Posts Tagged ‘Riverdale Farm’

Plein Air Toronto 2017 – First Three Days!

26/06/2017

One week ago, the 2017 Plein Air Toronto participants gathered at the Arts on Adrian studio in the west end. We introduced ourselves and I gave a demonstration that considered several common elements of the urban landscape we’d be painting for the next five days. We also discussed colour; green, in particular.

Following our meeting, we headed down to the Sunnyside Pavilion which is on the beach of Lake Ontario.

The Pavilion is a lovely place to sketch and paint, inside and out.

We put in a good day’s work and met inside the Pavilion for our first critique of the week. Click on an image for a larger version.

Sunnyside Pavilion
Critique a

Sunnyside Pavilion
Critique b

We met onsite at Riverdale Farm on Tuesday morning. It was a blustery day with a few showers but there was ample overhead shelter for us. This urban farm is bordered by a park on one side and a historic cemetery and chapel on the other. There’s lots of great subject matter to choose from including the charming cafe across the street.

I had prepared a demonstration ahead of time. My subject was the cafe and my painting was a value study in cool greys. I discussed my process and the importance of developing an eye for value.

Colour can be added to a study like this by gently ‘glazing’ washes over the appropriate areas. The grey washes should be completely dry before proceeding.

The group wandered around a bit to find their spots and then settled in. I kept a few of the newer folks back to talk about basic drawing and the use of a measuring stick to assist with perspective and proportion. I’ve developed a Drawing Checklist over the years and it can be very useful.

The little bit of rain didn’t deter us. It was a very productive day and we found a private and quiet spot for our critique.

Riverdale Farm
Critique a

Riverdale Farm
Critique b

Wednesday promised to be a day of sunshine and we chose historic Spadina House as our location. We met in the parkette between Spadina House and Casa Loma for my demonstration. I used an approach I call shape-reading, direct painting without any preliminary pencil drawing. Challenging but fun and very instructive. As I painted, I chatted about my thoughts and decisions.

We made the most of our sunny weather and gorgeous painting site.

It was a beautiful day and the paintings were equally lovely. Stay tuned for our final two days of Plein Air Toronto 2017. Coming soon!

Spadina House
Critique a

Spadina House
Critique b

 

 

Plein Air Toronto – Last Two Days!

22/06/2016

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Two days to go in our week of sketching and painting in watercolour! Last Thursday, we met at Riverdale Farm and painted in and around the farm and the adjacent Toronto Necropolis, a park-like and tranquil cemetery.

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I gathered the gang in the Necropolis for a demonstration. We deal with a lot of visual information while painting ‘en plein air’. One of our most important tasks is to find and preserve the light in our subject. A value study is likely the best way to do so and, using a mixture of Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna, I created a study in four values. The lightest value in my study is the white of the paper. It’s followed by a light middle tone, a dark middle tone and ultimately, the dark. Even the more experienced students found it helpful.

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Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

I even ended up with an unintentional goofy face on my house. Following the demonstration, I spent some time with the newer students and presented a refresher of some basic watercolour techniques. After that, my job was to find everyone. They’d set up throughout the farm, park and cemetery.

Katie at work

Emily at work

Only a few of the group focused on the farm animals as subjects but I can’t resist showing you a few of the Riverdale residents.

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Later on, we found a quiet, shady spot for our critique. Plans were made for Friday, our final day together.

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Thursday Critique a

Thursday Critique b

Thursday Critique b

On Friday, we visited Black Creek Pioneer Village, an extensive and wonderful historic site. The buildings and artifacts offer many attractive opportunities for the artists and there are animals, as well.

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I set up under a shade tree and demonstrated at my easel. I chose a complicated subject and tried to simplify it with a watercolour sketch. I talk as I paint and attempt to describe the process and the decisions I’m making as the image develops.

Watercolour demonstraton by Barry Coombs

As usual, the group spread out to find inspiration. On a big site like Pioneer Village, it’s easy to lose track of a few of the painters. I now employ modern technology and text missing painters in order to find them.

Friday was the hottest day of our week but there’s no shortage of comfortable, shady spots at the village.

Evelyn at work

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Eventually, it was time for our last critique of the week. I appreciate the energy, enthusiasm and talent the participants shared at all of our great painting sites. Was there improvement? I think so. Aside from my efforts, they learn from each other and the critique is a very important part of the process. Have a look at Friday’s work! Thanks for following and feel free to leave a comment. Next year, consider Toronto for an ‘en plein air’ painting experience. We’ve had participants from all over Canada and the USA, as well.

Friday Critique a

Friday Critique a

Friday Critique b

Friday Critique b

Friday Critique c

Friday Critique c

 

Plein Air Toronto – Last Two Days of a Great Week!

12/07/2014

Lilies - PleinAirTO2014  Chapel - PleinAirTO2014

We enjoyed beautiful sunny weather for the last two days of our Plein Air Toronto week of sketching and painting. Our site for Thursday was Riverdale Farm and the adjacent Toronto Necropolis.

Several of our participants were working outdoors for the first time this week. The monuments and stones in the cemetery are good practice for combining architectural forms with foliage. I chose a few stones for the subject of my demonstration and threw a small wrench into the works, using a flat angled brush and a ‘swatch-like’ approach to the study.

Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs - PleinAirTO2014

I also presented a short illustrated talk about creating a focal point in a painting. We discussed three key elements; colour, contrast and structure. We looked at two paintings from the Renaissance. The first was the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci and the second was the Wedding Feast by Pieter Breughel the Elder.

Between the Necropolis and the Farm we had all kinds of subject matter from which to choose. Everyone loves to see the critters on the Farm but not everyone goes down the hill to the lower ponds. Part of it is a wildlife sanctuary and is home to amazing creatures like this Black-crowned Night Heron.

Black-crowned Night Heron - PleinAirTO2014

Horse - PleinAirTO2014  Flowers - PleinAirTO2014

Farmhouse - PleinAirTO2014

Kim at Work - PleinAirTO2014

Jane at Work - PleinAirTO2014  Debbie at Work - PleinAirTO2014

We found a quiet spot for our critique and were able to look at all of the work at once.

Thursday Critique - PleinAirTO2014

The painting spot for Friday was Edward’s Gardens and the Toronto Botanical Garden.

Edward's Gardens - PleinAirTO2014

I brought along a few books to show before I demonstrated at my easel. We looked at the watercolours of three very different artists; Paul Cezanne, John Singer Sargent and Charles Burchfield. In particular, we studied the way they each approached foliage.

My demonstration was painted with a 1″ flat angled brush. I used a ‘light to dark’ and ‘big to small’ approach as I attempted to convey ideas about simplifying foliage.

Me at Easel - PleinAirTO2014

Willow - PleinAirTO2014

Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs  - PleinAirTO2014

I don’t restrict the artists to a small area for the painting day. I define my ‘patrol area’, and let them search for their inspiration within those broader boundaries. The ‘patrol area’ is usually fairly large so there are lots of potential subjects. Edward’s Gardens has flower beds, groomed parkland and a ravine with the Don River running through it.

Elizabeth at Work - PleinAirTO2014

FriLaura  Fountain - PleinAirTO2014

From the ravine - PleinAirTO2014  Gardens - PleinAirTO2014

Peggy and Debbie at Work - PleinAirTO2014

A few of our artists weren’t able to attend on Friday but here’s a selection of the work from those who did. Not all are finished and several of them are studies, as opposed to sustained works. Some may be destined to be ‘worked up’ in the studio.

Peggy - PleinAirTO2014  Judy - PleinAirTO2014

Evelyn - PleinAirTO2014  Pat - PleinAirTO2014

 

Laura - PleinAirTO2014

Debbie - PleinAirTO2014

Jane - PleinAirTO2014

Elizabeth - PleinAirTO2014

Thanks go out to all of the participants and I’m grateful to those of you who follow and comment. Over the years, I’ve had many comments on this blog from Lois B. I don’t know Lois personally but she’s been a loyal follower for a long time. She said that she’s never been to Toronto and probably won’t get the opportunity so she’s enjoyed the travelogue. Lois, this final photo is your postcard from beautiful Toronto, Ontario!

Toronto - PleinAirTO2014

Plein Air Toronto – Days Four and Five!

13/07/2013

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The threatened thunderstorms never materialized on Thursday but we were ready for anything! Our site was the Evergreen Brickworks in Toronto’s Don Valley and there was lots of overhead shelter, had it been needed. The Brickworks is a former industrial site that now combines a lovely regenerated natural environment with old and new buildings dedicated to various environmental programs.

I kicked things off with a 1″ flat angled brush and a lot of creative licence.

Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Everyone got to work and found some interesting outdoor studios.

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Truer words were never sprayed onto a wall. Everything, and anything, is possible when brush touches paper. We found a shady and fairly private spot for our critique at the end of the day.

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Friday was our last day of a great week and Riverdale Farm was our venue. The Farm brings back memories of childhood visits and it still hosts summertime programs for kids. I demonstrated in front of the farmhouse before the artists spread out over the property and the adjacent Toronto Necropolis, a shady and pretty cemetery.

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We had a lot of fun and the group worked hard and rose to all challenges. The record-setting storm on Monday, more rainfall than Hurricane Hazel in 1954, had some impact on almost all of our sites. Another shady spot was found for our critique, although we really had to cram everyone in, and we divided up our drawings and paintings into two batches.

Thanks for following our adventures and your comments. Next stop, Grand Manan Island! We start in two weeks on July 28 and there’s still a spot available for you.

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Toronto Outdoor Week – Days Three and Four

20/08/2010

WEDNESDAY: We visited Riverdale Farm and the adjacent Necropolis on Wednesday. The farm is always a good experience. It’s right downtown and chickens peck at your feet while you’re concentrating on a sketch. I did a pen and watercolour demonstration at the start of the day. There’s a lovely chapel at the gates of the Necropolis and I’ve drawn just a section of it.

The weather has been cooperative this week and everyone settled in for a good day of sketching and painting. I even made friends with a local art critic (below right).

I visit the workshop participants regularly during the day but, sometimes, I take the time to prepare a piece for an afternoon discussion/demonstration. You can see three steps of a pen and watercolour study of a barn interior below. The first step is a wet-in-wet wash over the pencil drawing. I added some local colour and deepened the interior with the second step. I believe that’s some kind of horse collar hanging on the post but I’m definitely no authority on barnyard paraphernalia.

I did this pen work at the end of the day, just before our critique. I don’t consider it to be finished at this stage. Actually, I rarely finish demonstrations as I often dig them out of the pile at a later date and show them to another group. If they’re finished, an observer is less able to see the process involved.

THURSDAY: The University of Toronto has a large and attractive downtown campus made up of several colleges. We worked at St. Michael’s College today and it’s village-like atmosphere is very conducive to a relaxing day of art.

I thought about our first three days before planning my morning demonstration. Everyone had done well but part of my  job is to notice the less successful things and to make suggestions as to their improvement. My morning demo was a sort of worksheet, reviewing some ideas from earlier in the week as well as drawing attention to some of the current site’s challenges.

This area features a popular sculpture called “Neighbours” by Joe Rosenthal (2001). It was equally popular as a subject for sketching and painting. I thought I’d forgotten my pencils and sketched the study below with an orange pen. I mixed up three values of wash, applying the lightest first and touching in the darker values while still wet. I was going to continue this study with black pen but decided to leave it for a while. I like it’s simplicity.

We endured a brief thundershower in the afternoon, our only wet spell thus far. The back of the Pratt Library is recessed about eight feet and provided a dry shelter for us. After the rain, the Rosenthal sculpture continued to attract our painters (below left). I made a quick pen and watercolour sketch of this artist at work. It was a prelude to my Friday morning demonstration at Edward’s Gardens.