Posts Tagged ‘en plein air art holidays’

Portugal 2017 – Évora!

24/09/2017

Last Sunday, a tired bunch of artists arrived in beautiful Évora, a walled city in the Alentejo region of Portugal. Our hotel, with it’s backdrop of a Roman aqueduct and it’s inviting pool, was a welcome sight. Many of us explored the town for the afternoon before gathering for our Welcome Dinner at the hotel.

We met in our studio on Monday morning for some orientation and a demonstration. There are a lot of white buildings with colourful decorative features in Portugal. I hoped to prepare the students for our first few days.

Following the demo, we headed up to the area of town near the cathedral. There were lots of painting subjects and it wasn’t hard to find shady spots.

A few of us climbed to the top of the cathedral later in the day and were rewarded with splendid views.

Eventually, we all met back at the hotel for our first critique of the trip.

Monday Critique a

Monday Critique b

Monday Critique c

Three mini-buses with three charming and efficient drivers (Bruno, José and Ricardo) picked us up on Tuesday morning and we headed to the nearby hilltop village of Évoramonte. Upon arrival, we gathered in front of the old gate and took in the wraparound view. I gave a tour of the village, which was inside the old walls, with a castle towering over everything. Take your time and enjoy the photos from Évoramonte. I’ll see you at critique time.

As you’ve seen, it was a special day on top of the world. Our mini-buses were ready to go and we had our critique back at the hotel.

Tuesday Critique a

Tuesday Critique b

Tuesday Critique c

We painted in the Jardim Publico in Évora on Wednesday. I went ahead early to pick a shady spot for my demonstration so my easel would be ready to go when the group arrived. I painted a rather complicated subject as quickly as I could manage (about 40 minutes). My goal was to help the students simplify the things they were seeing, foliage in particular.

It was a lovely and peaceful day in the park. I think (hope) the demonstration helped some of the newer students with their grasp of foliage.

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique b

Redondo! The same drivers picked us up on Thursday morning. Redondo is a fairly large town and, like Évoramonte, has a village within the old castle walls at the very top of the hill. It was another spectacular painting site.

Quite a few of us visited the local potter. His work was very quaint, reminiscent of the work of Nova Scotia folk artist Maud Lewis.

The students have been producing a lot of work. The critique is always a great way to wrap up the day.

Thursday Critique a

Thursday Critique b

Our time in Évora has come to an end. Next stop, Tavira! Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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!

 

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

 

 

Grand Manan Island – Final Day!

05/08/2016

One week ago this morning we met at our studio to start the final day of my annual sketching and watercolour painting workshop on Grand Manan Island. As usual, I began with a lesson/demonstration.

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Watercolour demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs

I don’t follow a course outline for any of my workshops. Also, I don’t teach just my ‘style’ although I do present elements of it, if and when appropriate or upon request. I teach fundamentals and principles; techniques and concepts.

Friday morning was foggy. I showed an approach to fog. I also responded to what I had seen of the student’s work the previous day at Dark Harbour. One more thing! I talked about colour and contrast and how they can be used to create a focal point. As soon as I was done, we were off to Fisherman’s Haven Lane in Ingall’s Head.

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What a week! A little bit of fog and a few tentative drops of rain as we packed up to head back for critique. Other than that, we enjoyed almost 100% sunshine. Friday was a busy day, overall. We looked at the work from the day. Then, we dispersed to our accommodations to prepare for our Farewell Dinner at the Marathon Inn. Steak or lobster? The big event followed dinner. It was time for our Final Critique; a summary of our week together. And, of course, our group photo taken by the generous and talented David Ogilvie.

It was a great evening and the perfect way to wrap up our week. I’ll be back next year from Sunday, July 30 – Friday, August 4. Details will be posted soon on this blog. Thanks for following, liking and commenting and don’t leave before taking a peek at our group photo and the work from Ingall’s Head!

Friday Critique a

Friday Critique a

Friday Critique b

Friday Critique b

Grand Manan 2016 Courtesy: David Ogilvie

Grand Manan 2016
Courtesy: David Ogilvie

Grand Manan Island 2016 – Wednesday and Thursday!

03/08/2016

We started at the studio again last Wednesday morning. I had prepared a demonstration on Tuesday at Woodward’s Cove and photographed the first three steps, which I showed on my computer screen.

Step One

Step One

You can probably see the faint pencil lines under the washes in Step One. The washes have been applied in two ways. In some, such as the boat hull, I painted the shape with water and added the colour to the upper area while wet. In the roof, I painted a light grey wash and added the darker grey while wet.

Step Two

Step Two

I continued with the same process and added more shapes. Washes were allowed to dry before adding new ones.

Step Three

Step Three

All of the big shapes are in place. I’ve left the white of the paper in a few areas because I’m about to add flowers in Step Four.

Step Four

Step Four

Overall, I’ve used a ‘light to dark’ and ‘big to small’ approach. As mentioned, I wanted to paint the flowers over clean white paper. The yellows and pinks would lose their intensity if there was a grey or greenish wash underneath. This painting isn’t finished but it’s as far as I took it on Wednesday morning. It was time to hit the road for Seal Cove!

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The old herring smokesheds and piers of Seal Cove provide endless subject matter for our artists. It’s a magical place. Everyone settled in. It was another sunny day so shady spots were sought out.

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Britta at work

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It’s always nice to wind up the day at our studio. We’d all had enough sun and, of course, it’s easy to tape the work up on the wall. Here they are; the sketches and paintings from Seal Cove.

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique b

Wednesday Critique b

You guessed it! We met at our studio again on Thursday morning. A few days earlier, I’d made a small watercolour study in North Head Harbour. I wanted to add pen to it and this was my opportunity.

Step One

Step One

I discussed the basic pen techniques; hatching, cross-hatching, stippling and line variety. I love working with pen and wash and I try to present my thoughts at least once during all of the ‘en plein air’ workshops I teach.

Step Two of pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Step Two

Our painting spot for Thursday was Dark Harbour, surrounded by towering cliffs, on the west side of the island. The small harbour is used mostly by those who collect dulse, an edible seaweed, and dories are their workhorses.

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The critique is a very important part of the painting day. I make my comments and I try to be positive and encouraging. The students get my feedback and also learn a lot from each other. It’s an enjoyable and educational aspect of the workshop.

One more day to go! As always, thanks for following, liking and commenting. While I prepared this post, my blog received it’s 171,000th view and I appreciate them all.

Thursday Critique a

Thursday Critique a

Thursday Critique b

Thursday Critique b

 

Grand Manan Island 2016 – First Two Days!

01/08/2016

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Last Monday morning, the participants in my 2016 sketching and watercolour painting workshop on Grand Manan Island gathered at our studio in North Head. We had all met each other the evening before at the Marathon Inn, where we enjoyed our delicious Welcome Dinner.

I kicked off our week with a discussion/demonstration and my theme was skies and water. It’s a broad subject! I presented a few relevant techniques and emphasized some basic principles and processes. In addition to that, I gave a lesson on drawing basics to the new students. Perspective and the use of a measuring stick were the main topics. The students dispersed to paint and draw in the village of North Head. Over the course of the day, I visited the artists and offered feedback.

Watercolour demonstrations by Barry Coombs

Stewart and Karen at work

Kathleen and Marlene at workMon-bDave at work

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Lauren at work

At the end of the day, we re-grouped at our studio for our first critique. Our week was off to a great start!

Monday Critique a

Monday Critique a

Monday Critique b

Monday Critique b

We met at our studio again on Tuesday morning. I did something a little bit different and showed a selection of watercolours and drawings from the late Saint John artist Jack Humphrey. Here are two of his works from Grand Manan Island courtesy of the National Gallery of Canada. I’ve always enjoyed the simplification and spontaneity of his work.

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Village, Grand Manan by Jack Humphrey

Village, Grand Manan by Jack Humphrey

Village, Grand Manan by Jack Humphrey

Our venue was Woodward’s Cove. It’s quite a unique spot as the harbour completely drains of water at low tide and fills right up again at high tide. It was another sunny day so many of our painters sought out shade and some had even brought their own.

Artists at work

LIz at work

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Here’s the harbour at low tide.

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About six hours later, the harbour had filled up again. Shortly after, we returned to our studio to look at the day’s work. Thanks for following and stay tuned. There’s lots more to come from beautiful Grand Manan Island.

Tuesday Critique a

Tuesday Critique a

Tuesday Critique b

Tuesday Critique b

 

Plein Air Toronto – Last Two Days!

22/06/2016

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Two days to go in our week of sketching and painting in watercolour! Last Thursday, we met at Riverdale Farm and painted in and around the farm and the adjacent Toronto Necropolis, a park-like and tranquil cemetery.

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I gathered the gang in the Necropolis for a demonstration. We deal with a lot of visual information while painting ‘en plein air’. One of our most important tasks is to find and preserve the light in our subject. A value study is likely the best way to do so and, using a mixture of Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna, I created a study in four values. The lightest value in my study is the white of the paper. It’s followed by a light middle tone, a dark middle tone and ultimately, the dark. Even the more experienced students found it helpful.

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Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

I even ended up with an unintentional goofy face on my house. Following the demonstration, I spent some time with the newer students and presented a refresher of some basic watercolour techniques. After that, my job was to find everyone. They’d set up throughout the farm, park and cemetery.

Katie at work

Emily at work

Only a few of the group focused on the farm animals as subjects but I can’t resist showing you a few of the Riverdale residents.

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Later on, we found a quiet, shady spot for our critique. Plans were made for Friday, our final day together.

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Thursday Critique a

Thursday Critique b

Thursday Critique b

On Friday, we visited Black Creek Pioneer Village, an extensive and wonderful historic site. The buildings and artifacts offer many attractive opportunities for the artists and there are animals, as well.

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I set up under a shade tree and demonstrated at my easel. I chose a complicated subject and tried to simplify it with a watercolour sketch. I talk as I paint and attempt to describe the process and the decisions I’m making as the image develops.

Watercolour demonstraton by Barry Coombs

As usual, the group spread out to find inspiration. On a big site like Pioneer Village, it’s easy to lose track of a few of the painters. I now employ modern technology and text missing painters in order to find them.

Friday was the hottest day of our week but there’s no shortage of comfortable, shady spots at the village.

Evelyn at work

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Eventually, it was time for our last critique of the week. I appreciate the energy, enthusiasm and talent the participants shared at all of our great painting sites. Was there improvement? I think so. Aside from my efforts, they learn from each other and the critique is a very important part of the process. Have a look at Friday’s work! Thanks for following and feel free to leave a comment. Next year, consider Toronto for an ‘en plein air’ painting experience. We’ve had participants from all over Canada and the USA, as well.

Friday Critique a

Friday Critique a

Friday Critique b

Friday Critique b

Friday Critique c

Friday Critique c

 

Plein Air Toronto 2016- Days Two and Three!

20/06/2016

Last Tuesday, we visited Kew Gardens and Beach in the east end of Toronto. It’s a lovely, shady spot with gardens, sporting facilities and lots to paint. One of the highlights is the Gardener’s House.

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I wanted to discuss some basic thoughts about foliage and it’s relationship to architecture. As you can see, I set up my easel in the beautiful sunshine. If you’ve ever attended one of my outdoor workshops, you’ll know that I don’t advise painting in the sun. It’s very hard to see what you’re doing and the watercolour dries more quickly than desired. In this case, I wanted the paint to dry quickly so I could illustrate my ideas without taking too much time.

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Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Following the demonstration, I joined some of the new students for a discussion of perspective and the use of a measuring stick. Familiarity with a measuring stick can help us understand the angles of buildings.

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We had a special guest on Tuesday. Jay Holobach is an artist from Nashville, Tennessee. He’s spending a lot of time in Toronto this summer and I thought I’d extend some good old Canadian hospitality and invite him to paint with us for the day. Jay works in oils and our watercolour painters enjoyed his company and his work.

Jay Holobach

Kim and Katie at work

Phil at work

Elizabeth at work

Speaking of things Canadian, what better spot for our critique than a hockey rink! Nice boards for taping our paintings and sketches and the sun on our backs. Several hundred puck marks set off the work to great advantage.

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Tuesday Critique a

Tuesday Critique a

Tuesday Critique b

Tuesday Critique b

We don’t often paint downtown but we did on Wednesday! The Roundhouse was our venue and it hosts the Toronto Railway Museum and Steam Whistle Brewery. Not only that; the Roger’s Centre (home of the MLB Blue Jays), the landmark CN Tower and the Ripley’s Aquarium surrounded us.

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I wanted to discuss pen combined with watercolour. Many of the regular students have seen my approach to pen and watercolour so I let them get to work. I gathered a smaller group of the new students and took them through the steps of a drawing of this building.

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Step one of pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Step One – pencil and wash

Step two of pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Step Two – Colour

Step Three - Pen

Step Three – Pen

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I photographed the steps on my iPad and showed them to the rest of the group as I did my rounds over the course of the day. In addition to that, I completed two more sketches with pen and watercolour.

Pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

There is no shortage of subject matter at the Roundhouse. The trains and buildings were very popular with our artists.

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We found another good critique spot at the end of the day. The Don Station building provided a convenient wall and lots of shade. After critique, we headed to a nearby restaurant for dinner and drinks and a chance to get to know each other. I hope you’re enjoying our Plein Air Toronto week. Look for my next post a few days from now.

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Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique b

Wednesday Critique b