Posts Tagged ‘Sketching’

Portugal 2017 – Évora!

24/09/2017

Last Sunday, a tired bunch of artists arrived in beautiful Évora, a walled city in the Alentejo region of Portugal. Our hotel, with it’s backdrop of a Roman aqueduct and it’s inviting pool, was a welcome sight. Many of us explored the town for the afternoon before gathering for our Welcome Dinner at the hotel.

We met in our studio on Monday morning for some orientation and a demonstration. There are a lot of white buildings with colourful decorative features in Portugal. I hoped to prepare the students for our first few days.

Following the demo, we headed up to the area of town near the cathedral. There were lots of painting subjects and it wasn’t hard to find shady spots.

A few of us climbed to the top of the cathedral later in the day and were rewarded with splendid views.

Eventually, we all met back at the hotel for our first critique of the trip.

Monday Critique a

Monday Critique b

Monday Critique c

Three mini-buses with three charming and efficient drivers (Bruno, José and Ricardo) picked us up on Tuesday morning and we headed to the nearby hilltop village of Évoramonte. Upon arrival, we gathered in front of the old gate and took in the wraparound view. I gave a tour of the village, which was inside the old walls, with a castle towering over everything. Take your time and enjoy the photos from Évoramonte. I’ll see you at critique time.

As you’ve seen, it was a special day on top of the world. Our mini-buses were ready to go and we had our critique back at the hotel.

Tuesday Critique a

Tuesday Critique b

Tuesday Critique c

We painted in the Jardim Publico in Évora on Wednesday. I went ahead early to pick a shady spot for my demonstration so my easel would be ready to go when the group arrived. I painted a rather complicated subject as quickly as I could manage (about 40 minutes). My goal was to help the students simplify the things they were seeing, foliage in particular.

It was a lovely and peaceful day in the park. I think (hope) the demonstration helped some of the newer students with their grasp of foliage.

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique b

Redondo! The same drivers picked us up on Thursday morning. Redondo is a fairly large town and, like Évoramonte, has a village within the old castle walls at the very top of the hill. It was another spectacular painting site.

Quite a few of us visited the local potter. His work was very quaint, reminiscent of the work of Nova Scotia folk artist Maud Lewis.

The students have been producing a lot of work. The critique is always a great way to wrap up the day.

Thursday Critique a

Thursday Critique b

Our time in Évora has come to an end. Next stop, Tavira! Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Grand Manan Island 2017 – Final Two Days!

11/08/2017

Dark Harbour was our destination on Thursday; towering cliffs, rustic camps and multi-coloured dories. Many artists struggle with the odd angles and nuances when drawing a dory. I set up my easel and gave an optional demonstration, showing the steps I take when drawing a dory. Drawing anything, actually. It’s a matter of careful measuring and checking angles.

When the tide comes in at Dark Harbour, there can be very little room on the beach for stools and easels. Also, the dory you’re painting may suddenly be required for dulsing, the gathering of a nutritious seaweed, and off it goes! Even my subject, this grey dory named Ophelia, was hauled onto the back of a pickup and taken away. Fortunately, I’d long finished my demo by then.

Some of our painters seem to dress to match their vehicles and others coordinate quite well with the dory next to them.

It was another special day. Not only does everyone enjoy painting at Dark Harbour but our local friends allow us the use of their world class outhouse! True Grand Manan hospitality. Another day, another critique back at our studio.

Thursday Critique a

Thursday Critique b

Friday was our last day of painting together! It came too quickly. We had another great painting spot to visit; Woodward’s Cove.

I arrived early and got set up ahead of time for a sustained demonstration. As you’ve seen, I don’t do complete paintings very often as demonstrations. For one thing, they take a chunk of time out of the morning and everyone is itching to get to work. The main reason is that I use demos to make teaching points. They are lessons and not performances followed by an opportunity to purchase. However, I believe it’s important for students to see my process from start to finish at some point during the week and Friday morning was that time.

One of the things I addressed was colour. I urge the students to be less literal with colour and to select colours that work together in the painting. Colour can be used to create a mood or even a temperature. Note that the background trees in my demo are not green! The shed is not a dull neutral grey. There’s nothing inherently wrong with greens, greys and browns but they are often used thoughtlessly and contribute nothing special to the painting.

Woodward’s Cove is a big area with a wide range of subject matter. ‘En plein air’ painting always has challenges but painting on Grand Manan Island has a few rather unique ones. As we painted on Friday, the tide gradually dropped. By the end of the day, the harbour was completely drained of water. Note to self: paint the water in early!

While in Woodward’s Cove, make sure you stop by Shore Things. Driftwood art, colourful fishing floats and other island souvenirs are available. If you have questions about the island, Wayne can answer them.

It was time for one more trip to our studio for a critique. Have a look at the work from Friday and then scroll down for more news about our week.

Friday Critique a

Friday Critique b

Our workshop wasn’t quite over. After critique, everyone headed back to their lodgings to freshen up for our Farewell Dinner at the Marathon Inn. Steak or lobster? Dinner was excellent and a lot of fun. Following dinner, we enjoyed our Final Critique. Each student brought three of their works and presented and spoke about them one at a time. It’s a very rewarding way to sum up our week together.

I’d like to thank all of the 2017 participants for helping to make our workshop a success. And thank you, dear reader, for following, commenting and liking! Next year’s dates for Grand Manan will be posted on this blog soon. Why don’t you join us? It’s a spectacular place and the company is excellent. Now, there’s one more photo to see. Allow me to present the Class of 2017!

 

Grand Manan Island 2017 – First Three Days!

08/08/2017

Last week, a group of ‘en plein air’ watercolour painters gathered on lovely Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy. We met on Sunday evening and shared a delicious Welcome Dinner at the historic Marathon Inn. The next morning, we met at our studio for a demonstration. I talked about water, which seemed appropriate as we’re on an island and surrounded by the wet stuff. Water has many moods. I tried to offer some ideas to help the students tackle it’s many challenges.

Following the demonstration, we went over to North Head harbour; just a short hop. We all stay in North Head so it’s nice to be close to home on the first day. Several of the students settled into the shady spot in front of Kirk’s shed.

North Head Harbour is very busy with fishing as well as related activities such as rockweed gathering and the care and feeding of farmed Atlantic salmon.

Nearby, Pettes’ Cove attracted a few eyes. It offers a splendid view of the famous Swallowtail lighthouse.

It was a beautiful, sunny day. Little did we know at the time but our entire week would give us brilliant weather. The studio is a welcome retreat at the end of the day and we assembled for our first critique of the week.

Monday Critique a

Monday Critique b

On Tuesday morning, we met at Seal Cove. Seal Cove features the traditional herring smokesheds and abounds with character. I set up my easel and did a demonstration. I talked about developing a watercolour with a ‘light to dark’ and ‘big to small’ process.

The students spread out in search of subjects and shade. It didn’t take long to settle in.

A few painters brought their shade with them.

Others sought it out.

A few soaked up the sunshine even though I don’t recommend painting in the sun. It dries up your paper and palette too quickly and bleaches out your darks so the painting can become overworked. Still, a happy artist is a good thing…

Eventually, it was time to return to the studio for our critique. As the week goes by, you may notice different styles in our daily exhibitions. I don’t teach ‘my way or the highway’ workshops. As best I can, I encourage each artist to find their personal voice.

Tuesday Critique a

Tuesday Critique b

Tuesday Critique c

You guessed it! More sunshine on Wednesday. While at Seal Cove on Tuesday, I’d done a small watercolour with the intention of adding penwork to it for our Wednesday morning demonstration. I did it at the studio before heading to Fisherman’s Haven Lane, which is home to Ingall’s Head Cottages. Many thanks to Wendy, the proprietor, for allowing us to park on her property.

We got to work right away. This is a lovely and quiet spot, a bit off the beaten track. The locals are always interested in our creative efforts.

Finding shade became an art form of it’s own.

Critique time! Is it already Wednesday? Thanks for following along with our exploits. Stay tuned for my report from Thursday and Friday of last week.

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique b

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plein Air Toronto 2017 – Last Two Days!

28/06/2017

Click on our First Three Days if you somehow missed the last post. Day four of Plein Air Toronto 2017 was Thursday of last week and the weather, which had been tricky all week, took a turn for the worst. I made arrangements for us to sketch in pen and ink all day long and without any concerns about rain. The catch was that our plein air artists were going indoors for the day. We met in the morning at the Gardiner Museum, which is dedicated to historic and contemporary ceramic art.

It’s a beautiful museum but it’s difficult to gather the entire group at once for a demonstration or critique. I handed out a prepared sheet showing basic pen techniques in the morning. Later, I gathered a small group of pen and ink novices and sketched a Pre-Columbian figure as I discussed my thoughts.

It was a great day and don’t forget the excellent restaurant when you visit the Gardiner. Friday was yet another challenging weather day. However, I don’t have almost thirty years of experience for nothing. We met at University College on the lovely downtown campus of the University of Toronto.

The College has a large interior courtyard surrounded, on two sides, by wide colonnades. We were high and dry and had plenty of subject matter through the arches. Even the arches themselves attracted the eye of our artists.

I brought in some examples of pen and watercolour studies, done on the U of T campus, to get the morning started. As the group worked, I began a watercolour of my own for a change. Several of the new students expressed interest in my approach and process. I began with a sketch to resolve a composition and then drew it up on a sheet of watercolour paper.

  

I wasn’t able to finish the piece by the end of the day as I had teaching responsibilities. I pulled it together later in my studio.

Enough about me! Let’s have a look at our day at University College.

Eventually, it was time for our last critique of the week. The skies cleared just enough and we gathered one more time. What a great group! I thank them all for their cheerful participation and also thank you for following, commenting and liking the posts. Plein Air Toronto will be back next year. Now, for a look at the work from Friday.

University College
Critique a

University College
Critique b

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

 

 

Introduction to Drawing Cats at DVSA!

11/06/2017

Two weeks ago, I led a one-day workshop at the Dundas Valley School of Art. Our theme was dogs and our medium was pen with watercolour. Last Thursday, I was back and it was time to draw cats!

All of our cat drawings were done from photo reference. I began the day with a look at the skeleton of a cat followed by some tips on drawing the creatures. We usually complete two drawings and start a third over the course of a day.

Our first challenge on Thursday was a calico. I drew the cat with pencil and followed that with some initial pen work.

The next stop was to establish the colours with watercolour. The washes were perfectly dry before I went back in with more pen.

Our next subject was a portrait of a Himalayan kitten. Again, I started with the pencil drawing but this time I applied the watercolour before the pen.

Once dry, it was time to add the pen. The relationship and balance between the amount of pen and watercolour can be unique to each drawing. The pen work in this drawing is much more restrained than in that of the calico. If I was somehow able to eliminate the watercolour, would there be enough penwork to describe the kitten? Maybe not, but they work together effectively.

I presented a much more playful approach to our final drawing of a sleeping tabby. Pencil first before using the pen in a linear manner. Line variety and weight is the key here.

I tried to maintain the playful feel with a non-literal approach to colour. Washes of Pthalo Green and Rose Madder Quinacridone (basically, a cool green and a cool red) were allowed to run into each other. Not all of the students completed this drawing before we ran out of time but they enjoyed the different process.

I won’t be back at DVSA until next fall but I’ve got an exciting lineup of pen and ink and watercolour workshops on the calendar. It’s been an enjoyable spring term with a great bunch of enthusiastic and talented students. Have a peek at their drawings of cats.

Drawing Cats-Critique a

Drawing Cats-Critique b

Pen and Ink Basics at DVSA

21/04/2017

Spring term began this week at the Dundas Valley School of Art and I was back in the studio yesterday. Pen and Ink Basics was our theme and my keen and hard-working students put in a full day. We completed three drawings and used a different approach with each. All of our drawings were done from a diagram model that I provided at my easel.

Our focus was on light and shadow as well as fundamental pen techniques. Our pear was started with a ‘parquet’ approach. The students didn’t have to worry about stroke direction and concentrated initially on the shapes of light and shadow.

Our pear gradually became more three-dimensional as we applied principles of light and shadow with cross-hatching. Our second drawing was the hat. We started with hatching, parallel strokes, and developed the drawing with cross-hatching. I discussed the idea of ‘edge versus outline’ and you’ll notice gaps in the lines that describe the edges of our objects. These allow light to infiltrate the drawing and give it a more natural feel than a hard colouring book-like outline would achieve.

The ball cap was our final drawing of the day and stippling was our technique. We didn’t want to work too big as stippling is rather time-consuming. Over the course of the day, we looked at drawings by the masters including Michelangelo and Henry Moore and were inspired by the lessons found in their beautiful work.

We wrapped up with a look at our own work. My next one-day workshop at DVSA is called Pen and Ink with Wash and Watercolour and takes place on May 11. Care to join us?

Pen and Ink Basics Critique

Barry’s Birds for Wood Duck magazine – February and March

14/03/2017

These pen and ink drawings were my submissions for the February and March issues of the Wood Duck, the magazine of the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club. The monthly feature is called Barry’s Birds.

Eastern Screech-Owl –
February

Red-bellied Woodpecker –
March

Pen and Ink Studio at DVSA – Week Eight!

06/03/2017

Sadly, our Pen and Ink Studio at the Dundas Valley School of Art has come to an end! Last Thursday was our eighth afternoon together. Every day I presented a project. Some of the students tried the projects and some worked on their own with my guidance and feedback. Some did both.

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I brought in the fleet for our daily project. My demonstration was done in a few steps. First of all, I drew my boat in pencil but I added several features that weren’t present in my little model. Also, I added local colour with watercolour. Pen was the final step.

Step One of pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Step Two of pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

The students also had a little fun with the boats and gave them personal touches.

Pen and Ink Studio Critique

Pen and Ink Studio Critique

It’s time to look at some of the other work that’s been done. We’ll start with this full sheet pen and watercolour piece by Vicky. She’s really pushed herself with this large format and has used calligraphy and lettering nibs for the penwork.

Pen and Watercolour by Vicky

Pen and Watercolour by Vicky

This is another large format piece. Elaine has planned this carefully but there’s still a lot to do. She masked out the area of the motorcycle and rider in order to paint the washes with broad strokes right across the sheet. She’s also been working on studies of the bike and rider and I think it will all pay off when she gets to the pen stage.

Pen and watercolour by Elaine

Pen and watercolour by Elaine

Finally, we have three works by Barbara. She’s been working on them as well as the daily projects. All are done with pen and watercolour. The first image gives a good sense of her process.

Pen and watercolour by Barbara

Pen and watercolour by Barbara

Pen and watercolour by Barbara

Pen and watercolour by Barbara

Pen and watercolour by Barbara

Pen and watercolour by Barbara

We worked hard and enjoyed ourselves in Pen and Ink Studio. Why don’t you join us this spring? I’ll be back at DVSA to teach a series of four one-day workshops in pen and ink and watercolour. Click on DVSA and you’ll find all of the information.

Pen and Ink Studio at DVSA – Week Seven!

24/02/2017

img_5951

NUTS! The students screamed in unison when I showed them the subject for our pen and ink drawings yesterday at the Dundas Valley School of Art. Well, I’m exaggerating. They always wonder what will emerge from my bag of tricks and they’re forever keen to test their skills.

We covered a lot of ground yesterday. Let’s start with my demonstration. I drew a dish in pencil.

Step one of pen and ink demonstration by Barry Coombs

Next, I added some nuts. Two in the dish and one in front of it. I decided on a light source coming from the upper right. Look at the little study on the bottom right of the sheet. This helped me simplify the light and shadow pattern on my subject.

Step two of pen and ink demonstration by Barry Coombs

Those messy pen lines on the upper sheet are a result of another demonstration. The students asked me for my thoughts on using a traditional metal nib with a bottle of India ink. We’ve been using disposable sketching pens for our drawings in class. No muss, no fuss! The traditional tools can be messy. Spills. Heartbreaking blobs in the middle of a drawing you’ve spent hours on. So, the disposable pens are fine for our learning process. However, the metal nib, used thoughtfully and with care, can give a drawing a special quality.

The next image shows my setup and tools. The paper is Strathmore Bristol, vellum surface. The nib is a School 56 and it’s in a wooden holder. My ink is Speedball Super Black India Ink, my favourite! The wide mouth and base help prevent spills. The white tester card helps prevent blobs. I test the pen every time I dip it in the ink before I touch my drawing. I also clean my nib every 5 minutes or so with paper towel and an organic nib cleaning fluid (spit). Oh, and there’s my demonstration again with most of the ink work completed.

Step three of pen and ink demonstration by Barry Coombs

The students enjoyed the nuts.

Pen and Ink Studio Critique

Pen and Ink Studio Critique

Before I sign off, let’s take a moment to look at some of the personal projects. The sunflowers are a work in progress by Vicky. This is a full sheet of watercolour paper and she’s using calligraphy dipping nibs. I took this photo at the start of the class yesterday so there’ll be a lot more to see next week.

Pen and watercolour by Vicky

Pen and watercolour by Vicky

Here’s another drawing by Val. It’s a small piece, approx. 9 x 12″, and she’s combined pen with watercolour.

Pen and watercolour by Val

Pen and watercolour by Val

That’s it, in a nutshell! There’s one more week of Pen and Ink Studio at DVSA. I’ll be offering four one-day pen workshops this spring and they’re already posted on the DVSA website. Join us!