dense paint.  Craft paints do not have the density you need.


      Optional materials needed later: Gel; texture, gloss or matte mediums; retarder (& perhaps some of the following: hide glue, freezer wrap, isopropyl alcohol, bleach, plastic wrap, tape, metallics, vaseline, tar gel, tissue paper, sand, interference colors, etc. Many of these I’ll have in class for you to try first.)


It is NOT necessary to have new paint if you already have anything EXACTLY THE SAME as the list.  If you have budget concerns, please bring it to my attention before a problem arises.   It is entirely your responsibility to have the necessary supplies for each class meeting.


Recommended Texts for inspiration, diverse techniques and possibilities for acrylics:

Reyner, Nancy. Acrylic Revolution. Canada: North Light Books, 2007.


Tauchid, Rheni.  New Acrylics. New York: Watson Guptill, 2005.




Minimum of ten brushes that are not too soft (#000, #1, #4 or #6 round and flat, #12 flat). Supports such as heavy paper, canvas and stretcher bars will need to be bought as needed (18” x 24”). You’ll need something cheap to do exercises on right away. Avoid canvas board, a large canvas paper pad that you share would be the most inexpensive option for finished work.


      PAINT:  large tube of white (zinc or titanium), 2 oz. tubes:  (ph)thalo (phthalocyanine) blue, ultramarine blue }, thalo red rose, cadmium red hue {that looks red not orange}, burnt umber, cadmium yellow medium hue, zinc or lemon yellow.

Optional colors: thalo green, yellow ochre, orange, purple, burnt sienna, anything you like.    DO NOT BUY BLACK.   Check Prices - DO NOT SPEND TOO MUCH - look for cheap brands but rich, dark paint. 


 Large palette 15"x15", Gamsol and additional painting oil, 1 plastic squeeze bottle and 1 jar, dishwashing netting, baby oil or brush cleaner.


DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.