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A Part


Sonoma State University



Course Level

I use this in Beginning Painting. It could be used in Intermediate Painting and Foundations classes as well.


Conversation points for instructors

This project is a fun assignment for students who have achieved some technical skills but maybe aren’t yet able to settle on an image concept or narrative quickly. By having a visual prompt to build from, this project is designed to energize students and spark curiosity and active invention.


Please Note: To begin this assignment, students are given access to a collection of 5 sections of artworks from contemporary painters through Canvas. Student paintings in this assignment become part artist copy but also part their own invention. I do not share the names of the artworks or the artists they have to work from until after the critique. In doing so, I offer students more creative agency and ownership over how they choose to develop the areas that extend from the master work they are copying from.


Project Prompt / Challenge

For this assignment you are challenged to use your new found painting skills to create a painting building from a part of another artist’s work in a creative way.



First, review the parts of works that have been collected for this class and choose which part of another’s work will serve as your jumping off point.


Next, you will copy this chosen part in one area of your canvas, but finish the painting by extending your painted imagery out from it in any way you want. Focus on your use of color, value, and the visual implications of your added form. Ensure that transitions between your imagery and theirs isn’t distracting to viewers.  Enjoy the freedom of adding to this unknown source image. After critique, the artworks and artists these parts come from will be revealed.

Celeste Dupuy Spencer .jpg
Celeste A part.png

Example of artwork by Celeste Dupuy-Spencer and 'part' shared with students for this project.


Students will need a canvas, paint brushes and a good palette of paint.  In my classes I use:

Indian Red Ivory

Black Light Red 

Naples Yellow  

Cadmium Red 

Cadmium Yellow 

Cerulean Blue Hue  

French Ultramarine Blue 

Permanent Alizarin Crimson

Titanium White  

Yellow Ochre 


I have students spend three 3 hour class periods on this assignment including group critique.


Student Examples:



Any contemporary painter would be a good choice, but my classes have enjoyed working from Celeste Dupuy-Spencer, Henry Taylor, & Marlene Dumas

Additional Tips: 

I meet with each student individually in breakout groups of 4 of 5 students. We all contribute to the discussion of form - how the student is addressing formal issues, and content - how the student is addressing the creative aspects in their painting.


This assignment has been very successful and students really enjoyed it.  Students also suggested that I assign all students the same part of the same painting so that during the critique they can all see each student’s individual response.

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