ARTS221 Beginning Painting, Anna Rose, Spring 2020 | SACI College of Art & Design Florence

ARTS221 Beginning Painting, Anna Rose, Spring 2020

Course Objectives

This course covers the foundations of oil painting for beginners. It is suitable for complete beginners as well as students with some painting experience who wish to reinforce and expand on key techniques and concepts. Through a combination of still life exercises, plein air studies, and figure painting, students will learn how to mix colors and handle their brushes to effectively render volume, light, shadow, perspective and proportion. In-class lectures and field trips will introduce key themes of painting throughout history and in contemporary art.

Guidelines and Grading

Students are evaluated on the following criteria: effort, improvement, proficiency and participation. Students must be actively engaged during class hours. To properly complete assignments, students are expected to work independently in the studio during non-class hours. Students should expect to dedicate at least 5-8 hours to independent work per week.

Grades are calculated based on the following:

  • In-class work: 30%
  • Homework assignments: 30%
  • Final Portfolio: 30%
  • Participation: 10%

Students will receive feedback from the instructor and each other on all assignments as well as a written evaluation after the Midterm assignment and the Final Critique. Students may request a meeting with the instructor to discuss assignments and/or progress at any point during the course.

Late assignments will not be accepted (unless related to an excused absence).

Laptops and cell phones are not allowed in class.

Graduate Students
Students in MFA, MA, and Post-Bac programs are expected to complete additional assignments and to produce work at a level appropriate for students in a graduate program. They are graded accordingly and, if they successfully complete all course requirements for graduate students, receive graduate-level credit for the course.


From the SACI Handbook: Class attendance is compulsory. Only absences owing to a documented illness or emergency are excused by the Assistant/Dean Registrar. Two unexcused absences result in a lowering of the grade by 1/3 of a letter. Two late arrivals to class are considered the equivalent of one unexcused absence. Students who do not stay for the duration of a class session will be marked absent. Students who miss more than 20% of a course due to unexcused absences will not receive a passing grade for the course.


Students should consider the following materials to be a starter kit for the course. During the semester students will purchase additional paints, brushes and canvases according to their work habits and preferences. Suggested art supply store: Zecchi (Via dello Studio 19, Florence)

Wooden or disposable paper palette (A4 size or bigger) – do not buy plastic

Fabriano tela painting pad – 30x40cm

Lightweight gessoed wood panels for oil painting – 20x30cm and 30x40cm

Stretched Canvas – 40x50cm or larger (this can be purchased later in the semester)

Palette knife

Brushes (brush numbers vary according to brand – this selection gives a range of small to large brushes)

  • Flat hog hair / Setola piatto size 24 and 10
  • Flat synthetic / Sintetico piatto size 14
  • Filbert hog hair / Setola lingua di gatto size 16
  • Fan brush / Ventaglio synthetico size 6
  • Round (synthetic) / Tondo sintetico size 14 and 6

Oil Paints

  • Titanium white (large tube – 140ml)
  • Raw Sienna (small tube 35ml)
  • Yellow Ochre (small tube 35ml)
  • Burnt Umber (small tube 35ml)
  • Lemon Yellow Hue (small tube 35ml)
  • Cadmium Yellow Medium (small tube 35ml)
  • Cadmium Red Hue (small tube 35ml)
  • Alizarin Crimson (small tube 35ml)
  • Ultramarine Blue (small tube 35ml)
  • Pthalo Blue (small tube 35ml)
  • Pthalo Green (small tube 35ml)

Linseed Oil – 125ml

Vegetable solvent – Solvente vegetale per pittura ad olio 250ml

Gum eraser

2B pencil

1 roll of masking tape

2 glass jars with lids


Week 1

MODULE 1: Still Life – Volumes and Values
January 14:
Introduction to the course and materials; introduction to still life painting; in class exercises
January 16: Still life studies with limited palette; introduction to value, light and shadow 

Homework for Week 2: Value Studies assignment

Week 2

Still life with limited palette -- Sticks and Stones
January 21:
Still life studies 
January 23: Field trip to Modern Art Gallery at Pitti Palace

Homework for Week 3: Still Life Painting 1 (limited palette)

Week 3

MODULE 2: Still Life and Color—Social media and the contemporary still life
January 28:
Introduction to Color, color mixing exercises
January 30: Still Life 2 

Homework for Week 4: Still Life 2

Week 4

Plastic Fantastic – Artificial, Imaginary and Bold
February 4:
Still life composition and exercises 
February 6: Still Life Painting 3

Homework for Week 5: Finish Still Life Painting 3

Week 5

MODULE 3: Drapery, Texture and Brushwork 
February 11:
Textiles and texture; drapery in art history, technical exercises
February 13: Begin Drapery Paintings 

Homework for Week 6: Drapery Paintings (due February 25)

Week 6

February 18: Work on Drapery Paintings
February 20: Work on Drapery Paintings

Homework for Week 7: Drapery Paintings (due February 25)

Week 7

Anatomy Studies
February 25:
Introduction to the figure, drawing exercises
February 27: Midterm critiques and in-class challenge



Week 8

MIDTERM BREAK (February 29 - March 8)



Week 9

Figure – Anatomy, Color and Composition
March 10:
Working from the model (Figure study 1)
March 12: Working from the model (Figure study 2)

Homework for Week 10: Anatomy exercise

Week 10

March 17: Working from the model (Figure painting 1)
March 19: Working from the model (Figure painting 1)

Homework for Week 10: Complete Figure painting 1

Week 11

March 24: Working from the model (Figure painting 2)
March 26: Working from the model (Figure painting 2)

Homework for Week 12: Complete Figure painting 2

Week 12

March 31:
Working from the model (Figure painting 3)
April 2: Working from the model (Figure painting 3)

Homework for Week 13: Complete Figure Painting 3, Begin work on Self-portrait

Week 13

MODULE 5: Working On-site – Landscapes, Challenges and Solutions
April 7:
On-site landscape (trees and plants) – Color palette exercises
April 9: On-site landscape (trees and plants)

Homework for Week 14: Complete landscape

Week 14

Figure – Refining your style
April 14:
On-site landscape (sky and water)
April 16: On-site landscape (sky and water)

Homework for Week 15: Final Portfolio (including self-portrait)

Week 15

Final Critiques
April 21:
Individual critiques
April 23: Individual critiques

General Safety & Emergency Instructions

Click here for a pdf of SACI's General Safety & Emergency Instructions.

Additional Safety & Studio Rules

It is essential that care and attention is taken in regards to studio practice.  This will be addressed the first week of classes. But beyond rules and safety and health issues it is necessary to point out the importance of maintaining a certain order in the studio for the sake of all the students in the classes that utilize the space.  At the end of class put your materials away and paintings off the easels and into the storage shelves.

Air-Exchange System
When working in the ground floor studios an air-exchange system can be utilized for maintaining proper ventilation and extraction of undesirable fumes and odors. The control panel is located on the wall opposite of the stairway between the printmaking and painting studios. 

There are also skylight panels, which can be opened and closed using switches located in the small sky-lit studio off of the main painting studio, another on the wall next to the stairs going into the basement storage area, and also in the studio with skylights off of the main lecture hall.  

Disposal of Materials
Do not ever throw used solvents, thick washes, acrylic mediums, etc. down the sink.  Do not leave half-filled jars or containers of turps, mediums, or varnishes around in the studio.  Small metal disposable containers for this use are supplied by the painting department.  Pour out only what you need, and throw away the residue.  There is a special disposal barrel for this located just to the right of the sink in the painting studio.  The same goes for throwing out saturated rags or paper towels.  The disposal barrel for these materials is in the printmaking studio next to the plate cleaning tank.

Storage Area

Painting surfaces can be stored in the vertical niches located on the ground floor in front of the sink.   Lockers can be claimed for use by putting your name, semester, and class on a piece of tape onto the locker door.  They are located just off the Clayton Hubbs Lecture Hall.

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