Posts Tagged ‘marathon inn’

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 2016 – First Two Days!



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


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.

Village, Grand Manan-JH

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


Here’s the harbour at low tide.






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


Grand Manan Island – Thursday and Friday!


Seal Cove was our destination on Thursday morning. We met on-site and I set up my easel for the demonstration. I worked quickly and with a big round brush as the sun came through the mist. As I painted, I discussed a ‘light to dark’ and ‘big to small’ process. I also wanted to encourage the students to try some watercolour sketching, working a bit more spontaneously and rapidly. Some had been spending an entire day on one painting. A watercolour sketch doesn’t have to be perfect and it may be messy but you may get more experience from three or four watercolour sketches than from a single sustained work.


Here’s my demonstration on the board. It’s a 1/2 sheet of Curry’s, 200 lb., cold-pressed watercolour paper.

Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

We had a gorgeous day and there were lots of shady spots. If shade wasn’t available, some of the artists brought their own.


Seal Cove is full of textures and character. It’s always been one of our most popular painting sites on the island.










Fortunately, we found a shady spot for critique. Once again, the paintings of the Birds and the Bees were intermingled.

Thursday Critique

Thursday Critique

Thursday Critique

Thursday Critique

We started our morning in the studio on Friday. I spoke to everyone about colour in general and more specifically how to mix a variety of greens. After that talk, the Birds took flight and headed to Dark Harbour. I kept the Bees a little longer as I wanted to give them a few thoughts about pen and wash. I’d done a very basic value study of a barge in Ingall’s Head on Wednesday. The two photos shown are of the same drawing although one looks a bit more brown and is more accurate.

I’d started this drawing with pencil and added a sepia wash to indicate the overall shadow area. The pen added detail, definition and darks.

Step One-Pen and wash demonstration by Barry Coombs

Step Two-Pen and wash demonstration by Barry Coombs

Dark Harbour is on the west side of the island, nestled into towering cliffs. We spent the morning there and most of the group took the opportunity to draw dories.






We returned to North Head for the afternoon. We hadn’t had a chance to paint the Swallowtail Lighthouse yet and several of the painters were keen to do so.



Our week was almost done. Can’t complain about the sunshine but it was nice to cool off with our critique at the studio.


Friday Critique

Friday Critique

Friday Critique

That was it for the painting! Our Farewell Dinner was at the Marathon Inn on Friday evening. Steak or lobster? We followed our delicious meal with Final Critique. Each student brought three pieces of their own choice and presented them one at a time. It’s a nice way to summarize the week and always enjoyable.


Here they are; the class of 2015! Thanks for following along and for your likes and comments.

Grand Manan Group 2015 02

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 – Day Three!



It was low tide when we arrived at Seal Cove this morning. The fog was fairly dense, as well, but visibility was fine for sketching and painting. The old smoke sheds of Seal Cove offer quite a challenge to the artist. I started the day with a discussion about perspective and showed the students how to use a measuring stick to check angles accurately.


Seal Cove is usually the most popular of our painting sites. The weathered textures and subtle colours are very appealing. Even the avifauna get in on the act! This Herring Gull is perched on a red shingle roof and the rosy hue is reflected onto its’ white underside.


We broke around midday and had a delicious lunch at the McLaughlin’s Wharf Inn. After that, it was back to work.




We had our critique at the Marathon Inn. Most of the group are guests of the Inn and we commandeered a common room for a little while.




Grand Manan Island – Final Day!


LOW TIDE - watercolour on paper by Barry Coombs-GM2013

Into every maritime outdoor painting workshop a little rain must fall. We had a bit (OK, a lot) of precipitation on Friday and spent some time in our studio. It’s not always a bad thing. I had a chance to review some watercolour techniques in a comfortable environment. Several of the artists worked on drawings and watercolours from the first four days and some headed out and sketched from their cars.

In addition to all of that, I painted a watercolour. Other than demonstrations, I don’t do much painting during my workshops. Too busy teaching and offering feedback to the students. However, more and more, I like to do one watercolour to show everyone a bit about my creative process. On Thursday, at Woodward’s Cove, I sketched my composition. I did most of the painting in the studio on Friday. I call it LOW TIDE.


We had a great critique. This group has been doing a lot of exciting stuff. But it wasn’t over yet! Friday evening, we were back at the Marathon Inn for a fabulous dinner (lobster or steak). After that, it was time for our Final Critique. Everyone showed three pieces from the week. I always stress that it isn’t a competition. A participant might select a work from a favorite place or a piece that may have been a personal breakthrough. Many chose a sketch or two. Final Critique is a wonderful and very enjoyable way to summarize our efforts and experiences.

Before I show you their work, I’d like to thank the entire class of 2013. Everyone contributed to the success of the workshop. And, as always, thank you for following and commenting.












Grand Manan Island – Day One!


I’m back on Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick.  This is my twenty-third year of teaching on the beautiful ‘Queen of the Fundy Isles’. The workshop began last night with a delicious meal at the Marathon Inn. Good food and a chance to get to know each other.

Pen and ink demonstration by Barry Coombs-GM2013

This morning, we convened at our studio as the weather was a bit damp and cool. It gave me a chance to discuss some drawing fundamentals as well as a few basic pen and ink techniques. I drew a dory from memory so it was good news when the skies cleared and we headed to Dark Harbour to tackle the real thing!

We made a quick stop along the way to pick up a picnic lunch at Food For Thought. Great chili, sandwiches and rhubarb punch.


Karen and Stewart-GM2013

As you can see, there was no shortage of dories available. The group settled in for a full day of sketching and painting. Most worked on their laps but one resourceful artist turned a chair into an impromptu easel. I didn’t ask where he found the chair.


The Dark Harbour dories are used to gather dulse and other sea vegetables. On the way back to the studio, we pulled in to Roland’s Sea Vegetables to try some dulse and other healthy green goodies.


At last, it was time to take a look at our work. Most of the artists sketched but a few tackled a watercolour painting. We’re off to a good start.




Grand Manan Island – Last Day!


It was a cool and foggy morning and we started the day in Seal Cove, amongst the herring smokesheds. My watercolour demonstration was of the ‘shape-reading’ approach; no pencil drawing was done prior to painting. Also, I left a little bit of the dry paper between the shapes in order to prevent everything from running together in the damp conditions.

We warmed up with coffee at the charming McLaughlin’s Wharf Inn (506-662-8760) for a while but the damp mist prevailed and we decided to check out some other sites around the island. As it happened, the weather had improved in the North Head area so we settled in for the rest of the day.

At the end of the day, we gathered behind the Marathon Inn for our critique.

Friday Critique

Our Farewell Dinner took place at the Marathon in the evening and it was lobster with melted butter all around. Not to mention the fresh potato salad and my all-time favourite Caesar salad (apparently the secret has to do with anchovies).

We followed dinner with our Final Critique, a chance to review the week and enjoy the paintings and sketches one more time. David and Joyce Ogilvie, who have been to Lucca and Puglia with us in the past, dropped by with their daughter, Alison. Alison is a long-time workshop regular on Grand Manan and she’ll be joining us in Newfoundland next week. David is a fine photographer and he took our group photo. I’ll send it out as soon as he forwards it to me.

That’s it for the Group of Seven, Grand Manan style. The artists all deserve a thank you for contributing to a rewarding, creative experience. I’m glad you’ve been following us and appreciate your comments. Why don’t you mark July 28 – August 3, 2013 in your calendars and treat yourself to this gem of an island?

Grand Manan Island – Days One and Two


The Group of Seven has arrived on Grand Manan. Well, maybe not the famous Group of Seven but we’ll do our best this week. We started off with a day of sketching and I discussed two-point perspective and how to check angles with a measuring stick. Our morning was spent in North Head Harbour.

We couldn’t find enough angles in the harbour so, after lunch, we worked on the grounds of the Marathon Inn. I gave a short demonstration of basic pen and ink techniques.

This morning, we set out for Seal Cove, noted for the smokesheds from the historic herring industry. It was a sunny and windy morning and my board was moving around on my easel as I demonstrated. I began with a value study in blue/grey. When it dried, I glazed some colour over it.



After lunch, we gathered again and I added some pen to the image. Then, it was back to work for the rest of the day. There’s no shortage of subject matter in Seal Cove and it all has character.


We held our critique on-site at the end of the day and it featured a little bit of everything.

Tuesday Critique

Grand Manan Island – Odds and Ends


You can always count on a friendly wave when you’re on Grand Manan Island. We’ve been here for a week of relaxation following my Charlevoix workshop. The artists arrive today for a week of sketching and painting on this lovely island.

The light, the fishing villages, the rugged landscape and the constantly changing seascape are all sources of inspiration. This is an active fishing community, however, and there are plenty of visual surprises.

I’ve been keeping my hand in and here’s a sketch for a watercolour followed by the finished piece. The watercolour was done on a 12 x 16″ block of 140 lb., CP, Saunders Waterford paper.

Watercolour on paper

It’s pan-fried scallops for our Welcome Dinner tonight at the Marathon Inn. Stay tuned for reports from our workshop.