Archive for the ‘Art Workshops’ Category

Grand Manan Island 2017 – First Three Days!

08/08/2017

Last week, a group of ‘en plein air’ watercolour painters gathered on lovely Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy. We met on Sunday evening and shared a delicious Welcome Dinner at the historic Marathon Inn. The next morning, we met at our studio for a demonstration. I talked about water, which seemed appropriate as we’re on an island and surrounded by the wet stuff. Water has many moods. I tried to offer some ideas to help the students tackle it’s many challenges.

Following the demonstration, we went over to North Head harbour; just a short hop. We all stay in North Head so it’s nice to be close to home on the first day. Several of the students settled into the shady spot in front of Kirk’s shed.

North Head Harbour is very busy with fishing as well as related activities such as rockweed gathering and the care and feeding of farmed Atlantic salmon.

Nearby, Pettes’ Cove attracted a few eyes. It offers a splendid view of the famous Swallowtail lighthouse.

It was a beautiful, sunny day. Little did we know at the time but our entire week would give us brilliant weather. The studio is a welcome retreat at the end of the day and we assembled for our first critique of the week.

Monday Critique a

Monday Critique b

On Tuesday morning, we met at Seal Cove. Seal Cove features the traditional herring smokesheds and abounds with character. I set up my easel and did a demonstration. I talked about developing a watercolour with a ‘light to dark’ and ‘big to small’ process.

The students spread out in search of subjects and shade. It didn’t take long to settle in.

A few painters brought their shade with them.

Others sought it out.

A few soaked up the sunshine even though I don’t recommend painting in the sun. It dries up your paper and palette too quickly and bleaches out your darks so the painting can become overworked. Still, a happy artist is a good thing…

Eventually, it was time to return to the studio for our critique. As the week goes by, you may notice different styles in our daily exhibitions. I don’t teach ‘my way or the highway’ workshops. As best I can, I encourage each artist to find their personal voice.

Tuesday Critique a

Tuesday Critique b

Tuesday Critique c

You guessed it! More sunshine on Wednesday. While at Seal Cove on Tuesday, I’d done a small watercolour with the intention of adding penwork to it for our Wednesday morning demonstration. I did it at the studio before heading to Fisherman’s Haven Lane, which is home to Ingall’s Head Cottages. Many thanks to Wendy, the proprietor, for allowing us to park on her property.

We got to work right away. This is a lovely and quiet spot, a bit off the beaten track. The locals are always interested in our creative efforts.

Finding shade became an art form of it’s own.

Critique time! Is it already Wednesday? Thanks for following along with our exploits. Stay tuned for my report from Thursday and Friday of last week.

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique b

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Plein Air Toronto 2017 – Last Two Days!

28/06/2017

Click on our First Three Days if you somehow missed the last post. Day four of Plein Air Toronto 2017 was Thursday of last week and the weather, which had been tricky all week, took a turn for the worst. I made arrangements for us to sketch in pen and ink all day long and without any concerns about rain. The catch was that our plein air artists were going indoors for the day. We met in the morning at the Gardiner Museum, which is dedicated to historic and contemporary ceramic art.

It’s a beautiful museum but it’s difficult to gather the entire group at once for a demonstration or critique. I handed out a prepared sheet showing basic pen techniques in the morning. Later, I gathered a small group of pen and ink novices and sketched a Pre-Columbian figure as I discussed my thoughts.

It was a great day and don’t forget the excellent restaurant when you visit the Gardiner. Friday was yet another challenging weather day. However, I don’t have almost thirty years of experience for nothing. We met at University College on the lovely downtown campus of the University of Toronto.

The College has a large interior courtyard surrounded, on two sides, by wide colonnades. We were high and dry and had plenty of subject matter through the arches. Even the arches themselves attracted the eye of our artists.

I brought in some examples of pen and watercolour studies, done on the U of T campus, to get the morning started. As the group worked, I began a watercolour of my own for a change. Several of the new students expressed interest in my approach and process. I began with a sketch to resolve a composition and then drew it up on a sheet of watercolour paper.

  

I wasn’t able to finish the piece by the end of the day as I had teaching responsibilities. I pulled it together later in my studio.

Enough about me! Let’s have a look at our day at University College.

Eventually, it was time for our last critique of the week. The skies cleared just enough and we gathered one more time. What a great group! I thank them all for their cheerful participation and also thank you for following, commenting and liking the posts. Plein Air Toronto will be back next year. Now, for a look at the work from Friday.

University College
Critique a

University College
Critique b

Plein Air Toronto 2017 – First Three Days!

26/06/2017

One week ago, the 2017 Plein Air Toronto participants gathered at the Arts on Adrian studio in the west end. We introduced ourselves and I gave a demonstration that considered several common elements of the urban landscape we’d be painting for the next five days. We also discussed colour; green, in particular.

Following our meeting, we headed down to the Sunnyside Pavilion which is on the beach of Lake Ontario.

The Pavilion is a lovely place to sketch and paint, inside and out.

We put in a good day’s work and met inside the Pavilion for our first critique of the week. Click on an image for a larger version.

Sunnyside Pavilion
Critique a

Sunnyside Pavilion
Critique b

We met onsite at Riverdale Farm on Tuesday morning. It was a blustery day with a few showers but there was ample overhead shelter for us. This urban farm is bordered by a park on one side and a historic cemetery and chapel on the other. There’s lots of great subject matter to choose from including the charming cafe across the street.

I had prepared a demonstration ahead of time. My subject was the cafe and my painting was a value study in cool greys. I discussed my process and the importance of developing an eye for value.

Colour can be added to a study like this by gently ‘glazing’ washes over the appropriate areas. The grey washes should be completely dry before proceeding.

The group wandered around a bit to find their spots and then settled in. I kept a few of the newer folks back to talk about basic drawing and the use of a measuring stick to assist with perspective and proportion. I’ve developed a Drawing Checklist over the years and it can be very useful.

The little bit of rain didn’t deter us. It was a very productive day and we found a private and quiet spot for our critique.

Riverdale Farm
Critique a

Riverdale Farm
Critique b

Wednesday promised to be a day of sunshine and we chose historic Spadina House as our location. We met in the parkette between Spadina House and Casa Loma for my demonstration. I used an approach I call shape-reading, direct painting without any preliminary pencil drawing. Challenging but fun and very instructive. As I painted, I chatted about my thoughts and decisions.

We made the most of our sunny weather and gorgeous painting site.

It was a beautiful day and the paintings were equally lovely. Stay tuned for our final two days of Plein Air Toronto 2017. Coming soon!

Spadina House
Critique a

Spadina House
Critique b

 

 

Introduction to Drawing Cats at DVSA!

11/06/2017

Two weeks ago, I led a one-day workshop at the Dundas Valley School of Art. Our theme was dogs and our medium was pen with watercolour. Last Thursday, I was back and it was time to draw cats!

All of our cat drawings were done from photo reference. I began the day with a look at the skeleton of a cat followed by some tips on drawing the creatures. We usually complete two drawings and start a third over the course of a day.

Our first challenge on Thursday was a calico. I drew the cat with pencil and followed that with some initial pen work.

The next stop was to establish the colours with watercolour. The washes were perfectly dry before I went back in with more pen.

Our next subject was a portrait of a Himalayan kitten. Again, I started with the pencil drawing but this time I applied the watercolour before the pen.

Once dry, it was time to add the pen. The relationship and balance between the amount of pen and watercolour can be unique to each drawing. The pen work in this drawing is much more restrained than in that of the calico. If I was somehow able to eliminate the watercolour, would there be enough penwork to describe the kitten? Maybe not, but they work together effectively.

I presented a much more playful approach to our final drawing of a sleeping tabby. Pencil first before using the pen in a linear manner. Line variety and weight is the key here.

I tried to maintain the playful feel with a non-literal approach to colour. Washes of Pthalo Green and Rose Madder Quinacridone (basically, a cool green and a cool red) were allowed to run into each other. Not all of the students completed this drawing before we ran out of time but they enjoyed the different process.

I won’t be back at DVSA until next fall but I’ve got an exciting lineup of pen and ink and watercolour workshops on the calendar. It’s been an enjoyable spring term with a great bunch of enthusiastic and talented students. Have a peek at their drawings of cats.

Drawing Cats-Critique a

Drawing Cats-Critique b

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico – Another Successful Workshop!

03/04/2017

We’re back home, safe and sound, after another wonderful ten creative days in San Miguel de Allende. Last Tuesday was a free day. On Wednesday morning, we walked up to Plaza San Antonio with it’s striking white church.

I brought my easel along to do an on-site demonstration. We could see the mountains beyond the buildings that surrounded the square. As usual, I discussed my thoughts and decisions as I painted.

It’s always advisable to paint in the shade, especially in Mexico! Fortunately, Plaza San Antonio has plenty of shade and much to paint.

We had a great day and finished off with a critique at our studio. Sadly, we’re down to nine painters. One of the students had to cut her painting holiday short because of a business trip. Aren’t careers a nuisance?

A few of the students followed my lead and painted the same view I did with my demo. That’s not something I recommend necessarily but there are many ways to learn and absorb ideas from an instructor.

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique b

We met in our studio again for my demonstration on Thursday morning. There had been quite a demand for a figure demonstration and I bowed to the requests. My two figures were both started with pencil. Using a cool grey wash, I painted the shadows on the gent to the left. When the washes were dry, I glazed on the local colours. I started directly with local colour for the lady on the right and left a fair bit of paper white to suggest light. I let the washes dry before adding the penwork.

One of my favourite painting spots in SM de Allende is the Instituto Bellas Artes. It’s a shady and peaceful art and music school. Our students settled into the spots of their choice while listening to relaxing live guitar music. Later on, the musical program changed to piano emanating from an upper floor studio.

Another treat at Bellas Artes are the many murals painted by past instructors and students.

We thanked Bellas Artes for hosting a soothing and inspiring day of painting and sketching. It was time for critique, once again.

Thursday Critique a

Thursday Critique b

Alas, Friday was our last day of painting together. We strolled up to Parque Guadiana, a tranquil park in a pretty residential neighbourhood. I did a brief demonstration at my easel. It was really an illustrated review of some of the things we’d discussed to date. Once the students settled down to work, I painted two small works that took about 45 minutes each. I later showed them to the group and explained my thoughts and process.

Friday critique was held in our hotel studio.

Friday Critique a

Friday Critique b

Our painting time had come to an end but we had one more event to celebrate on Saturday; Final Critique. It’s a chance to summarize our time together. Each student selects three of their works and tells us a bit about them and their overall experience. Here is the SM de Allende Class of 2017 (in alphabetical order)!

Fiona

Frances

Ian

Michael

Orshy

Phil

Renate

Susan

Let’s not forget our missing painter, now attending a conference in India.

Karen

That’s all, amigos. I’m grateful to this year’s participants for their good nature and hard work. Thanks go to Jim Nikiforos of Air Transat Travel for his efforts and to those of you who have liked and commented on our adventures. Hasta luego!

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico 2017

28/03/2017

 

Hola, amigos! We’re back in beautiful San Miguel de Allende. We arrived last Thursday afternoon at the Posada de la Aldea and our first group event was a delicious Welcome Dinner. On Friday morning, I led an orientation walk around town so that everyone could get their bearings. The group had the rest of the day on their own.

Our first day of sketching and painting was Saturday. We met at 9am sharp in a shady spot in the hotel courtyard for a lesson/demonstration. The plan was to work in the courtyard for the day. I discussed subject selection and simplification.

The courtyard has plenty of charm and our artists were not short of inspiration.

We wrapped up the day in our studio with a critique.

Saturday Critique a

Saturday Critique b

The lovely local park, Parque Benito Juarez, was our painting site for Sunday. We met in our studio for my demonstration prior to walking over to the park. I wanted to prepare the students for some of the creative challenges they would encounter and foliage was the first priority. I also discussed some architectural elements.

Another great day followed by an enjoyable critique.

Sunday Critique a

Sunday Critique b

We decided to throw caution to the wind on Monday and paint in the Jardin, the main square. There are lots of people but there is plenty of shade, as well. Before we went up to the Jardin, I gave a demonstration in our studio. Arches were on the menu.

It’s very pleasant to return to our studio at the end of a sunny day outdoors. Our Monday critique went extremely well. Tuesday is a free day; shopping, exploring and relaxing. We’ll be back at it on Wednesday morning. Hasta luego!

Monday Critique a

Monday Critique b

Grand Manan Island – Final Day!

05/08/2016

One week ago this morning we met at our studio to start the final day of my annual sketching and watercolour painting workshop on Grand Manan Island. As usual, I began with a lesson/demonstration.

IMG_5816

Watercolour demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs

I don’t follow a course outline for any of my workshops. Also, I don’t teach just my ‘style’ although I do present elements of it, if and when appropriate or upon request. I teach fundamentals and principles; techniques and concepts.

Friday morning was foggy. I showed an approach to fog. I also responded to what I had seen of the student’s work the previous day at Dark Harbour. One more thing! I talked about colour and contrast and how they can be used to create a focal point. As soon as I was done, we were off to Fisherman’s Haven Lane in Ingall’s Head.

Fe

Ff

Fg

Fc

Fd

Fh

What a week! A little bit of fog and a few tentative drops of rain as we packed up to head back for critique. Other than that, we enjoyed almost 100% sunshine. Friday was a busy day, overall. We looked at the work from the day. Then, we dispersed to our accommodations to prepare for our Farewell Dinner at the Marathon Inn. Steak or lobster? The big event followed dinner. It was time for our Final Critique; a summary of our week together. And, of course, our group photo taken by the generous and talented David Ogilvie.

It was a great evening and the perfect way to wrap up our week. I’ll be back next year from Sunday, July 30 – Friday, August 4. Details will be posted soon on this blog. Thanks for following, liking and commenting and don’t leave before taking a peek at our group photo and the work from Ingall’s Head!

Friday Critique a

Friday Critique a

Friday Critique b

Friday Critique b

Grand Manan 2016 Courtesy: David Ogilvie

Grand Manan 2016
Courtesy: David Ogilvie

Grand Manan Island 2016 – Wednesday and Thursday!

03/08/2016

We started at the studio again last Wednesday morning. I had prepared a demonstration on Tuesday at Woodward’s Cove and photographed the first three steps, which I showed on my computer screen.

Step One

Step One

You can probably see the faint pencil lines under the washes in Step One. The washes have been applied in two ways. In some, such as the boat hull, I painted the shape with water and added the colour to the upper area while wet. In the roof, I painted a light grey wash and added the darker grey while wet.

Step Two

Step Two

I continued with the same process and added more shapes. Washes were allowed to dry before adding new ones.

Step Three

Step Three

All of the big shapes are in place. I’ve left the white of the paper in a few areas because I’m about to add flowers in Step Four.

Step Four

Step Four

Overall, I’ve used a ‘light to dark’ and ‘big to small’ approach. As mentioned, I wanted to paint the flowers over clean white paper. The yellows and pinks would lose their intensity if there was a grey or greenish wash underneath. This painting isn’t finished but it’s as far as I took it on Wednesday morning. It was time to hit the road for Seal Cove!

Wed-b

IMG_2970

The old herring smokesheds and piers of Seal Cove provide endless subject matter for our artists. It’s a magical place. Everyone settled in. It was another sunny day so shady spots were sought out.

Wed-a

Britta at work

Wed-f

Wed-e

Wed-d

It’s always nice to wind up the day at our studio. We’d all had enough sun and, of course, it’s easy to tape the work up on the wall. Here they are; the sketches and paintings from Seal Cove.

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique b

Wednesday Critique b

You guessed it! We met at our studio again on Thursday morning. A few days earlier, I’d made a small watercolour study in North Head Harbour. I wanted to add pen to it and this was my opportunity.

Step One

Step One

I discussed the basic pen techniques; hatching, cross-hatching, stippling and line variety. I love working with pen and wash and I try to present my thoughts at least once during all of the ‘en plein air’ workshops I teach.

Step Two of pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Step Two

Our painting spot for Thursday was Dark Harbour, surrounded by towering cliffs, on the west side of the island. The small harbour is used mostly by those who collect dulse, an edible seaweed, and dories are their workhorses.

Thurs-k

Thurs-i

Thurs-c

Thurs-h

Thurs-j

Thurs-d

Thurs-g

The critique is a very important part of the painting day. I make my comments and I try to be positive and encouraging. The students get my feedback and also learn a lot from each other. It’s an enjoyable and educational aspect of the workshop.

One more day to go! As always, thanks for following, liking and commenting. While I prepared this post, my blog received it’s 171,000th view and I appreciate them all.

Thursday Critique a

Thursday Critique a

Thursday Critique b

Thursday Critique b

 

Grand Manan Island 2016 – First Two Days!

01/08/2016

IMG_3201

Last Monday morning, the participants in my 2016 sketching and watercolour painting workshop on Grand Manan Island gathered at our studio in North Head. We had all met each other the evening before at the Marathon Inn, where we enjoyed our delicious Welcome Dinner.

I kicked off our week with a discussion/demonstration and my theme was skies and water. It’s a broad subject! I presented a few relevant techniques and emphasized some basic principles and processes. In addition to that, I gave a lesson on drawing basics to the new students. Perspective and the use of a measuring stick were the main topics. The students dispersed to paint and draw in the village of North Head. Over the course of the day, I visited the artists and offered feedback.

Watercolour demonstrations by Barry Coombs

Stewart and Karen at work

Kathleen and Marlene at workMon-bDave at work

IMG_0172

Lauren at work

At the end of the day, we re-grouped at our studio for our first critique. Our week was off to a great start!

Monday Critique a

Monday Critique a

Monday Critique b

Monday Critique b

We met at our studio again on Tuesday morning. I did something a little bit different and showed a selection of watercolours and drawings from the late Saint John artist Jack Humphrey. Here are two of his works from Grand Manan Island courtesy of the National Gallery of Canada. I’ve always enjoyed the simplification and spontaneity of his work.

Village, Grand Manan-JH

Village, Grand Manan by Jack Humphrey

Village, Grand Manan by Jack Humphrey

Village, Grand Manan by Jack Humphrey

Our venue was Woodward’s Cove. It’s quite a unique spot as the harbour completely drains of water at low tide and fills right up again at high tide. It was another sunny day so many of our painters sought out shade and some had even brought their own.

Artists at work

LIz at work

Tues-b

Here’s the harbour at low tide.

Tues-c

Tues-f

Tues-d

Tues-f

Tues-g

About six hours later, the harbour had filled up again. Shortly after, we returned to our studio to look at the day’s work. Thanks for following and stay tuned. There’s lots more to come from beautiful Grand Manan Island.

Tuesday Critique a

Tuesday Critique a

Tuesday Critique b

Tuesday Critique b

 

Plein Air Toronto 2016- Days Two and Three!

20/06/2016

Last Tuesday, we visited Kew Gardens and Beach in the east end of Toronto. It’s a lovely, shady spot with gardens, sporting facilities and lots to paint. One of the highlights is the Gardener’s House.

IMG_2224

I wanted to discuss some basic thoughts about foliage and it’s relationship to architecture. As you can see, I set up my easel in the beautiful sunshine. If you’ve ever attended one of my outdoor workshops, you’ll know that I don’t advise painting in the sun. It’s very hard to see what you’re doing and the watercolour dries more quickly than desired. In this case, I wanted the paint to dry quickly so I could illustrate my ideas without taking too much time.

IMG_5086

Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Following the demonstration, I joined some of the new students for a discussion of perspective and the use of a measuring stick. Familiarity with a measuring stick can help us understand the angles of buildings.

IMG_5090

We had a special guest on Tuesday. Jay Holobach is an artist from Nashville, Tennessee. He’s spending a lot of time in Toronto this summer and I thought I’d extend some good old Canadian hospitality and invite him to paint with us for the day. Jay works in oils and our watercolour painters enjoyed his company and his work.

Jay Holobach

Kim and Katie at work

Phil at work

Elizabeth at work

Speaking of things Canadian, what better spot for our critique than a hockey rink! Nice boards for taping our paintings and sketches and the sun on our backs. Several hundred puck marks set off the work to great advantage.

IMG_2252

Tuesday Critique a

Tuesday Critique a

Tuesday Critique b

Tuesday Critique b

We don’t often paint downtown but we did on Wednesday! The Roundhouse was our venue and it hosts the Toronto Railway Museum and Steam Whistle Brewery. Not only that; the Roger’s Centre (home of the MLB Blue Jays), the landmark CN Tower and the Ripley’s Aquarium surrounded us.

IMG_0439

I wanted to discuss pen combined with watercolour. Many of the regular students have seen my approach to pen and watercolour so I let them get to work. I gathered a smaller group of the new students and took them through the steps of a drawing of this building.

IMG_2275

Step one of pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Step One – pencil and wash

Step two of pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Step Two – Colour

Step Three - Pen

Step Three – Pen

IMG_5126

I photographed the steps on my iPad and showed them to the rest of the group as I did my rounds over the course of the day. In addition to that, I completed two more sketches with pen and watercolour.

Pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

There is no shortage of subject matter at the Roundhouse. The trains and buildings were very popular with our artists.

IMG_2277

IMG_2276

IMG_2272

We found another good critique spot at the end of the day. The Don Station building provided a convenient wall and lots of shade. After critique, we headed to a nearby restaurant for dinner and drinks and a chance to get to know each other. I hope you’re enjoying our Plein Air Toronto week. Look for my next post a few days from now.

IMG_5129

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique b

Wednesday Critique b