Archive for the ‘Dundas Valley School of Art’ Category

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

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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

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

Winter Wednesday Watercolour Class at DVSA – Week Six!

22/02/2018

Please, bear with me as I tell you about last night’s watercolour class at the Dundas Valley School of Art. Our still-life comprised of cuddly critters was a great opportunity to talk about soft edge techniques. First of all, I broke down the bear into it’s component parts (ears, arms, nose, paws). Last week, I used a very similar approach with the colourful gift bags. I painted each shape with a light wash and touched in a darker version while it was still wet. This created a soft edge. It’s easier said than done and takes a lot of practice.

One of the students completely ignored the soft edge process and developed his image with values. This was fine with me. You may recall that I presented this approach a few weeks ago. David would like to improve his understanding of value and is quite happy to devote more time to it. Later on, he glazed some colour on his piece. Look for it in the critique.

Value Study
by David Chapman

I also urged everyone to pay a bit more attention to their compositions. Their thumbnail sketches took time and it slowed them down a bit so several ‘works in progress’ are featured in our critique. Don’t forget to click on a critique image to view a larger version.

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique b

 

Winter Wednesday Watercolour Class at DVSA – Week Five!

18/02/2018

It was already our fifth evening of Watercolour: Concept and Technique last Wednesday at the Dundas Valley School of Art! We’ve had a cold and fairly white winter so I thought some bright colours were in order. Also, I wanted to talk about colour mixing and applying washes and these gift bags fit the bill.

If you don’t see a multi-coloured bag in the still-life, your vision is fine. I broke this bag down into component shapes so I could discuss colour and washes without taking the time to paint several bags. We’ve only got three hours to paint, after all, and that includes my demonstration and our constructive critique.

The students always apply themselves and most wish there was more painting time by the end of the class. Some of these watercolours are unfinished but why rush? The learning process is more important than the final product.

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique b

Wednesday Watercolour at DVSA – Week Four!

08/02/2018

If you’ve ever spent time around a coastal fishing community, you’ll likely know what these things are. They’re floats that are used on nets and lobster pots. I’ve beachcombed quite a collection over the years and put together this selection for the Wednesday night watercolour students at the Dundas Valley School of Art.

Last week, our subject was hats and I demonstrated an approach to developing values with cool grey washes. Do you remember my demonstration?

The floats in the demonstration from yesterday evening were first painted in the same way as the hats. Once the washes were dry, I took it a step further. Using thin washes of local colour, I gently ‘glazed’ the objects. This is a very traditional approach to watercolour painting. I brought in a book and showed them a Gainsborough landscape that was completed with the same process.

All approaches/processes/styles have their pros and cons. The ‘value plus glazing’ process is great for establishing light and shadow and establishing a strong pattern in the painting. It’s not always the best approach for bright, vivid colour. All of the students felt that they could benefit from the experience and gave it a shot. They did well. As always, clicking on a critique image will bring up a larger version. See you next week!

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique b

Wednesday Watercolour Class at DVSA – Week Three!

02/02/2018

If it’s a winter Wednesday evening, it’s time for watercolour painting at the Dundas Valley School of Art. As you can see, our still-life was comprised of a pile of hats. The hats aren’t particularly colourful but they were the perfect subject for the lesson I had in mind. I went ‘back to basics’ and talked about two main things during my demonstration; tone/value and brush-handling skills.

I drew my hats in pencil first. My cool grey was a mix of Burnt Sienna and Cobalt Blue. As I painted, I was very careful to leave the white of the paper for the lightest areas of the subject. I developed the bigger middle tone shapes next and the smaller dark shapes and marks came last. The brush-handling I mentioned involves the soft edge washes used to create gentle transitions such as on the crowns of the hats.

This study could be continued by ‘glazing’ washes of colour over the values. Believe it or not, this approach was widely used by early watercolourists a few hundred years ago and is still employed by some contemporary painters. I chose this lesson because I thought some of the students could use a refresher in light and shadow.

Next week, I’m going to take it a step further and discuss glazing. But right now, let’s see what the Wednesday class did. Remember to click on a critique image for a larger version.

Wednesday Watercolour
Critique a

Wednesday Watercolour
Critique b

Wednesday Watercolour Class at DVSA – Week Two!

27/01/2018

Last Thursday, this blog had it’s 200,000th view! Thank you for following, commenting and liking. Now, what happened at DVSA on Wednesday evening?

I brought in my collection of ‘Mexican’ pots on Wednesday. Lovely, solid forms with lots of texture on their distressed surfaces. My demonstration dealt, first of all, with process. Many watercolour painters follow three basic guidelines; light to dark, big to small and soft to crisp. Add in a dollop of simplification and a sprinkle of editing and you’ve got the essence of my lesson.

It was only our second night together so I think my ‘back to basics’ approach was appreciated. Thinking back to my suggestion of week one, almost everyone did a thumbnail sketch/compositional study first. This helped focus on an area of interest in the still-life. Remember to click on a critique image for a larger version.

Wednesday Watercolour Critique a

Wednesday Watercolour Critique b

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.