ARTS324 Intermediate Painting - Section A, Kenneth Spirduso, Summer I 2019 | SACI College of Art & Design Florence

ARTS324 Intermediate Painting - Section A, Kenneth Spirduso, Summer I 2019

Course Objectives

Welcome to Florence and SACI! This painting class will focus on figure, portrait and landscape painting. We will work from the live model in the studio and venture out into Florence to do studies of sculptures, to study great works of painting, and to paint landscapes.

Below is a list of materials, guidelines and policies.

Course Emphasis

The focus of this painting course is on observational painting, with an emphasis on capturing the light, form, color, edges, and anatomy of the subject. We will cover master techniques, like those found in the museums and churches in Florence, as well as more modern techniques that emphasize spontaneous brushwork. Whether painting from the model or a landscape, students will be instructed on how to observe and record tone, color, form, and shape with accuracy and feeling.

Important Guidelines

Studying in a beautiful and historic city like Florence is a wonderful and unique experience; however, it will take effort to maintain a focus on your academic and artistic work while still enjoying the experience of living in Florence.

A Note on Laptops, I-Pods, Mp3s, Walkman Personal Stereos, etc.

What a great invention! Every person can practically have a concert hall on his/ her head. Music has always been a companion to the creative artist. But be aware of some of its negative aspects. These devices have the tendency of isolating one from everything else around. It’s needless to say what implications this has in the classroom. Students have often said how much they have learned, not only from the teacher, but from their peers as well; from discussions and comments made to students next to them. Get the most you can out of interaction with the people around you. Don’t live in a “bubble!” An alternative can be the use of a class CD player. It is strictly forbidden to use laptops for conferencing, E-mailing, or surfing on the internet for anything not having to do with class work (i.e., hotel reservations, train tickets, etc.). Cell phones must be turned off before entering the classroom.

Grading and Attendance

Grading is based on attendance, effort, improvement, and proficiency.

Attendance: Class attendance is an important factor in the SACI. Attendance means more than attending class. It means coming on time, not leaving early or taking long breaks. It also means being “mentally present!”

Effort: Painting is a difficult task and requires a determined focus that doesn’t quit, even if the current painting is a struggle.

Improvement: Students will be graded on their improvement, from the time they entered the course to the time they finish.

Proficiency: Level of competence at which students arrived and how students increased the level of proficiency.

Final Grade: will be based on the above criteria as well as the student’s overall attitude and willingness to learn.

Students enrolled at SACI through Bowling Green State University: Final grades can only be submitted as A, B, C, D, or F. There are no pluses or minuses.

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.

Materials for Painting

Oil Color
Below is a list of main palette colors. It includes warm and cool versions of yellow, red, blue, and green, as well as Van Dyck Brown and Titanium White. With these oil colors, students should be able to mix most colors they see in a subject, whether in a portrait or landscape.

In addition to the main palette, there are colors that are often used and can be very helpful to have on a palette.

Students need to have the colors in the main palette and have the option of using the additional colors

(You may substitute Cadmium Hue or Cobalt Hue, which are student substitutes for the actual cadmium and cobalt colors. In general, student oil colors are acceptable for the painting course.)

Main Palette:

  • Cadmium Yellow Pale or Light
  • Cadmium Yellow Deep
  • Cadmium Red Light
  • Alizarin Crimson Permanent
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Cobalt Blue or Cerulean Blue
  • Viridian
  • Sap Green
  • Van Dyck Brown
  • Titanium White

Additional Colors (Optional)

  • Yellow Ochre
  • Burnt Sienna or Transparent Red Iron Oxide
  • Dioxazine Purple

Flake White or Lead White should be avoided, since it is toxic, Gamblin’s Lead White Replacement, or Winsor Newton’s Flake White Hue can be used instead.

Optional Water-based Color for Landscape Painting
We will be painting on location in and around Florence, and students have the option of using a water-based medium for the landscape portion of the class. Gouache or watercolor can be used in place of oil ONLY for the landscape portion of the course.

A water-based palette should consist of the main colors listed above. (Some variation is acceptable; many watercolor kits come with colors similar to those listed above; however students do not have to have exactly the same colors as those listed above.)

Painting Surfaces
Students will need painting surfaces for both in-class portraits and on-location landscapes.

For oil painting, students can use any of the following:

  • Canvas Paper, such as Strathmore 300 Series Canvas Paper-16” x 20”
  • Canvas Boards-sizes 6”x 8” and 8” x 10” for landscape painting (at least two of each size); 12” x 16” for portrait painting (at least four of this size).

For students using water-based media for landscape painting:

  • Watercolor block or watercolor sketchbook. (Paper should be thick enough to accept water without buckling. 180lb paper at least).

For oil painting, students can choose from a variety of brushes. An assortment of brush sizes, including 1, 2, 4, 6. Students will mainly need bristle brushes but can also use softer brushes, such as synthetics and sables. Below is a list of brushes students can use:

  • Round: good for detail when using the point, or for large block-ins when using the side.
  • Flats or Brights: good for a chiseled approach that carves the form.
  • Filberts: combine the round tip of the round brush with the flat body of the bright or flat. Good for blocking in, detail and drawing with the brush.

For water-based paints, students can use a smaller number of brushes. Round and flat brushes, either sables or synthetic brushes, will suffice.

A disposable palette for both painting in the studio and on-location is most convenient.

  • Choose either a 9” x 12” or a 12” x 16”

Painting Medium
For travel purposes, a quick-drying medium is best. Below are three good options:

  • Winsor Newton Liquin (Original)
  • M. Graham Walnut Oil Alkyd Medium
  • Gamblin Galkyd Medium

Solvents/Brush Cleaning
Students will need a brush cleaner to use while painting, as well as a one to clean brushes when the painting session has ended.

  • M. Graham Walnut Oil: excellent as a brush cleaner and medium (although it will slow down the drying process). This is non-toxic.
  • Mineral Spirits, Terp, or Gamblin’s Gamsol (none of the products can be brought on the plane).
  • Brush soap-either bar soap or Master’s Brush Cleaner
  • Small bottle of Murphy’s Oil Soap (this is an excellent brush cleaner and will get oil color out of clothes.)

Misc. Supplies

  • Sketchbook with toned paper (either brown or gray)
  • Charcoal pencil-both black and white
  • Kneaded eraser
  • Blending stump
  • Palette Knife (pack in checked luggage)
  • Palette cups for medium and solvents
  • Pochade box or painting box for oils (only for students painting in oil on-location
  • Small camera tripod (optional-usually used with Pochade box).
  • Small camp stool (optional-used instead of tripod. Painter sits with Pochade box in lap).
  • Watercolor or Gouache kit with palette (only for students who choose to use water-based pain for landscapes.)
  • Paper towels or painting rags.


Monday, May 20
1:00-2:00 pm

Introduction and syllabus. Brief explanation and demo of head drawing (possibly using plaster cast bust if available) and discussing proportions, planes, edges, plumb lines, comparative measurements, and shapes.

2:30-6:30 pm
Class will then walk to Loggia dei Lanzi in Piazza della Signoria to draw from sculptures, focusing on heads and the topics covered in the studio.

Wednesday, May 22
1:00-3:30 pm

Students will visit Bargello Museum to sketch and study busts.

4:00-6:30 pm
Studio: Students will return to the studio to begin painting a monochrome study in oil from a model.

Friday, May 24
1:00-3:30 pm

Students will visit Medici Chapel-sketch and study busts and sculptures.

4:00-6:30 pm
Studio: Students will return to the studio and continue painting a monochrome study in oil from same model from May 22.

Monday, May 27
1:00-2:00 pm

Demo-applying glazes and half-pastes to underpainting from same model from May 22, 24.

2:00-6:30 pm
Students paint from the model, adding color to their underpaintings using limited palette.

Wednesday, May 29
1:00-3:30 pm

Visit Brancacci Chapel Frescoes/Chiesa di Santa Maria del Carmine . Study composition. Figures. Color. Solidity. Do sketches.

4:00-6:30 pm
Students finish applying color to painting. (Students can work on a small head study if finished with previous painting.). Same model from May 22, 24, 27.

Friday, May 31
1:00 pm

Visit Uffizi Gallery

? pm
Students return for critique of first studio portrait.

Monday, June 3
Plein air painting at the Casine Park.
Demo for landscape painting.
Students begin to work on Alla Prima technique.

Wednesday, June 5
1:00-7:00 pm

Landscape Painting trip to Fiesole (Students take #7 bus from San Marco).
Discussion on color, composition, tone, and drawing with paint.

Friday, June 7
1:00-3:30 pm

Painting the portrait using Alla Prima method with limited palette. New model.
Students begin painting.

4:15 pm
Visit Galleria dell'Accademia. Study paintings, portraits, compositions. Do sketches.

Monday, June 10
1:00-6:30 pm

Continue painting the portrait using Alla Prima method with limited palette. Same model from June 7.

Wednesday, June 12
1:00-7:00 pm

Landscape painting trip to Giardino di Boboli.
Visit Pitti Palace Palatine Museum, study and sketch artwork.

Friday, June 14
1:00-6:30 pm

Painting the portrait using Alla Prima method with full palette. New model.

Monday, June 17
1:00-6:30 pm

Continue painting the portrait using Alla Prima method with full palette. Same model from June 14.

Wednesday, June 19
1:00-7:00 pm

Landscape painting in city garden (Giardino Torrigiani or Bardini Villa and Garden).

Friday, June 21
1:00-7:00 pm

Group and individual critiques. Dismiss class.

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.

this page