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"What is Contemporary Art?" Assignment for "Painting and Alternative Methods" Course

 The Purpose of "What is Contemporary Art?"Assignment:

1) Develop independent research skills 

2) Become aware of contemporary art books and journals at the Architecture/Fine Arts Library and elsewhere.

3) Create a dialogue among classmates that clarifies and deciphers between imagery and objects that convey clichés and substantial thematic content

4) Assist students in clarifying current artwork that represents innovative contemporary ideas. Innovation occurs either through a visually interesting and unusually new use of materials or a new context has been created for an idea, message, image or object, or there is a combination of some or all of these mentioned points. As well, contemporary work often challenges people’s value systems.

Homework Assignment: Due Tuesday, Sept 19 (Not graded)
The Contemporary Art Assignment will require the following 4 components that can be presented on screen in the classroom or printed and pinned to the wall:

1) Cliché Image (or an object) with an optional 50 words of text explaining why the example is the selected Cliché Image Typically, the selected image is an overused image,  symbol or narrative seen often. (4 x 5 minimum size if printed)  

2) Reproduction of a 2-D Work, 3-D Work, or Installation with Thematic Content (Metaphor or Symbolism)
The thematic content should have substance and or poetic layering. Describe the thematic content in the chosen example with an optional 50 words of text explaining the Thematic Content.  Image 4 x 5 minimum size if printed)

3) Example of Contemporary Art Describe the contemporary content and or ideas in the chosen example with an optional 50 words of text explaining the contemporary ideas in the work. Image (4 x 5 minimum size if printed)

4) Be prepared to speak about the three image choices as to why Image 1 is cliché and the thematic content presented in Image 2, and discuss the example of contemporary art in Image 3.

If it is easier to speak about the three chosen examples in a 150-word typed explanation, you may do that instead (50 words for each category) presented along with the three image choices. 

Note: Try to have Images that correlate with the verbal presentation or optional text clearly.

This assignment will require research in the Architecture Fine Arts Library, or in some cases, you may go online to do the research to find examples.

Note: If two or more people have chosen the same imagery or object, both people will have to find an alternative source. Students should check with each other during class to ensure no duplication. An online list on UM Learn will indicate images and artist(s) students have selected.

Assignment 1: Anthropomorphic Object (Option A) or Morphing Objects (Option B)

For Assignment 1 there is the choice of doing 1 of the following 2 Options: 

Anthropomorphic Object (Option 1)  


Morphing one object into another object (Option 2) 

Note: For this assignment people should be working from an image or an object for Option 1 or for Option 2 should be referencing 2 images or 2 objects.

Anthropomorphic Object Assignment in Space (Option 1) 

1) Select an object that that has  anthropomorphic (human expressive) characteristics and create a complex and interesting painting that creates a spatial context (representational space) for your chosen anthropomorphic object.

2) Painting that is 2 x 3 feet

3) Keep in mind the anthropomorphic expressive effect or presence in the object should be derived primarily by the pictorial depiction and visual manipulation of the object in the painting due to lighting, shadows, angle of view and overall visual interpretation of the object.

Evaluation Criteria for Anthropomorphic Object in Space (Option 1) 

Formal Content 70% Characteristics of how you paint the anthropomorphic object in the representational space will be the main criteria (formal criteria includes lighting, progressions of space, strategic use of soft to sharp edges, high to low contrast, detail to no detail, and interesting use of composition in each stage of morphing painted objects.

Thematic Content 20%  Secondary criteria that that is not as important as the Formal characteristics but you should bring Thematic content into the assignment as well.

Connecting Formal Content with Thematic Content 10%  How does your formal content and processes in the painting reinforce the thematic content in the work?

Photography Examples of Anthropomorphic Objects in Space:

Morphing Objects (Option 2)

1) Use 2 objects (or images of 2 clearly photographed objects) [If you choose images make sure the objects in both images have volume as demonstrated in examples].

2) Depict 1 Object transforming/morphing into another Object. There should be at minimum of 4 painted objects in between the object you begin with and the object you conclude with. In total here should be at least 6 painted objects. The transition from 1 image (morphed object) to the next should be gradual so the 6 stages of each painting are consistent within the sequence of transformations.

3) Painting that is 2 x 3 feet or each of the 6 painted objects should be on 6 individual panels that are a minim of 12 x 12 inches minimum in dimension. 

4) Select objects or images that will offer you complex and interesting transformations. Your selection of each object is important because the selection will allow for interesting morphing/transitions from one object to the next.

5) Select objects/images that are different from each other and try to set up some visual polemics.
For example:
-one object could have organic shape while the other object is geometric in shape
-one object could have texture while the other object is reflective and smooth
-one object could be transparent (like glass) while the other object is opaque (you can not see through it)


Evaluation Criteria for Morphing Objects (Option 2):

Formal Content 70% Characteristics of how you paint the morphing objects will be the main criteria (formal criteria includes lighting, progressions of space, strategic use of soft to sharp edges, high to low contrast, detail to no detail, and interesting use of composition in each stage of morphing painted objects.

Thematic Content 20%  Secondary criteria that that is not as important as the Formal characteristics but you should bring Thematic content into the assignment as well.

Connecting Formal Content with Thematic Content 10%  How does your formal content and processes in the painting reinforce the thematic content in the work?

Examples of Morphing Objects (from drawing course):

Assignment 2: Digital Dyptych Painting Assignment

Digital Dyptych Painting Assignment:


Diptych is an artwork consisting of 2 picture planes or 2 panels/canvases (2 surfaces), that together create a singular artwork. These 2 physical surfaces can be attached together or presented as an illusion of 2 panels joined to each other.


Digital component of work could include printing on canvas and integrating paint mediums with printed canvas. This would include painting on digitally printed surfaces, or collaging parts (or fragments) of printed canvas on painted surfaces.


Is the seam/dividing edges between the 2 painted picture planes created with paint, or physically done with 2 separate painted canvas surfaces?


Have 1 or more elements (shape or line) cross over the threshold (seam) of the 2 panels. Use these elements as accessories that connect the 2 panels and unify the 2 panels as a whole work, but still allow the panels to operate as autonomous pictorial spaces with the seam still being maintained to emphasize the diptych painting. Process of revising and editing could include the visual fight back and forth between the edge and the element(s) that cross over the seam.


Another approach to incorporating digital aesthetics and methods into the diptych painting is that 1 of the picture planes could have a monitor with video or animation integrated into 1 of the 2 picture planes. This is only an option and does not require video to be part of the work.



Collectively the Diptych painting must be at least 24 x 36 inches in size. (of course the work could be larger than those required minimum dimensions)


The ratio of the seam having a split between the 2 surfaces could range from the dividing seem of the 2 surfaces being 50/50 % (entire work split exactly in half) to being split approximately 65/35 % (one 3rd with two 3rds ratio)




Integrate some form of print out of something you have created digitally.

As always document working process each day particularly if most of the digital print out gets covered with paint.


Artists to Research

Some contemporary examples of artists working with a type of diptych aesthetic in the work include Janet Werner (Montreal) and Robert Longo (NYC). There are other contemporary artists working with Diptychs and numerous historical artists working with Diptychs.





Dyptych Painting Assignment Objectives

Variation of elements in subject matter from 1 surface to the next. Consider and develop interesting formal and conceptual juxtapositions of content from 1 surface to the other. Collectively how do the 2 panels work together in unity, but at the same time offer diversity and uniqueness within the separate areas of the 2 surfaces.




Dyptych Painting Polemics

(Polemics to juxtapose with the 2 separate panels)


o   Representational imagery vs. abstraction


o   Text vs exclusively visual/optical


o   Thick textural application of materials vs. thin and smooth


o   Printed matter (digitally or screen-printed elements on canvas) vs. hand painted elements


o   Imagery from Observation vs. Imagery from Technology, Media and Popular Culture


o   Different surfaces such as: wood vs. canvas, or paper vs plastics/synthetics, fabric

vs. glass

Assignment 3: Open Assignment with Options (An Ambitious Project related to Painting and Contemporary Ideas)

 Assignment 3 is an open assignment that has self-directed options for students. 

This final assignment for the course will still require an ambitious project that could include a very large-scale work (or works), or a significant series of smaller works, or an installation, or a combination of these options. 

Either way, this project still needs to be about painting and contemporary ideas. This final project should still substantially involve paint, and the formal use of the paint should support a thematically layered work.

This project will require a proposal and discussion with instructor.

Grading/Evaluation Criteria for Assignment 3:

Please see the criteria from the Intermediate Painting syllabus below regarding the evaluation of this work:


Layers of Concepts/Themes                                                                                 20

Formal/Visual Language/Technical Skill, Editing, Experimentation                      70         

Synthesis of the concepts/intention with formal/visual language                          10

Painting 1 Syllabus Winter 2021



Course Title: Painting 1                      REMOTE COURSE on ZOOM 

Course Number: STDO 2220 – A01

Credit Hours: 6 Credit Hours


Course Schedule:  Monday and Wednesday 2:30 pm - 5:15 pm

                               Monday January 18, 2021 - Wednesday April 14, 2021 


Instructor: Derek Brueckner 

Email: Derek Brueckner

Office Hours: After class on Zoom or at other mutually agreeable times


Painting Course Website:


Course Description

STDO 2220 Painting 1: Basic instruction in oil painting and pictorial composition. Prerequisite: Successful completion of 21 credit hours at 1000-level STDO courses. 


The purpose of this course is to examine fundamental painting issues designed to introduce

and investigate various painting languages involving a broad range of materiality and methods

(both historical and contemporary) Painting will be comprehended and demonstrated as a

unique genre with its own complex syntax and history. Within this setting, this course

requires a versatility of practice and interpretation, innovation, and experimentation that will

eventually include the genre of painting in relation to contemporary themes and ideas.


Course Objectives/Outcomes

The ultimate goal of this course will be to introduce and enhance each student’s formal, optical and thematic skills in relation to painting. Students will be encouraged to keenly be aware of formal issues that include: figure ground relationships, composition, physicality of materials, mark making (ranges of edges), opticality of colour/colour theory, and space. As the course progresses, thematic and conceptual content will increasingly be emphasized. As the course culminates, it is hoped that students will begin to synthesize innovative formal and thematic ideas with an emerging personal sensibility.    


Instructional Methods

In addition to the daily process of painting as an investigative studio practice, this course’s structure allows for individual and class discussions (individual and group critiques) that assist in forming the direction of the studio work. As well the ongoing dialogue between the instructor, the individual student, and the class is collectively developed to create a sense of community in dialogue.


The University of Manitoba has the following recommendations for computer system requirements for remote learning:


Materials List 

See Supply List on UM Learn


Suggested Research and Readings

See document on UM Learn in Content

Note: Expanding formal and conceptual substance in work will include researching artists

Painting 1 - STDO 2220                            Instructor: Derek Brueckner


Syllabus/Course Plan Schedule


Deadlines for Critique



UM Learn Submission Deadlines 

for Work to be Graded




Jan 18


Jan 20

Introduce Course and Discuss Syllabus


Start Black & White Painting of Object(s)


Black & White Paint

+ Object or Objects &

(1) 16 x 20 

Primed Surface

Research Object Options. Start black and white painting of object or objects for  Jan 20. 



Jan 25


Jan 27

Finish B & W Painting & Short Group Crit


Start Grid Painting Assignment

Painting Supplies & 

(1) 16 x 20 

Primed Surface

Upload Photos of B & W painting on 

UM Learn by Feb 24 (7pm)   5%


Feb 1


Feb 3

Finish Grid Painting Short Group Crit


Start Self-Portrait Assignment

Painting Supplies & 

(1) 16 x 20 Primed Surface (plus small surfaces for studies)

Upload Photos of Grid Painting 

on UM Learn  by Feb 24 (7pm)  20%


Feb 8


Feb 10

Work on Self-Portrait Assignment


Work on Self-Portrait Assignment





Winter Term Break – No Classes




Feb 22


Feb 24

Group Critique of Self-Portrait Assignment


Start of Modernist Assignment

Painting Supplies & 

(1 or 2) 16 x 20 Primed Surface (plus small surfaces for studies)


Upload Photos of Self-Portrait Assignment 

on UM Learn by Feb 24 (7pm)  20%


Mar 1


Mar 3

Work on Modernist Assignment


Work on Modernist Assignment




Mar 8


Mar 10

Group Critique of Modernist Assignment


Start of Pluralist Assignment

Painting Supplies & 

(1) 16 x 20 Primed Surface (plus small surfaces for studies)

Upload Photos of Modernist Assignment 

on UM Learn  by Apr 16 (7pm)  10%


Mar 15


Mar 17

Work on Pluralist Assignment


Work on Pluralist Assignment




Mar 22


Mar 24

Group Critique of Pluralist Assignment


Start of Final Assignment

Painting Supplies & 

(1 or 2) 16 x 20 Primed Surface (plus small surfaces for studies)

Upload Photos of Pluralist Assignment 

on UM Learn by Apr 16 (7pm)  20%


Mar 29


Mar 31*

Work on Final Assignment


Work on Final Assignment




Apr 5


Apr 7

Work on Final Assignment


Group Critique of Final Assignment




Apr 12


Apr 14

Group Critique of Final Assignment


Scheduled meetings with Instructor



Upload Photos of Final Assignment 

on UM Learn  by Apr 16 (7pm)  25%

Students are expected normally to spend 2 hours out of class for every 1 hour of classroom contact.


You will receive evaluation and feedback prior to the voluntary withdrawal deadline. 


*The Voluntary Withdrawal Date for Winter Term: March 31, 2021



Assignment Percentage Breakdown for entire Painting Course



Upload photos of B & W painting Assignment on UM Learn by Feb 24 (7pm)  5%


Upload photos of Grid Painting Assignment on UM Learn by Feb 24 (7pm)  20%


Upload photos of Self-Portrait Assignment on UM Learn by Feb 24 (7pm)  20%




Upload photos of Modernist Assignment on UM Learn by Apr 16 (7pm)  10%


Upload photos of Pluralist Assignment on UM Learn by Apr 16 (7pm)  20%


Upload photos of Final Assignment on UM Learn by Apr 16 (7pm)  25%




Painting 1 - STDO 2220                            Instructor: Derek Brueckner


Evaluations - Grading Criteria for Individual Assignments

See Links on UM Learn for More Details on Evaluations of Individual Assignments



Penalties for Late Submissions of Assignments


Assignments are required to be uploaded on UM Learn by 7:00pm on deadlines (on Feb 24 & Apr 16)

Any Assignment submitted past 7:00pm on deadline will receive a 10% grade deduction.


Any Assignment not available for full class group critique deadline 

(on Feb 22, Mar 8, Mar 22, Apr 7 & Apr 12) will receive a 10% grade deduction.




Projects/assignment evaluations are based on the following grading rubric:


Letter Grade Matrix

All School of Art students are expected to maintain a minimum GPA of 2.5. If the student’s term or degree GPA falls below 2.0 the student will receive a warning letter from the student advisor indicating they have one year to improve or they will be placed on Academic Probation. Students in the BFA Diploma and BFA Honours Degree Programs must maintain a GPA of 2.5. 


Letter Grade               Grade Point Value        Percentage

A+                                           4.5                   93-100%                     Exceptional

A                                              4.0                   88-92.9%                    Excellent

B+                                           3.5                   80-87.9%                    Very Good

B                                              3.0                   75-79.9%                    Good

C+                                           2.5                   68-74.9%                    Satisfactory

C                                             2.0                   60-67.9%                    Adequate

D                                             1.0                   50-59.9%                    Marginal

F                                              0                      Below 50%                  Failure

P                                                                                                          Pass

S                                                                                                          Standing



Grading Rubric

A+/A: Reserved for Exceptional performances and normally achieved by a minority of students. These grades indicate a student who is self-initiating, exceeds expectation and has an insightful grasp of the subject matter.


A+       93-100     Exceptional

                            Works in this range:

                            - show evidence of a high level of contextual awareness

                            - show full command of chosen materials or technology

                            - present a remarkable example of progress and development

A         88-92.9    Excellent achievement

                            Works in this range:

                            - show thorough contextual awareness

                            - show confident use of chosen materials or technology

                            - present an excellent to outstanding example of progress and development


Painting 1 - STDO 2220                            Instructor: Derek Brueckner


B+/B: indicate a Very Good performance. Normally achieved by the largest number of students. These grades indicate a good grasp of the subject matter or excellent grasp in one area balanced with satisfactory grasp in the other area.


B+       80-87.9    Very Good achievement

B         75-79.9    Good achievement

                            Works in this range:

                            - are consistently within the current boundaries of the assignment

                            - reveal commendable awareness of context for evaluation

                            - show a reasonable ability with chosen materials or technology

                            - present a good to very good example of progress and development


C+/C: indicates Satisfactory, or minimally satisfactory performance. These grades indicate a satisfactory performance and knowledge of the subject matter.


C+       68-74.9    Satisfactory

C         60-67.9    Adequate

                            Works in this range:

                            - readily accept known boundaries of the assignment

                            - reveal partial contextual awareness

                            - show limited ability with material and technology

                            - are intermittent in its progress during the term


D: indicates Marginal performance. A student receiving this grade demonstrated a superficial grasp of the subject matter.


D         50-59.9    Marginal Pass

                            Works in this range:

                            - provide very limited understanding of limits of the assignment

                            - have unsubstantial contextual awareness

                            - have low level of competence with materials and technology

                            - very limited development of work within the term




University communications will only be sent to a student’s U of M account. The full policy is available at


It is mandatory that all students maintain and regularly monitor a University of Manitoba email account. Critical information from the registrar, instructors, and the School of Art will be relayed to you through the Web mail, UMLearn, and Aurora electronic notification systems. 


To get your free U of M account visit:

For more information, visit:


Students without personal computers can use computers in Information Services and Technology labs in a variety of locations on campus including the Dafoe Library. More information is available in your orientation package or by calling IST at 474-8600. It is your sole responsibility to continually monitor your class site(s) for information such as class announcements and email correspondence.





Painting 1 - STDO 2220                            Instructor: Derek Brueckner


University of Manitoba Libraries

The Architecture & Fine Arts Library will be your main research hub (206 John A. Russell Building). The Architecture/Fine Arts Library houses the largest collection of information on art and design in Manitoba. For Reference/Research Assistance contact Liv Valmestad, Art Librarian at (204) 474-8447,


Statement on Student Participation in the Presentation or Discussion of Art

At the School of Art, numerous required and elective courses contain content that includes working from the nude model and some language, imagery, or dialogue that may offend students. In particular, the School of Art provides comprehensive art training that requires use of the nude model in some courses. In viewing and discussing works of art, the School of Art encourages the broadest possible tolerance consistent with Canadian law.


Class Attendance Policy

Regular attendance is expected of all students in all courses. The Office of the School of Art will issue a letter of warning when a student has had three unexcused absences for any course in a given term. Medical notes are not required for illnesses. Medical notes are not required if you are feeling ill and are unable to meet a course requirement on time. Please email the School of Art Advisor to self-declare your illness in advance of the requirement, deadline or assessment and they will help address your situation.


Plagiarism and Cheating Policy

To plagiarize is to take ideas or words of another person and pass them off as one’s own. In short, it is stealing something intangible rather than an object. Obviously, it is not necessary to state the source of well-known or easily verifiable facts, but students are expected to acknowledge the sources of ideas and expressions they use in their written work, whether quoted directly or paraphrased. This applies to diagrams, statistical tables and the like, as well as to written material, and materials or information from Internet sources. To provide adequate and correct documentation is not only an indication of academic honesty but is also a courtesy that enables the reader to consult these sources with ease. Failure to do so constitutes plagiarism. It will also be considered plagiarism and/or cheating if a student submits a term paper written in whole or in part by someone other than him/herself, or copies an answer or answers of another student in any test, examination, or take-home assignment. Plagiarism or any other form of cheating in examinations, or term tests (i.e. crib notes) is subject to serious academic penalty (i.e. suspension or expulsion from the faculty or university). A student found guilty of contributing to cheating in examinations or term assignments is also subject to serious academic penalty.


Similarly, to copy parts, or to reproduce everything from an artist’s individual artwork and pass them off as one’s own is considered a form of plagiarism. When completing assignments or presenting work done in self-directed studio art projects, students must avoid this practice.  It is expected that you will originate the ‘look’ or ‘style’ of the work from your own responses to the subject or ideas in question. To do otherwise, through the knowing use of printed or internet reproductions of published artist’s work, is academically dishonest, except in cases where making a direct copy was a requirement of the assignment by an instructor, or that the idea or concept required such a response. In those cases, it is clear as to the intent to copy and is a public aspect of the meaning of the work.


Material and Process Restrictions

Flammables, poisons, potentially bio-hazardous materials, aerosol sprays, and high-temperature processes are strictly prohibited in the School of Art classrooms, adjoining hallways, and the vicinity of the ARTlab. The instructor must be consulted before any materials or processes not on the class materials list are used. If there is any doubt as to the safety of work to be undertaken, work must be halted until the instructor has been consulted. 




Painting 1 - STDO 2220                            Instructor: Derek Brueckner


Academic Accommodation

Please approach your instructor as soon as possible should you need some form of academic accommodation. Students requiring academic accommodation should also contact Accessibility Services, located at 155 University Centre (Phone: 204 474-6213; TTY: 204 474-9790; Fax: 204 261-7732; 



Policies Related to Student Discipline

Policy on Respectful Work and Learning Environment and Sexual Assault


Student Discipline


Accessibility Policy



Students wishing to appeal a grade given for term work are expected to discuss matters relating to the grading of that work with their instructor first, as an attempt to resolve the issue without the need to submit a formal appeal.


For further information on grade appeals, please go to the Appeals Policies, Procedures and Regulations on the School of Art website at:

More information related to appeals can be found at: and please make an appointment with the Student Advisor.


Student Services


The Learning Assistance Centre (LAC)

Offers services that may be helpful to you as you fulfil the requirements for this course.  Through the LAC, you may meet with a study skills specialist to discuss concerns such as time management, reading and note-taking strategies, as well as test-taking strategies. You may also meet one-on-one with a writing tutor who can give you feedback at any stage of the writing process, whether you are just beginning to work on a written assignment or already have a draft. Writing tutors can also give you feedback if you submit a draft of your paper online. Please note that the online tutors require 48 business hours (i.e. Monday to Friday) to return your paper with comments. (201 Tier Building)


Writing Tutors [and Learning Skills Tutors]

Work on both the Fort Garry and Bannatyne Campuses. Tutors on the Fort Garry campus work in the Elizabeth Dafoe Library and the Learning Assistance Centre (201 Tier Building). Tutors on the Bannatyne campus work in the Basic Science Building (245 “T” wing). Check scheduled hours of availability on-line through the Learning Assistance Centre site (, or call 480-1481 (Fort Garry Campus) or 272-3190 (Bannatyne Campus).


Virtual Learning Commons

A unique learning and social networking site at the University of Manitoba. Students can access a variety of Learning Assistance Centre resources on-line at Of special interest are several links to excellent, brief, on-line tutorials on integrity in academic work (i.e. What is plagiarism? How do you paraphrase? What are appropriate citation formats?) and an Assignment Manager program that automatically creates a timetable for the completion of each step in the writing process.


Student Counselling and Career Centre

Student Counselling and Career Centre (SCC) offers individual, couple or family counselling in individual and groups formats. Please phone: 474-8592 or visit SCCC (474 University Centre).


The English Language Centre

The English Language Centre provides workshops and programs in advanced academic English.

(520 University Centre)


Important Dates: