Posts Tagged ‘acuarela’

Spring Tuesday and Saturday Watercolour Classes


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


Spring Tuesday and Saturday Watercolour Classes – Baked Goods!


Yummy! I should have warned the students to not come hungry for the classes last Tuesday and Saturday. These baked goods weren’t just mouth-watering but a lot of fun to paint, as well.

Before I demonstrated, we had a look at the work of Wayne Thiebaud, the American artist who is well-known for his paintings of pastries and other everyday food items and objects.

I wanted to stress colour and simplification with my demonstrations on both days. I also discussed the white objects in the still-life and offered some thoughts on dealing with them.

Tuesday Demonstration

Saturday Demonstration

I had to keep a close eye on our tempting still-life. One of the students even rolled a pencil off a table, crawled under and approached the cupcakes! Fortunately, the goods survived until the end of the classes and the students enjoyed painting them as much as they would have enjoyed devouring them……maybe, not.

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Saturday Critique

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico – Another Successful Workshop!


We’re back home, safe and sound, after another wonderful ten creative days in San Miguel de Allende. Last Tuesday was a free day. On Wednesday morning, we walked up to Plaza San Antonio with it’s striking white church.

I brought my easel along to do an on-site demonstration. We could see the mountains beyond the buildings that surrounded the square. As usual, I discussed my thoughts and decisions as I painted.

It’s always advisable to paint in the shade, especially in Mexico! Fortunately, Plaza San Antonio has plenty of shade and much to paint.

We had a great day and finished off with a critique at our studio. Sadly, we’re down to nine painters. One of the students had to cut her painting holiday short because of a business trip. Aren’t careers a nuisance?

A few of the students followed my lead and painted the same view I did with my demo. That’s not something I recommend necessarily but there are many ways to learn and absorb ideas from an instructor.

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique b

We met in our studio again for my demonstration on Thursday morning. There had been quite a demand for a figure demonstration and I bowed to the requests. My two figures were both started with pencil. Using a cool grey wash, I painted the shadows on the gent to the left. When the washes were dry, I glazed on the local colours. I started directly with local colour for the lady on the right and left a fair bit of paper white to suggest light. I let the washes dry before adding the penwork.

One of my favourite painting spots in SM de Allende is the Instituto Bellas Artes. It’s a shady and peaceful art and music school. Our students settled into the spots of their choice while listening to relaxing live guitar music. Later on, the musical program changed to piano emanating from an upper floor studio.

Another treat at Bellas Artes are the many murals painted by past instructors and students.

We thanked Bellas Artes for hosting a soothing and inspiring day of painting and sketching. It was time for critique, once again.

Thursday Critique a

Thursday Critique b

Alas, Friday was our last day of painting together. We strolled up to Parque Guadiana, a tranquil park in a pretty residential neighbourhood. I did a brief demonstration at my easel. It was really an illustrated review of some of the things we’d discussed to date. Once the students settled down to work, I painted two small works that took about 45 minutes each. I later showed them to the group and explained my thoughts and process.

Friday critique was held in our hotel studio.

Friday Critique a

Friday Critique b

Our painting time had come to an end but we had one more event to celebrate on Saturday; Final Critique. It’s a chance to summarize our time together. Each student selects three of their works and tells us a bit about them and their overall experience. Here is the SM de Allende Class of 2017 (in alphabetical order)!









Let’s not forget our missing painter, now attending a conference in India.


That’s all, amigos. I’m grateful to this year’s participants for their good nature and hard work. Thanks go to Jim Nikiforos of Air Transat Travel for his efforts and to those of you who have liked and commented on our adventures. Hasta luego!

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico 2017



Hola, amigos! We’re back in beautiful San Miguel de Allende. We arrived last Thursday afternoon at the Posada de la Aldea and our first group event was a delicious Welcome Dinner. On Friday morning, I led an orientation walk around town so that everyone could get their bearings. The group had the rest of the day on their own.

Our first day of sketching and painting was Saturday. We met at 9am sharp in a shady spot in the hotel courtyard for a lesson/demonstration. The plan was to work in the courtyard for the day. I discussed subject selection and simplification.

The courtyard has plenty of charm and our artists were not short of inspiration.

We wrapped up the day in our studio with a critique.

Saturday Critique a

Saturday Critique b

The lovely local park, Parque Benito Juarez, was our painting site for Sunday. We met in our studio for my demonstration prior to walking over to the park. I wanted to prepare the students for some of the creative challenges they would encounter and foliage was the first priority. I also discussed some architectural elements.

Another great day followed by an enjoyable critique.

Sunday Critique a

Sunday Critique b

We decided to throw caution to the wind on Monday and paint in the Jardin, the main square. There are lots of people but there is plenty of shade, as well. Before we went up to the Jardin, I gave a demonstration in our studio. Arches were on the menu.

It’s very pleasant to return to our studio at the end of a sunny day outdoors. Our Monday critique went extremely well. Tuesday is a free day; shopping, exploring and relaxing. We’ll be back at it on Wednesday morning. Hasta luego!

Monday Critique a

Monday Critique b

Winter Saturday and Tuesday Watercolour Classes – Brass!



Here are two views of our still-life from the Saturday and Tuesday watercolour classes at Arts on Adrian in Toronto.


Saturday class is an all day affair and I suggested that the students take the time to do a small warmup painting. I used a flat angled brush for my demonstration and worked very quickly. As I painted, I discussed various aspects of the still-life. Fast and messy, this painting is not an end in itself but part of a process. A warmup painting can help the student identify potential problems and challenges before tackling a sustained piece.

Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Several of the students followed my lead before settling into a more sustained painting.

Sustained Saturday Critique

Sustained Saturday Critique

Tuesday classes are three hours in duration. I decided to discuss the drapery behind the objects. My demonstrations simplify the folds as much as possible.

That’s it for Winter term at Arts on Adrian. I’ll be posting my Spring calendar soon!

Watercolour demonstrations by Barry Coombs

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique


Winter Saturday and Tuesday Watercolour Classes – Rust and Dust!



These old cans and containers have a lot of character and are always a popular subject with the watercolour students. On Saturday, I focused my demonstration primarily on colour and texture.

Watercolour demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs

A Sustained Saturday class is six hours long and it allows the students lots of time to complete thumbnail sketches and small studies before starting a more ambitious piece. This extra effort always pays off!

Sustained Saturday Critique

Sustained Saturday Critique

Tuesday was quite a challenge and I’m not talking about the watercolour painting! Our region experienced an ice storm. I followed the weather report every half hour and decided to run the classes. Amazingly, eleven determined students showed up for the afternoon class. Unfortunately, conditions worsened but four undaunted (maybe crazy) artists turned up for the evening session.

I concentrated on simplification and colour with my demonstration. The small study on the right was done in the evening. I’ve drawn attention to the foregound object by eliminating all paper white in the background with a cool grey wash. When that wash dried, I added shadow shapes of the other objects in a single value. Suggestion versus depiction.

Watercolour demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs

A potentially disastrous day turned into a success!

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Saturday and Tuesday Watercolour Classes – More Colour!



The last time we convened at the Arts on Adrian studio, the students were faced with a still-life comprised solely of cardboard objects. The entire setup was, basically, light brown. We changed that. After a discussion about colour theory, each student adopted a colour system (complementary or analagous are two examples) that appealed to them and converted the still-life into a very colourful watercolour painting.

This time, I set up a still-life of just about every colour I could find in my trove of objects. It’s colourful but that doesn’t mean that the colours are working well together. The new challenge for the students was to pick an area of the still-life and adjust the colours in order to make a more effective statement.

I looked at a small corner of the arrangement and made a simplified thumbnail sketch. You can see that I made some key changes. I wanted to draw the eye to the bowl on the plate and to create a bit of depth to the space in the painting.



I had asked the students to plan all of their colours at the outset with a thumbnail sketch, as I had. Why not? Why wait until the painting is near completion before deciding what colour to employ in the remaining unpainted areas (almost always the background)?

The students enjoyed our colour challenge. We spend a lot of time in watercolour class discussing drawing, composition and technique. We discuss colour, as well, but I think our intensive two-class mini-workshop really struck a chord.

Sustained Saturday Critique

Sustained Saturday Critique

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Pen and Watercolour at DVSA – Drawing People!


I was back at the Dundas Valley School of Art yesterday for a day of pen and ink drawing. We combined the pen with watercolour and our theme was ‘drawing people’. I rarely use photographs when I teach but they’re perfect for this lesson. I brought in the photo reference for the students.

We started the day with a discussion about proportions of the figure and head. That proved to be very helpful with the two exercises that we completed. Our first drawing was of a little boy and I demonstrated in three steps. The first step was the pencil drawing. Following that, we got out the pens. The final step was the watercolour although, once the watercolour was dry it was possible to go back in with the pen, if desired.

Step one of pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs  Step two of pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Step three of pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

We varied the process with our second drawing. Pencil first. Watercolour second. Pen third. Be careful with that pen! You can’t erase it. I might have been too enthusiastic and unintentionally gave this poor woman a bit of a moustache. Oh well, it’s Movember, after all.

Step one of pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs  Step two of pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Step three of pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

As always, some of the students were faster workers than others. We didn’t have time for a third drawing but, near the end of the class, I gave one more demonstration. I started with pencil and then applied a ‘sepia’ wash mixed from Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna. I did the pen work once the wash had dried.

Step one of pen and wash demonstration by Barry Coombs  Step two of pen and wash demonstration by Barry Coombs

We wrapped up the day with a look at the student work. They did very well and should be equipped with a sound process for their own projects. Have a look at their work and, if you’re in the area, join me this winter at DVSA for eight weeks of Pen and Ink Studio on Thursday afternoons.

Drawing People Critique

Drawing People Critique


Saturday and Tuesday Watercolour Classes – The Colour Challenge!



Colour challenge? I’d say! I set up this monochromatic still-life for the watercolour classes this week. Eyebrows were definitely raised as the students entered the Arts on Adrian studio. No colour in the still-life and no demonstration either but I was prepared with a presentation about colour systems.


Image courtesy of internet

We discussed some basic colour theory; primaries, secondaries, complementaries and cool/warm colours. Following that, we looked at split complementaries, triads and analogous systems. I also talked about greys and their role in painting.

The students were asked to decide upon a colour system to use in their painting. Most created a thumbnail sketch in their sketchbooks and either added colour to it or used colour swatches on the side to sort out their palettes. It was certainly a challenge but they rose to the occasion. We had a lot of fun and the lesson will be applied to all future work.

Sustained Saturday Critique

Sustained Saturday Critique

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Fall Tuesday Watercolour Class – More Gourds!



***Sometime yesterday, this blog received it’s 175,000th view. Thank you all for following, commenting and liking!

I couldn’t deny the Tuesday watercolour students an opportunity to paint the gourds and the straw bale. The Saturday class had enjoyed it and created some very nice work. On Saturday, I had painted a fairly rapid watercolour sketch as my demonstration and I did the same for the Tuesday afternoon and evening groups. As I paint, I discuss various elements of the still-life and the decisions I’m making. Generally, a quick watercolour sketch is more about suggestion than depiction. Simplification, editing and creative licence are all key factors.

Watercolour demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs

On Saturday, I’d also devoted some time to a completely different process; starting with values in grey and glazing on local colour once the grey washes are dry. Some of the less-experienced students found this to be a very useful way to develop their understanding of value and light and shadow. Yesterday, I worked with some of them one on one. My demo from Saturday (below) should give you an idea of the approach.

Watercolour demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs Watercolour demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs

Several of the students embraced the quick sketch idea and some did more than one piece during the class. It was a good challenge. Many of these students have very good skill sets but would like to add more spontaneity to their work overall. Taking a few risks and working fast can be a positive step in that direction!

IMPORTANT NOTE!!! Many long-time followers may remember when it was possible to click on an image here and see a larger version. It was particularly useful with the images of the critiques because we all like to see the works closer up. For some mysterious reason, a while back, this feature ceased to function and I couldn’t figure out how to restore it. Recently, I’ve had some feedback from a WordPress ‘Happiness Engineer’. I think the proposed solution may work. Click on one of the critique images and let me know if you’re able to view the larger version. I hope so!

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique