Posts Tagged ‘Ingall’s Head Cottages’

Grand Manan Island 2017 – First Three Days!


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











Grand Manan Island – Final Day!


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.


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.







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 2014 – Final Day!



On Friday morning, we zoomed straight to Ingalls Head Cottages. The cottages are owned and operated by Wendy Plyley and she very kindly allowed us to park along the edge of her property. The cottages face a row of fishing sheds and docks that offer a great range of subject matter. At one end, we have a ‘back door’ view of the haul-up. The haul-up is the local term for the boatyard/drydock.

Most of my demonstrations over the week had been done indoors so it was time to set up my easel! This watercolour was painted on a 12 x 16″ Saunders, 140 lb., cold press block. I used an approach I refer to as ‘shape-reading’. No preliminary pencil drawing was done; straight in with the brush. Proportions may suffer a little bit but it’s fun and it’s great practice in observation and brush-handling.

I was in the mood to paint. Have you ever taken a workshop during which the instructor paints their own work over the course of the day? Some do. I don’t. I will spend some time sketching and preparing for the next demonstration or developing a sustained demonstration but I’m well paid to teach and that is my focus. I allow the painters to spread out over a given area and, at times, it’s hard enough to get around to each of them without working on my next solo exhibition.






The artists working on the beach were so intent on concentration that they barely noticed dozens of well-camouflaged  little art critics coming closer and closer.


Fortunately for us, one of the cottages was waiting for late arrivals. We were able to set up our critique in a shady spot.


It was back to the Marathon Inn for our Farewell Dinner on Friday night. Steak or lobster? You might wonder who would possibly choose steak on Grand Manan Island but Jim sure knows how to choose them and cook them. Final Critique followed dinner. It’s an enjoyable event as we look at our work from the week and discuss our adventures. We had an extremely congenial group and I’d like to thank every one of them for their contributions to a successful workshop. And thank you all for following and commenting.


Grand Manan Island-Days Three and Four


We spent yesterday painting in the boat harbour at Ingall’s Head. Weatherwise, we had a bit of everything but mostly fog. I enjoy painting fog and gave a few ideas to the group to start things off. Everyone settled in and it was a productive day.

The locals were working a bit harder than we were. Rockweed has become an industry on the island and boats were being unloaded all day long. Fifty to eighty tons are harvested in an average day.

Jake seems to be impervious to the cool weather.

All of our painters are using watercolour and/or pen and ink except Bill. He brought his acrylics and several 18 x 24″ panels.

I think this is the first time in over twenty years of teaching plein air workshops that the group has had more men than women. John, an optimist, is wearing his sunhat.

We attended a wonderful soiree in the evening hosted by the board of the Grand Manan Art Gallery. I’ll post more about it in a few days.

Maritime weather! We went back to Ingall’s Head today but to a different area and it was sunny and hot. We were close to the Ingall’s Head Cottages ( or 506-662-8844) and Wendy, the proprietor, kindly offered us the use of a washroom.

I did a fairly fast-paced watercolour demonstration using an angled flat brush. Fast-paced but it still took almost an hour even though I set up the preliminary drawing ahead of time. It’ll be my longest demo of the week. I worked at a fairly steep angle, which is tricky, and I put a lot of elements into the painting; all things that I wanted to discuss with the group.

You can see what I mean by a lot of elements. Maybe, too many? The fishing boats in the top right are at the boat maintenance yard locally known as the ‘haulup’. Are those bales of hay in the field? No. They’re actually buoys but it brings up an interesting point. Should I include or omit something that may be incomprehensible to a viewer who doesn’t know the locale?

Lots of interesting subject matter was available at our site today, from fishing boats to crab pots. This Bald Eagle was harrased by Herring Gulls and didn’t hold the pose for very long.



We might as well have been painting at the Equator for all the shade we could find. Still, it was a fine day with lots of good work done.