Archive for the ‘Barry’s Artwork’ Category

Painting from Photos in Watercolour at Arts on Adrian!

04/03/2019

I’ve never been an advocate of painting from photographs although I have done it on occasion in the distant past. Let me clarify my thought. I have used photos as reference. My ‘Cubist’ watercolours have always been inspired by memory, imagination, sketches and, at times, some photo reference. My more traditional bird drawings and paintings, however, rely greatly on my own photographic reference. However, I don’t copy photos verbatim and I don’t understand why anyone does so. Technical virtuosity and rendering skills, no matter how sublime, do not necessarily equal art.

North Head, Grand Manan
by Barry Coombs

 

 

 

 

 

White-throated Sparrow
by Barry Coombs

Many artists do work from photographs, though, and many do it well. An artist is capable of transforming the photographic reference into something personal and beautiful.

I prefer the tradition of ‘en plein air’ and direct observation and it’s mostly what I teach. As a longtime instructor, it’s been impossible to avoid the preference many students hold for working from photographs. I decided to deal with the practice by offering a one-day workshop.

The participants sent me three photos each ahead of time. I created a PowerPoint presentation so that we could look at them all together and identify potential problems. We broke it down into three categories: composition, light and shadow and colour.

First of all, we looked at watercolours from masters of the medium that were all painted without the aid of photographs. Then, we looked at the photos sent by the students. Our goal was to find the essence of the subject. In order to do so, all of the images required some serious consideration.

We looked at this lovely snowy scene from Karen W. I made a few suggestions. Eliminate or move the two trees in the lower left corner. Remove the sign or whatever it is in the same area. Lose the wire seen across the roof. Re-design the foliage to show the viewer more of the building. Re-design the trees on the left to deepen the space and suggest a pathway. Karen had a great idea and shortened the roof so it wouldn’t run off the righthand edge of the painting.

Our next step was to decide on a format. Most of our pads and watercolour blocks are of a 3 x 4 proportion (9 x 12, 12 x 16). The format was drawn directly onto the photograph and a grid was created. Then, a smaller image, in exactly the same proportion, was drawn and a four-value study was completed. Have a look at what Karen W did. Later on, you’ll see her sustained watercolour in progress in the critique image.

Gridded Photo and Study
by Karen W

Once a small study was completed, the grid was used to transfer the image to a watercolour sheet, in exactly the same proportion! The rest of the afternoon, for the most part, was spent painting. I interrupted at one point for a brief discussion of copyright and ethical issues that often arise when working from photos. Of course, if you always use your own photo you don’t have to concern yourself with these issues.

The day went very well. Not everyone was able to finish their work but all went away with a better understanding of the potential problems and pitfalls of simply copying a photograph and the many creative benefits of interpreting their photographic image. Here are a few of the photos that were used.

And here are the paintings! Click on the critique image to view a larger version. Karen’s painting is on the upper left.

Painting from Photos Critique

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright and ethics

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Wednesday Watercolour at DVSA – Week Three!

25/10/2018

I employed the KISS rule yesterday at the Dundas Valley School of Art. Keep it simple, student! Last week, you may recall that very few of the paintings were finished at the end of the night. I don’t really care as to whether or not they’re finished but I do think it’s important to go through the whole process. With that in mind, I suggested a few options; smaller paintings and/or less objects in the painting. In addition to that, I opted to use pears, always a classic subject, with some simple pots to set them off.

My demonstration sheet below is of the ‘you had to be there’ variety. It doesn’t look like much but I used it to discuss basic ‘soft edge’ techniques. The demonstration plus our discussion clicked somehow.

I’d like to take a little bit of credit for the results but I didn’t paint these watercolours, did I? Overall, the students really pushed themselves and were much more satisfied with their work than they had been last week. I’m also pleased that the less-experienced watercolour painters have shown improvement every class. See you at DVSA next week!

Wednesday Critique

Recent Paintings at Propeller Gallery – It’s a Wrap!

03/07/2017

My exhibition of recent paintings at Propeller Gallery in Toronto ended yesterday. Thanks go to Nathan and everyone else at Propeller who made things easy. An artist feels support in many ways. Not everyone, of course, is able to make a purchase. Artists understand that but really appreciate a good turnout. My thanks go to all of you who attended the opening reception or visited the show at another time. It was Canada Day weekend and I know it took a special effort from many of you.

I received compliments from many of you and every word is valued. I was particularly pleased to receive the very positive feedback from my creative peers. Those words are priceless.

I’ve added a few installation shots to this post. If you’d like to read my artist statement and view all of the work from the exhibition, click here or on the Propeller page under the Pages menu in the sidebar on the right.

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

RECENT PAINTINGS by Barry Coombs at Propeller Gallery

24/06/2017

You are cordially invited to a solo exhibition of recent paintings by BARRY COOMBS in the North Gallery of PROPELLER GALLERY. The exhibition will run from June 28 – July 2, 2017.

The Opening Reception will take place on Thursday, June 29 from 6:30 – 9pm.

The exhibition will be open from Wednesday to Saturday from 12 – 6pm and on Sunday from 12 – 5pm.

PROPELLER GALLERY
30 Abell Street (near Queen West and Gladstone) in Toronto, Ontario M6J 0A9
416-504-7142 / propellerctr.com

Barry’s Birds for Wood Duck magazine – April and May

05/05/2017

These pen and ink drawings were my submissions for the April and May issues of the Wood Duck, the magazine of the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club. The monthly feature is called Barry’s Birds.

Killdeer-
April

Sharp-shinned Hawk-
May

Barry’s Birds for Wood Duck magazine – February and March

14/03/2017

These pen and ink drawings were my submissions for the February and March issues of the Wood Duck, the magazine of the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club. The monthly feature is called Barry’s Birds.

Eastern Screech-Owl –
February

Red-bellied Woodpecker –
March

Barry’s Birds for January, 2017 – Snow Bunting

15/01/2017

Pen and ink drawing by Barry Coombs

This pen and ink drawing of a Snow Bunting is my submission for the January issue of the Wood Duck, the magazine of the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club. The monthly feature is called Barry’s Birds.

Snow Buntings visit windswept and snowbound rural fields in our region every winter. This individual had a kernel of corn in it’s beak.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Seasons Greetings!

24/12/2016

Christmascartoon2016 by Barry Coombs

Barry’s Birds in the Wood Duck magazine

10/12/2016

My hobby is birding. As such, I’m a member in a few clubs and organizations. One of these is the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club. The club produces the Wood Duck magazine nine times a year, from September to May. I recently submitted a pen and ink drawing of an American Kestrel for the December issue. The editor liked it and suggested we make it a regular feature. Barry’s Birds has hatched and taken flight!

American Kestrel by Barry Coombs

American Kestrel
by Barry Coombs

Wood Duck, December 2016, Cover  Wood Duck, December 2016, P. 94