Posts Tagged ‘Barry Coombs’

Fall Wednesday Watercolour Class at DVSA – Final Week!

01/12/2018

Eight weeks ago, I met this group and, bit by bit, identified what I thought they needed most in terms of process and techniques. The handling of soft edges has been near the top of the list and I’ve demonstrated several times with that in mind. Every Wednesday evening, I tape up the demonstrations that I’ve done to that point. This gives everyone a chance to review previous lessons.

Last Wednesday evening was my final class at the Dundas Valley School of Art for the fall term. Why not finish off with another shot at those soft edges? First of all, I needed a still-life that would suggest softness and the teddy bears were ready to go. They love getting out of the box once in a while.

I painted the bear one shape at a time and tried to create a soft edge, wet touching wet, within each shape. It’s surprisingly difficult to do and takes a lot of thought and practice.

I’ve enjoyed the last eight weeks with this hard-working bunch of artists. I’ve seen improvement and growing confidence in their work. Some have signed up for another round of classes with me that start in January and I look forward to working with them again. Care to join us? Check the DVSA winter calendar for details.

Wednesday Critique

 

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Fall Watercolour Classes at Arts on Adrian – Week Four!

28/11/2018

I wanted to combine some interesting shapes and textures with rich colours for the final still-life of the fall term at Arts on Adrian. Saturday is an all-day class and I always keep that in mind with my demonstration. The still-life featured decorative patterns in the tea tins and the fabric so I discussed colour selection for those elements of the subject. The black box was started with soft-edge washes before the suggestion of texture. Do candle flames have a crisp or soft edge? Both options were considered.

The students did well with the flames although one individual snuffed the candle out. I don’t know if it was a philosophical statement or not. Either way, it was a very creative day.

Sustained Saturday Critique

I started off the Tuesday class with a review of the Saturday demonstration. I suggested that the students simplify the patterns of the tins and fabric as they have only half the painting time of the Saturday class. Also, I took a look at the wicker basket on the wine bottle and pointed out it’s underlying volumes and how they receive light. The texture is more meaningful when the volumes are well-understood.

More time, please! The still-life had it’s challenges and most of the Tuesday students would have appreciated another hour or so of painting time. I like the way these paintings are going, though.

Saturday and Tuesday classes start again in January. I’ll have my Winter Calendar posted on this site soon. Thanks for following and liking our fall classes at Arts on Adrian in the west end of Toronto, Ontario!

Tuesday Critique

 

 

 

Wednesday Watercolour at DVSA – Week Seven!

23/11/2018

I like these geometric objects as a watercolour subject as they can be broken down into their component shapes. Each shape can be painted with a soft-edge transition; wet touching wet. Soft-edge techniques have become a major theme of this Wednesday evening class at the Dundas Valley School of Art. Why not? These techniques are fundamental to the medium and were, once again, the focus of my demonstration.

The students have been working hard. Some are doing homework and it has paid off. They are becoming increasingly confident (although you wouldn’t know it from listening to them) and I like their progress very much. We have one more class to go this term. See you next week!

Wednesday Critique

Wednesday Watercolour at DVSA – Week Six!

19/11/2018

The pomegranates made their way from Toronto to the Dundas Valley School of Art just in time for the Wednesday evening class. I’ve been focusing on basics with this group and some of the students requested a demonstration of even, ungraded washes over larger areas. Good idea!

Nothing is intrinsically better or worse in a watercolour painting. There are roles for both crisp and soft edges. Graded washes can be very attractive but a flatter, even wash may be appropriate at times. At the very least, the watercolour painter should know how to do it.

There was a lot to talk about for such a simple looking thing. A wash of a single pigment is easier to apply than a wash comprised of two or more pigments. Lighter washes (more water) are easier to apply than darker washes (more pigment). I discussed how to plan the direction of the wash and follow the bead. Mix enough paint so you don’t run out partway through. Don’t dip your brush in the water as it will dilute the wash and often create blossoms. Float the paint on gently and don’t grind your brush into the paper. It takes practice and thought.

It was a challenge but everyone will improve gradually. Overall, the students had a very strong evening of painting and I was pleased to see the progress. Technique will get better; again with lots of practice. I’m seeing much more confidence in the handling of values and colour than even a few weeks ago. Well done!

Wednesday Critique

Fall Watercolour Classes at Arts on Adrian – Week Three!

15/11/2018

It’s pomegranate season! I’d been keeping an eye on quality and prices for the past week or so and the creativity stars aligned in time for our Saturday and Tuesday classes. Cézanne loved to paint pomegranates and that’s good enough for me.

I talked mostly about colour selection on Saturday. The study on the upper right shows cast shadows on three different surfaces; a green plate, a gold fabric and a white fabric. Notice how the colour of the cast shadow relates to the colour of each surface.

I discussed the lessons from the Saturday demonstration with the Tuesday students, as well. In addition to that, I did a few studies and varied the washes using soft edge techniques.

The students paid attention to my offerings but didn’t need me for inspiration. Maybe, they channeled their inner Cézannes. They certainly made the most of our annual still-life of juicy pomegranates.

Sustained Saturday Critique

Tuesday Critique

Wednesday Watercolour at DVSA – Week Five!

09/11/2018

This pile of old ball caps was our painting subject at the Dundas Valley School of Art last Wednesday evening. We’ve already painted ceramic and metal objects as well as fruit and vegetables. Why not these soft, crumpled forms that take the light so nicely?

Several of the students had upgraded their watercolour paper to something more absorbent and of a better quality and I’m glad they did. I reviewed soft edge techniques again and stressed simplification. It’s not necessary to paint every single wrinkle!

Last week, many of the students struggled. One reason was the usual and quite normal adjustment to new techniques. The other reason was trying to overcome the hurdle of cheap paper. What do I really think about the importance of using an appropriate paper? I promise not to mention it again.

There was a happy atmosphere during our critique at the end of the evening. Gaining competence with these techniques will continue to require lots of practice but the work looked great!

Wednesday Critique

Wednesday Watercolour at DVSA – Week Four!

07/11/2018

It was our fourth evening at the Dundas Valley School of Art and we’re already at the midpoint of the fall term. It was also Halloween although I didn’t choose a thematic still-life. Instead, I went for these colourful metal objects. I wanted to discuss soft edge techniques again and these seemed to be an appropriate subject.

I reviewed and elaborated on a few ways to create the gentle transitions of a soft edge. How wet is the first wash? How dark is the second wash? Timing! There was a lot to talk about. The bottom right study, by the way, was an example of how not to do a wash. You had to be there.

I also stressed the importance of using the right paper for the job. My material list suggested absorbent papers such as Arches, Winsor & Newton and Saunders; all 140lb. and cold pressed. Unfortunately, many of the students disregarded this and purchased cheap, non-absorbent paper. I’ve watched them struggle with it for a few weeks and brought it to their attention again last Wednesday. We’ll see what they turn up with tonight.

Everyone worked hard and gained experience and that’s the important thing. However, we’ll see if better quality paper makes a difference over the next few weeks. It should. That’s why they make the good stuff.

Wednesday Critique

Watercolour Classes at Arts on Adrian – Week Two!

31/10/2018

The Arts on Adrian students considered this to be a challenging still-life. Lots of objects. Lots of possible compositions and approaches. I talked about a few things to start the Saturday and Tuesday classes. Many of these students are quite experienced watercolour painters and are interested in adding new elements to their work. Following the same process over and over again allows for improvement but varying the process, even risk-taking, is what gives you new ideas.

I started out with a pencil drawing. Here’s my most basic planning for my drawing.

I refined the drawing and created a small composition. Then, I wet the entire surface with clean water. While wet, I very randomly touched in the primaries; yellow, red and blue. This preliminary wash broke the ice. It crosses the lines and challenged me to work with it.

I let the painting dry completely before continuing. As I painted, I used different brush-handling techniques to vary washes. At times, I started a shape with water and added paint. Or I started with paint and gently feathered the edge of the shape with a damp brush. Other washes started with a light value and I added a darker value while it remained wet. In general, I wanted to add interest to all of the shapes in the painting.

On Tuesday, I did a bit more work on the small composition. Also, I broke down the shapes of the pitcher to show the techniques I’d employed.

I enjoyed looking over shoulders as the students worked on both days. There was a lot of energy in the studio on both days. What do think of their efforts?

Sustained Saturday Critique

Tuesday Critique

Wednesday Watercolour at DVSA – Week Three!

25/10/2018

I employed the KISS rule yesterday at the Dundas Valley School of Art. Keep it simple, student! Last week, you may recall that very few of the paintings were finished at the end of the night. I don’t really care as to whether or not they’re finished but I do think it’s important to go through the whole process. With that in mind, I suggested a few options; smaller paintings and/or less objects in the painting. In addition to that, I opted to use pears, always a classic subject, with some simple pots to set them off.

My demonstration sheet below is of the ‘you had to be there’ variety. It doesn’t look like much but I used it to discuss basic ‘soft edge’ techniques. The demonstration plus our discussion clicked somehow.

I’d like to take a little bit of credit for the results but I didn’t paint these watercolours, did I? Overall, the students really pushed themselves and were much more satisfied with their work than they had been last week. I’m also pleased that the less-experienced watercolour painters have shown improvement every class. See you at DVSA next week!

Wednesday Critique

Wednesday Watercolour at DVSA – Week Two!

20/10/2018

Ceramic objects were our subject at the Dundas Valley School of Art last Wednesday evening. I’d given thought to the work from our first class and decided to focus my demonstration/lesson on two things; mixing middle tones and simplification. The prerequisite for this class is ‘some prior watercolour experience’. As such, some of the students have a fair bit more experience than others but I have no problem with reviewing a few basics.

The less-experienced watercolour artist often has trouble with mixing the middle tones and their paintings can look washed out. Starting with primaries, I offered my thoughts. Next we turned our attention to simplification. Simplification of form is not a technique; it’s a concept. It’s very closely allied to chiaroscuro (light and shadow). My little studies are painted with a single value mixed from Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna. I didn’t paint the areas where I observed direct light striking the objects. Can I get any simpler? Can you see and understand the basic objects?

Many of the students spent time on small studies before embarking on a painting. That took time and not many of them were able to finish their work by the end of the evening. It was time well spent, though!

Learning can’t be rushed. We’ll see more resolved images over the weeks to follow. I saw a lot of good things on Wednesday evening.

Wednesday Critique