Teaching Abstraction to Manchester Arts (Photos and Student Work)

Teaching Abstraction to Manchester Arts (Photos and Student Work)

Into to Abstraction to Manchester Arts

Yesterday I taught Intro to Abstraction at the Manchester Art Association. I had fifteen students in an excellent room in a local church. This was basically the first day of my three day workshop, and there were a mix of media students were using: acrylics, pastels, and watercolors, mostly.

As usual, the students stepped out of their comfort zones and learned more than they could immediately assimilate. This was the first foray into abstraction for most of these people. Ideally, in a three day workshop, students have a longer arc for their learning, and it builds more slowly. Hopefully these students will apply what they learned yesterday and return for part 2 being offered next fall.

I love encouraging students to trust their own authenticity, to rely on basic principles as a framework for their endless creativity, and to follow that still small voice within themselves that knows what is the next step. When learning vocabulary with which to analyze their paintings they are better equipped to give their paintings what they need.

Feedback from the students included appreciation for the endless permission slip I gave them, and feeling more free and comfortable experimenting. They stated that they enjoyed thinking differently and more playfully. One student’s delight at using her non-dominant hand for the first time was priceless! And I loved the relieved comment that abstraction is not at all scary after all!

In this post you can check out the photos I took of the class, along with some of their work. A lot was going on and I missed photographing some of the work, particularly at the end, but this is a representative sample.

I pour myself into these classes, like water on thirsty, budding plants. It is fun to see the ah- ha moments that spur individual growth!




































I work to amplify good wherever I find it. I love color, texture, beauty, great ideas, nature, metaphor, deliciousness, genuine spirituality, and exploring new territory. I encourage authenticity, nurture creativity, champion sustainability, promote peace, and hope to foster a new renaissance where we all are free to be our most fulfilled, multifaceted, and terrific selves. Read more here.


  1. Joyce Alluan Ades 11 months ago

    Amazing work…amazing teacher!

  2. John+gregory 11 months ago

    I need to get back to this.

    • Author
      Polly Castor 11 months ago

      Yes. Don’t let it go!

  3. Carolyn Emerson 11 months ago

    What a lovely wrap-up to a super workshop taught by a very special person. Thank you again, Polly. Can’t wait for the Fall version.

    • Carolyn Emerson 11 months ago

      What a lovely wrap-up to a super workshop taught by a very special person. Thank you again, Polly. Can’t wait for the Fall version.

  4. Sue Krevitt 11 months ago

    ART … simply…fascinates me, re the…phenomenon of it…what drives humans in this need to
    express… in all ways Art? I know when I am moving my paintbrush around my
    Arches 140# Cold Press paper in an attempt to “achieve”… something…I’m not clear what, yet,
    but listening….I hear Simon Sinek’s words, (he’s one of TED’s top 10 most popular Speakers): “Getting to
    Why.” I must know the Why of my efforts as a budding artist. I do know my art is a form of meditating for me,
    of listening in a more focused manner than rushing about my house and garden in the opposite format!
    I want to hear, to learn, in…partnership with The Creative One that I believe motivates us in all…right activities.

    Anyway, thank you ONCE AGAIN, Polly, for sharing. I love seeing these people at work with…their Soul!


  5. Brian G 11 months ago

    The beauty of abstract art – simple or intricate – is that while the vision of the artist and the viewer can be entirely different, the palpable joy of creation, expression, and thanks can be immediately discerned. I feel the joy first, and then I start to ponder the work.

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