Barry’s Birds for Wood Duck magazine – February and March

14/03/2017

These pen and ink drawings were my submissions for the February and March issues of the Wood Duck, the magazine of the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club. The monthly feature is called Barry’s Birds.

Eastern Screech-Owl –
February

Red-bellied Woodpecker –
March

Pen and Ink Studio at DVSA – Week Eight!

06/03/2017

Sadly, our Pen and Ink Studio at the Dundas Valley School of Art has come to an end! Last Thursday was our eighth afternoon together. Every day I presented a project. Some of the students tried the projects and some worked on their own with my guidance and feedback. Some did both.

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I brought in the fleet for our daily project. My demonstration was done in a few steps. First of all, I drew my boat in pencil but I added several features that weren’t present in my little model. Also, I added local colour with watercolour. Pen was the final step.

Step One of pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Step Two of pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

The students also had a little fun with the boats and gave them personal touches.

Pen and Ink Studio Critique

Pen and Ink Studio Critique

It’s time to look at some of the other work that’s been done. We’ll start with this full sheet pen and watercolour piece by Vicky. She’s really pushed herself with this large format and has used calligraphy and lettering nibs for the penwork.

Pen and Watercolour by Vicky

Pen and Watercolour by Vicky

This is another large format piece. Elaine has planned this carefully but there’s still a lot to do. She masked out the area of the motorcycle and rider in order to paint the washes with broad strokes right across the sheet. She’s also been working on studies of the bike and rider and I think it will all pay off when she gets to the pen stage.

Pen and watercolour by Elaine

Pen and watercolour by Elaine

Finally, we have three works by Barbara. She’s been working on them as well as the daily projects. All are done with pen and watercolour. The first image gives a good sense of her process.

Pen and watercolour by Barbara

Pen and watercolour by Barbara

Pen and watercolour by Barbara

Pen and watercolour by Barbara

Pen and watercolour by Barbara

Pen and watercolour by Barbara

We worked hard and enjoyed ourselves in Pen and Ink Studio. Why don’t you join us this spring? I’ll be back at DVSA to teach a series of four one-day workshops in pen and ink and watercolour. Click on DVSA and you’ll find all of the information.

Winter Saturday and Tuesday Watercolour Classes – Brass!

03/03/2017

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Here are two views of our still-life from the Saturday and Tuesday watercolour classes at Arts on Adrian in Toronto.

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Saturday class is an all day affair and I suggested that the students take the time to do a small warmup painting. I used a flat angled brush for my demonstration and worked very quickly. As I painted, I discussed various aspects of the still-life. Fast and messy, this painting is not an end in itself but part of a process. A warmup painting can help the student identify potential problems and challenges before tackling a sustained piece.

Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Several of the students followed my lead before settling into a more sustained painting.

Sustained Saturday Critique

Sustained Saturday Critique

Tuesday classes are three hours in duration. I decided to discuss the drapery behind the objects. My demonstrations simplify the folds as much as possible.

That’s it for Winter term at Arts on Adrian. I’ll be posting my Spring calendar soon!

Watercolour demonstrations by Barry Coombs

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

 

Pen and Ink Studio at DVSA – Week Seven!

24/02/2017

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NUTS! The students screamed in unison when I showed them the subject for our pen and ink drawings yesterday at the Dundas Valley School of Art. Well, I’m exaggerating. They always wonder what will emerge from my bag of tricks and they’re forever keen to test their skills.

We covered a lot of ground yesterday. Let’s start with my demonstration. I drew a dish in pencil.

Step one of pen and ink demonstration by Barry Coombs

Next, I added some nuts. Two in the dish and one in front of it. I decided on a light source coming from the upper right. Look at the little study on the bottom right of the sheet. This helped me simplify the light and shadow pattern on my subject.

Step two of pen and ink demonstration by Barry Coombs

Those messy pen lines on the upper sheet are a result of another demonstration. The students asked me for my thoughts on using a traditional metal nib with a bottle of India ink. We’ve been using disposable sketching pens for our drawings in class. No muss, no fuss! The traditional tools can be messy. Spills. Heartbreaking blobs in the middle of a drawing you’ve spent hours on. So, the disposable pens are fine for our learning process. However, the metal nib, used thoughtfully and with care, can give a drawing a special quality.

The next image shows my setup and tools. The paper is Strathmore Bristol, vellum surface. The nib is a School 56 and it’s in a wooden holder. My ink is Speedball Super Black India Ink, my favourite! The wide mouth and base help prevent spills. The white tester card helps prevent blobs. I test the pen every time I dip it in the ink before I touch my drawing. I also clean my nib every 5 minutes or so with paper towel and an organic nib cleaning fluid (spit). Oh, and there’s my demonstration again with most of the ink work completed.

Step three of pen and ink demonstration by Barry Coombs

The students enjoyed the nuts.

Pen and Ink Studio Critique

Pen and Ink Studio Critique

Before I sign off, let’s take a moment to look at some of the personal projects. The sunflowers are a work in progress by Vicky. This is a full sheet of watercolour paper and she’s using calligraphy dipping nibs. I took this photo at the start of the class yesterday so there’ll be a lot more to see next week.

Pen and watercolour by Vicky

Pen and watercolour by Vicky

Here’s another drawing by Val. It’s a small piece, approx. 9 x 12″, and she’s combined pen with watercolour.

Pen and watercolour by Val

Pen and watercolour by Val

That’s it, in a nutshell! There’s one more week of Pen and Ink Studio at DVSA. I’ll be offering four one-day pen workshops this spring and they’re already posted on the DVSA website. Join us!

Pen and Ink Studio at DVSA – Week Six!

21/02/2017

Every Thursday afternoon this winter, I meet with my dedicated students at the Dundas Valley School of Art for Pen and Ink Studio. I offer a project every afternoon and the students have also been working on personal drawings which combine pen with wash and watercolour. The students are always curious as to what I’ll bring in and I always try to surprise and challenge them. I don’t know what I’d do without dollar stores and thrift shops!

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Our colourful trumpets were a cheerful subject and quite a few questions arose as we drew them. We discussed ellipses, in particular, as well as a sound planning process. I’d already erased my pencil ‘planning’ lines before I photographed the demonstration shown below but there were a lot of them! The study in the lower right corner is an analysis of light and shadow on the trumpet.

Step one of pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

I started with the pen before adding watercolour to this drawing and I added more penwork after the watercolour had dried. I left a few paper-white highlights, as well.

Step two of pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

The students did very well with the trumpets. One was particularly chuffed although she didn’t want to toot her own horn (she gets credit for the joke).

Pen and Ink Studio Critique

Pen and Ink Studio Critique

Val brought in two drawings that she’s been working on. The upper one is done with stippling and a grey wash. The lower drawing of objects on a beach utilizes a mix of pen techniques with watercolour. Lovely work, Val!

Pen and Watercolour Projects by Val

Pen and Watercolour Projects by Val

 

Pen and Ink Studio at DVSA – Week Five!

12/02/2017

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Last Thursday afternoon was Pen and Ink Studio time at the Dundas Valley School of Art. I brought in my collection of milkweed pods. Natural forms are a very rewarding subject and the students enjoyed drawing them.

I showed a few different approaches to studying the milkweed. This is a demonstration from a past workshop. I started with a pencil drawing before adding a light wash of a sepia-like brown. When it dried, I added a second darker wash of the same colour. Once again, I waited for it to dry. The pen work was my final step.

Pen and wash demonstration by Barry Coombs

The next study is the one I worked on during the Thursday class. It was developed with local colour and then I explored it with the pen using mostly the technique of cross-hatching.

Pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Some of the students elected to use colour and others stuck with values of sepia. One of our students devoted the afternoon to her personal project and it’s coming along very nicely. I hope to post some of these projects soon!

Pen and Ink Studio Critique

Pen and Ink Studio Critique

Winter Saturday and Tuesday Watercolour Classes – Rust and Dust!

08/02/2017

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These old cans and containers have a lot of character and are always a popular subject with the watercolour students. On Saturday, I focused my demonstration primarily on colour and texture.

Watercolour demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs

A Sustained Saturday class is six hours long and it allows the students lots of time to complete thumbnail sketches and small studies before starting a more ambitious piece. This extra effort always pays off!

Sustained Saturday Critique

Sustained Saturday Critique

Tuesday was quite a challenge and I’m not talking about the watercolour painting! Our region experienced an ice storm. I followed the weather report every half hour and decided to run the classes. Amazingly, eleven determined students showed up for the afternoon class. Unfortunately, conditions worsened but four undaunted (maybe crazy) artists turned up for the evening session.

I concentrated on simplification and colour with my demonstration. The small study on the right was done in the evening. I’ve drawn attention to the foregound object by eliminating all paper white in the background with a cool grey wash. When that wash dried, I added shadow shapes of the other objects in a single value. Suggestion versus depiction.

Watercolour demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs

A potentially disastrous day turned into a success!

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Pen and Ink Studio at DVSA – Week Four!

03/02/2017

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I dipped into my treasure trove of drawing subjects yesterday and found an entire ancient realm of castles. Albeit, castles with the names of American resorts. They offered a great opportunity to discuss ideas about handling architecture with pen and ink.

Step one of my demonstration shows some a wet-in-wet wash over a pencil drawing. The wet wash was a combination of Raw Sienna and Cobalt blue, mingling in places to create a grey. The red roofs were added after the first wash dried.

Step one of pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

I did a lot of work on the demo with the pen. Note that before I spent time on any details, I tried to establish the main shapes of light and shadow. We didn’t have table lamps available to light our castles, so we all tried to imagine a single light source. I decided upon a light source from the upper right.

Step two of pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

The castles look complicated but they were a lot of fun to draw. The students did very well. We’re still missing a few holidayers but expect them back in the studio at the Dundas Valley School of Art next week.

Pen and Ink Studio Critique

Pen and Ink Studio Critique

Pen and Ink Studio at DVSA – Week Three!

27/01/2017

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Don’t wake up the cats! Yesterday, at the Dundas Valley School of Art, we focused on stippling and the cats were perfect models.

Have you ever tried stippling? I call it the personality test. Some people love it and find it very relaxing. Others…. Stippling is done with the tip of the pen. Basically, it’s an accumulation of tiny dots that gradually become shapes of ever-darkening values. It requires patience and it can be time-consuming. Also, one needs to preserve the white of the paper for the light areas. Stippling can be combined with other techniques. Yesterday, we concentrated on stippling on its own.

Stippling demonstration by Barry Coombs

The students all did a drawing of a cat. They also continued working on their personal projects. It was a good pace and the projects are coming along very well. We have a small Pen and Ink Studio group this term and a few are on their winter holiday at the moment. Maybe, the quieter studio was a bonus. The cats slept through the entire afternoon.

Pen and Ink Studio Critique

Pen and Ink Studio Critique

 

Pen and Ink Studio at DVSA – Week Two!

23/01/2017

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The strangest things turn up in a pen and ink class at the Dundas Valley School of Art. I started off our second day of Pen and Ink Studio with a presentation on various papers and their suitability for pen on it’s own or with wash and watercolour. One of the students launched into a personal project and the rest of us attempted to come to grips with an invading herd of very small elephants.

I focused on the head of one of the creatures and began with a pencil drawing. I painted a few watercolour washes over the drawing and allowed it to dry. The paper is Arches, Hot Press, 140lb on a block.

Step One of pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Once dry, I used the pen to refine the drawing. My first consideration was the development of shadows. Definition and detail came next. I’m very careful about how I handle edges. I rarely, if ever, outline with a solid line. Look for the gaps in the pen line around the edges. Also, look at the slightly bumpy underside of the trunk. I didn’t indicate that with the preliminary pencil drawing; just with the pen.

Step Two of pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

It was a challenge but the students did well with the elephants. Over the next few weeks, we should be able to see progress with their personal projects.

Pen and Ink Studio Critique

Pen and Ink Studio Critique