Archive for the ‘Studio Classes’ Category

Wednesday Watercolour at DVSA – Week One!

12/10/2018

Canadian Thanksgiving was last weekend, the leaves are falling and it’s time for Fall term at the Dundas Valley School of Art. I was back in Studio Two for an evening of intermediate watercolour painting on Wednesday. It was nice to see several familiar faces and to meet a bunch of artists for the first time.

Where does one start with a new class? The first evening gives me a chance to see how everyone likes to handle the medium and for the students to get to know me. I discussed the basic guidelines of a sound process; ‘light to dark’ and ‘big to small’. I didn’t focus overly on technique; just a step-by-step picture-making process. I worked on my demonstration in front of the class for a while before they got to work. While they painted, I continued with the process and showed them the study as I painted each step.

I also kept an eye on their paintings over the course of the evening. Generally, the work was quite competent but I noted a few things that I’ll discuss with next week’s demonstration. Click on the image below and you’ll see a larger version of our first Fall Wednesday Critique.

Wednesday Critique

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Introduction to Portrait in Pen and Ink at DVSA!

15/06/2018

Yesterday, I was back in Studio Two at the Dundas Valley School of Art. I taught a one-day workshop entitled Introduction to Portrait in Pen and Ink. At the outset, I explained to the students that our focus would be on proportion, light and shadow and simplification of form. I started out at my easel on an 18 x 24″ pad of Cartridge paper and, using markers, illustrated and discussed the basic proportions of the head. Also, I elaborated on the eye, nose and mouth.

Our first exercise was based on details from two Old Master paintings. I had reproduced the images in black and white to make the light and shadow as clear as possible. You may recognize the enigmatic smile on the left. It’s the Mona LIsa by Leonardo da Vinci. On the right, the detail is taken from the Annunciata di Palermo by Antonello da Messina.

The vast majority of my teaching practice is based on direct observation; still-life and en plein air landscape, for example. I use photographic reference very rarely but most frequently in one-day workshops of this nature. We always discuss the pros and cons of working from photos and the importance of understanding the underlying forms and volumes in our subject matter. In addition to that, I always try to select photographic images that portray light and shadow as well as possible.

   

Something else I rarely employ in my teaching is a straight-edge or ruler. However, I suggested that we all use a grid to transfer the proportions of the photo onto our drawing paper so a ruler was necessary.

Pen and ink technique was our next topic and we used hatching and cross-hatching for the most part. The Mona Lisa smile was the greater challenge of the first two exercises. Everyone strove to understand the structure of the nose and mouth from the shapes and values in the photo they were given. Here are my demonstrations.

These two exercises took up two thirds of our day but there was no rush as a lot of experience was gained. The commitment and enthusiasm of the students is evident in their drawings.

I issued each student two photos for our final exercise. These images were selected from the internet and used for educational purposes only. Each student was given a choice of drawing either the male or female portrait.

  

We followed the same process for the most part but I talked about a few new things with my demonstration. One of those things was the technique of stippling and how it could be mingled with hatching in a pen and ink drawing. Also, I showed them a demonstration of a pure stippling drawing that I’d done several years ago.

This is my demonstration of the male portrait. Do you recognize him?

The students did very well with their portrait drawings but most weren’t finished when we ran out of time. I elected to allow them the remaining time to draw rather than present the work for a critique so, unfortunately, you won’t be able to see their work. Trust me. They were looking good.

That’s it for my spring term workshops at the Dundas Valley School of Art. I’ll be back in the fall. In the meantime, stay tuned for posts from my Plein Air Toronto watercolour workshop which starts next Monday!

 

The Dramatic Pen at DVSA!

25/05/2018

I was at the Dundas Valley School of Art yesterday, joined by a full studio of enthusiastic art students. The title of the workshop, the Dramatic Pen, refers to the use of black and white ink on a toned or tinted paper. This practice goes back a long way. We looked at a book of German drawings and I’m showing a few here from the great Albrecht Dürer.

The paper colour in the German drawings varied from grays to blues, greens, deep reds and exciting purples. The tone of the paper, regardless of colour, acts as a middle tone. The colour of the paper often dramatized and enhanced the subject.

 

The tools of our trade were fairly simple. Pigment ink pens in black and white were used. The white pen is a Uniball Signo broad. I would have preferred a somewhat finer nib but it was unavailable at our local art supply store. The black pen is a #8 Pilot drawing pen. Our paper is Canson pastel paper, purchased in a pad.

We kicked off with a discussion of basic volumes and principles of light and shadow. This gave us a chance to try out the pens and work on our cross-hatching technique. Note that the white is reserved exclusively for areas of direct light.

Our next project was of a garlic and each student was issued one. The creases in the skin of the garlic helped us decide on line direction. Here are two steps of my demonstration:

The students selected the paper colour of their own choice. They did a great job with their garlics. If you click on any of the critique images, you’ll see a larger version.

Garlic critique a

Garlic critique b

Our final drawing was of a beautiful Henry Moore sculpture. Wait a minute! That sure resembles a dog chew. No offence intended to the great Henry Moore. The organic quality of the dog chew made it a good subject. Have a look at two steps of my demonstration. I added a bit of stippling to this study.

Once the comments about dog chews died down, everyone applied themselves to the task at hand.

I’m offering one more workshop this spring; Introduction to Portraiture in Pen and Ink on Thursday, June 14. Stay tuned!

Spring Tuesday and Saturday Watercolour Classes – Week Three!

05/05/2018

The Arts on Adrian studio resembled a thrift store this week. My pile of old shoes was definitely an unorthodox subject but the quasi-organic, soft forms offered a different kind of challenge than our previous still-lifes this term.

Once in a while, I like to demonstrate a ‘shape-reading’ approach to watercolour painting. This means starting with the watercolour brush; no prior pencil drawing! Several of the students have experimented with shape-reading before but some were tackling it for the first time. I started my demonstration with the afternoon class and added to it for the evening class.

Old shoes and boots may lack glamour but they can be a reasonably forgiving subject. Let’s have a look at the work from the Tuesday students.

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

The Saturday students have a full day and I urged them to not just paint shoes but tell a story with their paintings. I also strongly suggested that they be bolder and more interpretative with colour. I didn’t have to tell them twice. Here’s my Saturday demonstration followed by the student paintings.

Sustained Saturday Critique

Click on the critique images to view a larger version. That’s it for spring term at Arts on Adrian! It was short but sweet and I thank the great students for their enthusiasm and creativity. I’ll be in touch soon.

Drawing Birds with Pen and Watercolour at DVSA!

04/05/2018

My workshop at the Dundas Valley School of Art yesterday was an introduction to drawing birds with pen and watercolour. We worked from photo reference, which I provided, and our first project was a ‘portrait’ of a male Pileated Woodpecker.

Proportion is very important when drawing birds. I taught the students how to create and work from a basic grid. Most had never used a grid and found it to be very useful.

I’ll show you my demonstration in three steps, starting with the pencil drawing.

Next came the watercolour. I did two values of most of the colours.

The final step was the penwork.

Even when working from a grid, this woodpecker is a challenging subject. We took our time and the care and patience resulted in some strong drawings.

Pileated Woodpecker Critique

I had prepared photo reference and studies of two other birds; a Canada Warbler and a Killdeer. Here are my studies.

Canada Warbler

Killdeer

The students didn’t get too far along with their second drawings but they enjoyed the process and learned a lot. They now feel better equipped to draw birds from their own photographs. Here’s a peek at the work in progress.

Works in progress

Works in progress

Spring Saturday and Tuesday Watercolour Classes – Week Two!

27/04/2018

Spring migration is underway in southern Ontario! The watercolour students arrived at Arts on Adrian this past week, only to discover a fallout of birds on the still-life table. This still-life is so varied that I’m going to show you all four views. Here we go:

What do you think? Challenging? Definitely, but the Arts on Adrian students rise to the occasion time and time again. Still, I thought it would be prudent to discuss drawing and composition with my demonstration. I touched on colour a bit, as well. You’ll notice that I selected a small area of the still-life in my demonstration. Taking on too much can lead to needless frustration.

The Sustained Saturday group put in a solid day’s work, as always.

Sustained Saturday Critique

On Tuesday afternoon, I had three new students. After presenting my main demonstration to the whole group, I took the three aside and gave them another lesson. I wanted to show my process as I painted a few studies.

The Tuesday afternoon and evening students were reminded to select thoughtfully. They only had three hours to solve our complicated still-life. Let’s wrap up with a look at their work. Remember to click on any critique image for a larger version.

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Pen and Ink Basics at DVSA!

20/04/2018

Spring term has begun at the Dundas Valley School of Art. Yesterday, I was back in Studio 2 with an enthusiastic group of art students and our day was spent on pen and ink basics. We discussed the fundamental techniques such as hatching, cross-hatching, stippling and line weight. It’s not all technique when I teach, however! Technique without sound drawing fundamentals (light and shadow, a little bit of perspective, historical context, etc.) can result in a superficial learning experience. Mind you, it made for an intense and busy day.

The group completed three step-by-step exercises. For the first two, we worked from a diagram that I presented at the easel. This is the model for our second drawing.

But let’s get back to the beginning. Working from a diagram, we drew a pear. The technique we employed was cross-hatching and, in particular, a ‘parquet’ approach. This approach eliminates some baffling concerns. Which direction should the pen strokes take? The ‘parquet’ process begins with a very mechanical application. Careful attention is paid to a light source and the interlocking shapes of light and shadow. By the way, all of our drawings were started first with pencil.

The drawing is developed gradually with middle tones and darks. Edges are thoughtfully considered. Outlining is scrupulously avoided! Bit by bit, our flat shapes take on a more three-dimensional fullness.

Our next drawing was of a simple structure. I touched on only a few perspective basics. It was a pen and ink workshop, after all, and perspective lessons require time and a very well thought out presentation. We hatched our first values before cross-hatching. Again, the middle tones and darks were added gradually.

Let’s have a look at the first two student drawings. If you click on a critique image, you’ll see a larger version.

Pen and Ink Basics
Critique a

Pen and Ink Basics
Critique b

There was time for one more drawing. I’d brought in copies of a black and white photograph that I’d prepared for the students.

I did my pencil drawing while they finished up their first two exercises. Then, all gathered around for my pen and ink demonstration. I worked very quickly, taking about fifteen minutes, and reviewed many of the ideas we’d discussed over the course of the day.

The group didn’t have very much time to complete the final exercise but still managed to do quite well. It was a fine, full day in the studio. I’ll be teaching an Introduction to Drawing Birds with Pen and Watercolour workshop on Thursday, May 3 at DVSA. Why don’t you join us? Before I sign off, here are the brush and pail drawings.

Pen and Ink Basics
Critique c

Pen and Ink Basics
Critique d

Spring Saturday and Tuesday Watercolour Class – Week One!

14/04/2018

It was a classic still-life for the Saturday and Tuesday watercolour painters this past week. I thought that our apples and terra-cotta objects would be a refreshing subject after the layoff of a month or so since the end of the winter classes.

My demonstration was a small painting, done quickly. I started with a wet-in-wet preliminary wash of warm colours over the whole sheet. You can see the wash in the background, untouched. As usual, I talked as I painted. My demonstrations are usually a sort of illustrated talk; a way of showing a process and discussing painting problems. I don’t mind quick and messy if I can communicate my ideas.

The Saturday students used their six hour day well. Most take their time with compositional sketches and studies of the various objects before embarking on their sustained piece. Some complete more than one piece over the course of the day. I love the thought they put into their work! Also of note are the pen and ink drawings that hold their own with the watercolours on our critique wall.

Sustained Saturday Critique

We work from the same still-life on Tuesday. Here’s a look at the still-life with a backdrop of a different colour. In the Arts on Adrian studio, the still-life is placed in the centre of the room with an overhead light. There is no backdrop so the students have to come up with a creative solution of their own. However, I photograph the still-life with backdrops of different colours in order to try different relationships and to make the still-life stand out clearly for these blog posts.

There you go! Let’s see what the Tuesday afternoon and evening painters achieved. I’m back at Arts on Adrian on Saturday, April 21 and Tuesday, April 24. There are still a few spots left! Care to join us?

Reminder: Click on any critique image for a larger version.

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Winter Wednesday Watercolour at DVSA – Final Class!

10/03/2018

Wednesday evening was our last of eight classes this winter at the Dundas Valley School of Art. Attendance has been excellent and everyone was present for our rusty and dusty still-life.

My demonstration is a small painting, about 8 x 8″ or so. I worked very quickly and, as I painted, I reviewed several of the ideas and techniques from the prior classes. I even threw in a few new thoughts. The bluish object on the left was painted right over the background, for instance. I also cropped very tightly, thinking that the most interesting parts of the objects were the handles and spouts.

I’ve seen a lot of progress with the student’s paintings and I’m grateful for their enthusiasm and hard work. They also paid attention although nobody cropped their composition nearly as much as I did.

This spring, I’ll be teaching four one-day pen and ink workshops (some with watercolour) at DVSA. Next fall, I hope to offer another series of evening watercolour classes. For now, thanks go out to my great bunch of watercolourists and to all of you for following.

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique b

Winter Wednesday Watercolour Class at DVSA – Week Seven!

01/03/2018

What better way to spend a Wednesday evening than to paint watercolours from the still-life at the Dundas Valley School of Art? I’ve had these geometric ceramic objects for a long time. They’re fun to paint but, even better, they can be broken down into their component shapes much like the teddy bears from last week. This offers an opportunity to practice soft-edge washes with the shapes and that was the focus of my demonstration.

I painted a shape at a time, following a ‘light to dark’ and ‘big to small’ process. The smaller, textural strokes came last.

I’m quite pleased with the student’s work and their progress over our seven evenings together. There’s only one more class to go! I’ve got another interesting still-life planned. See you next week.

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique b