Posts Tagged ‘pen and watercolor’

Pen and Ink Studio at DVSA – Week Five!



Last Thursday afternoon was Pen and Ink Studio time at the Dundas Valley School of Art. I brought in my collection of milkweed pods. Natural forms are a very rewarding subject and the students enjoyed drawing them.

I showed a few different approaches to studying the milkweed. This is a demonstration from a past workshop. I started with a pencil drawing before adding a light wash of a sepia-like brown. When it dried, I added a second darker wash of the same colour. Once again, I waited for it to dry. The pen work was my final step.

Pen and wash demonstration by Barry Coombs

The next study is the one I worked on during the Thursday class. It was developed with local colour and then I explored it with the pen using mostly the technique of cross-hatching.

Pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Some of the students elected to use colour and others stuck with values of sepia. One of our students devoted the afternoon to her personal project and it’s coming along very nicely. I hope to post some of these projects soon!

Pen and Ink Studio Critique

Pen and Ink Studio Critique


Humber Valley Art Club – Final Two Days!


I spent two days with the Humber Valley Art Club this week, the third and fourth of our Pen and Watercolour workshop. Do you remember our dories from Day Two? We didn’t have time to look at them so we started off Day Three with an exhibition. Not everyone had a chance to finish adding ink but they still looked good.


Our main project for Day Three had a nautical theme, as well. Everyone had a toy tugboat and followed these steps.


First of all, we drew them in pencil. This is not a large drawing. An open hand would cover it. After a discussion about light and shadow, we painted in the core shadow with a cool, blue-grey wash.


The next step was a bit of a surprise to the workshop participants. I added details in pencil and then glazed colour over local areas of the tugboat.


Finally, the pen. We talked about stroke direction, in particular, and explored the subject with our pens.


Everyone did well and each tugboat had it’s own personality.


Day Four was a busy one. We started off with a drawing of an abandoned shack. This was done from my model and perspective was discussed before we sharpened our pencils. Although we had a good talk about perspective, I stressed that the shack was rundown and didn’t have to conform perfectly to the laws of vanishing points.

A relaxed and runny wash of local colour was applied over the pencil drawing.


The pen brings out details and adds more structure to the drawing.


Our final project was a teddy bear picnic! Everyone had a figurine to work from. We went back to the approach used with the tugboats and established a strong sense of light and shadow first. We also added a new element; a background.




Here are the results! We had a lot of fun looking at the bears. Each one seemed to have a story to tell and many had very amusing expressions.



Thanks for having me, Humber Valley Art Club. It was nice to meet everyone and your enthusiasm and talents made the workshop a success. Keep sketching! Take these ideas and develop your own work in the addictive medium of pen and watercolour.


Markham Group of Artists – Pen and Watercolour


I spent Wednesday with members of the Markham Group of Artists. The occasion was a one-day workshop using pen with watercolour. Our subject matter was a small figurine of a bear. I have a whole herd of them so each artist had their own bear to draw.

We completed four steps. The first step was the pencil drawing and I haven’t shown it here but you can see some evidence of it in the sheet on the left. I like to draw with a soft pencil (B, 2B) and, initially, I use only straight lines to ‘block in’ the basic shapes and proportions. Then, I refine the drawing. The straight lines are my guidelines as I describe the curves and forms of the bear. I draw very little detail and absolutely no texture with my pencil. That comes later with the pen.

Step One of Pen and Watercolour Demonstration by Barry Coombs - MGA26/9/2012  Step Two of Pen and Watercolour Demonstration by Barry Coombs - MGA26/9/2012

Step Three of Pen and Watercolour Demonstration by Barry Coombs - MGA26/9/2012

The sheet on the left shows a grey wash of a single value over the pencil drawing. The mini-bear in the bottom right corner was a simplification of the planes and forms of the bear and helped to understand the light direction and shadows.

The second sheet shows local colour on the bear. The first, grey wash was completely dry before I gently added the colour. Some paper white has been avoided and acts as highlights.

The final sheet shows the pen work. I’ve used hatching (parallel strokes), a bit of stippling (dots, basically) and line weight (thin and thick lines) in the piece. Once again, I waited for the washes to dry before working with the pen.

I’d like to recommend an artist from England who uses this approach very successfully. His name is Keith Palmer and his work may be viewed on his excellent blog at north pennine gallery. Keith applies the approach to many different subjects, including townscapes, people and the rural countryside.

Thanks for having me, MGA. I think everyone would have liked a bit more time with the pen but the bears all look great. Also, working with the pen and watercolour combination is very enjoyable and highly addictive. I hope the workshop will inspire all of you to try it in your own studios.

Critique - MGA26/9/2012