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Color, Composition, Contemplation
a year-long, low-residency course in 4 week-long sessions
In 2019-2020 Free Columbia will offer a series of week-long intensives in the basic lawfulness of color and composition. What is it to devote ourselves to something? What happens when we give our attention using artistic practice? Does our work open up and develop in unexpected directions? How can we enter the realm of qualities and create here? How can we work with text, poetry, contemplation?
Using many media including watercolor, charcoal, ink, block printing, poetry, and surface collage we will explore these questions together.
For years people have told us that they wished they could come to the painting course at Free Columbia but they could not move to New York for a full time year. This course is an attempt to meet this need. There will be a series of four week-long intensives. We will explore and exercise our capacities in the quality realm. How is blue different from red? How much weight is needed to balance the painting? How can we translate from word to color? This course is open to both experienced and new painters. We will work together for a week and then work further at home for the intervening 3 months. Then we will reconvene and see what has happened. The course will include art observation and field trips as we develop our community of artists. 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 during the year. Enrollment is limited to 8 people. Tuition is on a sliding scale.

For more information visit or contact Laura Summer at or (518) 672-7302.


Some impressions from Alison Fox, a student in the 2018-2019 course

"I came to the Free Columbia low-residency course in September with a love of painting and color. I wanted to learn more about the feeling and mood of color and thought it would be advantageous to learn more about watercolors as a medium. I thought Laura might able to teach me these things. 
"What I learned has been far greater than the sum of these parts. Laura Summer led a group of us in a training so ripe for a personal encounter with the quality realm that I find myself with what feels like painting as a spiritual practice. Spiritual in that I am able to connect to and have a relationship with color that is immaterial. My time at Free Columbia helped me form this capacity to listen to and experience color and composition in this deep way. 
"The low-residency course at Free Columbia has been full of learning situations made for exploring and strengthening these color capacities.  

"One of the first exercises we did was an all blue painting built up through washes of Windsor blue. 
"The initial round of washes was barely perceptible. Paint dishes were filled mostly with water and just a swipe through of pigment. We alternated between laying down a wash and then drying the painting.  

"The process took time, it took patience, and it engaged with the unknown and was thoroughly a new experience for me.  Color in the past has always been something I enjoyed using but until now I never took this much time getting to know blue.

"I enjoyed bringing my large Masonite board with the beautiful paper attached over to the wood burning fireplace to dry between washes. Standing by the fireplace meant getting warm, admiring the progress on my own and others' paintings, and sharing the joys and struggles of getting to know blue in this way. 
"We spoke quietly to each other. Some of us made toast. We got to know each other and the color blue in this slow and steady way.  By the end of the first week of the low-residency I felt a deeper knowing of blue, a relationship that had built over the course of the week. I felt a capacity for learning and painting that is quieter and takes time. I also felt myself as part of a community of others. People who wanted to engage their sensitivity, who wanted to train, through painting, to encounter the deep, beautiful, and diverse qualities of the life we are part of."

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