Posts Tagged ‘Edward’s Gardens’

Plein Air Toronto – Last Two Days of a Great Week!


Lilies - PleinAirTO2014  Chapel - PleinAirTO2014

We enjoyed beautiful sunny weather for the last two days of our Plein Air Toronto week of sketching and painting. Our site for Thursday was Riverdale Farm and the adjacent Toronto Necropolis.

Several of our participants were working outdoors for the first time this week. The monuments and stones in the cemetery are good practice for combining architectural forms with foliage. I chose a few stones for the subject of my demonstration and threw a small wrench into the works, using a flat angled brush and a ‘swatch-like’ approach to the study.

Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs - PleinAirTO2014

I also presented a short illustrated talk about creating a focal point in a painting. We discussed three key elements; colour, contrast and structure. We looked at two paintings from the Renaissance. The first was the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci and the second was the Wedding Feast by Pieter Breughel the Elder.

Between the Necropolis and the Farm we had all kinds of subject matter from which to choose. Everyone loves to see the critters on the Farm but not everyone goes down the hill to the lower ponds. Part of it is a wildlife sanctuary and is home to amazing creatures like this Black-crowned Night Heron.

Black-crowned Night Heron - PleinAirTO2014

Horse - PleinAirTO2014  Flowers - PleinAirTO2014

Farmhouse - PleinAirTO2014

Kim at Work - PleinAirTO2014

Jane at Work - PleinAirTO2014  Debbie at Work - PleinAirTO2014

We found a quiet spot for our critique and were able to look at all of the work at once.

Thursday Critique - PleinAirTO2014

The painting spot for Friday was Edward’s Gardens and the Toronto Botanical Garden.

Edward's Gardens - PleinAirTO2014

I brought along a few books to show before I demonstrated at my easel. We looked at the watercolours of three very different artists; Paul Cezanne, John Singer Sargent and Charles Burchfield. In particular, we studied the way they each approached foliage.

My demonstration was painted with a 1″ flat angled brush. I used a ‘light to dark’ and ‘big to small’ approach as I attempted to convey ideas about simplifying foliage.

Me at Easel - PleinAirTO2014

Willow - PleinAirTO2014

Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs  - PleinAirTO2014

I don’t restrict the artists to a small area for the painting day. I define my ‘patrol area’, and let them search for their inspiration within those broader boundaries. The ‘patrol area’ is usually fairly large so there are lots of potential subjects. Edward’s Gardens has flower beds, groomed parkland and a ravine with the Don River running through it.

Elizabeth at Work - PleinAirTO2014

FriLaura  Fountain - PleinAirTO2014

From the ravine - PleinAirTO2014  Gardens - PleinAirTO2014

Peggy and Debbie at Work - PleinAirTO2014

A few of our artists weren’t able to attend on Friday but here’s a selection of the work from those who did. Not all are finished and several of them are studies, as opposed to sustained works. Some may be destined to be ‘worked up’ in the studio.

Peggy - PleinAirTO2014  Judy - PleinAirTO2014

Evelyn - PleinAirTO2014  Pat - PleinAirTO2014


Laura - PleinAirTO2014

Debbie - PleinAirTO2014

Jane - PleinAirTO2014

Elizabeth - PleinAirTO2014

Thanks go out to all of the participants and I’m grateful to those of you who follow and comment. Over the years, I’ve had many comments on this blog from Lois B. I don’t know Lois personally but she’s been a loyal follower for a long time. She said that she’s never been to Toronto and probably won’t get the opportunity so she’s enjoyed the travelogue. Lois, this final photo is your postcard from beautiful Toronto, Ontario!

Toronto - PleinAirTO2014


Toronto Outdoor Week – Last Day!


Edward’s Gardens was our site for Friday, the last day of our workshop. I’m not sure why I didn’t take any photos of the flowers but, trust me, they’re lovely. The new Toronto Botanical Garden, next door, is quite spectacular, as well. The group had indicated an interest in painting people and I obliged with a demonstration. Aleda posed for two studies.

These are the steps I followed for the study of the seated figure, above left.

1) A ‘stick figure’ in light pencil.

2) Angular, blocky shapes in light pencil. No curves.

3) A cool grey wash establishing shadow throughout the study.

4) Local colour after allowing the grey wash to dry.

5) Pen work with a 08 Pigment Ink drawing pen from Pilot.

The first two steps were repeated for the standing figure. I didn’t use a grey wash in this one. I painted in a lighter value of local colour and left a fair bit of white. When dry, I added a darker value of local colour. No pen was used.

I work very quickly on these demos and sometimes the proportions suffer. Luckily, I have a forgiving model.

Sketching and painting people in public places is challenging but a lot of fun and quite rewarding. Your subjects will rarely cooperate. I suggest a whole sheet of figures in pencil only, with  written colour notes. Then you can take your time with the watercolour and pen. You might forget a colour or a detail but, with practice, your memory will provide you with the essential information.

We had a great week. Everyone worked hard and it was a pleasure to comment on all of the creative results at our end-of-day critiques. All of our sites were accessible by public transit, by the way. Join us next August.