The Responsive Eye: An Introduction to Abstraction

Abstraction for Beginners

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The Responsive Eye

Discover the art and techniques of Abstraction with Melbourne artist Narelle Desmond!

Drawing on a range of styles and influences, this practical one-day workshop explores diverse approaches to abstraction developed from the 1950’s to today. The methods and techniques you will experiment with will give you a range of skills and confidence to create your own finished artworks throughout the day and beyond. 

The workshop includes an introduction to abstract artists and examples relevant to the techniques being demonstrated. All materials and morning/afternoon tea are supplied.

 Techniques covered include:

• selecting a colour palette 

• blending colours and working with swatches
• How to create gradients

• Afterimages
• How to create hard edges 

• How to paint curves

Narelle Desmond is a multidisciplinary visual artist, a member of DAMP art collective, a graphic designer and an arts educator who currently lives and works in Melbourne

Narelle’s solo practice explores the physical properties of a broad range of materials through an examination of objects. Through aesthetic and conceptual considerations of object making, she considers how the function of objects can be manipulated and the broader context of materials themselves. Narelle recently held a solo show, Smart Objects Awkward Relations, at Caves Gallery in Melbourne and her work is currently on show as part of Unfinished Business: perspectives on feminism and art at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art.

As a founding member of artist group DAMP, Narelle’s practice also centres strongly around collaboration.
Working together in various forms since the late 90’s, DAMP have produced an oeuvre of performances, videos, installations and sculptural artworks. DAMP’s works have addressed the relationships between art and audiences in thought provoking and unexpected ways. Reflecting directly on the nature of collaboration, DAMP engages ideas surrounding audience engagement and cultural exchange. Significant exhibitions include Art holds a high place in my life 2016 at Monash University Museum of Art curated by Rosemary Forde, Art as a Verb in 2016 and 2014 at Artspace Sydney and Monash University Museum of Art, Bristol Biennal 2012 in Bristol, UK and the Asia Pacific Triennale 2010 at the Gallery of Modern Art, Queensland Art Gallery.

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What you will learn
  • Practical techniques for creating abstract work
  • How to select colour palettes
  • Ways to generate ideas
What you will get
  • Methods and techniques to make your own finished artworks
  • All materials required for the day
  • Morning and afternoon tea

What to bring
  • All materials are provided however a small notebook may be useful
What to wear

Your own apron, art smock or painting shirt.

Appropriate for

Beginners and more advanced art students, some drawing skill an advantage but not necessary


Fitzroy Painting

Vendor since 2013


We are contactable by email during this time, and will reschedule all classes once we know when we can reopen.

About us: Established in 2009 and based on the top floor of a Victorian heritage building overlooking bustling Brunswick Street, Fitzroy Painting for Beginners is the original and best of private art classes in Fitzroy!  A working artists studio, the space provides a great environment to develop your painting and drawing skills with the expert support and guidance of highly qualified teachers and full-time professional artists.

Our 4 - week beginners courses in oil painting, drawing and watercolours are designed for the complete beginner, taking you through a series of exercises and building your skills week by week. Students may choose to continue to our Beginners Course: Level 2. Ongoing students are supported to help develop their own direction, with optional exercises offered to expand on skills and knowledge, and our Atelier students are assisted in taking it to the next level in professional practice.

Love the class? All students wishing to extend their course may purchase 4 or 8 - week blocks for ongoing students at a discounted rate. Some of our students have gone on to Higher Education courses and are now exhibiting professionally!

Need to miss a class? We understand busy lives and offer flexibility - just let us know in advance and we'll credit you a class. (Maximum of 2 changes per 8 weeks, ongoing students only).

Evening classes include wine and cheese, and morning classes include tea, coffee and cakes. Classes run for 3 hours and basic equipment is available for student use at the studio, including easels, aprons, palettes and drawing boards. We believe in safe studio-practice and provide low-toxic, low-odour materials for student use, as well as high-quality clean-up materials for brushes and hands. We also have storage facilities if you wish to keep your materials at the studio.

Each student works at their own pace and receives one-on-one attention, and all students are invited to exhibit in our annual end of year exhibition, a fun opportunity to show family and friends what you’ve been doing!

Visit our website for more info and pictures of student work.

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Refund & Cancellation Policy

Course refund policy:

  • There is no charge to transfer you to another course or workshop at a later date with 30 days notice.
  • A 50% refund will be given for cancellations up to 10 days before the course commencement date.
  • No refund will be given after 10 days before the course commencement date. 
  • No make-up classes can be offered for our beginners courses.
  • Please note there is a $30 administration fee on all refunds.
  • COVID-19 UPDATE: Should a course booked need to be postponed a credit voucher will be issued  and the class or workshop rescheduled.

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Terms & Conditions

Bookings and class cancellations policy: 

Due to the high demand for classes and small number of places available in our 4-week beginners course and workshops, Fitzroy Painting is unable to swap, substitute or offer ‘make-up’ classes. Full details can be found on our refund policy. 

Ongoing students please contact us if you are unable to attend a class. Absences without notification will forfeit the full class/course fee and receive no credit.

Should Fitzroy Painting be forced to cancel a class students will be notified as soon as possible prior to the scheduled class and will receive a credit voucher for a replacement class, course or workshop.

Collection of work and materials left at the studio: Please understand that our storage capacity is extremely limited.  Beginners work and painting kits will only be retained for one month after which they will be disposed of.  Ongoing students may store their materials in the shelving provided at the studio. 

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10 December 2019 • The Responsive Eye: An Introduction to Abstraction

This workshop was informative and great fun. Provided a good grounding to get started on abstract painting.