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Starting Traditionally, Moving to Abstraction- Acrylic workshop
Dates:  April 22- 28, 2017
Location: Kanuga Conference Center, near Henderson, NC
Kate Bakko
Hours: 9:00 - 4:00
Cost: Check website for cost: (depends on lodging preference, etc.)     

Climb into the mind of an abstract artist! Karen has developed her own approach to thinking in an abstract manner, magically guiding artists to generate their own creative compositions using acrylics.  Starting with traditional subjects, she will lead a discussion on their simple shapes and ways to abstract them while developing a captivating design.  Using tools such as credit cards, brayers, brushes, sticks, rubber tools, Q-tips, and fingernails to get unusual marks on the surface of the paper, the class will be working all abstract by the end of the week, learning how to push colors to exciting levels.  Karen gives lots of individual help and believes that painting should be entertaining, enlivening exploration into the mystery of discovery, always expanding one’s creativity and imagination! The Kanuga Conference Center is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, close to Hendersonville, NC.  It’s a wonderful get away, where you can totally become immersed in your artwork, while meeting many other artists at the same time! Come join in the FUN!!!!  (Supply list below)

Supply List

Download as PDF:

Karen Knutson Acrylic workshop (Starting Traditionally, Moving to Abstraction)

  1. Acrylics:  My favorite colors are:


  • Nickel Azo Yellow

  • Titanium White

  • Carbon Black

  • Acra Magenta or Quinacridone Magenta

  • Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold

  • Cobalt Blue

  • Pyrrole Red

  • Yellow Ochre

  • Phthalo Blue (Red Shade)

  • Cerulean Blue Chromium

  • Hansa Yellow Medium

  • White Gesso


I use both heavy body acrylics (in tubes) and liquid acrylics (in bottles).  Just bring whatever you already have.  If you are investing in acrylics for the first time, my advice is to get liquid acrylics:  white, black, cobalt blue, pyrole red, quinacridone magenta, and hansa yellow.  Then go to Michaels and get whatever little bottled acrylics that you like.  They are really cheap and will be fun to play around with.  I enjoy the turquoise colored little bottles.

  1. Brushes.  If you already have oil painting brushes or acrylic brushes, bring those.  I use mainly 3 brushes:  1” flat, ½” flat, and #6 round.  Otherwise, I use a big 2 or 3” cheap brush for preparing the paper at the beginning. 

  2. 4 sheets Strathmore Aquarius II watercolor 80 lb. paper. Available from Cheap Joe’s:

  3. Wax paper for your palette or you can buy a disposable palette at the art store. 

  4. One bottle of Rubbing Alcohol (make sure it is 91% isopropyl alcohol, available at Walgreens)

  5. Face Mask if you have a sensitivity to rubbing alcohol.  We will be using this for wiping our light areas. (I have several of these to share with you.)

  6. Jumbo Cotton balls and Q-tips

  7. Water container (I use big Parkay tubs.  Some people use big ice cream buckets)

  8. Windex bottle (push button top) for spraying water.  Empty Windex out and put water in the bottle.  (You can usually find these at Holiday Gas Stations or convenience stores.) 

  9. Paper towels and/or Kleenex

  10. One Rubber painting shaper tool OR a rubber eraser that you can cut into a shaping tool. Available through Cheap Joes.

  1. Any special effects tools that you already have.  For instance, rubber stamps, or stamps that you have carved yourself. We will be stamping with very small rubber stamps, so if you have any circles or square rubber stamps, bring those. I have lots to share.

  2. One package of napkins for a napkin exchange.  Repetitive or tiny designed papers to use for collage.  Bring colored tissue paper also.  Napkins work great for collage also.  (think of checks or spots for the repetitive designs)

  3. If you like to collage, bring your favorite papers.  This will be an optional activity.

  4. Acrylic matte medium and (an old brush for applying it.  I use a 2” cheap brush.)

  5. White chalk or white Charcoal white pencil

  6. Wear layers, since sometimes it gets too hot for some or too cool for others.  Also, bring a protective apron, or wear old clothes.  Acrylic is hard to get out of clothing.

  7. Tracing paper and graphite paper

  8. Camera (optional)

  9. Notebook, pencil, and eraser

  10. Scissors and/or exacto knife

  11. Any gold or metallic acrylic paints that you already have.  I have some to share with you.

  12. ATG tape, or double stick tape.  Get the ones that are in small dispensers that are available at Michaels. 

  13. Clear small ruler (mine is 18”)

  14. Pebeo gold or copper Porcelaine outliner paint (in tube)  I got mine through the Cheap Joes catalog. 

  15. Gold Deco Foil and/or copper Deco foil.  You can buy your own at

  16. Any markers that you would like to embellish your paintings with.  I use gold, black and white mainly for the finishing touches.

  17. Old magazines or newspapers to use in collage.  (My favorite is Architectural Digest.)

  18. Reference photos for the first or second day.  Whatever you like to paint.  Flowers, people, animals, etc.  I will be doing a demonstration of a person done in silhouette. I love W magazine for reference photos of people.

  19. I will bring matte boards for cutting out our own stamps, but if you have access to scraps from a framer, bring those.  We only need 2 pieces about 6” x 6”.  

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