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Unleash the power of Good Design in your Art


Do you dream of making art that fills you with excitement but the reality is a stack of pieces that are disappointing? Maybe you can’t even get started because you are not sure where you are going. Or perhaps you have created many pieces that almost work but have problems you cannot solve?


I have been to all these places. I was so excited by abstract art, work I saw in history books and museums. I wanted so much to DO this myself, and yet when I sat down to play with paint, the results were… just flat. Aimless. Or hopelessly disjointed. Overly complicated.  I was shocked at how hard it was, and the emptiness I felt looking at my work. It was like I had set out in my car to visit NYC, to see all the architecture and museums and galleries... only to find there were no maps and no street signs. Examples of other people driving to New York, videos even, but no solid roadmap for me. I felt sure there must be a better way than "use you intuition: head east and a little north."


And indeed there was: using the Principles of Design. This is the foundation I was missing, the organizing basis of composition. Once I began to work with these basic principles of visual language, this whole journey began to make sense to me. I kept making work and I studied artists whose work I liked. I looked at how they solved the problems I was having. Little by little my discernment grew as I began to SEE what they were doing: what made it exciting, what made it coherent, what made it delicious. 


About this time, things began to get alot more interesting and alot more fun. I had a sense of the terrain, and I began to build a map, something simple and easy to follow, for people like me who want to make beautiful and interesting abstract art, but don't have years of art training behind them.

This course is the result of my efforts and its purpose is to educate your eye, and provide concrete tools for troubleshooting, and guiding, your work.

In five weeks we learn and put into practice the four key principles that aim you toward art that is rich and resonant. We study one per week. And while the principles are simple, and even easy to see in professional artist's work, they are a bit more complex to apply to your own work. That is why I offer additional guidance in the weekly live coaching calls. Demonstrating the changes that will really strengthen the work is where the AHA's really happen. It's also a wonderful opportunity to ask questions and get to know your classmates.

Abstract Composition: Deep Dive

Take your Art to the Next Level with Key Fundamentals

What you will Learn 

Where to Start

Structures are a great container for abstract work. They make "sense" to the viewers eye and give them an easy way in to your composition. They also give you, the artist, an easy way to begin and get moving.

What Questions to Ask

Our framework really boils down to the questions that you ask as you build your work. What criteria do you judge your work by? As your composition sense grows you begin to see the difference between obvious answers and more subtle and intriguing answers. Wherever you begin is good. It just gets better as you go.

Why Intuition isn't enough... yet!

First you have to master the basics with the slow, analytic part of your mind. Like learning new dance steps, you need to practice them over and over until they are part of your muscle memory. Soon enough you can dance without thinking.

Confidence in your Decisions

Making art will always have uncertainty built into it. But it need not be the utter cluelessness I began with. This was such a relief to me, and it will be to you too. There is some solid ground to be had and we are going to use it.

Getting Unstuck

Not knowing where to go next in a particular piece of work is frustrating. When it becomes a pile of work, it becomes disheartening and this can be deadly to your practice.  You need to identify the problems, and know what might be possible solutions. Some pieces naturally lead to a dead end and we let them go. Many more pieces just need clarifying, or unifying, or more dynamic interaction happening to really bloom.



                      Abstract Composition: Deep Dive

"I wanted to give my soul/mind a new way to grow and express myself. To do that, I needed to understand "what are the parts" and "how do they work together". 


I needed help to make sense of abstract composition principles, and understand the building blocks to express myself... coherently, successfully. I wanted to feel more intentional, more capable of deciding what to do next, better able to read my own creations and edit them. I needed that confidence that comes from knowledge. 


I'm also a person who just likes to do classes in a community setting - I want to talk about what I'm doing and learning, see what others make of the same lesson, so Yum City was a great platform for that.” Katie.



I have an art degree and took 2-D Design in college. I wish I could have taken this course instead. Not just brushing over principles, but really delving into them, exploring them in my own work versus design exercises, and immersing myself in how the principles and composition ideas really inform my work. 


The supportive community in Yum City, the quality of the lessons, the in-depth study, and the thought provoking material and assignments of Melinda’s Ab Comp course are phenomenal. Now, I have a regular studio practice and I’ve been submitting to exhibitions and actually getting pieces accepted. Abstract Composition will push you and your work farther, and give you a foundation that is invaluable." -Alicia



Thank you 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!" -Lynne 


Yum City is the best investment I have ever made in my art practice. The opportunity to connect with other artists and to have deadlines allowed me to actually create, post and share. In addition, Melinda also provides information on other artists to study, which has changed my perspective and practice completely. The Abstract Composition Course was wonderful. I look at composition, and so all art, in a new and much more knowledgeable way. Thank you so much, Melinda."  -Suzanne 

How ACDD will help you learn

A focus on simplifying complex information

The study of Composition can easily be overwhelming. There are a lot of moving parts. But the course takes a structured approach. Lessons are organized in an easy-to-follow, step-by-step format, in which I discuss and demonstrate each principle. 

You don’t have to be a great artist

This course is based in Collage. The first week is devoted to creating collage materials and demonstrating best practices for making collage. I have also provided a variety of composition structures to help get you started and give you direction.


Media-Rich Lessons

These lessons are more than just videos. The ideas are taught through text and images that you can view at your own speed, and easily keep referring back to. Video is reserved for demos which illustrate ways to go about the assignments.


You don’t have to go it alone

There is alot of Alone built into an art practice. It can be a great relief to share your experience with like minds ad hearts! We host our courses within Yum City, a site I created for online teaching and community-building. In our classroom you can talk to other students (privately or openly), post your homework, get feedback from your fellow artists and give the same. It is a Facebook-like environment without the ads and the privacy issues. 


Let me be your guide

This course is a teacher-led, five-week course, with weekly coaching calls where I use the homework submitted to further illustrate how to apply these simple key principles of design to your art.


Knowledge that grows with you

The goal of this course is to introduce you to the essentials of creating strong composition--- AND how to apply them in YOUR art.  You can build on this foundation throughout your artistic life. Composition is not something you learn once and master, but something you practice and grow into. From the get-go, you will be able to start and finish work with more confidence and better results. Over time, you will understand these principles more deeply, apply them more intuitively and they will help you produce a strong, unique body of work.


Hi, I'm Melinda Tidwell


I have two passions: creating abstract art, and teaching others how to do the same and get better results. If you are an artist working with abstraction and are struggling to get the outcomes you want, I am here to help.


I began making abstract art in 2009. I had always appreciated abstract artworks, but had no idea how to CREATE them-- and I am not talking about technique. I am talking about making them look cool! My early efforts were such a far cry from the work that had inspired me. It was heart breaking. And motivating. I had to find a way.


Since then I have become a gallery artist with a regular studio practice. I created an online community called Yum City with the aim of nurturing abstract artists with education, camaraderie, and support. I teach abstract composition online to artists from around the world and teach live workshops throughout the US.      


I LOVE good design, and am fascinated by what makes it work. An amazing garden, a fantastic clothing ensemble, a gorgeous piece of art. Creating beautiful places for the eye to luxuriate in fills me with happiness. I want you to experience this same feeling with your art.





Enrollment Dates:

     Mon, Feb 28 - Sat, Mar 12, 2022 midnight


Course Dates:

     Mon, Mar 14 - Sun, Apr 17, 2022

     Full refund available before March 20, 2022.


     $597 one time payment, or

     2 payments of $347. Contact us.

     **ACDD Alumni get 50% refund on tuition.

     Just send us a note to confirm.


NOTE: If you are on an IOS device, you must use a browser window (like safari) and register through the website. Purchase is not available from the IOS App.

In fact, we do not recommend using the App at all, no matter your device. The website version has better functionality.


1. go to our website at HERE. 

2. create an account (request access) or log into an existing account.

3. Once inside, go to Yum City University.

4. Pay for the course with a credit card, and you are enrolled!

*NOTE:  payment is only accepted within Yum City, so you must have an account to purchase (and attend) the course.

Anchor 1

Abstract Composition: Deep Dive

registration closes IN


How do coaching calls work?

On Thursdays, we have a one hour Zoom call at 2pm MST. During this call I will answer questions about that week’s lesson and I will give my feedback and suggestion for the submitted homework. Students interested in having their work used for critique can post their assignments to the Critique Submission Bin 24hrs prior to the call. Not all pieces submitted will be critiqued, and students are not required to submit assignments for this process.

All coaching calls are recorded and available for playback Thursday evening.


How long do I have access to the course materials?

6 months from START of course. Course materials will be available until Sept 19, 2022.

How do I access the course materials and classroom?

All courses take place inside the Yum City platform, in an area called Yum City University (YCU). You can access YCU from the left hand menu once you are signed into Yum City.  While we do have a paid community at Yum City, the basic membership is free and allows access to all courses. You must create an account to access Yum City courses.


What if I am unhappy with the course?

Not a problem! If you let me know before the start of the 2nd week, I will offer a full refund.

How do I get help?

We are here to answer questions and help with tech problems. Send us an email here. Please allow up to 24hrs for a reply.

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