Archive for the ‘Arts on Adrian’ Category

Winter Saturday and Tuesday Watercolour Classes – Week Two!

07/02/2018

I had to do the dishes before setting up a still-life for the Saturday and Tuesday classes at Arts on Adrian this week. Wait a minute! Those dishes are the still-life. Do you think this is an unorthodox subject? It may be, but the students really enjoyed it.

My demonstrations were much more about drawing than watercolour painting. That’s because of all of those tricky ellipses. An ellipse is a circle in perspective and there are several good guidelines about drawing them. Ellipse theory! Like other elements of perspective, a little bit of information can go a long way. Conversely, too much theory can lead to confusion and frustration. I tried to strike a balance in order to help the students with the challenge.

I threw a small wrench into the works. As if drawing ellipses isn’t tough enough. I gave everyone a copy of a photo of a typical kitchen sink. My hope was that some of the visual elements would give them ideas for the ‘backgrounds’ of their paintings.

The Saturday students used their full day well and several employed the kitchen sink photo to enhance their paintings overall. Have a look at their work and click on any critique image to see a larger version.

Sustained Saturday Critique

We don’t have a backdrop behind the still-life in the studio. It’s in the centre of the room and students sit all around it. I photograph the still-life for these posts with a fabric behind it and I enjoy seeing how the different colours work with the objects. The dark blue shown above is effective. What do you think of the green? Both the blue and green are colours that are already present in the still-life objects.

The Tuesday classes got a slightly abbreviated version of the Saturday demonstration. Many of them work a bit smaller and place less objects in their compositions. It’s a practical solution as they have only an afternoon or evening to complete their paintings. Here’s the work from Tuesday. My next round of classes at Arts on Adrian in Toronto are a few weeks away. Check out my Winter Studio Calendar and think about joining us.

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

 

 

 

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Create a ‘Cubist’ Watercolour – Followup!

20/01/2018

Last November, I taught a two-day watercolour workshop at the Dundas Valley School of Art. The title of the workshop was Create a ‘Cubist’ Watercolour. Click here if you’d like to review the post about the workshop. It was essentially a creative exercise inspired by ideas from Cubist artists, particularly Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Juan Gris. Other modernist artists such as Henri Matisse were discussed. The watercolour studies and paintings were developed with a very traditional step-by-step approach. Colour and composition were carefully considered. Textures were created with the use of resist materials and watercolour techniques. The results were anything but traditional. However, the paintings were colourful, playful and expressive.

Where does a student go with these new ideas following the intense two days of the workshop? I’m not always able to follow up. This time, however, I was able to do so. Two of the participants, Evelyn Cunningham and Rosemary Tannock, are involved with the Arts on Adrian studio in Toronto. Evelyn is a founding member and Rosemary is a regular participant in classes and open still-life sessions. I see them both fairly frequently and they see each other a lot, as well. Allow me to introduce them by way of their finished watercolours from the DVSA workshop.

WINE AND CHEESE
by Evelyn Cunningham

WINE AND CHEESE
by Rosemary Tannock

Apparently, I’d created a monster! Two monsters. Evelyn and Rosemary were very excited about the workshop and continued to apply their new concepts in the studio. They shared ideas and feedback with each other and sent images of their new work to me. Reports came in from their other drawing and painting friends. The two new ‘Cubists’ were telling everyone about the experience.

I decided to make the most of their enthusiasm and proposed this followup post. Evelyn and Rosemary have agreed to share their work and thoughts with you.

Why did you sign up for the workshop?
Evelyn:
To do something completely different, after a positive experience of using my left (non-dominant) hand. Also I was interested in what attracted Barry to this way of thinking.
***Note: Evelyn suffered a nasty injury to her right hand last year which has since healed. For several months, including two weeks with my watercolour painting holiday in Portugal, she worked exclusively with her left hand.

Rosemary:
Two reasons:
1) I had seen your creative and colourful watercolour cubist compositions on your blog; these captured my interest initially because of the colour combinations and whimsical form​s, but had no idea how you created them​.
2) I had limited knowledge of Cubism and previously have bypassed them in exhibitions because I did not know how to approach them.

How has the workshop influenced your work since?
Evelyn:
To my great surprise, I found breaking the conventional rules about perspective, colour and realism to be both scary and exhilarating. As a result of this workshop, my pendulum has moved back from doing the purely “Cubist” approach that Barry showed us, to trying to combine my natural painting instincts from before with giving myself permission to do the exact opposite of previous habits, in the same painting. It has resulted in some uncertainly, but a lot more fun.

Rosemary:
​In 3 major ways:
1) Your introduction to Cubism was so informative and interesting: it allowed me to better understand its philosophy, approach and its forms.
2) During the workshop exercises and activities, I realized how engaging Cubism is: from initial idea, design of thematic forms, through to colour choices and whimsicalness.
3) It is the first workshop I have ever taken that has stimulated me – drove me eagerly – to pursue and explore a specific approach independently: this approach to Cubism is artistically, technically, and intellectually engaging and challenging, while being great fun!

The new paintings since the workshop!
Now, let’s have a look at six watercolour paintings completed by Evelyn and Rosemary since the workshop. Click on any image to see a larger version.

TULIPS and TULIPA were painted during an Out of Control Tuesday watercolour session at the Arts on Adrian studio in Toronto. These sessions allow the painters to work and interact without instruction.

In TULIPS, Evelyn has utilized a planar approach and distorted the perspective of the vase. The attractive cool/warm colour system softens the angularity of the forms.

TULIPS-
by Evelyn Cunningham

Rosemary has flattened out the shapes in TULIPA and intensified the colours. Her use of the written word enhances the flatness of the painting’s surface.

TULIPA-
by Rosemary Tannock

TOYS is as playful as it’s subject matter suggests. Another planar treatment is combined with a geometric background. The warm colours evoke pleasant associations with play and youth.

TOYS
by Evelyn Cunningham

In MATRYOSHKA DOLLS, the flatness is further emphasized by the black lines. Texture and pattern add interest to the shapes surrounding the dolls.

MATRYOSHKA DOLLS
by Rosemary Tannock

Evelyn uses soft, wet-in-wet washes to create a tranquil quality in GREAT BLUE HERON; a real celebration of unspoiled nature. Almost everything has been simplified into basic shapes and planes. Only the water and, perhaps, the logs are treated in a more traditional and naturalistic manner.

GREAT BLUE HERON
by Evelyn Cunningham

Rosemary re-visits the wine and cheese theme in VINTAGE 75. This was painted as a birthday card for a lucky friend. The curves and diagonals combine with complementary colours and the dynamic result embodies the fun of a great birthday party.

VINTAGE 75
by Rosemary Tannock

Evelyn and Rosemary continue to work with ideas from the workshop! Their creative courage and spirit of adventure has impressed me and their painting pals. At times, most of us have been stuck in the painting doldrums, lacking inspiration and wondering how to deal with it. A creative exercise such as our Cubist watercolour workshop can be refreshing and liberating. We may never thoroughly embrace every new idea but good things can seep into and re-invigorate our work.

Thanks, Evelyn and Rosemary! How about some comments? I know they’d like to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

Winter Saturday and Tuesday Watercolour Classes – Week One!

17/01/2018

Last Saturday was our first watercolour class of the new year at the Arts on Adrian studio in Toronto. I have quite a collection of bottles and, no, they weren’t all recently emptied at New Year’s Eve parties. I enjoy painting bottles and the students responded to them with real energy and enthusiasm.

As usual, I started off with a demonstration. That yellowish rectangle on the left side of the sheet was a suggestion for a wet-in-wet preliminary wash. I wet the area with water and touched in some yellow and raw sienna quite randomly. A wash like this can add atmosphere to the painting and harmonize the colours. Many of the Saturday students gave it a try.

I discussed a ‘light to dark’ and ‘big to small’ approach. In general, the first wash on a bottle covered the entire area except for a few reserved paper-white highlights. It’s like a silhouette. I like to touch other colours and values into this first wash and let them run. Next, I add middle-tone shapes to give the bottle structure and presented some brush-handling techniques to help with this process. Finally, I add the darkest (and smallest) marks to bring the bottle to life.

The students got to work. Most of them do a thumbnail study to better understand the objects and relationshiops and to  sort out their compositions.  As I patrolled the room, I notice George at work.

Hmmmm! Was that part of the still-life displayed on his camera? Let’s take a closer look.

So it was! I investigated. George was not drawing from the camera screen. He was observing the still-life with care. However, following a good look at the still-life, he photographed and enlarged an area that interested him. He then pursued his usual and traditional process and completed his thumbnail sketch from observation. Cameras, phones and iPads have made their way into studio and ‘en plein air’ practice for some time now. I approve of the way George balanced the old and the new.

If you’ve never attended a Sustained Saturday, why don’t you consider joining us soon? It’s a very vibrant day of creativity in excellent and supportive company. Here’s what they did with the bottles. Click on any critique image for a larger version.

Sustained Saturday Critique

This is another view of the bottle still-life with a different backdrop colour.

My demonstrations for the Tuesday classes dealt with the same ideas. I did develop a transparency a bit more and you can see it on the right side of the sheet where I’ve attempted to show the wooden box through the green bottle.

The Tuesday students applied themselves to the task with zeal. Remember that they have much less time to work on their paintings than their Saturday counterparts but come up with some very solid results.

There’s still a spot for you in an upcoming Tuesday or Saturday class. Check out my Winter Studio Calendar!

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Winter Studio Watercolour Classes!

01/01/2018

Happy New Year, everyone! It’s time to start thinking about creative pursuits to warm the soul over the cold months ahead. I’ll be teaching studio watercolour classes at two venues.

ARTS ON ADRIAN
My winter calendar for classes at Arts on Adrian, in the west end of Toronto, can be viewed by clicking here. You’ll also see it under the Pages menu in the sidebar. Classes are offered on three Tuesday afternoons, three Tuesday evenings and three Saturdays (all day). Please, use the Contact form below to register.

DUNDAS VALLEY SCHOOL OF ART
I’ll be teaching a watercolour studio class at the Dundas Valley School of Art in Dundas, Ontario. Registration is done through DVSA. The details below are from the school website.

3A32 *NEW* Watercolour: Concept and Technique with Barry Coombs
17 Jan – 7 Mar, 2018 from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm

This watercolour course is based on traditional observation of the still-life. A new and attractive still life will be presented every week. You’ll learn to observe and understand value and develop your watercolour skills and ideas. Drawing and composition will also be emphasized. Demonstrations and constructive critiques are a feature of every class. Not suitable for beginners. Wednesdays. Course Fee: $269 Limit: 15 students

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

Spring Tuesday and Saturday Watercolour Classes

24/04/2017

We had a very cheerful still-life at the Arts on Adrian studio last week. I just got back from teaching in Mexico a while ago and I guess I miss it already. Last Tuesday, I discussed some basics with my demonstration as well as a few thoughts about handling the fabric backdrop.

Let’s have a look at what the students did in the Tuesday afternoon and evening classes.

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Do you ever wonder what the Arts on Adrian studio looks like? It’s spacious and well-lit. Every student works at their own table with lots of room. Here’s a peek at some of the Saturday students at work.

And here’s a well-organized work table. As long as the artist doesn’t dip her brush in her tea!

The Saturday demonstration isn’t an exact duplicate of Tuesday. We look at the one from Tuesday and I add some new thoughts.

Watercolour demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs

There was a lot of good energy in the studio on Saturday, as well. Enjoy their work!

Sustained Saturday Critique