Please join us for

  • 6 weeks structured and streamlined in-depth learning experience. April 1- May 12, 2020.

  • Each week's lessons include written materials and video demos.

  • Every Wednesday, 2-3pm MDT, there is a live Critique Call with your instructor. It is recorded.

  • Feedback on your work from your instructor and fellow students is happening throughout the week. You post, we comment!

  • Everything is hosted within Yum City, which has teaching and community posting in a single space. No more overwhelming FB group!

  • We believe in the power of connection with other students. We keep our class sizes to 30 students.

  • As a student in a Yum City course you also have all the resources of the Yum City community available to you. The Museum and the Library are treasure troves of inspiration and education that are always on tap.

Timing Cheatsheet

  • March 25 - Registration opens

  • March 31, midnight - registration closes

  • April 1 - The Course begins

    • 10am Welcome Call​  

    • 4pm Welcome Call   

  • Sundays, 10am - weekly lesson is published

  • Wednesdays, 2-3pm - Critique Call with Melinda

    • this call is recorded​

    • ​playback is available ASAP.​

  • Sundays, midnight - homework submission are due for inclusion in the Wed. Crit Call.

  • May 12, 2pm - final Crit Call. Course ends.

Why Study Abstract Composition?


Abstract Composition is about the arrangement of visual elements in abstract art. It is about choosing what those elements will be, and placing them in the space of your canvas, in an aesthetically pleasing way.

This is what good composition does. It knows the language of the human eye, how it makes sense of what it sees, and what things it really enjoys. Good composition knows how to bring the eye in, and then to give it a rich journey to explore over the space of your canvas. 

This course is meant to study the principles of design as they apply to abstract art. The more critical component of this course, though, is that we are able to interact, both on zoom calls and in our private course group. 

And if questions come up, I can address those with additional lessons/video because we are not only pre-recorded. My intent is that this combination of resources should really pay off in the results obtained. This is meant to be a game changer in your work.

I hope you will join us!


How does the course work?

Collage is a natural for learning the art of arranging and combining. You get fast results, you can try many ideas without committing, and it is especially great for fresh ideas.


In this course we will be doing simple collage on paper. You may use any materials that you like as your collage elements. Magazines, books, ephemera, painted papers--- anything you can cut and paste down will work. Collage can be supplemented with mark making, painting, etc.

Concepts are explained through text and images. We reference the work of some great artists to illustrate our ideas. The assignments section, each week, includes video demos to give students an idea of how they might approach the homework.  


Our course community environment allows you to upload your work and get comments from your instructor and fellow students. It's very much like Facebook in functionality but more organized and strictly private. 

Course Itinerary

Week 0: Getting Situated Our course begins on a Thursday. We will have 2 welcome calls that day to say hello to everyone, explain how our platform works, and get you started with collecting and creating collage materials. We have quick onboarding videos (Yum City Driving School) and can answer any questions you may have. Lessons begin on Sunday. Week1: Harmony and Variety. The mini-grid. This week will have more theory (and reading) than the following weeks, but hopefully it is not too laborious. Have all your supplies ready for making collages in assignment #1. Week 2: Value + Structures. Strata. This week we will talk more about Arrangement and how Harmony and Variety get involved there. We will also learn about the most important characteristic of your abstract composition: Values. Week 3: Visual Weight. Thirds. In this week we start digging into the more subtle aspects of Balancing your elements within your visual space. We have talked about balancing value, but there is a much broader discussion available when you talk about balancing Visual Weight. Week 4: Space. White Space. For the second part of this course we are going to focus mostly on ideas about arrangement in a space. This week we look at the power of negative, or white, space. Week 5: Density + Distribution Density and Distribution changes in a composition are very expressive. They are the ebb and flow of life that we recognize all around us. Busy times, slow times; dense urban buildings, open country; noisy restaurants, the quiet of night. Its very fun to incorporate these kind of terrain changes into your composition.

Tools and Materials

Collage is by far the best way to "try out" composition choices, so I recommend it as a medium/process in this course. Here are the materials I recommend: Paper Substrate

  • 9x12” or 11x14”, 3-10 per week. Be fearless.
  • At least 140 lbs. Watercolor or Mixed Media paper
Acrylic Medium for gluing:
  • soft gel gloss medium - golden
  • acrylic matte medium
  • acrylic gloss medium
brushes for gluing:
  • taklon 1/2”, 1”, and 2” flats
  • Painted papers can be the mainstay of your collage materials. Lets keep them simple. No wild shapes painted on papers, just the painted paper (which can show text and diagrams and photos through if you like).
  • You might also want a paint that closely approximates the color of aged paper. It is good for glazing elements that are too high-contrast/busy, like music sheet paper. I like:
    • Dick Blick "off white"
    • Golden "titan buff"
  • paper towels, plastic tubs for water and mediums (1 pt size + lids for these)
  • exacto knife
  • scissors
  • plastic triangle (to tear paper)
  • metal edge ruler (to use with facto for straight lines)
  • Pencils and gum eraser (if you want)
  • 200 grit sandpaper and dust mask (to sand off print or your paint).
  • blank pages from discarded books. I use this aged paper alot
  • materials to collage: paperback/hardback parts, painted papers, magazines, album covers, vintage ephemera.

Did you catch the Webinar?


In case you missed our March 25th event, sign up here and we will rush you the Playback Link. Playback is available through March 31 only, so give it a watch now!

A Word From Previous Students 

Katherine McLean, CAN

Melinda I am so excited by all the work I created and how much I learned. It is all piled on the table with books and bricks pressing it. I am working towards putting a portfolio together with the thoughts of joining a cooperative. Thank you for being such a great teacher and taking us “ where no (wo)man has gone before”. I think I will do the course again and just keeping working with the grids. I can’t thank you enough for Yum City And all the wonderful people you have brought together. Looking forward to much more Yummie ideas and studies. 

Rene Griffith, USA

Thank you Melinda for a challenging and wonderful 6 weeks of learning and creating art. You definitely took me out of my comfort zone to places I had never visited and artists I had never heard of. What I have learned will make my art stronger and more interesting. You and the women I have gotten to know in this course have inspired me to work harder, keep practicing and exploring, and learn to enjoy the journey. I am looking forward to Yum City membership to keep the energy and enthusiasm going!

Lynne Fellowes, AUS

Thank you Melinda, for a wonderful six weeks of learning, fun and friendship. There is so much to go back over and learn from in the exercises; so many wonderful artists to study and lots to reflect on in my own work. I look forward to a masterclass down the track where we can dive even deeper. Thank you everyone for your company, your support and enthusiasm. It's been a blast!

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the schedule look like for the course? Do I have to attend the Zoom calls and post my work?

Each Sunday at 10am MDT the weekly lesson is released. You have all week to go through the material and make practice pieces to experiment with that week’s assignment. You don’t have to post your work, though to get the most out of the course, it’s encouraged. If you choose to post work and want feedback, you must do so by 11:59pm MDT the following Sunday. In addition to the weekly lessons, we will have two Welcome Zoom meetings on April 1 (10am and 4pm MDT). We have weekly critique calls at 2pm MDT on Wednesdays. Crit Calls will be recorded if you can’t attend live.

Will you be teaching topics such as painting and glazing works, materials, gluing?

There is not much technique involved in making collage studies, which is what we will be doing. There is instruction on prepping your substrate and the video demos with each lesson demonstrate how Melinda glues and works with her paper materials. But there is no formal instruction on painting as part of the class. That said, as part of Yum City you will have access to The Library, which features a variety of tutorials on topics like those.

Will you be offering this course in the near future?

The Deep Dive Course is taught once a year in the Spring.

Do you have to be a collage artist?

In short, no. Any artists interested in exploring abstraction are welcome. Collage is a unique medium that allows editing without commitment; you can place and play with composition without gluing pieces down. Collage allows you to compose, take a photo, re-compose, and repeat, which gives you multiple ideas and ways for finding composition solutions without making permanent changes. While many people who have taken versions of this course are collage and mixed media artists, there have also been folks who paint and work with digital media.

What is the difference between How To Make Abstract Art That Works ( and this “Deep Dive”?

The classes on Carla’s site are work at your own pace, and feature abbreviated content compared to the Deep Dive. Aside from more in depth material in terms of lessons and demos, the real gem in this course is the mentoring and critique calls that will happen after each weekly lesson. These are live calls that you may join in which we will discuss how these principles apply to the work being produced in the class by students. As part of this course, you are also part of Yum City, a great community with a Facebook-like interface that allows you to post your work and comment on others. You’ll be able to see what other students are doing, how they are addressing composition, get to know other artists, and get feedback on your own work, if you wish. The plus is that there isn’t an algorithm deciding what to show you, and no one is taking your data within Yum City.

I’m new to collage and/or abstract art. Is this course too advanced for me?

We recommend you have some experience with art or design in general, but not collage in particular. If you are completely new to art making, it might be better to start with technique-based classes. Feel free to email us about your particular situation. Composition and design principles are the foundation of making art, and particularly abstract art, that has balance, interest, and focal points. It’s a great foundation for those artists who may have not studied composition, and fantastic experience to hone skills for those more experienced.

What is this Yum City? Is it in Chicago?

Yum City exists everywhere, because it is a virtual city available to you 24/7. It is a community of abstract artists who support one another, socialize, and ask for help and advice. In addition to its community, there are places to post your own work for feedback or virtual high fives (The Gallery), weekly Inspiration Mondays postings of artists to know (The Museum), Zoom art parties, and monthly demos from Melinda (The Library). If you can’t work the Deep Dive into your practice right now, Yum City is a great place to check out for it’s resources and residents, and is a non-commitment monthly subscription that you can cancel anytime.

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