Posts Tagged ‘painting apples’

Fall Wednesday Watercolour at DVSA – Week Three!


Wednesday evening is watercolour night at the Dundas Valley School of Art this fall. It was the third class of eight and I’m still sticking to basics. The first evening of this course, I discussed value. Last week, I presented soft-edge techniques. Yesterday, my demonstration focused on creating even washes over larger areas. In this case, that meant not only the two baskets but the spaces between the various objects.

I started the baskets with a yellowish wash that covered both baskets at the same time. I then added darker values which helped to distinguish the baskets from each other. I kept it simple and used only three values.

The tabletop and the background were painted with even, ungraded washes. Graded washes might offer more visual appeal but let’s walk before we run. Creating an even wash without streaks and blossoms/backruns takes thought and practice.

Most of the group are working in fairly small  formats. I don’t mind as it gives them a chance to resolve their work in the alloted time. That way, they can complete all of the shapes in their paintings and get a sense of how all of the value and colour relationships work together. I can see progress over our first three classes and I’m looking forward to next week.

Wednesday Critique


Spring Watercolour Classes at Arts on Adrian – Week Three!


We continue to suffer through a cold, wet spring in southern Ontario. I tried to brighten things up with a colourful still-life. On Saturday, I reviewed some ideas about colour mixing. White is always challenging, especially when you don’t have any white paint in your palette. I used a mixture of Raw Sienna and Cobalt Blue for the white jar. The very diluted first wash is almost invisible but gives a warmish tint to the paper.

We had a smaller group than usual with a few Saturday stalwarts off traveling here and there. They were missed but it was still a great day at the Arts on Adrian studio.

Sustained Saturday Critique

I discussed the same colour ideas with the Tuesday students. In addition to that, I elaborated on the white jar. I used the same mixture again but took it a few steps further. This jar would look much whiter, of course, if the other darker objects were painted around it. Paint relationships and not just things!

That’s it for our spring term at Arts on Adrian! I thank all of the students and also our viewers for following and commenting. I’ll be back at Arts on Adrian in the fall. Before you go, have a look at the watercolour paintings from the Tuesday class.

Tuesday Critique




Fall Tuesday Watercolour Class – More Apples!



The Tuesday classes were back in action yesterday. They worked from the same still-life that was used for the Sustained Saturday group on the weekend. Here’s a different view of the still-life.

Back to basics was the order of the day again, especially after a long summer layoff from studio classes. In addition to that, I met some new students yesterday. Although all of them had some prior experience with the medium, I wanted to expose them to some of my ideas about drawing, value and simplification. I focused on those elements with my demonstrations.

Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

This is the preliminary drawing for the study of the pitcher on the lower left of the sheet.

Drawing demonstration by Barry Coombs

As expected, many of the students concentrated on fundamentals and spent their time on studies. It’s valuable experience and should pay off in the months ahead. Most of the more experienced students started off with thumbnail studies, as usual, and then developed a sustained image.

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Fall Sustained Saturday Watercolour Class – Apples!



It was ‘back to school’ on Saturday at the Arts on Adrian studio in Toronto. I was pleased to see the students, new and old. Some had painted a fair bit over the summer months and others….

I decided to start off the fall term with some review. We discussed light and shadow and, always important, simplification of form. I used the sepia study on the left to show both of these principles and also to present my quite traditional approach to drawing. Next up was relative value. A green apple is generally much lighter in value than a dark green pitcher although both receive light and have areas of core shadow.

Watercolour demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs

Saturdays are a full day. Each student approaches the day in their own way but I always encourage time spent on a sound process. This usually includes thumbnail sketches, studies and colour testing. Any summertime rust came off gradually as the day progressed and we enjoyed some lovely work for our critique at the end of the day.

Our next Sustained Saturday takes place on October 15. There are still a few spots available! See the details at

Sustained Saturday Critique

Sustained Saturday Critique

Tuesday Watercolour Class – Week Three


There are many ways to paint an apple with watercolour. Yesterday, I reviewed two approaches. The first was to concentrate on values using a neutral colour made from Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna.

Step one (upper left) involved wetting the entire apple with clean water and touching in the darker wash right away. Step two (upper right) created the cleft around the stem. The third step completed the stem. The fourth step was the trickiest. All washes were allowed to dry. Then, a yellow wash was gently applied over the entire apple except for a highlight. While wet, the darker red streaks were added. When that dried, I added colour to the stem. Here’s a breakdown of the work I did on the stem (below).

A patch of clean water has been applied to the side of the stem. The water comes right to the edge of the cleft and the stem but extends upward past the top of the stem. The darker paint is touched into the lower part of the patch of water. The downward flow of paint stops suddenly against the cleft and stem but the paint dissipates gradually into the water as it flows upward.

Here’s another option (below) for the main body of the apple.

Step one (above left) is much the same as you’ve seen above. I let it dry completely and then re-wet it with clean water. While wet, I added an even darker wash. If you’re quick, you might be able to add two values in the same step; clean water, middle tone, darker tone. I did that below.

The apple on the left (above) shows more than one step. See if you can figure out the sequence. When it was dry, I added the red wash, switching to yellow in the lower part and avoiding areas for highlights.

I discussed one more approach to apples. Look at the three steps below and try to understand how I did it.

In step one (above left), I painted the entire apple, except highlight and stem, with a light green wash. While wet, I first added a middle tone and then a dark. It’s a more direct approach but takes practice. The cleft is added in step two. Be careful when putting a patch of water over a painted area! If you’re not gentle with your brush you might lift some of the first wash. I’ve completed the stem in step three.

Like most watercolour demos, there are many things I haven’t told you. Your paper choice is important. I’m using a quality Cold Press paper that is quite absorbent. I keep my sheet at the same angle, slighter higher at the top, throughout the process. I test my colours. If my dark wash isn’t as dark as I hope and has too much water in it, I’ll experience back-runs or blossoms.

Last Tuesday, many of the students started their watercolour paintings with an atmospheric preliminary wash and the results were terrific. I suggested the same approach yesterday and most of them applied an overall wash before developing the values over that wash. Once the values were dry, they ‘glazed’ the local colour over the various objects. Much like the first demo above except over a colourful preliminary wash instead of over the white paper. I hope I’m making sense. Have a look at the work from the morning class.

Tuesday AM Critique