Winter Tuesday Watercolour Class – February 3



This is another view of the still life I set up for the Sustained Saturday students last weekend. I focused on the draped fabric for my demonstration on Saturday. Yesterday, I repeated the essentials of that demonstration for the Tuesday students. In addition to that, I made a few small studies using the grey underpainting (or grisaille) approach.

Watercolour demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs

Here’s a look at the apple before I ‘glazed’ it with local colour.

Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

We stopped for a quick break during the class to look at a book of British watercolours. Many of these artists developed the values in their watercolour images with greys before adding colour. It’s a very traditional and useful process.

Some of the students were a bit intimidated by the folds in the fabric. That didn’t stop them from giving it their best shot. Not everyone finished but it’s interesting to see the grey areas in the unfinished work.

Sometime today, this art blog will host it’s 160,000 view. Thanks for following, commenting and liking!

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Sustained Saturday Watercolour Class – January 30



Draped fabrics are always a stimulating subject and I don’t present a still life like this very often. My talented students were wary as they entered the studio but wariness turned to eagerness as I demonstrated a traditional approach to handling the folds. They were eager to paint and see what they could do with it.

Step one of watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

I developed the folds with greys and discussed the brush-handling techniques I used to create soft edges, when desired. My greys were a mixture of Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna. I allowed the demonstration to dry completely before ‘glazing’ the local colour over the fabric. While the brown wash was still wet, I dabbed at the ridges of the folds with a Q-tip.

Step two of watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

I didn’t insist that everyone take the same approach but they all thought it was worth a try. I photographed the paintings once the greys had been established. Here’s one of them; the artist is a Saturday regular named Karen Waite.

Step one of watercolour by Karen Waite

Step one of watercolour
by Karen Waite

Every minute of the day was needed yesterday. Most took the time to do a small study similar to my demonstration before embarking on their sustained watercolour. I think the results reveal how engaged they were with the subject and process. It was an enjoyable day; a solid learning experience in good company.

Sustained Saturday Critique

Sustained Saturday Critique

AUTUMN BARN – new acrylic on canvas

AUTUMN BARN acrylic on canvas 18 x 24"

acrylic on canvas 18 x 24″

I’ve been busy in the studio this winter. I finished AUTUMN BARN recently and just added it to the Acrylics gallery on my website. Have a look at my other acrylics on canvas by clicking here.

Winter Tuesday Watercolour Classes – January 12



This is the other side of our still life from the Sustained Saturday class last weekend. It’s a tricky subject and I did my best to simplify the various elements of the challenge. As on Saturday, I discussed the drawing of ellipses and also offered suggestions about how to handle the crate and it’s relationship to the cups and mugs.

Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

I thought I might experience a mutiny when the Tuesday students saw the still life. There were a few nervous remarks as they entered the studio. As usual, however, they accepted the task and worked hard. It was a good learning experience and the classes ended on a very positive note.

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Sustained Saturday Watercolour Class – January 9


Cups and Mugs - still life by Barry Coombs

Winter term kicked off at the Arts on Adrian studio in Toronto yesterday. I always put a lot of thought and time into the preparation of my still life setups.  I’d been thinking about an interesting way to display these everyday cups and mugs and it came together when I found this crate at Ikea.

I started the day with a drawing review. Ellipses are always challenging. Following that, I suggested a way to simplify the crate in order to bring out the light on the cups and mugs. My first, and lightest, wash on the crate is darker than the light on the cup. This helps to clarify the relationship between the two.

Drawing demonstration by Barry Coombs  Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

All of the students took advantage of the full day and spent quite a bit of time drawing the objects in their sketchbooks before beginning their watercolour paintings. The practice paid off. There are two more Sustained Saturdays this term. Why don’t you join us? Check out the Winter Studio Calendar here.

Sustained Saturday Critique

Sustained Saturday Critique

The Joy of Looking – Shapes and Shadows!


Happy New Year, everyone and thank you for your comments and greetings on my Christmas cartoon.

What do artists do when they’re not making art? I, for one, look. I never stop looking. Yesterday, I was out birding (my hobby) with a friend in the southern Ontario countryside. By the way, you’ll notice the very unusual lack of snow on the ground.

I am not much of a photographer but I carry my camera with me on these excursions. Late in the afternoon, the low light was spectacular and I noticed some interesting cast shadow shapes on silos and barns. My friend (the driver) was kind enough to stop so I could take a few shots.

Chatham-Kent County, Ontario

Silo Shadow #1

Other than the light, I was attracted to Silo Shadow #1 by the shape of the cast shadow on the barn roof. Wait a minute! There’s no visible crenelation in the silo itself. I think of this as a sort of ‘found’ visual pun. These things attract my eye and amuse me.


Silo Shadow #2

Silo Shadow #2

You can probably figure out what I like about Silo Shadow #2. It’s the way the curving shadow on the silo runs onto the barn roof. The joy of looking! I never know what visual treats I’ll see next.

If you’ve read to this point, you deserve a treat. Here’s a photo of a Snowy Owl. This beautiful bird flew up from the roadside, over our vehicle, and into the next field. These owls descend from the far north every winter. They’re not used to vehicles and can be quite prone to car strikes. We saw five Snowy Owls yesterday and they sure stand out against the snowless fields.

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl


Happy Holidays!

I don't care if he's bored with red. Talk him out of Cadmium Yellow!!!

“I don’t care if he’s bored with red.
Talk him out of Cadmium Yellow!!!”

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico 2016



Who wouldn’t want to sketch and  paint in the Number 1 City in the World? Our painting holiday in gorgeous SM de Allende runs from March 3 – 13, 2016. This lovely historic town is located in the heartland of old Spanish Mexico. SM de Allende is very safe, friendly and welcoming with wonderful restaurants and warm, sunny weather. The bright colours, colonial architecture and lush parks and gardens offer stimulating subject matter that attracts artists from all over the world.

Are you worried about the state of the Canadian dollar? It still goes a long way in Mexico and our package price is guaranteed as long as we have a minimum of 12 participants.

Full information about this painting holiday is just a click away  in the Painting Holidays menu or right here:

Don’t be disappointed! Our deadline for enrollment is December 28. Please, contact me if you have any questions at


Fall Tuesday Watercolour Class – Week Four!



Tuesday students work from the same still life as the Saturday group. I try not to spend as much time on the demonstration on Tuesday because these are three-hour classes. They don’t have an entire Saturday to develop their watercolours.

The Tuesday classes follow the Saturday classes. Usually, I’ll refer to the Saturday demo as we get started. This Tuesday, I did the demo on the left for the morning class and the demo on the right for the evening class. I wanted to stress simplification of form and I left these studies unfinished so the students could clearly see the first few steps. I also pointed out the study from Saturday (far right) and discussed the steps I used to finish it.

Watercolour demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs  Watercolour study by Barry Coombs

Several of the students were challenged by the drawing element of the still life; the perspective of the books and the metal box, for example. Some didn’t quite finish but I don’t mind. I’d rather see an unfinished piece than something that’s rushed.

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique



Fall Sustained Saturday Watercolour Class



I hadn’t dug out the brass objects for quite a while. They’re a good challenge and there are a few things I wanted to emphasize with my demonstration.

First of all, there are lots of reflections and they can be quite distracting. It’s important to think about the objects as volumes and to carefully consider how they are lit. The spotlight is directly above our still life and I tried to simplify these objects to show how the light source can make them feel three-dimensional.

Often, I mention ‘wire frame’ drawing. Do you know what I mean? Some of you may have done a project in high school involving the creation of objects from wire. Imagine making a box from wire. You’d be able to see right through it. I did a small ‘wire frame’ study on my demo sheet. The coloured ellipses show the base of three different objects. Note the red ellipse. It fits into the space between the two books. No overlap. Overlap would defy physics. The ‘wire frame’ approach helps us create believable space in our work.

Watercolour demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs

We stopped about thirty minutes after my demonstration to review our thumbnail sketches. We do these sketches to work out our compositions. Everything should be considered, not just the placement of the objects in the frame of reference (usually a rectangle) but value and colour relationships, as well. The colour chosen for the ‘background’ will have a big impact on the image.

Take a look at what the Sustained Saturday students created.

Sustained Saturday Critique

Sustained Saturday Critique



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