Posts Tagged ‘Art Workshops’

Grand Manan Island 2017 – Final Two Days!

11/08/2017

Dark Harbour was our destination on Thursday; towering cliffs, rustic camps and multi-coloured dories. Many artists struggle with the odd angles and nuances when drawing a dory. I set up my easel and gave an optional demonstration, showing the steps I take when drawing a dory. Drawing anything, actually. It’s a matter of careful measuring and checking angles.

When the tide comes in at Dark Harbour, there can be very little room on the beach for stools and easels. Also, the dory you’re painting may suddenly be required for dulsing, the gathering of a nutritious seaweed, and off it goes! Even my subject, this grey dory named Ophelia, was hauled onto the back of a pickup and taken away. Fortunately, I’d long finished my demo by then.

Some of our painters seem to dress to match their vehicles and others coordinate quite well with the dory next to them.

It was another special day. Not only does everyone enjoy painting at Dark Harbour but our local friends allow us the use of their world class outhouse! True Grand Manan hospitality. Another day, another critique back at our studio.

Thursday Critique a

Thursday Critique b

Friday was our last day of painting together! It came too quickly. We had another great painting spot to visit; Woodward’s Cove.

I arrived early and got set up ahead of time for a sustained demonstration. As you’ve seen, I don’t do complete paintings very often as demonstrations. For one thing, they take a chunk of time out of the morning and everyone is itching to get to work. The main reason is that I use demos to make teaching points. They are lessons and not performances followed by an opportunity to purchase. However, I believe it’s important for students to see my process from start to finish at some point during the week and Friday morning was that time.

One of the things I addressed was colour. I urge the students to be less literal with colour and to select colours that work together in the painting. Colour can be used to create a mood or even a temperature. Note that the background trees in my demo are not green! The shed is not a dull neutral grey. There’s nothing inherently wrong with greens, greys and browns but they are often used thoughtlessly and contribute nothing special to the painting.

Woodward’s Cove is a big area with a wide range of subject matter. ‘En plein air’ painting always has challenges but painting on Grand Manan Island has a few rather unique ones. As we painted on Friday, the tide gradually dropped. By the end of the day, the harbour was completely drained of water. Note to self: paint the water in early!

While in Woodward’s Cove, make sure you stop by Shore Things. Driftwood art, colourful fishing floats and other island souvenirs are available. If you have questions about the island, Wayne can answer them.

It was time for one more trip to our studio for a critique. Have a look at the work from Friday and then scroll down for more news about our week.

Friday Critique a

Friday Critique b

Our workshop wasn’t quite over. After critique, everyone headed back to their lodgings to freshen up for our Farewell Dinner at the Marathon Inn. Steak or lobster? Dinner was excellent and a lot of fun. Following dinner, we enjoyed our Final Critique. Each student brought three of their works and presented and spoke about them one at a time. It’s a very rewarding way to sum up our week together.

I’d like to thank all of the 2017 participants for helping to make our workshop a success. And thank you, dear reader, for following, commenting and liking! Next year’s dates for Grand Manan will be posted on this blog soon. Why don’t you join us? It’s a spectacular place and the company is excellent. Now, there’s one more photo to see. Allow me to present the Class of 2017!

 

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Grand Manan Island 2017 – First Three Days!

08/08/2017

Last week, a group of ‘en plein air’ watercolour painters gathered on lovely Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy. We met on Sunday evening and shared a delicious Welcome Dinner at the historic Marathon Inn. The next morning, we met at our studio for a demonstration. I talked about water, which seemed appropriate as we’re on an island and surrounded by the wet stuff. Water has many moods. I tried to offer some ideas to help the students tackle it’s many challenges.

Following the demonstration, we went over to North Head harbour; just a short hop. We all stay in North Head so it’s nice to be close to home on the first day. Several of the students settled into the shady spot in front of Kirk’s shed.

North Head Harbour is very busy with fishing as well as related activities such as rockweed gathering and the care and feeding of farmed Atlantic salmon.

Nearby, Pettes’ Cove attracted a few eyes. It offers a splendid view of the famous Swallowtail lighthouse.

It was a beautiful, sunny day. Little did we know at the time but our entire week would give us brilliant weather. The studio is a welcome retreat at the end of the day and we assembled for our first critique of the week.

Monday Critique a

Monday Critique b

On Tuesday morning, we met at Seal Cove. Seal Cove features the traditional herring smokesheds and abounds with character. I set up my easel and did a demonstration. I talked about developing a watercolour with a ‘light to dark’ and ‘big to small’ process.

The students spread out in search of subjects and shade. It didn’t take long to settle in.

A few painters brought their shade with them.

Others sought it out.

A few soaked up the sunshine even though I don’t recommend painting in the sun. It dries up your paper and palette too quickly and bleaches out your darks so the painting can become overworked. Still, a happy artist is a good thing…

Eventually, it was time to return to the studio for our critique. As the week goes by, you may notice different styles in our daily exhibitions. I don’t teach ‘my way or the highway’ workshops. As best I can, I encourage each artist to find their personal voice.

Tuesday Critique a

Tuesday Critique b

Tuesday Critique c

You guessed it! More sunshine on Wednesday. While at Seal Cove on Tuesday, I’d done a small watercolour with the intention of adding penwork to it for our Wednesday morning demonstration. I did it at the studio before heading to Fisherman’s Haven Lane, which is home to Ingall’s Head Cottages. Many thanks to Wendy, the proprietor, for allowing us to park on her property.

We got to work right away. This is a lovely and quiet spot, a bit off the beaten track. The locals are always interested in our creative efforts.

Finding shade became an art form of it’s own.

Critique time! Is it already Wednesday? Thanks for following along with our exploits. Stay tuned for my report from Thursday and Friday of last week.

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique b

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plein Air Toronto 2017 – Last Two Days!

28/06/2017

Click on our First Three Days if you somehow missed the last post. Day four of Plein Air Toronto 2017 was Thursday of last week and the weather, which had been tricky all week, took a turn for the worst. I made arrangements for us to sketch in pen and ink all day long and without any concerns about rain. The catch was that our plein air artists were going indoors for the day. We met in the morning at the Gardiner Museum, which is dedicated to historic and contemporary ceramic art.

It’s a beautiful museum but it’s difficult to gather the entire group at once for a demonstration or critique. I handed out a prepared sheet showing basic pen techniques in the morning. Later, I gathered a small group of pen and ink novices and sketched a Pre-Columbian figure as I discussed my thoughts.

It was a great day and don’t forget the excellent restaurant when you visit the Gardiner. Friday was yet another challenging weather day. However, I don’t have almost thirty years of experience for nothing. We met at University College on the lovely downtown campus of the University of Toronto.

The College has a large interior courtyard surrounded, on two sides, by wide colonnades. We were high and dry and had plenty of subject matter through the arches. Even the arches themselves attracted the eye of our artists.

I brought in some examples of pen and watercolour studies, done on the U of T campus, to get the morning started. As the group worked, I began a watercolour of my own for a change. Several of the new students expressed interest in my approach and process. I began with a sketch to resolve a composition and then drew it up on a sheet of watercolour paper.

  

I wasn’t able to finish the piece by the end of the day as I had teaching responsibilities. I pulled it together later in my studio.

Enough about me! Let’s have a look at our day at University College.

Eventually, it was time for our last critique of the week. The skies cleared just enough and we gathered one more time. What a great group! I thank them all for their cheerful participation and also thank you for following, commenting and liking the posts. Plein Air Toronto will be back next year. Now, for a look at the work from Friday.

University College
Critique a

University College
Critique b

Plein Air Toronto 2017 – First Three Days!

26/06/2017

One week ago, the 2017 Plein Air Toronto participants gathered at the Arts on Adrian studio in the west end. We introduced ourselves and I gave a demonstration that considered several common elements of the urban landscape we’d be painting for the next five days. We also discussed colour; green, in particular.

Following our meeting, we headed down to the Sunnyside Pavilion which is on the beach of Lake Ontario.

The Pavilion is a lovely place to sketch and paint, inside and out.

We put in a good day’s work and met inside the Pavilion for our first critique of the week. Click on an image for a larger version.

Sunnyside Pavilion
Critique a

Sunnyside Pavilion
Critique b

We met onsite at Riverdale Farm on Tuesday morning. It was a blustery day with a few showers but there was ample overhead shelter for us. This urban farm is bordered by a park on one side and a historic cemetery and chapel on the other. There’s lots of great subject matter to choose from including the charming cafe across the street.

I had prepared a demonstration ahead of time. My subject was the cafe and my painting was a value study in cool greys. I discussed my process and the importance of developing an eye for value.

Colour can be added to a study like this by gently ‘glazing’ washes over the appropriate areas. The grey washes should be completely dry before proceeding.

The group wandered around a bit to find their spots and then settled in. I kept a few of the newer folks back to talk about basic drawing and the use of a measuring stick to assist with perspective and proportion. I’ve developed a Drawing Checklist over the years and it can be very useful.

The little bit of rain didn’t deter us. It was a very productive day and we found a private and quiet spot for our critique.

Riverdale Farm
Critique a

Riverdale Farm
Critique b

Wednesday promised to be a day of sunshine and we chose historic Spadina House as our location. We met in the parkette between Spadina House and Casa Loma for my demonstration. I used an approach I call shape-reading, direct painting without any preliminary pencil drawing. Challenging but fun and very instructive. As I painted, I chatted about my thoughts and decisions.

We made the most of our sunny weather and gorgeous painting site.

It was a beautiful day and the paintings were equally lovely. Stay tuned for our final two days of Plein Air Toronto 2017. Coming soon!

Spadina House
Critique a

Spadina House
Critique b

 

 

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico 2017

28/03/2017

 

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

More from San Miguel de Allende, Mexico!

14/03/2016

Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

We were back at our studio on Wednesday morning. Our plan was to paint at the Instituto de Bellas Artes, a beautiful and historic building with a lovely courtyard surrounded by lots of arches. As you can see, I presented a few ideas about arches to the group.

Following my demonstration, we headed up to the Instituto and settled in to work. The Instituto hosts an excellent art and music school. As well as this guitar-making workshop, there are frescoes  and studios throughout.

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Nancy at work

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NIck at work

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Kate at work

It turned into a surprisingly windy day! Not everyone finished their work but that wasn’t so much due to the wind as it was the ambitious choice of subject matter. It took quite a while to sort out the perspective of the arches for some of our painters. Still, it was another good day and we enjoyed the critique back at our studio.

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique b

Wednesday Critique b

I’ve been leading workshops here in the month of March for a dozen years or so. On occasion, we get a thunderstorm overnight or in the very late afternoon. This year, we experienced a meteorological rarity; rain and cool temperatures during the day. On Thursday, I had hoped to paint in the Parque Guadiana, a quiet and peaceful spot. Due to the weather, I changed the plan. I started off in the studio with some more thoughts about foliage. After that, I suggested the group stay close to home and they did. Some worked from the inside of the hotel and looked out windows at their subjects.

Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

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The hotel cat stayed dry and the rain didn’t last long but the plan stayed the same. Have a look at the work from Thursday.

Thursday Critique a

Thursday Critique a

Thursday Critique b

Thursday Critique b

The sun was shining Friday morning and we walked up to Parque Guadiana right away. It’s a sweet spot; a garden-like park surrounded by gorgeous villas. As it happened, we weren’t the only painters in the park.

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Stew and Frances at work

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Marike at work

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It was a very pleasant day and the last scheduled painting day of our workshop.

Friday Critique a

Friday Critique a

Friday Critique b

Friday Critique b

Saturday was another day of freedom for our participants. Shopping was on many agendas but most spent some time working on their paintings and drawings, as well. We got together in the studio for Final Critique late in the afternoon. Each artist chose three works and told us a bit about them and why they’d selected them. It was a great way to wrap up our workshop.

Thanks for following our creative adventures. I now give you, in alphabetical order, the Class of 2016!

Carolyn

Carolyn

Frances

Frances

Karen

Karen

Kate

Kate

Marike

Marike

Nancy

Nancy

Nick

Nick

Stewart

Stewart

 

Gibsons School of the Arts – Day One!

18/08/2015

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I boarded a ferry in Horseshoe Bay last Sunday, setting out on a new teaching adventure. I arrived 45 minutes later at Gibsons, on the beautiful Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. I’m teaching all week at the Gibsons School of the Arts, leading a workshop called ‘Creative Watercolor: Imagination, Colour and Composition’.

On Sunday night, I met the students at a ‘meet and greet’ in a lovely local home. Monday morning, we convened at the Arts Building in the bright and spacious studio.

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This is a watercolour workshop and is comprised of a series of exercises, each with it’s own goal. My first demonstration dealt with a basic ‘soft edge’ technique that will become the ‘building block’ of all our paintings. Following that, I discussed drawing and presented our first exercise which was based on an inukshuk. The inukshuk originated with the Inuit and was a pile of stones in a human shape. Here in BC, people love to make their own versions on the rocky beaches although they don’t necessarily resemble a human being.

Preliminary drawing for watercolour exercise by Barry Coombs

Our exercise took a ‘step by step’ approach. The drawing is very important and I darkened my pencil lines to stress the need to create clearly defined shapes. Think of a stained glass window or even a colouring book!

The students chose their own colours and tried to apply the ‘soft edge’ technique to every shape in the painting. I worked on my demonstration throughout the day and called the group over from time to time to discuss various ideas about brush-handling and technique.

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Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

It was a full day! Some of the students are primarily acrylic painters and the techniques were a new challenge. The process was new for most of the  watercolour painters, as well. Everyone followed the steps of the exercise and we wrapped up with a look at the results.

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Monday Critique

Grand Manan Island – First Two Days!

28/07/2015

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Let me tell you about the Birds and the Bees. We’ve got a great group of painters this week on Grand Manan Island. Some are less-experienced than others and that’s the case for most workshops. I decided on our first morning, yesterday, to give some of my demonstrations for all participants and some for the newer painters. The new guys are getting some ‘back to basics’ and that became B2B and that became the Bees. The more experienced painters, who don’t need the basics, head off to paint outdoors right away and they are now the Birds. Some start the day as a Bee and take flight as a Bird later on.

We met at our studio yesterday, Monday morning, and after a talk with the Birds I discussed a few fundamentals with the Bees. We practiced basic soft-edge techniques and I suggested a simplification exercise that would give them experience without becoming too boring.

Watercolour demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs

Over the course of the day, everyone worked outside for at least a few hours. I visited the Birds where they were perched along the shoreline in North Head and offered them some feedback.

Stewart at Work

Artist at Work

We reconvened in the studio at the end of the day and had our first critique. I looked at the Birds and the Bees separately.

Monday Critique - Bees

Monday Critique – Bees

Monday Critique - Birds

Monday Critique – Birds

This morning, Tuesday, we met again in the studio. A thunderstorm raged outside for an hour or two and I discussed guidelines about painting water and reflections.

Watercolour demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs

Water can be a tricky subject but there are principles, based on observation, that can help. Our group paints outdoors and we don’t use materials like masking fluid so we try to solve the problems with our paint, brushes and paper.

Both Birds and Bees attended the demo and, when it wrapped up, we headed to Woodward’s Cove to paint. Woodward’s Cove is one of the island’s largest harbours and we knew there would be lots of water to challenge us.

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Well, we ran out of water but not until mid-afternoon. The tides are spectacular in the Bay of Fundy and this harbour drains completely twice every 24 hours. The painters managed to find lots of subjects, including water, and we had a productive day.

Britta at Work

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Aleda at Work

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John at Work

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Our critique was back at the studio. We looked at the Bees and the Birds separately again but it won’t be long before we start to mix them up.

Tuesday Critique - Bees

Tuesday Critique – Bees

Tuesday Critique - Birds

Tuesday Critique – Birds

Watercolour Painting on BC’s Sunshine Coast!

20/07/2015

Original watercolour by Barry Coombs  BLUE CHEESE

Have you planned your summer painting holiday yet? If not, join me for a week in beautiful British Columbia! I’ll be teaching a one week studio watercolour workshop at the Gibsons School of Art from August 17-21. Gibsons is a short drive and ferry ride away from Vancouver.

We’ll be working in the comfort of a bright and spacious studio. Participants will follow a traditional process leading to well-designed, vibrant paintings. The spectacular scenery will inspire our main watercolour project. A spirit of play and interpretation will be combined with a structured approach that draws upon memory and imagination as well as sketches and photo references. Drawing, value, composition and harmonious colour will be emphasized, as well as sound watercolour technique.

Lessons will be demonstrated and discussed clearly, making this workshop an exciting, enjoyable, and positive learning experience.

For full details, please click here.

Plein Air Toronto 2015 – First Three Days!

23/06/2015

Last week, from Monday to Friday, I led an outdoor watercolour painting workshop in the parks, gardens and historic sites of Toronto, Ontario. I’m posting late due to some internet trouble but I hope you’ll still enjoy our adventures.

We met on Monday morning in my west-end studio. I often start an outdoor week with a general demonstration intended to cover several of the common elements encountered by artists working outdoors.

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Watercolour demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs

After the demo, we headed down to the lakeshore and painted near the restored, though currently unused, Joy gas station. Everyone settled in to paint and draw. We had a large picnic shelter handy in case of rain but the weather cooperated.

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Karen at work

Lynn at work

Phil and Polly at work

Evelyn at work

It was a great start to the week and we wrapped up with our critique.

Monday Critique A

Monday Critique A

Monday Critique B

Monday Critique B

Thunderstorms threatened on Tuesday so we met at St. Mike’s College on the beautiful downtown University of Toronto campus. There’s a lot of overhead protection on the site but, good fortune prevailed, and we had another sunny day with no rain.

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You can say that again! St. Mike’s College is in the middle of urban Toronto but a pair of Red-winged Blackbirds were nesting and the male attacked artists and other passersby all day long when they got too close. No damage done, though.

This American Robin was also on her nest. She was very well behaved.

American Robin on nest

I discussed pen combined with watercolour and used a ‘show and tell’ approach. We looked at some past demonstrations and discussed the techniques before getting to work.

Evelyn at work

Katie at work

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Laura, Elizabeth and Barb at work

It was a productive day and we had a lot to look at when the the time came for our critique.

Tuesday Critique A

Tuesday Critique A

Tuesday Critique B

Tuesday Critique B

Tuesday Critique C

Tuesday Critique C

Spadina House was our site for Wednesday but it doesn’t open until noon. We set up for the first two hours in the parkette between Spadina House and Casa Loma. I took the opportunity to use one tower of Casa Loma as my subject. I discussed the underlying volumes in architecture and even foliage. Cubes, cones, cylinders and spheres. My proportions aren’t all accurate and I omitted the chimney but the point of the demo was well received.

Wedb  Watercolour demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs

At noon, we entered the gardens surrounding Spadina House. It’s a lovely spot with plenty of shade and a great variety of subject matter.

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Unfortunately, my camera battery died before critique. I took our photo with my iPad and it’s a bit dark. Still, the quality of the work is evident. Stay tuned for more watercolours and drawings from Toronto. I’ll be posting Thursday and Friday soon.

Wednesday Critique

Wednesday Critique