Archive for the ‘Studio Classes’ Category

Fall Saturday and Tuesday Watercolour Classes – Final Week!

22/11/2017

I was back at the Arts on Adrian studio this week. I set up a still-life with analogous colours and these interesting carved wooden objects. Brain cramp! I forgot to photograph my demonstration from Saturday. However, it was very similar to the sheet I did for the Tuesday classes which I did remember to photograph.

I used only primary colours (red, yellow and blue) to mix the ‘browns’ of the wooden objects. I followed a traditional ‘soft to crisp’, ‘big to small’ and ‘light to dark’ process. My first wash in each study covered the entire object. Second washes added structure and pattern. The thin, dark grooves were the last step.

Do you do thumbnail studies before you paint? I encourage my students to make thumbnails in order to find their composition and consider value. I’m showing two thumbnails by two different artists from the Saturday class.

Thumbnail study by George

George likes to do a sketch of the entire still-life. He then picks an area and develops the values. This is a very small study, no more than 4 x 5″.

Thumbnail study by Rosemary

Rosemary has already decided on her area of interest when she starts her study. Note that she uses a grid to help her enlarge the image on to her watercolour sheet. This study is roughly 8 x 6″. I don’t think a thumbnail needs to be any larger.

Can you pick out the watercolours by George and Rosemary in the Sustained Saturday critique?

Sustained Saturday Critique

I’ll jump right to the Tuesday critiques. Same demonstration, same still-life. My fall classes are over at Arts on Adrian. I’ll be back in January and you’ll hear about the winter calendar here. Stay tuned and thanks for following.

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

 

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Saturday and Tuesday Fall Watercolour Classes – Week Three!

08/11/2017

I was very excited about this still-life of old teapots and clementines. I knew it would be a challenge for the students but I was confident that they would be up for it. I took a while demonstrating for the Saturday group. Mixing greys was one topic. Reflections were discussed and I also reviewed some brush-handling skills.

The students always work hard in the classes but they enjoy each other’s company, as well. A real community has developed over the years. It’s welcoming to new students and they’re all very supportive of each other. On Saturday afternoon, a small surprise party erupted. Trish had recently been married to her long-time partner, Jacques (they met during one of my Grand Manan Island workshops). She didn’t expect an extra celebration but she got one! She’s wearing a tiara provided by Karen and Stewart is pouring the Prosecco.

Back to work, everybody! It was a great day. I don’t know if the Prosecco stimulated the creative process or not but the work was excellent. Remember to click on the critique image if you want to see a larger version.

Sustained Saturday Critique

Here’s a different look at the still-life. Dramatic, isn’t it?

My demonstrations for the Tuesday afternoon and evening classes were very similar to the one on Saturday. I tried to condense it somewhat as they have less time to paint.

I’m really pleased with the response to the still-life. The students really relish new drawing and painting problems and the Tuesday classes were no exception. Here’s what they did.

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Introduction to Drawing Birds at DVSA!

03/11/2017

Yesterday, I was back at the Dundas Valley School of Art to teach a one-day workshop. Our medium was pen and ink and our theme was an introduction to drawing birds. I chatted a bit about famous bird artists like John James Audubon, James Fenwick Lansdowne and Robert Bateman and discussed their processes. We also talked about David Sibley and other excellent bird illustrators whose work informs the field guides used to identify birds. Artists past and present have worked from mounted specimens, skins, field sketches and photos. Our only option yesterday was to use photos as our reference. We worked from black and white photos as our drawings were in black and white, as well.

Proportion is important when drawing a bird. I used a simple grid approach and presented this to the students.

This is a Black-capped Chickadee, a common woodland and feeder bird in southern Ontario. I’m going to show you three steps of my demonstration. The first step establishes the main values throughout the drawing with hatching. I do not outline and I develop the darks very patiently. Most of the preliminary pencil drawing has been erased, including the grid, but not all.

I’ve used cross-hatching to emphasize plumage details and to stress ‘light and shadow’ in order to give the bird fullness and form.

I’ve developed the darks and added definition to areas like the undertail and legs. Note the gaps I’ve left around the edge of the bird such as the beak, upper breast, upper back, tail, legs and branch. Did you notice the gaps before I mentioned them? These gaps allow light to flow throughout the drawing and enhance the feeling of vitality. A heavy outline is not only unnecessary; it would flatten out the drawing and detract from the impression of fullness and liveliness.

The students followed my steps in order to understand the process. There were a lot of elements to consider and they did very well with the exercise.

Black-capped Chickadee Critique

Our afternoon drawing was a portrait of a Downy Woodpecker; another local favourite. Here’s my grid analysis and my unfinished demonstration.

I enjoyed the talented and enthusiastic group of students. Several were birders and many were members of the local Hamilton Naturalists’ Club. They worked hard and came away with a sound process for drawing birds at home from their photos. Let’s have a look at their Downy Woodpeckers.

Downy Woodpecker Critique

Saturday and Tuesday Watercolour Classes – Week Three!

25/10/2017

You know it’s October at Arts on Adrian when the still-life is composed of squash and gourds. Last Saturday, our fall motif got the creative juices flowing for an enthusiastic bunch of artists. As usual, I started things off with a demonstration. I discussed a few ideas but mostly I stressed luminous lights with this watercolour sketch.

Process was also emphasized and that includes everything from warmup and thumbnail sketches to colour testing and frequently stepping back from your painting. The Saturday students have a whole day to paint and shouldn’t be taking any shortcuts! They applied themselves and the results were very impressive.

Sustained Saturday Critique

Here’s another point of view of our still-life. It’s interesting to see how a different background colour can influence the image.

I have two classes on Tuesdays; afternoon and evening. I managed the demonstrations as a sort of Q and A session. This work sheet shows my responses to some of the questions.

That might be one of the gnarliest gourds I’ve ever painted (the green and orange one). However, it got the point across and that’s the goal of a demonstration. The Tuesday groups responded very well, as always. I’ll be back at Arts on Adrian in Toronto’s Junction district soon. Care to join us? Click here for my Fall Calendar.

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

 

 

The ‘Dipping Pen’ at DVSA!

13/10/2017

Yesterday was my first day back at the Dundas Valley School of Art for the fall term. It was a one-day workshop and our theme was pen and ink drawing with the traditional dipping pen. All of my one-day pen and ink workshops to date have employed disposable sketching pens from Pilot, Micron and Staedtler. They’re easy to use; no muss and no fuss. They’re portable and I use them for sketching all the time. However, for my sustained studio drawings, I always use a good old metal nib and a bottle of India ink.

I’ve been drawing with these tools since I was a teenager. My all-time favourite ink is Speedball Super Black and I’ve always used their nibs and holders, as well. These are what I recommended on my material list for the workshop. I suggested a choice of three different nibs; 22B Extra Fine, 56 School and 99 Drawing. The paper I recommended was Strathmore Bristol. By the way, Speedball Super Black comes in an extremely practical bottle with a wide (easy for dipping) mouth and a wider (hard to knock over) base.

Decades of experience have taught me not just how to draw but how to manage the dipping pen. It’s very easy to make a mess and unfortunate blobs are common for the novice. I started the day with my hard-earned tips regarding the care, transport and use of the metal nib. Everything matters, especially how your work area is organized.

The students were given about a half hour to try out their materials, experimenting with marks and strokes and getting a feel for the nibs. Next, I handed out a template of a basic feather shape. With my demonstration, I discussed mark-making and patterns. It gave the students a chance to unleash their imaginations while practicing with their new tools. They took to it very well. The usual problems were encountered but the only real disaster was a coffee spill! The three recommended nibs were tried by most of the students and the 99 Drawing was considered to be the most difficult to use. It’s very sensitive to pressure and wonderful to work with but may require a little more experience in order to gain confidence with it. Have a look at the feathers. Click on the image for an enlarged version. There’s some lovely detail to enjoy!

Our second drawing was of a leaf. I issued handouts with a black and white photo of the leaf. It wasn’t a very good photo, a bit blurry, so we discussed ways to clarify and simplify the image. My demonstration dealt again with technique but also with the concept of ‘light and shadow’.

We took our time with the leaf drawings and they were very successful. Overall, it was an enjoyable day with an enthusiastic and talented group of art students. My next one-day workshop at DVSA is an Introduction to Drawing Birds with pen and ink and takes place on Thursday, November 2. Care to join us?

Saturday and Tuesday Fall Watercolour Classes – Week One!

11/10/2017

It’s ‘back to school’ at the Arts on Adrian studio in Toronto, Ontario. Fall term started a few weeks later than usual as I was off teaching in Portugal for the second half of September. Last Saturday, it was time for some still-life painting. I kicked the season off with a demonstration that emphasized a few basics.

This is a watercolour sketch. It can serve as a warmup painting before settling into something more sustained. Adding an approach like this to your practice can bring many benefits. Finding the light. I’ve left the direct light unpainted in this study; indicated by the white of the paper. Simplification. I’ve paid no attention to reflected light, for example. I want to capture the essence of the still-life. Brush-handling. I lightly ‘placed’ the objects on my sheet with a very minimal pencil drawing. I wanted the brush to do most of the work. I wasn’t concerned about perfect proportions or symmetry. Freshness. I painted each area once only. Nothing was overpainted.

It was good to see everyone and we had a pleasant and creative day in the studio. Here are the results from our Sustained Saturday.

Sustained Saturday Critique

I varied the still-life slightly for the Tuesday classes and used three different kinds of pears; Bartletts, Boscs and Anjous.

My demonstration addressed the same concepts. The afternoon demo is on the left and the evening on the right of the sheet.

Not everyone was able to simplify to the degree that I had in my demonstration but some very nice work was created. Our first week of fall term went very well and I’ll be back at Arts on Adrian soon. Stay tuned.

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

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

Introduction to Drawing Dogs at DVSA

29/05/2017

Last Thursday, it was another day of pen and watercolour at the Dundas Valley School of Art. Our theme was dogs and we really had no choice but to work from photographs. I provided the photo reference. I also issued a printed handout showing the skeleton of a dog. My intention was not to be too scientific or absolutely anatomically perfect but it definitely helped us understand the basic structure underneath all of that cuddly fur.

I started each exercise by demonstrating on an 18 x 24″ pad of cartridge paper at an easel. Using coloured markers, I presented an approach to capturing the proportions and dynamics of the subject. Dog Number One was a Golden Retriever.

Following the discussion, I switched to watercolour paper and drew the dog in pencil. My next step was with pen. I paid attention to the direction of my pen strokes in order to convey a feeling of fur.

It was time for watercolour! I wet the entire dog with water. While nice and wet, I added the orange/gold wash and let it run a bit. Note that some areas, particularly the legs, are whiter than the rest of the dog. It took a while for the wash to dry but eventually it did. I then worked back in with the pen, adding more definition to the head. I left it at this point but could have done more penwork throughout the body.

Dog Number Two was a West Highland Terrier. I started out on the easel again. I considered light and shadow for this exercise as I wanted to preserve the white of the paper for the lightest areas on the dog.

This time we painted first, wet onto the dry paper. Using a neutral grey, I tried to establish the light and shadow as well as a shaggy feel. A bit of colour was added to the ears and some other spots.

Once again, stroke direction was important with the pen.

We didn’t have much time left for Dog Number Three but I wanted to do a portrait and this Beagle puppy was perfect. After drawing it with pencil, I added the colour washes. The lightest colour was first and the darkest last.

I did some quick pen work and left it unfinished. The students didn’t have time to do this exercise but some wanted to try it at home.

We were dog-tired at the end of a long day of learning. There was a good energy in the room as we looked at the drawings.

Drawing Dogs –
Critique a

Drawing Dogs –
Critique b

I’ll be back at DVSA on Thursday, June 8, for the last workshop in the series. Guess what we’ll be drawing? That’s right; cats! Join us.

 

 

Intro to Pen with Wash and Watercolour at DVSA!

15/05/2017

I was back at the Dundas Valley School of Art last Thursday. Our workshop was an Introduction to Pen with Wash and Watercolour and we completed three drawings and some studies over the course of the day. We started off with a relatively simple subject; a jalapeño pepper.

The first step was to position the pepper in profile. Next, we drew it in pencil. Following the pencil, we hatched and cross-hatched with our pens. The green wash was next and we left some paper white for highlights. A cool grey wash was added to the cast shadow area. Once the washes had dried, we worked back in with pen.

Before we began our next drawing, we did a few studies of curving volumes and considered how they would receive light from above. After those studies, I pulled out my surprise. Dog chews!

Am I crazy? The students may have thought so at first but they really enjoyed studying these interesting forms. Using our studies as reference, we drew the chews in pencil and then added a brown wash to indicate the areas of core shadow. The penwork was our last step and we tried to follow the forms with our strokes. Also, note the upper edges of the chew. There is no hard outline! Gaps have been left to allow light to flow into the object from the surrounding paper.

Our final subject was quite different and we varied our approach with it. Pencil first and the colour washes second. Pen was used for shadow and to define the various planes.

 

Everyone was exhausted at the end of the day and that’s a good thing. Learning and concentrating can be very tiring. Still, we had time for a look at the work. My next workshop at DVSA is drawing dogs with pen and watercolour and takes place on Thursday, May 25. Care to join us?

Pen, Wash & Watercolour
Critique a

Pen, Wash & Watercolour
Critique b

 

 

Saturday and Tuesday Spring Watercolour Classes

12/05/2017

Our still life this week was comprised of watering cans and various other metal containers but our theme was colour! Recently, I’ve been reading Interactions of Colour by the great colourist, Josef Albers. Albers points out that we all perceive colour, to some extent, in our own way. I find this reassuring. The students were relieved to know that there’s no absolute right or wrong when it comes to choosing and mixing colour.

My demonstration on Saturday focused on colour, of course, and I painted several simplified studies of the objects. I have a little less time to demonstrate on Tuesdays (shorter classes) so I discussed colour again but painted only swatches and haven’t shown that sheet here.

We’ve had a very grey, damp and cool ‘spring’, so far. The cheerful colours were well-received. Here’s the work from the three classes!

Sustained Saturday Critique

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique