Posts Tagged ‘pen and watercolour demonstration’

Pen and Ink Studio at DVSA – Week Four!



I dipped into my treasure trove of drawing subjects yesterday and found an entire ancient realm of castles. Albeit, castles with the names of American resorts. They offered a great opportunity to discuss ideas about handling architecture with pen and ink.

Step one of my demonstration shows some a wet-in-wet wash over a pencil drawing. The wet wash was a combination of Raw Sienna and Cobalt blue, mingling in places to create a grey. The red roofs were added after the first wash dried.

Step one of pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

I did a lot of work on the demo with the pen. Note that before I spent time on any details, I tried to establish the main shapes of light and shadow. We didn’t have table lamps available to light our castles, so we all tried to imagine a single light source. I decided upon a light source from the upper right.

Step two of pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

The castles look complicated but they were a lot of fun to draw. The students did very well. We’re still missing a few holidayers but expect them back in the studio at the Dundas Valley School of Art next week.

Pen and Ink Studio Critique

Pen and Ink Studio Critique


Architectural Elements in Pen and W/C


I had originally offered this workshop for Saturday, the 19th of February. Due to demand, I ran it on Sunday as well. Both groups were very enthusiastic and worked hard on some challenging exercises.

Our first drawing was based on a photo taken on the island of Rhodes when I led a painting holiday there a few years ago. We tried to understand the subject in terms of basic forms and volumes, mainly cylinders in this case.

Step one is an atmospheric wash over the pencil drawing. The next step shows the gradual development of values with cross-hatching. The final step shows more attention to darks, detail and texture. The fourth image is the demonstration from Sunday.

Our second exercise was a belfry done with a sepia wash and pen. I provided photo reference. We discussed concepts such as placing an arch in the centre of a wall in perspective. I’ll let the students show you their first two drawings.

Saturday Critique

Sunday Critique

Our third and last drawing (busy day, eh?) was based on a watercolour demonstration that I often do in Mexico.

I paint the interior area of an arch with a fairly dark blue-grey wash. I add a few more values to define the space. When these washes are dry, I paint the potted plants directly over the dark wash. The colours  of the potted plants inside the arch are muted by the blue-grey wash underneath but it seems to work. They appear to be back in the shadows. Placing another plant in the sunshine really emphasizes the difference. We did a simplified version of this using pen and wash. The two steps below are from different days.

Time flew by and another hour might have been useful if we hadn’t all been exhausted. Some of the drawings will be finished at home. The real goal of the workshop was to explore concepts about drawing and painting architectural subjects; ideas that can be put into practice on your next plein air painting holiday.


Clarkson Society of Artists – Pen and W/C


I led a workshop for the Clarkson Society of Artists yesterday. It’s the first time I’ve worked for this group. The photo above shows their program convener, Lyla Stockdale, and me.  A harbour scene in pen and watercolour was requested and I chose a composite view of Seal Cove, Grand Manan Island at low tide. I’m getting a lot of use out of that  dory lately.

Step One - Seal Cove

Step One incorporates the pencil drawing, a light grey wash over the upper half of the image and the development of values with cool grey washes. Some of the group liked it at this stage but there were more ideas to explore.

Step Two - Seal Cove

In Step Two, thin washes of colour were lightly glazed over the dry image. I wanted the colour to be subtle and limited it to the middle and foreground.

Step Three - Seal Cove

The pen appears in Step Three. I worked very quickly as we discussed ideas about light and shadow and texture. I don’t consider it to be finished at this stage. I left it at the point where the group last saw it.

It was a busy day as we covered a lot of ground. Not everyone finished so I hope this post will help. It was a good experience overall and I look forward to visiting this talented group of artists again.