Archive for the ‘Plein Air Toronto’ Category

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

 

 

Plein Air Toronto – Last Two Days!

22/06/2016

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Two days to go in our week of sketching and painting in watercolour! Last Thursday, we met at Riverdale Farm and painted in and around the farm and the adjacent Toronto Necropolis, a park-like and tranquil cemetery.

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I gathered the gang in the Necropolis for a demonstration. We deal with a lot of visual information while painting ‘en plein air’. One of our most important tasks is to find and preserve the light in our subject. A value study is likely the best way to do so and, using a mixture of Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna, I created a study in four values. The lightest value in my study is the white of the paper. It’s followed by a light middle tone, a dark middle tone and ultimately, the dark. Even the more experienced students found it helpful.

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Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

I even ended up with an unintentional goofy face on my house. Following the demonstration, I spent some time with the newer students and presented a refresher of some basic watercolour techniques. After that, my job was to find everyone. They’d set up throughout the farm, park and cemetery.

Katie at work

Emily at work

Only a few of the group focused on the farm animals as subjects but I can’t resist showing you a few of the Riverdale residents.

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Later on, we found a quiet, shady spot for our critique. Plans were made for Friday, our final day together.

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Thursday Critique a

Thursday Critique b

Thursday Critique b

On Friday, we visited Black Creek Pioneer Village, an extensive and wonderful historic site. The buildings and artifacts offer many attractive opportunities for the artists and there are animals, as well.

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I set up under a shade tree and demonstrated at my easel. I chose a complicated subject and tried to simplify it with a watercolour sketch. I talk as I paint and attempt to describe the process and the decisions I’m making as the image develops.

Watercolour demonstraton by Barry Coombs

As usual, the group spread out to find inspiration. On a big site like Pioneer Village, it’s easy to lose track of a few of the painters. I now employ modern technology and text missing painters in order to find them.

Friday was the hottest day of our week but there’s no shortage of comfortable, shady spots at the village.

Evelyn at work

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Eventually, it was time for our last critique of the week. I appreciate the energy, enthusiasm and talent the participants shared at all of our great painting sites. Was there improvement? I think so. Aside from my efforts, they learn from each other and the critique is a very important part of the process. Have a look at Friday’s work! Thanks for following and feel free to leave a comment. Next year, consider Toronto for an ‘en plein air’ painting experience. We’ve had participants from all over Canada and the USA, as well.

Friday Critique a

Friday Critique a

Friday Critique b

Friday Critique b

Friday Critique c

Friday Critique c

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique b

Wednesday Critique b

 

Plein Air Toronto 2016 – Day One!

18/06/2016

Last Monday morning, my annual Plein Air Toronto workshop, a week of sketching and painting in watercolour, began at the Arts on Adrian studio. I had a prepared a demonstration dealing with basic approaches to painting skies and clouds.

Studio Demo

Skies are always a challenge, especially in watercolour. I had painted a few sheets ahead of time and I completed one sheet while the students watched. By the way, the sky in the upper right corner is upside down!

Sky in watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

I also brought in a few books. We took a careful look at skies painted by some of the great English watercolour painters of the past as well as some by the American, Winslow Homer and Canadian artist, Frederick Hagan.

Here are some more sky studies I showed to the group. Some have been created with a soft edge (wet into wet) process and some are a combination of soft and crisp edges. Some were done in one step and others took two or three steps to complete.

Sky in watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs  Sky in watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Sky in watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Sky in watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Sky in watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Sky in watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

It was time to head out of doors and the Sunnyside Pavilion on the shore of Lake Ontario was our destination. Upon arrival, we settled in for the rest of the day.

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Sarah at work  Evelyn at work

Barb at work

Marian at work

Ian, Wendy and Olwen at work

Emily at work

It was a great start to our week. At the end of the day, we gathered for our critique and discussed our plan for Tuesday. Stay tuned! Our activities from last Tuesday and Wednesday are coming soon.

Monday Critique a

Monday Critique a

Monday Critique b

Monday Critique b

 

 

Plein Air Toronto 2016

17/03/2016

Sketching and Watercolour Painting
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
June 13 – 17, 2016

TOann  TOme

Take a plein air painting holiday in your own backyard! The beautiful parks, gardens and historic sites of Toronto, Ontario are the venue for this exciting week of sketching and painting. Five special sites will be visited. Each day we will meet at a different location and begin with a demonstration. The painting day will conclude with a constructive critique. Participants will be provided with directions and detailed information (washrooms, cafes) about each site. We will paint ‘rain or shine’ as several of our sites have overhead shelter.

Click here to see demos and photos from a past Plein Air Toronto Week.

Our workshop will focus on watercolour painting, pen and ink sketching and pen drawing with wash. Participants working in other media are very welcome. Demonstrations, individual attention and constructive critiques are essential elements of this creative learning experience. This workshop is for participants with some previous experience in their chosen medium.

WHAT WILL YOU LEARN? Barry has extensive teaching experience and is able to bring out the best in painters of different levels of skill and experience. He will introduce participants to new ideas and approaches to plein air painting and is very well-known for his insightful critiques. His solid grounding in the traditional fundamentals of drawing, watercolour technique, colour and composition benefits all participants. His own watercolours, featured in the April 2013 issue of the UK’s Leisure Painter magazine, are colourful and playful and loosely inspired by Cubism. At some point in every workshop, he will discuss his recent work and is quite happy to provide guidance to anyone interested in trying this fascinating creative process.

A graduate of the Ontario College of Art, Barry Coombs has led workshops in Ontario, Quebec and Maritime Canada for over twenty years as well as many international workshops in England, Italy, France, Greece and Mexico. He is noted for his positive and constructive attitude and ability to work with students of all levels of skill and experience. Barry exhibits his work locally and internationally and represented Canada at the G20 World Artist Festival in Seoul, South Korea in 2010.

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THE WORKSHOP FEE OF CDN $400 (HST included) INCLUDES:
• Tuition for five painting days; Monday to Friday from 10am – 4pm

THE WORKSHOP FEE OF CDN $400 (HST included) DOES NOT INCLUDE:
• Some entry and ferry fees which will not exceed CDN $25
• Parking

GETTING TO OUR PAINTING SITES
Participants will be provided with directions and detailed information (washrooms, cafes) about each site. We will paint ‘rain or shine’ as several of our sites have overhead shelter. All of our sites will be accessible by car or by public transit. It is possible to arrange carpooling if prior notice is given.

ARE YOU FROM OUT OF TOWN?
Contact Barry Coombs at info@barrycoombs.ca for help with planning your trip and your stay in Toronto.

HOW TO REGISTER
Contact Barry Coombs at info@barrycoombs.ca or use the contact form below to register. Registration will be confirmed when a non-refundable deposit of $100 is received. At that time a material list will be provided. The balance of $300 is due no later than Friday, June 3, 2016.

CANCELLATION
After June 10, 2016 the workshop fee is non-refundable. If the workshop is cancelled by Barry Coombs, for any reason, a full refund will be made.

Plein Air Toronto 2015 – First Three Days!

23/06/2015

Last week, from Monday to Friday, I led an outdoor watercolour painting workshop in the parks, gardens and historic sites of Toronto, Ontario. I’m posting late due to some internet trouble but I hope you’ll still enjoy our adventures.

We met on Monday morning in my west-end studio. I often start an outdoor week with a general demonstration intended to cover several of the common elements encountered by artists working outdoors.

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Watercolour demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs

After the demo, we headed down to the lakeshore and painted near the restored, though currently unused, Joy gas station. Everyone settled in to paint and draw. We had a large picnic shelter handy in case of rain but the weather cooperated.

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Karen at work

Lynn at work

Phil and Polly at work

Evelyn at work

It was a great start to the week and we wrapped up with our critique.

Monday Critique A

Monday Critique A

Monday Critique B

Monday Critique B

Thunderstorms threatened on Tuesday so we met at St. Mike’s College on the beautiful downtown University of Toronto campus. There’s a lot of overhead protection on the site but, good fortune prevailed, and we had another sunny day with no rain.

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You can say that again! St. Mike’s College is in the middle of urban Toronto but a pair of Red-winged Blackbirds were nesting and the male attacked artists and other passersby all day long when they got too close. No damage done, though.

This American Robin was also on her nest. She was very well behaved.

American Robin on nest

I discussed pen combined with watercolour and used a ‘show and tell’ approach. We looked at some past demonstrations and discussed the techniques before getting to work.

Evelyn at work

Katie at work

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Laura, Elizabeth and Barb at work

It was a productive day and we had a lot to look at when the the time came for our critique.

Tuesday Critique A

Tuesday Critique A

Tuesday Critique B

Tuesday Critique B

Tuesday Critique C

Tuesday Critique C

Spadina House was our site for Wednesday but it doesn’t open until noon. We set up for the first two hours in the parkette between Spadina House and Casa Loma. I took the opportunity to use one tower of Casa Loma as my subject. I discussed the underlying volumes in architecture and even foliage. Cubes, cones, cylinders and spheres. My proportions aren’t all accurate and I omitted the chimney but the point of the demo was well received.

Wedb  Watercolour demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs

At noon, we entered the gardens surrounding Spadina House. It’s a lovely spot with plenty of shade and a great variety of subject matter.

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Unfortunately, my camera battery died before critique. I took our photo with my iPad and it’s a bit dark. Still, the quality of the work is evident. Stay tuned for more watercolours and drawings from Toronto. I’ll be posting Thursday and Friday soon.

Wednesday Critique

Wednesday Critique

Plein Air Toronto – Last Two Days of a Great Week!

12/07/2014

Lilies - PleinAirTO2014  Chapel - PleinAirTO2014

We enjoyed beautiful sunny weather for the last two days of our Plein Air Toronto week of sketching and painting. Our site for Thursday was Riverdale Farm and the adjacent Toronto Necropolis.

Several of our participants were working outdoors for the first time this week. The monuments and stones in the cemetery are good practice for combining architectural forms with foliage. I chose a few stones for the subject of my demonstration and threw a small wrench into the works, using a flat angled brush and a ‘swatch-like’ approach to the study.

Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs - PleinAirTO2014

I also presented a short illustrated talk about creating a focal point in a painting. We discussed three key elements; colour, contrast and structure. We looked at two paintings from the Renaissance. The first was the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci and the second was the Wedding Feast by Pieter Breughel the Elder.

Between the Necropolis and the Farm we had all kinds of subject matter from which to choose. Everyone loves to see the critters on the Farm but not everyone goes down the hill to the lower ponds. Part of it is a wildlife sanctuary and is home to amazing creatures like this Black-crowned Night Heron.

Black-crowned Night Heron - PleinAirTO2014

Horse - PleinAirTO2014  Flowers - PleinAirTO2014

Farmhouse - PleinAirTO2014

Kim at Work - PleinAirTO2014

Jane at Work - PleinAirTO2014  Debbie at Work - PleinAirTO2014

We found a quiet spot for our critique and were able to look at all of the work at once.

Thursday Critique - PleinAirTO2014

The painting spot for Friday was Edward’s Gardens and the Toronto Botanical Garden.

Edward's Gardens - PleinAirTO2014

I brought along a few books to show before I demonstrated at my easel. We looked at the watercolours of three very different artists; Paul Cezanne, John Singer Sargent and Charles Burchfield. In particular, we studied the way they each approached foliage.

My demonstration was painted with a 1″ flat angled brush. I used a ‘light to dark’ and ‘big to small’ approach as I attempted to convey ideas about simplifying foliage.

Me at Easel - PleinAirTO2014

Willow - PleinAirTO2014

Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs  - PleinAirTO2014

I don’t restrict the artists to a small area for the painting day. I define my ‘patrol area’, and let them search for their inspiration within those broader boundaries. The ‘patrol area’ is usually fairly large so there are lots of potential subjects. Edward’s Gardens has flower beds, groomed parkland and a ravine with the Don River running through it.

Elizabeth at Work - PleinAirTO2014

FriLaura  Fountain - PleinAirTO2014

From the ravine - PleinAirTO2014  Gardens - PleinAirTO2014

Peggy and Debbie at Work - PleinAirTO2014

A few of our artists weren’t able to attend on Friday but here’s a selection of the work from those who did. Not all are finished and several of them are studies, as opposed to sustained works. Some may be destined to be ‘worked up’ in the studio.

Peggy - PleinAirTO2014  Judy - PleinAirTO2014

Evelyn - PleinAirTO2014  Pat - PleinAirTO2014

 

Laura - PleinAirTO2014

Debbie - PleinAirTO2014

Jane - PleinAirTO2014

Elizabeth - PleinAirTO2014

Thanks go out to all of the participants and I’m grateful to those of you who follow and comment. Over the years, I’ve had many comments on this blog from Lois B. I don’t know Lois personally but she’s been a loyal follower for a long time. She said that she’s never been to Toronto and probably won’t get the opportunity so she’s enjoyed the travelogue. Lois, this final photo is your postcard from beautiful Toronto, Ontario!

Toronto - PleinAirTO2014

Plein Air Toronto – Day One!

07/07/2014

Monday demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs - PleinAirTO2014

Plein Air Toronto, our week of outdoor sketching and painting is back! Eleven participants gathered at my studio this morning for a discussion and a demonstration of some landscape basics. I later added a few simplification exercises to the sheet.

Monday demo at the studio - PleinAirTO2014

Following our indoor gathering, we headed to the Toronto waterfront. Our weather lately has been very hot and humid with lots of thunderstorms. The waterfront is usually cooler but today it was downright crisp. We benefited from the picnic shelter as an occasional shower drove us under it’s protective roof but, for the most part, the roof wasn’t necessary and we enjoyed working ‘en plein air’.

CN Tower - PleinAirTO2014 Pat at Work - PleinAirTO2014

Peggy at work - PleinAirTO2014

An interesting feature of our painting site was the restored Joy Gas Station. Sixteen Joy Stations were built in the 1930’s and are unique to Toronto. This is the only survivor and is slated to become a tourist information centre. It’s an example of Chateau style architecture and several of the artists made it their subject today.

Joy Gas Station - PleinAirTO2014

Laura at work - PleinAirTO2014

We wrapped up the day with an informal critique. Stay tuned over the next few days to see some of the fine work being produced in beautiful Toronto, Ontario!

Plein Air Toronto – Days Four and Five!

13/07/2013

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The threatened thunderstorms never materialized on Thursday but we were ready for anything! Our site was the Evergreen Brickworks in Toronto’s Don Valley and there was lots of overhead shelter, had it been needed. The Brickworks is a former industrial site that now combines a lovely regenerated natural environment with old and new buildings dedicated to various environmental programs.

I kicked things off with a 1″ flat angled brush and a lot of creative licence.

Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Everyone got to work and found some interesting outdoor studios.

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Truer words were never sprayed onto a wall. Everything, and anything, is possible when brush touches paper. We found a shady and fairly private spot for our critique at the end of the day.

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Friday was our last day of a great week and Riverdale Farm was our venue. The Farm brings back memories of childhood visits and it still hosts summertime programs for kids. I demonstrated in front of the farmhouse before the artists spread out over the property and the adjacent Toronto Necropolis, a shady and pretty cemetery.

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We had a lot of fun and the group worked hard and rose to all challenges. The record-setting storm on Monday, more rainfall than Hurricane Hazel in 1954, had some impact on almost all of our sites. Another shady spot was found for our critique, although we really had to cram everyone in, and we divided up our drawings and paintings into two batches.

Thanks for following our adventures and your comments. Next stop, Grand Manan Island! We start in two weeks on July 28 and there’s still a spot available for you.

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