Grand Manan Island – First Two Days!


Let me tell you about the Birds and the Bees. We’ve got a great group of painters this week on Grand Manan Island. Some are less-experienced than others and that’s the case for most workshops. I decided on our first morning, yesterday, to give some of my demonstrations for all participants and some for the newer painters. The new guys are getting some ‘back to basics’ and that became B2B and that became the Bees. The more experienced painters, who don’t need the basics, head off to paint outdoors right away and they are now the Birds. Some start the day as a Bee and take flight as a Bird later on.

We met at our studio yesterday, Monday morning, and after a talk with the Birds I discussed a few fundamentals with the Bees. We practiced basic soft-edge techniques and I suggested a simplification exercise that would give them experience without becoming too boring.

Watercolour demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs

Over the course of the day, everyone worked outside for at least a few hours. I visited the Birds where they were perched along the shoreline in North Head and offered them some feedback.

Stewart at Work

Artist at Work

We reconvened in the studio at the end of the day and had our first critique. I looked at the Birds and the Bees separately.

Monday Critique - Bees

Monday Critique – Bees

Monday Critique - Birds

Monday Critique – Birds

This morning, Tuesday, we met again in the studio. A thunderstorm raged outside for an hour or two and I discussed guidelines about painting water and reflections.

Watercolour demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs

Water can be a tricky subject but there are principles, based on observation, that can help. Our group paints outdoors and we don’t use materials like masking fluid so we try to solve the problems with our paint, brushes and paper.

Both Birds and Bees attended the demo and, when it wrapped up, we headed to Woodward’s Cove to paint. Woodward’s Cove is one of the island’s largest harbours and we knew there would be lots of water to challenge us.


Well, we ran out of water but not until mid-afternoon. The tides are spectacular in the Bay of Fundy and this harbour drains completely twice every 24 hours. The painters managed to find lots of subjects, including water, and we had a productive day.

Britta at Work


Aleda at Work


John at Work


Our critique was back at the studio. We looked at the Bees and the Birds separately again but it won’t be long before we start to mix them up.

Tuesday Critique - Bees

Tuesday Critique – Bees

Tuesday Critique - Birds

Tuesday Critique – Birds


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11 Responses to “Grand Manan Island – First Two Days!”

  1. Arlene Says:

    Especially love the first set of images by the Bees – very basic graphic shapes! Also love the top photo of the boat.

    • Barry Coombs Says:

      Thanks, Arlene. It’s a simplification exercise but can lead to some surprisingly colourful and charming results.

      • Arlene Says:

        I wish I could find a class like yours here in Eastbourne! I think we were given too much too soon!

  2. William Brisland Says:

    Lovely to see you all getting tanned in Grand Manan and that the tides are being cooperative NOT! Have a great time everyone, stay warm and dry and look forward to your next post. I do so enjoy them.

  3. Carol King Says:

    What wonderful work by the birds and bees. Love the water studies.

  4. weisserwatercolours Says:

    ….it is SUCH a great location, oh my oh my (I lived in Saint John once)–the smells, the sounds, the misty air–and to have a confirming and group-building coach–a cohort in colour–makes me SO wish I could have gone, too. Wonderful and wondrous to see this post.

  5. Lois Says:

    Thought the Bees, did good. Kind of Cubism; we I like,and the
    The Birds; did some Beautiful paintings Love the Boat pic, on
    the Left…
    Thanks for sharing, love the Photos. Your always taking
    me on a Journey, thru your Pic. Thanks so much.. Only wish
    I could be there.

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