Originally published in 1996, A First Course in Figurative Painting was the first text to collect and organize the fragmented theories of painting formulated in the language of mathematics during the abstract figuration movement of the 80s, which came as a natural evolution of Conceptualism in the mid-20th century. Instead of a historical account of the movement, the text presents a self-contained outline of the mathematical constructions that underlie an axiomatic theory of painting.

Using the language of point-set topology, differential geometry, projective geometry, combinatorics, probability, and category theory, the text defines major concepts in the practice of painting, including: markmaking, space, form, color, projections, representation, abstraction, observational and analytic methods, and creative choices. A key result tying these threads together is the Lemma of Abstract Representation, with the idea that all representational paintings are locally abstract. A theory of figurative painting is then developed as a special case of the general theory of painting.