Low Residency Work in the Elements of Painting

with Laura Summer

low residency work in the elements of painting

A series of week-long intensives in the basic lawfulness of color and composition

We will explore and exercise our capacities in the quality realm. If you are interested in painting and wonder how to take your work beyond your own expression, into the realm of conversation with the elements of two dimensions, you are welcome to apply. If you have been painting for years and long for enlivening dialogue with other painters, or if you are a beginner, but you’re fascinated and committed to this work of learning through artistic process, you are welcome to apply.

The four sessions will be held in November, February, April and July. There will be individual work to do between sessions and the studio at Free Columbia will be available for use during the year.


The tuition for the low residency course is $3,200 for the year. No one will be turned away for financial reasons, a sliding scale is available. After you are accepted you will be asked what you can contribute.

Course dates for 2019/20

Four week-long sessions: November, February, April, and July.

Some thoughts about the course:

When I was a student in painting school I was given cloud studies as an assignment. Sitting on the lawn, gazing at the sky, trying to capture on paper the form language of the clouds, I had a major realization - God is much better at composition than I am. The natural world is filled with interesting, dynamic, coherent and incoherent harmony, vastly more interesting than what I can draw when I think of cloud, or tree or stone. As a painter I wondered how can I harvest some of this vast harmony and have it inform my work? So started the past 30 years of struggling to bring what is behind the world, what creates the world, out onto the canvas. It is never completely successful, but it is ever more and more a fascinating exploration.

 The world of two dimensions worked with by the painter is lawful. Color is lawful, as is line, surface and composition. How can we learn to respect this lawfulness while at the same time playing in its realm? Blue is a reality that has a certain quality, it makes me feel a certain way. When I put it next to red something very specific happens that is different than if I put it next to yellow or black. How can the painter develop a sensitivity to feel this lawfulness and at the same time be in a state of experimentation and dialogue. Where is the realm that exists between expressionism, (it’s all about what I want to say), and impressionism, (it’s all about what is outside me). We can not only find this realm, we can live there as painters, and be continuously nourished and inspired by moving between the polarity of self and other.

 How do we do it ? By patiently exercising our perceptive capacities while painting and drawing. By painting blue and adding red, then painting blue and adding yellow. By comparing these feelings, locating the realm of quality within me. Where do these feelings live? Then bringing these feeling capacities to my work. For me it’s not about what I want to tell the world, but it’s also not about what blue wants to tell the world, it’s about my conversation with blue and what is said there. My conversation will be different from yours, just as my conversation with my neighbor over the fence about how to grow sweet peas in the sun, will be different from yours with that same neighbor from the shady side of her yard. Both conversations hold the potential of interest.

 So I wonder if there are other people who want to explore these things? At Free Columbia we have experimented with many forms of teaching and now in 2019/20 we will again explore low residency intensives. What happens when a group of people come together a few times a year to explore painting together? What changes in my work because I see yours? What aspects of the Royal Art, as Rudolf Steiner called the art of working together socially, can inform our painting? It seems like it is all about listening, learning to perceive the other.

 Experimenting with new forms is always challenging and so it is the perfect activity for artists, for artists stand always on the edge, sensing the vast discomfort and the exhilarating strength of the unknown. My question is can we work here together, find new forms and help each other forward?

Laura Summer