Pen and Ink – Everyday Objects at DVSA!

26/09/2016

Last Thursday, I was back at the Dundas Valley School of Art for a day of pen and ink drawing. Our theme was ‘Everyday Objects’. My goals for the day were threefold. First of all, we discussed the basic pen and ink techniques of hatching, cross-hatching, stippling and line weight. Secondly, I wanted the students to understand the everyday objects they were drawing in terms of basic volumes. I hoped this would help them when drawing on their own. Thirdly, we considered ‘light and shadow’ and it’s importance to making things look three-dimensional.

Lesson sheet by Barry Coombs

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Our first drawing was of a toy block. The block, of course, is a cube and that’s how I started my demonstration. There are three visible planes on my cube and I wanted each of them to be a different value.

Step one of pen and ink demonstration by Barry Coombs  Step two of pen and ink demonstration by Barry Coombs

I also like to work with a ‘light to dark’ process. Using this ‘parquet’ approach to cross-hatching, I developed the drawing gradually. Eventually, I added a cast shadow. The studio is lit by fluorescent lighting and there is also light coming in from the windows. Multiple light sources don’t usually help us make things look three-dimensional. With that in mind, we decided on an arbitrary light source coming from the upper right.

Final step of pen and ink demonstration by Barry Coombs

The students did very well with their studies. Here’s a look at their toy blocks.

Toy Blocks Critique

Toy Blocks Critique

Our next subject was an empty thread spool. Where do I find this stuff? Professional secret.

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We analyzed this object in terms of cylinders and cones and, once again, lit it from the upper right.

Lesson sheet by Barry Coombs

A lot of things are discussed during my demonstrations and, unfortunately, I can’t break down every step in detail. Still, we followed the same basic process that we’d used with the blocks.

Step one of pen and ink demonstration by Barry Coombs  Final step of pen and ink demonstration by Barry Coombs

Spools Critique

Spools Critique

These two studies took up most of our day. We started another drawing, of spoons, and they were coming along well when we ran out of time. If you’re in the neighbourhood, why don’t you join us on Thursday, October 13 for Pen and Ink with Wash and Watercolour at the DVSA?

Fall Tuesday Watercolour Class – More Apples!

21/09/2016

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The Tuesday classes were back in action yesterday. They worked from the same still-life that was used for the Sustained Saturday group on the weekend. Here’s a different view of the still-life.

Back to basics was the order of the day again, especially after a long summer layoff from studio classes. In addition to that, I met some new students yesterday. Although all of them had some prior experience with the medium, I wanted to expose them to some of my ideas about drawing, value and simplification. I focused on those elements with my demonstrations.

Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

This is the preliminary drawing for the study of the pitcher on the lower left of the sheet.

Drawing demonstration by Barry Coombs

As expected, many of the students concentrated on fundamentals and spent their time on studies. It’s valuable experience and should pay off in the months ahead. Most of the more experienced students started off with thumbnail studies, as usual, and then developed a sustained image.

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Fall Sustained Saturday Watercolour Class – Apples!

19/09/2016

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It was ‘back to school’ on Saturday at the Arts on Adrian studio in Toronto. I was pleased to see the students, new and old. Some had painted a fair bit over the summer months and others….

I decided to start off the fall term with some review. We discussed light and shadow and, always important, simplification of form. I used the sepia study on the left to show both of these principles and also to present my quite traditional approach to drawing. Next up was relative value. A green apple is generally much lighter in value than a dark green pitcher although both receive light and have areas of core shadow.

Watercolour demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs

Saturdays are a full day. Each student approaches the day in their own way but I always encourage time spent on a sound process. This usually includes thumbnail sketches, studies and colour testing. Any summertime rust came off gradually as the day progressed and we enjoyed some lovely work for our critique at the end of the day.

Our next Sustained Saturday takes place on October 15. There are still a few spots available! See the details at https://barrycoombs.wordpress.com/fall-studio-calendar-2016/.

Sustained Saturday Critique

Sustained Saturday Critique

Zippity Zoo Daze!!!

07/09/2016

Lioness study by Barry Coombs

I took on many jobs to pay the rent and earn tuition as an art student. Not all were ‘art-related’, such as my two summers making office furniture on an assembly line. As a picture framer, I felt some contact with the broader world of art. Skills learned at school got me a job as a commercial screen printer and it was much the same that qualified me as a T-shirt designer and very occasional free-lance illustrator.

I took one short-term job with a specific goal in mind. Way back then, teaching had worked it’s way into my mind as a possible future source of income. I would have to be comfortable painting and drawing in front of people in order to teach and demonstrate. So, I responded to an ad for Zippity Zoo Daze. It’s no less embarrassing now than it was decades ago.

Zippity Zoo Daze was a joint promotion shared by Simpsons, a large Canadian department store, and the Metropolitan Toronto Zoo. I spent several Saturday afternoons painting mostly African wildlife in one of the Simpsons Toronto branches. I worked from a book of photographs. Children and adults would crowd around to watch. The job ended with a final weekend of doing the same at the zoo. Still, working from photos.

Llama study by Barry Coombs  Elephant study by Barry Coombs

I used inexpensive pads of Strathmore watercolour paper. As a particular challenge, I did not do any preliminary drawing in pencil. I ‘drew’ with my brush and mapped in the shapes with light washes.

Camel study by Barry Coombs

I hadn’t had any specific training during my art school classes for this assignment. Demonstrations of anything were rare, particularly in watercolour. I worked from light to dark, observed values and shapes carefully and used the brush to mimic textures. Basically, I rendered.

Rhinoceroses study by Barry Coombs

Looking back, I can see things I like in these studies such as the use of ‘lost edge’. I can also see that I was timid with the darkest values in several of them. Overall, it was an excellent experience. I wasn’t paid much and didn’t benefit a lot from all of the amazing publicity I was told I’d receive but I forced myself to work in front of an audience. Years later, it paid off when I commenced my teaching career.

Ape studies by Barry Coombs

 

Fall Studio Calendar 2016

23/08/2016

STUDIO CLASSES
Learn Traditionally; Paint Creatively
Barry Coombs will be offering weekday and weekend classes at Arts on Adrian in the fall of 2016. Classes are limited to twelve students, unless otherwise noted. Material lists are provided upon registration. Demonstrations, individual attention and constructive critiques are employed in all classes. The studio is accessible by transit and free parking is available. The studio is on the second floor and is not wheelchair-accessible.
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Please, note that the studio is solvent and scent-free!

ARTS ON ADRIAN
#224 – 15 Adrian Avenue
Toronto, Ontario
M6N 5G4

Click here to view demonstrations from Barry’s classes and workshops.
Click here for directions.

STILL LIFE (WATERCOLOUR +)
This is an intermediate level course. It includes instruction in watercolour technique, drawing concepts, colour and composition. Masters of the medium, historic and contemporary, are examined. Personal development is stressed. This course is also suitable for students wishing to work in pencil, pen and ink or pen and wash.
Pre-requisite: a beginner watercolour course or equivalent experience.

Students are not required to enroll for all of the classes in a term. Individual classes may be selected but please read the registration information below. Enrolment is guaranteed only when your cheque or etransfer is received.

TUESDAY AFTERNOONS
September 20, 12 – 3pm, $45 (includes HST)
October 18, 12 – 3pm, $45 (includes HST)
November 8, 12 – 3pm, $45 (includes HST)
November 29, 12 – 3pm, $45 (includes HST)

TUESDAY EVENINGS
September 20, 6:30 – 9:30, pm, $45 (includes HST)
October 18, 6:30 – 9:30, pm, $45 (includes HST)
November 8, 6:30 – 9:30, pm, $45 (includes HST)
November 29, 6:30 – 9:30, pm, $45 (includes HST)

SUSTAINED SATURDAYS – One Day
Students work from the still-life in watercolour, pencil, pen and ink or any combination of these media. Watercolour painters may use a maximum size of 15 x 22″ (half sheet). This is an opportunity to work at a comfortable pace and develop a sustained image.
Pre-requisite: a beginner course or equivalent experience in watercolour, pen and ink or drawing.

Saturday, September 17, 11am – 5pm, $95 (includes HST)
Saturday, October 15, 11am – 5pm, $95 (includes HST)
Saturday, November 5, 11am – 5pm, $95 (includes HST)
Saturday, November 26, 11am – 5pm, $95 (includes HST)

HOW TO REGISTER
To confirm a place in a class, please email Barry at info@barrycoombs.ca. Registrations are first-come, first-serve. Enrolment is guaranteed only when your cheque or etransfer is received.

CANCELLATION POLICY
You will receive a full refund if you notify me of your cancellation more than 36 hours before any class or workshop. If you give me less than 36 hours notice, I will not refund the fee unless I can fill the spot from the waiting list.

Grand Manan Island – Final Day!

05/08/2016

One week ago this morning we met at our studio to start the final day of my annual sketching and watercolour painting workshop on Grand Manan Island. As usual, I began with a lesson/demonstration.

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Watercolour demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs

I don’t follow a course outline for any of my workshops. Also, I don’t teach just my ‘style’ although I do present elements of it, if and when appropriate or upon request. I teach fundamentals and principles; techniques and concepts.

Friday morning was foggy. I showed an approach to fog. I also responded to what I had seen of the student’s work the previous day at Dark Harbour. One more thing! I talked about colour and contrast and how they can be used to create a focal point. As soon as I was done, we were off to Fisherman’s Haven Lane in Ingall’s Head.

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What a week! A little bit of fog and a few tentative drops of rain as we packed up to head back for critique. Other than that, we enjoyed almost 100% sunshine. Friday was a busy day, overall. We looked at the work from the day. Then, we dispersed to our accommodations to prepare for our Farewell Dinner at the Marathon Inn. Steak or lobster? The big event followed dinner. It was time for our Final Critique; a summary of our week together. And, of course, our group photo taken by the generous and talented David Ogilvie.

It was a great evening and the perfect way to wrap up our week. I’ll be back next year from Sunday, July 30 – Friday, August 4. Details will be posted soon on this blog. Thanks for following, liking and commenting and don’t leave before taking a peek at our group photo and the work from Ingall’s Head!

Friday Critique a

Friday Critique a

Friday Critique b

Friday Critique b

Grand Manan 2016 Courtesy: David Ogilvie

Grand Manan 2016
Courtesy: David Ogilvie

Grand Manan Island 2016 – Wednesday and Thursday!

03/08/2016

We started at the studio again last Wednesday morning. I had prepared a demonstration on Tuesday at Woodward’s Cove and photographed the first three steps, which I showed on my computer screen.

Step One

Step One

You can probably see the faint pencil lines under the washes in Step One. The washes have been applied in two ways. In some, such as the boat hull, I painted the shape with water and added the colour to the upper area while wet. In the roof, I painted a light grey wash and added the darker grey while wet.

Step Two

Step Two

I continued with the same process and added more shapes. Washes were allowed to dry before adding new ones.

Step Three

Step Three

All of the big shapes are in place. I’ve left the white of the paper in a few areas because I’m about to add flowers in Step Four.

Step Four

Step Four

Overall, I’ve used a ‘light to dark’ and ‘big to small’ approach. As mentioned, I wanted to paint the flowers over clean white paper. The yellows and pinks would lose their intensity if there was a grey or greenish wash underneath. This painting isn’t finished but it’s as far as I took it on Wednesday morning. It was time to hit the road for Seal Cove!

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The old herring smokesheds and piers of Seal Cove provide endless subject matter for our artists. It’s a magical place. Everyone settled in. It was another sunny day so shady spots were sought out.

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Britta at work

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It’s always nice to wind up the day at our studio. We’d all had enough sun and, of course, it’s easy to tape the work up on the wall. Here they are; the sketches and paintings from Seal Cove.

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique b

Wednesday Critique b

You guessed it! We met at our studio again on Thursday morning. A few days earlier, I’d made a small watercolour study in North Head Harbour. I wanted to add pen to it and this was my opportunity.

Step One

Step One

I discussed the basic pen techniques; hatching, cross-hatching, stippling and line variety. I love working with pen and wash and I try to present my thoughts at least once during all of the ‘en plein air’ workshops I teach.

Step Two of pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Step Two

Our painting spot for Thursday was Dark Harbour, surrounded by towering cliffs, on the west side of the island. The small harbour is used mostly by those who collect dulse, an edible seaweed, and dories are their workhorses.

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The critique is a very important part of the painting day. I make my comments and I try to be positive and encouraging. The students get my feedback and also learn a lot from each other. It’s an enjoyable and educational aspect of the workshop.

One more day to go! As always, thanks for following, liking and commenting. While I prepared this post, my blog received it’s 171,000th view and I appreciate them all.

Thursday Critique a

Thursday Critique a

Thursday Critique b

Thursday Critique b

 

Grand Manan Island 2016 – First Two Days!

01/08/2016

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Last Monday morning, the participants in my 2016 sketching and watercolour painting workshop on Grand Manan Island gathered at our studio in North Head. We had all met each other the evening before at the Marathon Inn, where we enjoyed our delicious Welcome Dinner.

I kicked off our week with a discussion/demonstration and my theme was skies and water. It’s a broad subject! I presented a few relevant techniques and emphasized some basic principles and processes. In addition to that, I gave a lesson on drawing basics to the new students. Perspective and the use of a measuring stick were the main topics. The students dispersed to paint and draw in the village of North Head. Over the course of the day, I visited the artists and offered feedback.

Watercolour demonstrations by Barry Coombs

Stewart and Karen at work

Kathleen and Marlene at workMon-bDave at work

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Lauren at work

At the end of the day, we re-grouped at our studio for our first critique. Our week was off to a great start!

Monday Critique a

Monday Critique a

Monday Critique b

Monday Critique b

We met at our studio again on Tuesday morning. I did something a little bit different and showed a selection of watercolours and drawings from the late Saint John artist Jack Humphrey. Here are two of his works from Grand Manan Island courtesy of the National Gallery of Canada. I’ve always enjoyed the simplification and spontaneity of his work.

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Village, Grand Manan by Jack Humphrey

Village, Grand Manan by Jack Humphrey

Village, Grand Manan by Jack Humphrey

Our venue was Woodward’s Cove. It’s quite a unique spot as the harbour completely drains of water at low tide and fills right up again at high tide. It was another sunny day so many of our painters sought out shade and some had even brought their own.

Artists at work

LIz at work

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Here’s the harbour at low tide.

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About six hours later, the harbour had filled up again. Shortly after, we returned to our studio to look at the day’s work. Thanks for following and stay tuned. There’s lots more to come from beautiful Grand Manan Island.

Tuesday Critique a

Tuesday Critique a

Tuesday Critique b

Tuesday Critique b

 

Art and Teaching in the Summer Heat!

07/07/2016

We’re having a heat wave in Hamilton, Ontario. And a drought. I’m trying to stay cool as I prepare for my upcoming workshop on Grand Manan Island. Enroute to Grand Manan this year, I’ll be stopping in the beautiful Miramichi region of New Brunswick to lead a one-day ‘en plein air’ workshop. This event, combined with a two-day Plein Air Paintout, is sponsored by Miramichi Art Core and will be a part of the Irish Festival.

I dropped by ART ETC Gallery Shop at the Art Gallery of Burlington today and was pleased to find several of my paintings displayed throughout the space. Also, I was shown some promotional material which features my work. I’ve exhibited at many galleries over the years and the staff at ART ETC are second to none when it comes to supporting their artists. Thanks, ART ETC!

All work is available for purchase or rental. Rental is a great idea as it gives a prospective art patron a chance to live with a painting for a while before making a decision. Drop by when you’re in the neighbourhood.

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I received a nice surprise in the mail the other day. It’s a certificate from the Dundas Valley School of Art. The school hosted a function for the faculty a few weeks ago but I was unable to attend. Otherwise, I would have been given this thoughtful acknowledgement at that time. I’ve taught at several institutions over many years and this is the first time anything like this has come my way. Thanks, DVSA.

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Plein Air Toronto – Last Two Days!

22/06/2016

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Two days to go in our week of sketching and painting in watercolour! Last Thursday, we met at Riverdale Farm and painted in and around the farm and the adjacent Toronto Necropolis, a park-like and tranquil cemetery.

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I gathered the gang in the Necropolis for a demonstration. We deal with a lot of visual information while painting ‘en plein air’. One of our most important tasks is to find and preserve the light in our subject. A value study is likely the best way to do so and, using a mixture of Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna, I created a study in four values. The lightest value in my study is the white of the paper. It’s followed by a light middle tone, a dark middle tone and ultimately, the dark. Even the more experienced students found it helpful.

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Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

I even ended up with an unintentional goofy face on my house. Following the demonstration, I spent some time with the newer students and presented a refresher of some basic watercolour techniques. After that, my job was to find everyone. They’d set up throughout the farm, park and cemetery.

Katie at work

Emily at work

Only a few of the group focused on the farm animals as subjects but I can’t resist showing you a few of the Riverdale residents.

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Later on, we found a quiet, shady spot for our critique. Plans were made for Friday, our final day together.

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Thursday Critique a

Thursday Critique b

Thursday Critique b

On Friday, we visited Black Creek Pioneer Village, an extensive and wonderful historic site. The buildings and artifacts offer many attractive opportunities for the artists and there are animals, as well.

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I set up under a shade tree and demonstrated at my easel. I chose a complicated subject and tried to simplify it with a watercolour sketch. I talk as I paint and attempt to describe the process and the decisions I’m making as the image develops.

Watercolour demonstraton by Barry Coombs

As usual, the group spread out to find inspiration. On a big site like Pioneer Village, it’s easy to lose track of a few of the painters. I now employ modern technology and text missing painters in order to find them.

Friday was the hottest day of our week but there’s no shortage of comfortable, shady spots at the village.

Evelyn at work

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Eventually, it was time for our last critique of the week. I appreciate the energy, enthusiasm and talent the participants shared at all of our great painting sites. Was there improvement? I think so. Aside from my efforts, they learn from each other and the critique is a very important part of the process. Have a look at Friday’s work! Thanks for following and feel free to leave a comment. Next year, consider Toronto for an ‘en plein air’ painting experience. We’ve had participants from all over Canada and the USA, as well.

Friday Critique a

Friday Critique a

Friday Critique b

Friday Critique b

Friday Critique c

Friday Critique c