Posts Tagged ‘pen drawing’

Pen and Ink Studio at DVSA – Week Two!



The strangest things turn up in a pen and ink class at the Dundas Valley School of Art. I started off our second day of Pen and Ink Studio with a presentation on various papers and their suitability for pen on it’s own or with wash and watercolour. One of the students launched into a personal project and the rest of us attempted to come to grips with an invading herd of very small elephants.

I focused on the head of one of the creatures and began with a pencil drawing. I painted a few watercolour washes over the drawing and allowed it to dry. The paper is Arches, Hot Press, 140lb on a block.

Step One of pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Once dry, I used the pen to refine the drawing. My first consideration was the development of shadows. Definition and detail came next. I’m very careful about how I handle edges. I rarely, if ever, outline with a solid line. Look for the gaps in the pen line around the edges. Also, look at the slightly bumpy underside of the trunk. I didn’t indicate that with the preliminary pencil drawing; just with the pen.

Step Two of pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

It was a challenge but the students did well with the elephants. Over the next few weeks, we should be able to see progress with their personal projects.

Pen and Ink Studio Critique

Pen and Ink Studio Critique


Barry’s Birds for January, 2017 – Snow Bunting


Pen and ink drawing by Barry Coombs

This pen and ink drawing of a Snow Bunting is my submission for the January issue of the Wood Duck, the magazine of the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club. The monthly feature is called Barry’s Birds.

Snow Buntings visit windswept and snowbound rural fields in our region every winter. This individual had a kernel of corn in it’s beak.

Barry’s Birds in the Wood Duck magazine


My hobby is birding. As such, I’m a member in a few clubs and organizations. One of these is the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club. The club produces the Wood Duck magazine nine times a year, from September to May. I recently submitted a pen and ink drawing of an American Kestrel for the December issue. The editor liked it and suggested we make it a regular feature. Barry’s Birds has hatched and taken flight!

American Kestrel by Barry Coombs

American Kestrel
by Barry Coombs

Wood Duck, December 2016, Cover  Wood Duck, December 2016, P. 94

Pen and Ink – Natural Forms at DVSA


I was back at the Dundas Valley School of Art today to teach the second in a series of four one-day workshops. Last week, I taught Pen and Ink Basics and most of the students were back today to explore natural forms with their pens.

We follow a step by step approach to our drawing exercises. Today, I brought in objects for the students to draw. Our first challenge was a garlic. I discussed the process on an 18 x 24″ pad at an easel. We then gathered around a table where I presented a smaller pen demonstration in steps.

Drawing lesson by Barry Coombs

Our second drawing subject was a seashell. I have quite a collection so each student had their own shell. Once again, I explained our approach at the easel, touching on key elements such as light and shadow and proportion.

Drawing lesson by Barry Coombs

We concentrated mainly on hatching and cross-hatching today. Stroke direction and edge were discussed. In general, we work from light to dark so the dark ‘stripes’ on the shell were one of the last things I did.

Pen and Ink demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs

What a hard-working bunch! After completing two drawings, and with only half an hour left in the class, I gave them each a walnut. I didn’t do a demonstration but asked them to think about all of the ideas we’d considered thus far. Have a look at a selection of the day’s drawings.

I’ll be back next Thursday to teach Introduction to Pen with Wash and Watercolour. I think the class is full but sometimes there are cancellations so, if you’re interested, contact DVSA.

Pen and Ink-Natural Forms Critique

Pen and Ink-Natural Forms Critique

Drawings and Paintings by Aleda O’Connor


My partner, Aleda O’Connor, is currently exhibiting drawings and paintings at the Core Realty Group in Toronto. The Opening Reception was a few weeks ago and a huge turnout made for a lively and enjoyable evening. Aleda was mentioned the following morning on CBC’s Metro Morning radio show.

This solo exhibition has been extended until March 8, 2012 so there’s still lots of time to see her work.

FLOODPLAIN by Aleda O'Connor

Aleda’s paintings are done in oil pastel on wood panels. The drawings are completed with pen and white charcoal pencil on toned paper.

WOODWARD'S COVE by Aleda O'Connor

The exhibition can be visited seven days a week between 11am and 4pm. Core Realty Group is located at 747 Queen Street East (just east of Broadview) in Toronto. They can be reached at 416-406-0000.

Tuesday Class – Pen and Ink!


I love drawing with pen and ink and I’ve been teaching it for two decades. Most of the Tuesday class participants are watercolourists but there is usually someone drawing with pencil or pen. The other night, four of the group were working with pen and a few combined it with other media.

Jacques Descoteaux

The drawing on the left is by Jacques Descoteaux. Jacques is one of those landscape painters who never really drew much. He had been concentrating on pencil until recently. Lately, the pen seems to have really inspired him.

We can all see the little problems with the drawing but I like the simplification and the handling of the pen. The drawing has a harmonious textural quality that has nothing to do with the textures of the various objects being depicted. Check out Jacques’s work at

Katherine Frech

Katherine Frech is a very capable watercolourist and one who loves to experiment. I thought she was doing a warmup drawing on Tuesday but she kept going. She’s created a very believable space with the objects strongly related to each other. Her use of tone in the background and the treatment of the fabrics pulls everything together nicely. I enjoy the ‘lost edge’ between the apple on the left and the canister above it.

Michael Galea

Mike Galea is an architectural student who joined us this term. He and his friend John started with drawing fundamentals in pencil and were introduced to the pen a few weeks ago. The combination of pen and watercolour really appeals to Mike and he’s done a nice job here. His process began with a pencil drawing. He then painted his watercolour washes in just a few values.  He used the cool red of the apples in the background (the apples obviously didn’t appeal to him otherwise) and even snuck some of the red into the objects. The pen came last. Note that the pen appears in every area of the drawing.

Aleda O'Connor

Aleda O’Connor is best known for her landscapes in oil pastel on wood panels. A while back, she found the panels a bit too cumbersome to take on a trip and substituted drawing materials. This drawing is done with pen and white charcoal pencil on a toned pastel paper.

Aleda feels that she has been struggling a bit this term. Who doesn’t from time to time? Still, I like the openness of her cross-hatching style. It allows the toned paper to act as a middle tone. Sometimes, I think she uses too much white but that’s not the case in this image.

The artists used pigment liner or pigment ink drawing pens. The ink is waterproof, the pens are disposable and they come in different colours and nib sizes. Great pocket pens! Every art supply store carries them and they are made by Pilot, Staedtler, Micron and other manufacturers.