Pen and Ink Basics at DVSA!

20/04/2018

Spring term has begun at the Dundas Valley School of Art. Yesterday, I was back in Studio 2 with an enthusiastic group of art students and our day was spent on pen and ink basics. We discussed the fundamental techniques such as hatching, cross-hatching, stippling and line weight. It’s not all technique when I teach, however! Technique without sound drawing fundamentals (light and shadow, a little bit of perspective, historical context, etc.) can result in a superficial learning experience. Mind you, it made for an intense and busy day.

The group completed three step-by-step exercises. For the first two, we worked from a diagram that I presented at the easel. This is the model for our second drawing.

But let’s get back to the beginning. Working from a diagram, we drew a pear. The technique we employed was cross-hatching and, in particular, a ‘parquet’ approach. This approach eliminates some baffling concerns. Which direction should the pen strokes take? The ‘parquet’ process begins with a very mechanical application. Careful attention is paid to a light source and the interlocking shapes of light and shadow. By the way, all of our drawings were started first with pencil.

The drawing is developed gradually with middle tones and darks. Edges are thoughtfully considered. Outlining is scrupulously avoided! Bit by bit, our flat shapes take on a more three-dimensional fullness.

Our next drawing was of a simple structure. I touched on only a few perspective basics. It was a pen and ink workshop, after all, and perspective lessons require time and a very well thought out presentation. We hatched our first values before cross-hatching. Again, the middle tones and darks were added gradually.

Let’s have a look at the first two student drawings. If you click on a critique image, you’ll see a larger version.

Pen and Ink Basics
Critique a

Pen and Ink Basics
Critique b

There was time for one more drawing. I’d brought in copies of a black and white photograph that I’d prepared for the students.

I did my pencil drawing while they finished up their first two exercises. Then, all gathered around for my pen and ink demonstration. I worked very quickly, taking about fifteen minutes, and reviewed many of the ideas we’d discussed over the course of the day.

The group didn’t have very much time to complete the final exercise but still managed to do quite well. It was a fine, full day in the studio. I’ll be teaching an Introduction to Drawing Birds with Pen and Watercolour workshop on Thursday, May 3 at DVSA. Why don’t you join us? Before I sign off, here are the brush and pail drawings.

Pen and Ink Basics
Critique c

Pen and Ink Basics
Critique d

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Spring Saturday and Tuesday Watercolour Class – Week One!

14/04/2018

It was a classic still-life for the Saturday and Tuesday watercolour painters this past week. I thought that our apples and terra-cotta objects would be a refreshing subject after the layoff of a month or so since the end of the winter classes.

My demonstration was a small painting, done quickly. I started with a wet-in-wet preliminary wash of warm colours over the whole sheet. You can see the wash in the background, untouched. As usual, I talked as I painted. My demonstrations are usually a sort of illustrated talk; a way of showing a process and discussing painting problems. I don’t mind quick and messy if I can communicate my ideas.

The Saturday students used their six hour day well. Most take their time with compositional sketches and studies of the various objects before embarking on their sustained piece. Some complete more than one piece over the course of the day. I love the thought they put into their work! Also of note are the pen and ink drawings that hold their own with the watercolours on our critique wall.

Sustained Saturday Critique

We work from the same still-life on Tuesday. Here’s a look at the still-life with a backdrop of a different colour. In the Arts on Adrian studio, the still-life is placed in the centre of the room with an overhead light. There is no backdrop so the students have to come up with a creative solution of their own. However, I photograph the still-life with backdrops of different colours in order to try different relationships and to make the still-life stand out clearly for these blog posts.

There you go! Let’s see what the Tuesday afternoon and evening painters achieved. I’m back at Arts on Adrian on Saturday, April 21 and Tuesday, April 24. There are still a few spots left! Care to join us?

Reminder: Click on any critique image for a larger version.

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick 2018!

02/04/2018

SKETCHING AND WATERCOLOUR PAINTING
July 29 – August 3, 2018

Grand Manan Island is the jewel of the Bay of Fundy and a long-time destination for artists. Lighthouses, fishing villages and rugged coastal scenery provide stimulating subjects for sketching and painting.

Barry Coombs has been leading workshops on Grand Manan Island since 1991. A graduate of the Ontario College of Art, he has led workshops in Quebec and Maritime Canada for twenty years as well as many international workshops in England, Italy, France, Greece, USA and Mexico. He is noted for his positive and constructive attitude and ability to work with students of all levels of skill and experience. Barry exhibits his work locally and internationally and represented Canada at the G20 World Artist Festival in Seoul, South Korea in 2010.

Our workshop focuses on watercolour painting, pen and ink sketching and pen drawing with wash. Participants working in other media are very welcome, as are non-painting partners and friends. Demonstrations, individual attention and constructive critiques are essential elements of this creative learning experience. This workshop is for participants with some previous experience in their chosen medium.

WHAT WILL YOU LEARN? Barry has extensive teaching experience and is able to bring out the best in painters of different levels of skill and experience. He will introduce participants to new ideas and approaches to plein air painting and is very well-known for his insightful critiques. His solid grounding in the traditional fundamentals of drawing, watercolour technique, colour and composition benefits all participants. His own watercolours, featured in the April 2013 issue of the UK’s Leisure Painter magazine, are colourful and playful and loosely inspired by Cubism. At some point in every workshop, he will discuss his recent work and is quite happy to provide guidance to anyone interested in trying this fascinating creative process.

View photos of past Grand Manan painting holidays.

THE WORKSHOP FEE OF CDN $550 INCLUDES:
• Welcome Dinner and Orientation Get-together following arrival on Sunday
• Tuition for five painting days; Monday to Friday from approx. 9am – 4pm
• Use of studio in the event of inclement weather
• Farewell Dinner and Final Critique on Friday evening

SCHEDULE
• Sunday, July 29: Arrival Day and Welcome Dinner
• Monday, July 30 – Friday, August 3: Painting Days
• Friday, August 3: Farewell Dinner and Final Critique
• Saturday, August 4 – Sunday, August 5: Our workshop is over but many participants stay until Sunday and explore the island on Saturday. Whale-watching, sea-kayaking and hiking are a few of many popular activities.

WHERE TO STAY
Grand Manan offers a variety of places to stay, including B&B’s, inns, cottages, campgrounds and a motel. Contact Barry Coombs using the form below for a list of recommended accommodations. Don’t delay! Most places book up fast for the summer season.

GETTING THERE
Many participants drive to Grand Manan. The car ferry leaves from Black’s Harbour, which is one hour south of Saint John, every two hours. Some fly to Saint John and rent a car for the week. Contact Barry for assistance with planning your trip.

CARPOOLING
It may be possible to arrange carpooling but relying on carpooling is not recommended. Contact Barry for more information.

HOW TO REGISTER
Contact Barry Coombs at  barryfcoombs@gmail.com or use the contact form below. Registration will be confirmed when a non-refundable deposit of $100 is received. The balance of $450 is due no later than June 30, 2018.

CANCELLATION
After July 20, 2018 the workshop fee is non-refundable. In the event of insufficient enrollment, a full refund will be made.

Winter Wednesday Watercolour at DVSA – Final Class!

10/03/2018

Wednesday evening was our last of eight classes this winter at the Dundas Valley School of Art. Attendance has been excellent and everyone was present for our rusty and dusty still-life.

My demonstration is a small painting, about 8 x 8″ or so. I worked very quickly and, as I painted, I reviewed several of the ideas and techniques from the prior classes. I even threw in a few new thoughts. The bluish object on the left was painted right over the background, for instance. I also cropped very tightly, thinking that the most interesting parts of the objects were the handles and spouts.

I’ve seen a lot of progress with the student’s paintings and I’m grateful for their enthusiasm and hard work. They also paid attention although nobody cropped their composition nearly as much as I did.

This spring, I’ll be teaching four one-day pen and ink workshops (some with watercolour) at DVSA. Next fall, I hope to offer another series of evening watercolour classes. For now, thanks go out to my great bunch of watercolourists and to all of you for following.

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique b

Winter Wednesday Watercolour Class at DVSA – Week Seven!

01/03/2018

What better way to spend a Wednesday evening than to paint watercolours from the still-life at the Dundas Valley School of Art? I’ve had these geometric ceramic objects for a long time. They’re fun to paint but, even better, they can be broken down into their component shapes much like the teddy bears from last week. This offers an opportunity to practice soft-edge washes with the shapes and that was the focus of my demonstration.

I painted a shape at a time, following a ‘light to dark’ and ‘big to small’ process. The smaller, textural strokes came last.

I’m quite pleased with the student’s work and their progress over our seven evenings together. There’s only one more class to go! I’ve got another interesting still-life planned. See you next week.

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique b

Winter Saturday and Tuesday Watercolour Classes – Week Three!

28/02/2018

Black objects and reflections! How would the students at Arts on Adrian respond to this painting challenge? Let’s find out.

My demonstrations on Saturday and Tuesday focused on two main things. First, how to paint black without any black paint in the palette? There are a few ways to mix blacks. Ultramarine Blue works well with Burnt Sienna. An unusual way to make black is to mix Viridian or Pthalo Green with a cool red. My cool red is Rose Madder Quinacridone from Da Vinci. I settled on Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna.

The second thing was reflections. I discussed a few guidelines about handling reflections. Most of the reflections in our still-life could be painted with crisp edges. Success is based on accurate value relationships between the actual objects being reflected (grapefruit, orange, lemon) and their reflections on the surfaces of the black vases and jars.

Saturday Demonstration

The Sustained Saturday students approached the reflections with gusto!

Sustained Saturday Critique

My Tuesday demonstrations dealt with the same ideas. In the evening, I took a study a little further and added a background.

Tuesday Demonstrations

The Tuesday afternoon and evening students were equally enthusiastic. The black objects and reflections were a tricky painting problem but everyone enjoyed the process and learned a lot. That’s it for our winter term at Arts on Adrian in Toronto. I’ll be posting my spring calendar very soon. Thanks for following!

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

 

Winter Wednesday Watercolour Class at DVSA – Week Six!

22/02/2018

Please, bear with me as I tell you about last night’s watercolour class at the Dundas Valley School of Art. Our still-life comprised of cuddly critters was a great opportunity to talk about soft edge techniques. First of all, I broke down the bear into it’s component parts (ears, arms, nose, paws). Last week, I used a very similar approach with the colourful gift bags. I painted each shape with a light wash and touched in a darker version while it was still wet. This created a soft edge. It’s easier said than done and takes a lot of practice.

One of the students completely ignored the soft edge process and developed his image with values. This was fine with me. You may recall that I presented this approach a few weeks ago. David would like to improve his understanding of value and is quite happy to devote more time to it. Later on, he glazed some colour on his piece. Look for it in the critique.

Value Study
by David Chapman

I also urged everyone to pay a bit more attention to their compositions. Their thumbnail sketches took time and it slowed them down a bit so several ‘works in progress’ are featured in our critique. Don’t forget to click on a critique image to view a larger version.

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique b

 

Winter Wednesday Watercolour Class at DVSA – Week Five!

18/02/2018

It was already our fifth evening of Watercolour: Concept and Technique last Wednesday at the Dundas Valley School of Art! We’ve had a cold and fairly white winter so I thought some bright colours were in order. Also, I wanted to talk about colour mixing and applying washes and these gift bags fit the bill.

If you don’t see a multi-coloured bag in the still-life, your vision is fine. I broke this bag down into component shapes so I could discuss colour and washes without taking the time to paint several bags. We’ve only got three hours to paint, after all, and that includes my demonstration and our constructive critique.

The students always apply themselves and most wish there was more painting time by the end of the class. Some of these watercolours are unfinished but why rush? The learning process is more important than the final product.

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique b

Wednesday Watercolour at DVSA – Week Four!

08/02/2018

If you’ve ever spent time around a coastal fishing community, you’ll likely know what these things are. They’re floats that are used on nets and lobster pots. I’ve beachcombed quite a collection over the years and put together this selection for the Wednesday night watercolour students at the Dundas Valley School of Art.

Last week, our subject was hats and I demonstrated an approach to developing values with cool grey washes. Do you remember my demonstration?

The floats in the demonstration from yesterday evening were first painted in the same way as the hats. Once the washes were dry, I took it a step further. Using thin washes of local colour, I gently ‘glazed’ the objects. This is a very traditional approach to watercolour painting. I brought in a book and showed them a Gainsborough landscape that was completed with the same process.

All approaches/processes/styles have their pros and cons. The ‘value plus glazing’ process is great for establishing light and shadow and establishing a strong pattern in the painting. It’s not always the best approach for bright, vivid colour. All of the students felt that they could benefit from the experience and gave it a shot. They did well. As always, clicking on a critique image will bring up a larger version. See you next week!

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique b

Winter Saturday and Tuesday Watercolour Classes – Week Two!

07/02/2018

I had to do the dishes before setting up a still-life for the Saturday and Tuesday classes at Arts on Adrian this week. Wait a minute! Those dishes are the still-life. Do you think this is an unorthodox subject? It may be, but the students really enjoyed it.

My demonstrations were much more about drawing than watercolour painting. That’s because of all of those tricky ellipses. An ellipse is a circle in perspective and there are several good guidelines about drawing them. Ellipse theory! Like other elements of perspective, a little bit of information can go a long way. Conversely, too much theory can lead to confusion and frustration. I tried to strike a balance in order to help the students with the challenge.

I threw a small wrench into the works. As if drawing ellipses isn’t tough enough. I gave everyone a copy of a photo of a typical kitchen sink. My hope was that some of the visual elements would give them ideas for the ‘backgrounds’ of their paintings.

The Saturday students used their full day well and several employed the kitchen sink photo to enhance their paintings overall. Have a look at their work and click on any critique image to see a larger version.

Sustained Saturday Critique

We don’t have a backdrop behind the still-life in the studio. It’s in the centre of the room and students sit all around it. I photograph the still-life for these posts with a fabric behind it and I enjoy seeing how the different colours work with the objects. The dark blue shown above is effective. What do you think of the green? Both the blue and green are colours that are already present in the still-life objects.

The Tuesday classes got a slightly abbreviated version of the Saturday demonstration. Many of them work a bit smaller and place less objects in their compositions. It’s a practical solution as they have only an afternoon or evening to complete their paintings. Here’s the work from Tuesday. My next round of classes at Arts on Adrian in Toronto are a few weeks away. Check out my Winter Studio Calendar and think about joining us.

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique