San Miguel de Allende, Mexico – Wrap Up!

We’re back home from a wonderful ten days of sketching and painting in Mexico. Last Friday was our final day of painting. I started the day in our studio with a demonstration of a figure in watercolour. I talk about value and light and shadow a lot in my workshops. The subject I selected, a hat and basket vendor, was very complicated but I wanted to show how a single light source and a grey wash in a middle value could help solve a complex visual problem.

My first step was the pencil drawing. There are actually two steps shown. Initially, I use only straight lines in order to establish the basic shapes of the subject. Then, I introduce curved lines and strokes where it’s appropriate to do so.

My cool grey wash is mixed from Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna. I painted it everywhere except where the sun was hitting my subject directly.

Step one of w/c demo by Barry Coombs - SMA2013   Step two of w/c demo by Barry Coombs - SMA2013

Once the grey wash was completely dry, I added local colour. Also, I darkened a few of the shadows. I suggested that the students try it with a simpler, less confusing subject.

Step three of w/c demo by Barry Coombs - SMA2013

It was our last day ‘en plein air’ so I gave the students the freedom to select their own painting locations. SM de Allende has so much to offer and everyone felt very comfortable exploring the town.


SMA6  IMG_8871



Our critique always takes place at our studio. We usually do it in two batches so we can focus on a few works at a time.

Friday Critique; First Batch

Friday Critique;
First Batch

Friday Critique; Second Batch

Friday Critique;
Second Batch

I want to show you a few more pieces. The first is by Randy Adams. I met Randy during my Grand Manan Island workshop last summer. My workshops aren’t designed for total beginners and he was fairly new to watercolour and the ‘plein air’ experience but his positive attitude and undemanding nature allowed him to fit right in. He’s worked hard and improved a great deal. Check out those cobblestones!

SM DE ALLENDE by Randy Adams

by Randy Adams

Our last featured work is a sketch by Phil Masters. She did some very nice watercolours during our stay but I like the way this sums up so much of the SM de Allende experience. Courtyards, arches, fountains and umbrellas. I’d like to see her paint a watercolour from this sketch.

ARCHES by Phil Masters

by Phil Masters

We enjoyed our Farewell Dinner on Friday night at a local restaurant called Hecho In Mexico. Saturday was a free day except for one important event; our Final Critique. We nibbled on guacamole and had a drink or two as each student showed us three works created over the duration of our visit. It’s a great summary of the whole experience. Here’s the class of 2013. Why don’t you join us next year?





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3 Responses to “San Miguel de Allende, Mexico – Wrap Up!”

  1. Lois Says:

    Very nice art work from the Students..
    Randy’s, cobblestone, so realistic looking.
    Phil,nice looseness, to his drawing.
    Beautiful pic. of the City. Loved your Demo, of the Man…

  2. Carol King Says:

    Hi Barry, thanks for sharing your trip to Mexico. I enjoyed going through all your posts and seeing many of your student’s art. (They’re great!)

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