Mentored Studies in Abstraction

Jeffrey Simmons has painted and exhibited his work in Seattle for over twenty years. Having grown up in the Midwest, he studied art at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. His work is in many private, corporate, and public collections, and he has been a finalist for both the Betty Bowen Award from the Seattle Art Museum (1996) and the Neddy Award, currently administered by Cornish College of the Arts (2008). He is represented in the Northwest by Greg Kucera Gallery, Inc., in Seattle.
1:00-5:00 P.M.
Gage Capitol Hill
Paper/Canvas/Sculpting Material:

The quality of your support will make a difference, but can also add to the cost of materials. Canvas board or pre-stretched canvases will be a good place to start. I will discuss other options in class, and I am always happy to demonstrate canvas stretching for people who haven’t done that. Try to have at least three things to paint on at the beginning. Canvas boards can be purchased in packages of three or more. 12 x 16 inches is a good size to begin with.

A pad of paper or sketchbook is useful for preparatory studies.


I favor acrylic paint for classwork, because the faster dry time makes corrections and alterations easier to accomplish and because cleanup can be done with water. A basic palette might include:

  • Hansa Yellow Light
  • Pyrrole Red
  • Quinacridone Magenta
  • Pthalo Blue (Red Shade) or Ultramarine Blue
  • Permanent Green Light
  • Red Iron Oxide
  • Carbon (Ivory) Black
  • Titanium White

I usually buy 2 ounce tubes. You can purchase a packaged set if you are just starting out; the color selection in a set may be different, but that is fine.

It is good to have a jar (8 or 16 oz.) of white acrylic gesso to use as a painting ground.


A selection of flat bristle or synthetic brushes are a good place to start— #4, #8, #10 would be useful. Prices can vary, particularly with synthetic brushes. Less expensive synthetic brushes have a tendency to splay after much usage.

A wide, inexpensive house painter’s brush can be used to apply acrylic gesso to your painting support.

You should have HB graphite pencils or charcoal to draw with.


  • Paper towels or cotton rags for cleanup.
  • A container for water. I usually save the plastic 32 oz. containers that yogurt comes in.
  • A ruler would be useful. Also, the blue or green house painter’s tape is handy for masking straight edges. Scissors or a craft knife if you want to experiment with using the tape to make stencils.
  • Finally, I will be giving short slide lectures at the beginning of each class. Bring a pen and notebook if you wish to take notes.

Optional/additional notes:

Due to construction at the cathedral next door, parking at Gage Academy of Art has become more difficult and you may find it easier to park on a nearby street. With this in mind, you might want to plan on organizing your supplies in such a way as to fit inside a grocery bag or backpack.

I have tried to provide a list of basic supplies that any painting student might use. Many of my returning students have already produced bodies of work using their own preferred materials and palette; if that applies to you, feel free to make substitutions. This list should be helpful for beginners.

Are you an intermediate or advanced student who likes the structure of a class, but want to work on your own projects? Do you enjoy feedback in a supportive and creative environment? The new Mentored Studies program is designed for you! Join a group of motivated peers for weekly painting sessions in which you complete work in progress, start new work, or develop new ideas, while mentored by a Gage teaching artist. The group will be led by a different Gage artist each quarter, starting with Jeffrey Simmons in Fall 2017. The four-hour format is designed for adequate in-class work time. Work sessions are supplemented by occasional readings, discussions, and critiques of your work.