Tuesday Watercolour Class – Week Three

Most of the Tuesday students will be glad to see the end of that fruit box in the middle of the still-life. It’s been banged around and is a bit wonky. I suggested that they start their thumbnails and preparatory drawings with the box. Also, I think it’s important to understand the underlying cubic volume of the box.

Here are some things I look for and check carefully when drawing cubic forms. These are all useful ideas but may not always be done in the order presented here.


I’ve measured the left wall and then, moving the measurement over, compared it to the right wall. The left wall is wider.

Compare the top of the box to the height of the side. How many A’s fit into B? Almost three? It’s easy to make A too big. If so, it might look as if you’re standing over the box and peering down into it.


Check the relationship between the bottom corners. Which is highest? If you reverse the relationship between the left and right bottom corners, making the left higher than the right, everything else will be altered. Not necessarily for the best.

Do the same thing with your top corners. Also, pay close attention to the two top middle corners. Is the back corner to the left or the right of the front corner? It’s crucial to get this right.


I’m using my Satay skewer as a measuring stick (above left). In this case, I’m checking the different angles of the box and will compare the angles in my drawing to those in the actual still-life. I usually do this early on in the drawing and double-check it until I’m satisfied.

Finally, I’m checking the angle from corner to corner on the large planes of the box (above right). The angle shown is approximately 45 degrees. A taller box would have a different angle so it’s a good way to check proportions.

Review of drawing fundamentals can be painful but usually pays off. The students appreciate this but couldn’t wait to get painting.

Tuesday AM Critique

Tuesday PM Critique


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4 Responses to “Tuesday Watercolour Class – Week Three”

  1. lindahalcombfineart Says:

    I took three drawing classes (sequentially) about a year ago. It was the best thing I ever did. The instructor was trained in Russia and uses a very academic approach, a bit like yours with rigorous attention paid to dimensions and angles. Your instructiona obviously paid off for your students. They created GREAT paintings.

  2. Stephen Says:

    Hey thanks for this class Barry
    The actual measuring takes less time than you took to explain it here but it is such an important discipline isn’t it?
    And it is good for figures as well.
    What I found also is that this type of discipline, like seeing negative spaces adds great richness to the way I see the world around me.
    I find your classes so inspiring – your students are fortunate to have you as a teacher I think.

  3. Stephen Says:

    The two exhibition photos did not show when I first opened this note. Man! your students produce some good work. Well done all of you!

  4. Barry Coombs Says:

    Thanks, Linda and Stephen. I try not to be too technical with my teaching but making the effort to learn a few perspective basics can be extremely rewarding.

    Stephen: I agree about the value of “this type of discipline”. I’ve taught a lot of fundamental drawing courses over the years and really enjoyed the opportunity to help students see the world with new understanding and pleasure.

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