Melinda Tidwell – Mastering Abstract Composition: Structures and Strategies

Duration of Class: Three Days (18 Hours) // Medium: Collage // Skill Level: All


If you look at enough abstract art, you will begin to see a repetition of certain structures, or “strategies of arrangement”, that artists apply to their work. I have found these very useful as a way to begin composition studies. Each morning of this three-day workshop, I will introduce two new structures. They will be well illustrated by some of my favorite artworks that have used them.

I will also be introducing some primary art/design principles that can guide and greatly improve your work. We will begin simply and get more complex as the workshop progresses, looking at Balance and Value, Shape and Size, Color and Line.

The rest of the day will be spent making collages. Collage is a great medium to easily test new ideas, find delicious surprises, and rehearse combinations. Your materials, culled from my studio stash, will be already “altered” and ready to glue, so the focus can remain on design. The goal is to get students engaged and arranging right away.

Through critique and individual instruction, we will learn ways to address problems in your design. Things like: how to connect disparate areas to one another, how to add interest and energy, how to simplify, and how to clarify and unify your design.


• proper gluing of collage materials
• preparing the watercolor paper substrate
• using structures to guide your design
• using the art fundamental to create compelling, coherent compositions
• additions and deletions to improve your design


click on thumbnails to see full image


Day 1 - 3 (9/28/18 - 9/30/18)

Class Size

Min # of students: 8
Max # of students: 15

Supply List

  • Scissors
  • Exacto knife with new blade
  • Cutting pad
  • Metal edge ruler
  • Large plastic triangle (at least 6” one side)
  • Acrylic medium (matte or gloss, but not gel)
  • Paintbrushes – 1/2” and 1” flats – just for gluing
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic tubs for medium and for water
  • KIT FEE: $35 per student (payable to instructor at class time)
    Provided by Instructor:
  • 9x12 watercolor paper
  • found papers and books fashioned into collage elements
  • repositionable glue stick
  • hole punches of every size

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