Posts Tagged ‘watercolor’

Plein Air Toronto 2018 – Final Two Days!

28/06/2018

THURSDAY

We visited St. James Cathedral in the heart of downtown Toronto on Thursday. The cathedral grounds abut a well-treed park with lovely gardens.

I set up to demonstrate and, being day four, asked the participants if they had any pressing questions before we began to paint. The key question concerned the four-value planning studies that had been a theme all week long. It was a good question. I proceeded to paint a small four-value study. You can probably tell that I invented the simple subject but the exercise helped to clarify the process for everyone.

We enjoyed a lovely, sunny day with a fresh breeze.

The shade of the cathedral wall provided a sheltered spot for our critique.

Thursday Critique a

Thursday Critique b

FRIDAY
One more day of painting together! We met at St. Michael’s College on the downtown University of Toronto campus. Historic architecture, gardens and public sculpture highlighted the subject matter at this charming and peaceful oasis in the city core. As usual, we met for my demonstration.

I followed up on Thursday’s ‘Q and A’ lesson with another discussion of value. Looking at a sun-dappled doorway, I sketched in pencil. Next, I determined my lightest lights and, leaving them as paper-white, I shaded a light middle value everywhere else. The participants were interested in the simplification of a complex subject. I added a bit of a dark middle value and that was enough to communicate the lesson. Later on, I added a wash to further clarify the pattern.

Once again, the weather was spectacular and everyone enjoyed the location.

All good things come to an end, apparently! It was a wonderful week of creativity and companionship. Have a look at the Friday critique.

Friday Critique

I thank all of the participants for their hard work and enthusiasm. Thanks for following us. Next stop is Grand Manan Island and that workshop starts on July 29. Care to join us? There are a few spots left. Click here for the details.

 

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Plein Air Toronto 2018 – First Three Days!

25/06/2018

MONDAY
One week ago, on Monday morning, this year’s participants in our Plein Air Toronto week-long workshop met at the Arts on Adrian studio in the west end of Toronto. We had business to discuss and I provided everyone with information sheets on all of our sites. Carpooling was arranged. I followed the practical session with a Power Point talk which I titled Planning your Watercolour Painting.

I’d been looking at Frank Webb’s book recently and noted the ideas I share with him about planning a watercolour. Frank Webb is one of the most successful contemporary watercolour painters so his ideas are meaningful. The first several slides of my presentation featured his thoughts and artwork. Also, I handed out a sheet of his tips on planning and recommended his book.

Mr. Webb’s work was followed by several other historical and contemporary masters of the medium. The participants enjoyed watercolours by J.M.W. Turner, John Singer Sargent and A.J. Casson, amongst many others.

We spent an hour at the studio before heading to the lovely Sunnyside Pavilion on Toronto’s lakeshore. A thunderstorm threatened, and eventually the skies burst, but we were high and dry under the shelter of the pavilion’s courtyard. The clouds eventually moved off and we enjoyed a productive first day.

Staying Dry

We gathered in the late afternoon for our critique.

Click on any critique image to see a larger version.

Monday Critique a

Monday Critique b

TUESDAY
We visited the Grange Park on Tuesday. The Grange Park is situated behind both the Art Gallery of Ontario and the art school, OCADU. A large Henry Moore sculpture is a landmark and we met in a shady spot with a view of the sculpture. I demonstrated, using the Moore as my subject. My goal was to illustrate a ‘light to dark’ and ‘big to small’ process; simplifying, editing and using value in order to draw the eye to the main subject.

After the demonstration, the painters settled in for a pleasant day in the park.

The sunshine lasted all day long. As usual, we wrapped up with our critique.

Tuesday Critique a

Tuesday Critique b

WEDNESDAY
Roundhouse Park was our venue for Day Three of our workshop. It’s in the very core of the downtown area, right next to the CN tower, the baseball stadium and the aquarium. The roundhouse hosts the Toronto Railway Museum and Steamwhistle Brewery.

Rain was threatening (it never really materialized) so I worked very quickly at my demonstration, allowing washes to run together in places. I used a 3/4″ flat angled brush.

Trains, old railway buildings, contemporary structures; Roundhouse Park has all kinds of interesting subject matter.

Most novel outdoor studio of the week!

Well-earned refreshment at the end of the day.

Once again, we found a fairly private wall for our critique. I was very pleased with the progress of the artists. We’re more than halfway through the week already! Stay tuned for our final two days.

Wednesday Critique

 

 

 

Spring Tuesday and Saturday Watercolour Classes – Week Three!

05/05/2018

The Arts on Adrian studio resembled a thrift store this week. My pile of old shoes was definitely an unorthodox subject but the quasi-organic, soft forms offered a different kind of challenge than our previous still-lifes this term.

Once in a while, I like to demonstrate a ‘shape-reading’ approach to watercolour painting. This means starting with the watercolour brush; no prior pencil drawing! Several of the students have experimented with shape-reading before but some were tackling it for the first time. I started my demonstration with the afternoon class and added to it for the evening class.

Old shoes and boots may lack glamour but they can be a reasonably forgiving subject. Let’s have a look at the work from the Tuesday students.

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

The Saturday students have a full day and I urged them to not just paint shoes but tell a story with their paintings. I also strongly suggested that they be bolder and more interpretative with colour. I didn’t have to tell them twice. Here’s my Saturday demonstration followed by the student paintings.

Sustained Saturday Critique

Click on the critique images to view a larger version. That’s it for spring term at Arts on Adrian! It was short but sweet and I thank the great students for their enthusiasm and creativity. I’ll be in touch soon.

Drawing Birds with Pen and Watercolour at DVSA!

04/05/2018

My workshop at the Dundas Valley School of Art yesterday was an introduction to drawing birds with pen and watercolour. We worked from photo reference, which I provided, and our first project was a ‘portrait’ of a male Pileated Woodpecker.

Proportion is very important when drawing birds. I taught the students how to create and work from a basic grid. Most had never used a grid and found it to be very useful.

I’ll show you my demonstration in three steps, starting with the pencil drawing.

Next came the watercolour. I did two values of most of the colours.

The final step was the penwork.

Even when working from a grid, this woodpecker is a challenging subject. We took our time and the care and patience resulted in some strong drawings.

Pileated Woodpecker Critique

I had prepared photo reference and studies of two other birds; a Canada Warbler and a Killdeer. Here are my studies.

Canada Warbler

Killdeer

The students didn’t get too far along with their second drawings but they enjoyed the process and learned a lot. They now feel better equipped to draw birds from their own photographs. Here’s a peek at the work in progress.

Works in progress

Works in progress

Spring Saturday and Tuesday Watercolour Classes – Week Two!

27/04/2018

Spring migration is underway in southern Ontario! The watercolour students arrived at Arts on Adrian this past week, only to discover a fallout of birds on the still-life table. This still-life is so varied that I’m going to show you all four views. Here we go:

What do you think? Challenging? Definitely, but the Arts on Adrian students rise to the occasion time and time again. Still, I thought it would be prudent to discuss drawing and composition with my demonstration. I touched on colour a bit, as well. You’ll notice that I selected a small area of the still-life in my demonstration. Taking on too much can lead to needless frustration.

The Sustained Saturday group put in a solid day’s work, as always.

Sustained Saturday Critique

On Tuesday afternoon, I had three new students. After presenting my main demonstration to the whole group, I took the three aside and gave them another lesson. I wanted to show my process as I painted a few studies.

The Tuesday afternoon and evening students were reminded to select thoughtfully. They only had three hours to solve our complicated still-life. Let’s wrap up with a look at their work. Remember to click on any critique image for a larger version.

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Spring Saturday and Tuesday Watercolour Class – Week One!

14/04/2018

It was a classic still-life for the Saturday and Tuesday watercolour painters this past week. I thought that our apples and terra-cotta objects would be a refreshing subject after the layoff of a month or so since the end of the winter classes.

My demonstration was a small painting, done quickly. I started with a wet-in-wet preliminary wash of warm colours over the whole sheet. You can see the wash in the background, untouched. As usual, I talked as I painted. My demonstrations are usually a sort of illustrated talk; a way of showing a process and discussing painting problems. I don’t mind quick and messy if I can communicate my ideas.

The Saturday students used their six hour day well. Most take their time with compositional sketches and studies of the various objects before embarking on their sustained piece. Some complete more than one piece over the course of the day. I love the thought they put into their work! Also of note are the pen and ink drawings that hold their own with the watercolours on our critique wall.

Sustained Saturday Critique

We work from the same still-life on Tuesday. Here’s a look at the still-life with a backdrop of a different colour. In the Arts on Adrian studio, the still-life is placed in the centre of the room with an overhead light. There is no backdrop so the students have to come up with a creative solution of their own. However, I photograph the still-life with backdrops of different colours in order to try different relationships and to make the still-life stand out clearly for these blog posts.

There you go! Let’s see what the Tuesday afternoon and evening painters achieved. I’m back at Arts on Adrian on Saturday, April 21 and Tuesday, April 24. There are still a few spots left! Care to join us?

Reminder: Click on any critique image for a larger version.

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Winter Wednesday Watercolour at DVSA – Final Class!

10/03/2018

Wednesday evening was our last of eight classes this winter at the Dundas Valley School of Art. Attendance has been excellent and everyone was present for our rusty and dusty still-life.

My demonstration is a small painting, about 8 x 8″ or so. I worked very quickly and, as I painted, I reviewed several of the ideas and techniques from the prior classes. I even threw in a few new thoughts. The bluish object on the left was painted right over the background, for instance. I also cropped very tightly, thinking that the most interesting parts of the objects were the handles and spouts.

I’ve seen a lot of progress with the student’s paintings and I’m grateful for their enthusiasm and hard work. They also paid attention although nobody cropped their composition nearly as much as I did.

This spring, I’ll be teaching four one-day pen and ink workshops (some with watercolour) at DVSA. Next fall, I hope to offer another series of evening watercolour classes. For now, thanks go out to my great bunch of watercolourists and to all of you for following.

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique b

Winter Wednesday Watercolour Class at DVSA – Week Seven!

01/03/2018

What better way to spend a Wednesday evening than to paint watercolours from the still-life at the Dundas Valley School of Art? I’ve had these geometric ceramic objects for a long time. They’re fun to paint but, even better, they can be broken down into their component shapes much like the teddy bears from last week. This offers an opportunity to practice soft-edge washes with the shapes and that was the focus of my demonstration.

I painted a shape at a time, following a ‘light to dark’ and ‘big to small’ process. The smaller, textural strokes came last.

I’m quite pleased with the student’s work and their progress over our seven evenings together. There’s only one more class to go! I’ve got another interesting still-life planned. See you next week.

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique b

Winter Saturday and Tuesday Watercolour Classes – Week Three!

28/02/2018

Black objects and reflections! How would the students at Arts on Adrian respond to this painting challenge? Let’s find out.

My demonstrations on Saturday and Tuesday focused on two main things. First, how to paint black without any black paint in the palette? There are a few ways to mix blacks. Ultramarine Blue works well with Burnt Sienna. An unusual way to make black is to mix Viridian or Pthalo Green with a cool red. My cool red is Rose Madder Quinacridone from Da Vinci. I settled on Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna.

The second thing was reflections. I discussed a few guidelines about handling reflections. Most of the reflections in our still-life could be painted with crisp edges. Success is based on accurate value relationships between the actual objects being reflected (grapefruit, orange, lemon) and their reflections on the surfaces of the black vases and jars.

Saturday Demonstration

The Sustained Saturday students approached the reflections with gusto!

Sustained Saturday Critique

My Tuesday demonstrations dealt with the same ideas. In the evening, I took a study a little further and added a background.

Tuesday Demonstrations

The Tuesday afternoon and evening students were equally enthusiastic. The black objects and reflections were a tricky painting problem but everyone enjoyed the process and learned a lot. That’s it for our winter term at Arts on Adrian in Toronto. I’ll be posting my spring calendar very soon. Thanks for following!

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

 

Winter Wednesday Watercolour Class at DVSA – Week Six!

22/02/2018

Please, bear with me as I tell you about last night’s watercolour class at the Dundas Valley School of Art. Our still-life comprised of cuddly critters was a great opportunity to talk about soft edge techniques. First of all, I broke down the bear into it’s component parts (ears, arms, nose, paws). Last week, I used a very similar approach with the colourful gift bags. I painted each shape with a light wash and touched in a darker version while it was still wet. This created a soft edge. It’s easier said than done and takes a lot of practice.

One of the students completely ignored the soft edge process and developed his image with values. This was fine with me. You may recall that I presented this approach a few weeks ago. David would like to improve his understanding of value and is quite happy to devote more time to it. Later on, he glazed some colour on his piece. Look for it in the critique.

Value Study
by David Chapman

I also urged everyone to pay a bit more attention to their compositions. Their thumbnail sketches took time and it slowed them down a bit so several ‘works in progress’ are featured in our critique. Don’t forget to click on a critique image to view a larger version.

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique b