Sustained Saturday – Pomegranates in Watercolour

Still Life - FallSustSat3/2013

Fall term at my studio has come to an end. It’s time to enjoy the holiday season and to do some painting. Actually, I always paint but it’s nice to have a whole month of studio time in the offing.

The Saturday students have a whole day to paint. With that in mind, I tend to stress the benefits of developing a good process. I do the same with my morning and evening classes but the extra hours on a Saturday allow the students a little bit more time to experiment and try new ideas. Don’t tell them that, though! The day flies by and there never seems to be enough time.

Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs - FallSustSat3/2013

Most of the students will complete a thumbnail sketch to help them resolve their composition for the day. I also suggest they test their colours and values on a scrap sheet and even make some swatches to practice ‘soft edge’ techniques. Today, I added another idea to the mix. I discussed the many benefits of painting a small study of the subject; a warmup watercolour.

Why do I consider my demonstration to be a study and what did I do differently from a more sustained work?

• My demo is only a handspan in size; about 6 x 7″.
• I didn’t tape the edges of the piece. I wanted it to be quick and spirited and the formal step of taping the edges might work against that  feeling.
• I did a pencil drawing but I drew broadly and with no detail, at all.
• Red, yellow and blue. I limited myself to my primary colours. Everything was mixed from them.
• I timed myself. I always have to be aware of time when I’m demonstrating because the students are itching to get to work. This piece took about 35 minutes; longer than I usually spend on a studio demonstration. I suggested that the students give themselves no more than an hour.
• I used a #8 round brush for everything. As the work progressed, I held it farther and farther back from the tip. My marks became more relaxed and less fussy.

Not everyone did a study today but most made the attempt. Here’s what happened:

Watercolour studies - FallSustSat3/2013

Some of the students don’t like to do much preliminary planning. They feel that it drains their creative juices and that their sustained work will suffer. After our morning studies, some chose to do a larger version of the same composition and others tried something different. Can you match the artists from the work shown in these two collections?

Critique - FallSustSat3/2013

It’s been a very creative day and a great finale to the 2013 Saturday classes. Thanks for following. I’ll be actively blogging over the next month or so. No teaching to report but I have some other things to share.


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4 Responses to “Sustained Saturday – Pomegranates in Watercolour”

  1. Tony Cook Says:

    Ah – pomegranates, I remember them well!

  2. Ruth Bailey Says:

    I like the sparkle of whites that you left in the study!

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