Abstracting Reality with Color and Composition

Charles Emerson is a Pacific Northwest painter who creates richly hued abstract paintings that describe ethereal and atmospheric spaces. Embracing color as the foundation of his work, Emerson builds his compositions by applying layers of subtly varied tones that shift with light. His paintings contain terrestrial forms, celestial shapes, and painterly marks, each depicting an emotive microcosm with every varying palette. His paintings are reflections on personal experiences and an engagement with the concept that “nothing ever stays the same.” Emerson uses painting both as a visual diary– recording places, significant moments, and interpersonal interactions- -as well as a part of a spiritual search where one can transcend the here and now. Charles Emerson, originally from Los Angeles, received his Master of Fine Arts from Yale University and his Bachelor of Fine Arts from University of Southern California. He was the recipient of the Fulbright Grant, and he completed his fellowship in Venice, Italy in 1961. Emerson has shown nationally and internationally, including exhibitions in Venice, Italy and Los Angeles, CA. He was the artist-in-residence at the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art (Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego) in La Jolla, CA, and at Reed College in Portland, OR. Emerson has resided in the Northwest for more than 30 years, and he teaches color theory and painting at Gage Academy of Art in Seattle, WA.
9:30 A.M.-12:30 P.M.
Gage Capitol Hill
  • Sketch pad at least 14 X 17″
  • Canvas size and surface to be determined by the ideas used
  • Watercolor surface to be determined
  • Paint: Oils, acrylic, gouache, water based oils, watercolor colors:
    • Titanium White, Ivory Black
    • Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna
    • Yellow Ochre
    • Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Medium
    • Bright Orange ( as bright as possible)
    • Bright Red (as bright as possible)
    • Alizarin Crimson
    • Dioxazine Purple
    • Ultramarine Blue
    • Thalo Blue (green shade)
    • Cobalt Blue
    • Thalo green (blue shade)
    • Viridian Green
    • Quinacridone Coral (not Rose ) or any very bright pink
  • Medium pencil
  • One stick black conte crayon
  • Kneaded gum eraser
  • As an experienced student you should have a good variety of painting brushes. Please include a 1/2 to 1″ STIFF bristle brush as found at a hardware store, cheaply made and about $1.50.
  • Also Children’s cheap brushes, stiff white bristle for painting with tempera, all three available styles; fan, round and chisel shaped at about $1.29 a piece (art stores)
  • The usual palette knife (kite shaped blade)
  • Paper towels
  • aAy and all brushes you have (new techniques, new brushes may be necessary)
  • Palette
  • Jars
  • Painting mediums (for acrylics, an extender or retardent – for oils NEO MEGILP medium

EVERYTHING YOU MAY NEED TO PAINT (it varies from student to student)

Please come prepared to answer why you wish/need to abstract beyond the usual Modernist and Colorist aesthetics and what you hope to learn by taking this class.

Please have basic drawing skills.

An advanced painting class in either oils or acrylics where students abstract to heighten reality by way of the emotional or psychological reasons to create a stronger impact than just a picture. You choose subject matter as the instructor works with you individually to help realize your goals in a logical, consistent, and convincing manner using Modernist aesthetics. It will be yours the choice of appropriate technique to best project your individual vision. Come prepared with a goal, reason, and a plan.