Posts Tagged ‘watercolour demonstration’

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

 

 

Saturday and Tuesday Watercolour Classes – More Colour!

01/12/2016

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The last time we convened at the Arts on Adrian studio, the students were faced with a still-life comprised solely of cardboard objects. The entire setup was, basically, light brown. We changed that. After a discussion about colour theory, each student adopted a colour system (complementary or analagous are two examples) that appealed to them and converted the still-life into a very colourful watercolour painting.

This time, I set up a still-life of just about every colour I could find in my trove of objects. It’s colourful but that doesn’t mean that the colours are working well together. The new challenge for the students was to pick an area of the still-life and adjust the colours in order to make a more effective statement.

I looked at a small corner of the arrangement and made a simplified thumbnail sketch. You can see that I made some key changes. I wanted to draw the eye to the bowl on the plate and to create a bit of depth to the space in the painting.

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I had asked the students to plan all of their colours at the outset with a thumbnail sketch, as I had. Why not? Why wait until the painting is near completion before deciding what colour to employ in the remaining unpainted areas (almost always the background)?

The students enjoyed our colour challenge. We spend a lot of time in watercolour class discussing drawing, composition and technique. We discuss colour, as well, but I think our intensive two-class mini-workshop really struck a chord.

Sustained Saturday Critique

Sustained Saturday Critique

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Grand Manan Island 2016 – First Two Days!

01/08/2016

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Last Monday morning, the participants in my 2016 sketching and watercolour painting workshop on Grand Manan Island gathered at our studio in North Head. We had all met each other the evening before at the Marathon Inn, where we enjoyed our delicious Welcome Dinner.

I kicked off our week with a discussion/demonstration and my theme was skies and water. It’s a broad subject! I presented a few relevant techniques and emphasized some basic principles and processes. In addition to that, I gave a lesson on drawing basics to the new students. Perspective and the use of a measuring stick were the main topics. The students dispersed to paint and draw in the village of North Head. Over the course of the day, I visited the artists and offered feedback.

Watercolour demonstrations by Barry Coombs

Stewart and Karen at work

Kathleen and Marlene at workMon-bDave at work

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Lauren at work

At the end of the day, we re-grouped at our studio for our first critique. Our week was off to a great start!

Monday Critique a

Monday Critique a

Monday Critique b

Monday Critique b

We met at our studio again on Tuesday morning. I did something a little bit different and showed a selection of watercolours and drawings from the late Saint John artist Jack Humphrey. Here are two of his works from Grand Manan Island courtesy of the National Gallery of Canada. I’ve always enjoyed the simplification and spontaneity of his work.

Village, Grand Manan-JH

Village, Grand Manan by Jack Humphrey

Village, Grand Manan by Jack Humphrey

Village, Grand Manan by Jack Humphrey

Our venue was Woodward’s Cove. It’s quite a unique spot as the harbour completely drains of water at low tide and fills right up again at high tide. It was another sunny day so many of our painters sought out shade and some had even brought their own.

Artists at work

LIz at work

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Here’s the harbour at low tide.

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About six hours later, the harbour had filled up again. Shortly after, we returned to our studio to look at the day’s work. Thanks for following and stay tuned. There’s lots more to come from beautiful Grand Manan Island.

Tuesday Critique a

Tuesday Critique a

Tuesday Critique b

Tuesday 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 2016 – Day One!

18/06/2016

Last Monday morning, my annual Plein Air Toronto workshop, a week of sketching and painting in watercolour, began at the Arts on Adrian studio. I had a prepared a demonstration dealing with basic approaches to painting skies and clouds.

Studio Demo

Skies are always a challenge, especially in watercolour. I had painted a few sheets ahead of time and I completed one sheet while the students watched. By the way, the sky in the upper right corner is upside down!

Sky in watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

I also brought in a few books. We took a careful look at skies painted by some of the great English watercolour painters of the past as well as some by the American, Winslow Homer and Canadian artist, Frederick Hagan.

Here are some more sky studies I showed to the group. Some have been created with a soft edge (wet into wet) process and some are a combination of soft and crisp edges. Some were done in one step and others took two or three steps to complete.

Sky in watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs  Sky in watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Sky in watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Sky in watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Sky in watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Sky in watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

It was time to head out of doors and the Sunnyside Pavilion on the shore of Lake Ontario was our destination. Upon arrival, we settled in for the rest of the day.

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Sarah at work  Evelyn at work

Barb at work

Marian at work

Ian, Wendy and Olwen at work

Emily at work

It was a great start to our week. At the end of the day, we gathered for our critique and discussed our plan for Tuesday. Stay tuned! Our activities from last Tuesday and Wednesday are coming soon.

Monday Critique a

Monday Critique a

Monday Critique b

Monday Critique b

 

 

Spring Tuesday Watercolour Class – May 10

11/05/2016

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This is another view of the still-life from our Sustained Saturday class last weekend. It was no less challenging for the Tuesday students. I stuck to the same ideas presented on Saturday with my demonstration.

The patterns on the wooden objects can be tricky. I followed a ‘big to small’ and ‘light to dark’ process. The vase on the left was painted first. Once dry, I added the leaf shapes of the pattern, glazing right over the first wash. The thin dark veins were added last.

The studies on the right showed my approach to drawing these irregular shapes. Can you see the parallel lines in the upper study? They help me establish the perspective of the object.

Watercolour study by Barry Coombs  Watercolour demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs

I think the students always do well but I guess I’m biased. Still, they’re working from direct observation and completing these watercolours in a little over two hours. The average size of the work is 12 x 16″.

That’s it for our short spring term at Arts on Adrian in Toronto. I’d like to thank all of the students for their enthusiasm and support. Thanks for following, commenting and liking.

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

 

Spring Sustained Saturday Watercolour Class – May 7

08/05/2016

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Spring is finally here! It’s almost time for painting ‘en plein air’ and yesterday was the final studio Sustained Saturday class of  the season. It’s been a very long time since I included these wooden objects, with their interesting patterns, in a still-life. They went well with the citrus fruit and gave the arrangement a tropical quality.

I discussed a few different elements with my demonstration, including drawing the oddly-shaped wooden dishes. All of those colour swatches had a purpose, as well. Each group of five vertical swatches shows the main colours of the still-life. The horizontal bars of colour are ideas for creating a harmonious background colour. Which one would you choose?

Watercolour demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs

The students were intrigued by the patterns on the wooden vessels. They spent a lot of time on them and used both positive and negative approaches to solve this interesting painting problem. So, what colours did they choose for their backgrounds? Have a look!

Sustained Saturday Critique

Sustained Saturday Critique

Spring Tuesday Watercolour Class – April 19

20/04/2016

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The Tuesday students work from the same still-life as the Saturday group. Here’s another view of the pile of fishing floats. On Saturday, I used a flat angled brush for the demonstration and I used it again yesterday. Also, my preliminary pencil drawing was limited to broad strokes which established the most basic shapes of the objects. A viewer could not recognize an object from the pencil drawing as it was not carefully refined or descriptive. It was just a few strokes to give a starting point to the brush and the brush did the rest. I focused on individual objects on Tuesday for the demonstration.

Watercolour demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs

The three-hour Tuesday classes are half the length of those on Saturday. In spite of that, the students created some strong work and several completed sheets of studies in addition to a sustained piece. During a class, I hear a lot of deep sighs and muttering. You’d think the paintings were all disasters but, as you can see, the results are quite impressive.

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Spring Sustained Saturday Watercolour Class – April 16

18/04/2016

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On Saturday, I wanted to demonstrate with a flat angled brush and discuss the relationship between drawing and painting. I also wanted to encourage the students to get a little bit out of their comfort zone. With that in mind, I suggested they stand up to paint (most of them sit, as a rule) and try to work more quickly even if meant taking a few risks.

What better still-life than my collection of fishing floats! These floats have seen it all. They’re rough and weather-beaten. The forms are fairly simple; cylinders and cones and spheres. At a glance, the still-life probably looks challenging but these factors actually make them somewhat forgiving.

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I don’t usually do a whole painting for a demonstration. This demo is on an 11 x 15″ (quarter sheet) of Curry’s 200 lb., cold press paper. It’s an absorbent paper. I used my pencil to ‘place’ the basic shapes rather than draw them carefully. I didn’t want to use my brush to just fill in between the pencil lines. This approach allowed my brush to have a strong impact on the look of the painting.

I painted for just under 30 minutes and discussed the steps and my thoughts as I worked. As mentioned, I used a 1″ flat angled brush and I stood while I painted. It’s not a major work of art but it got some ideas across and the students responded with enthusiasm.

The watercolour painters completed at least two pieces on Saturday. Everyone followed my lead and, at the end of the day, felt that they’d benefited from the experience. The look and feel of your watercolour paintings will never change if you always follow the exact same process and use the same tools in the same way. Once in a while, it’s important to leave your comfort zone if you want to develop your work in a new direction or even add new elements to your painting.

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Sustained Saturday Critique

Spring Sustained Saturday Watercolour Class – April 3

03/04/2016

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…of cabbages and things! It was nice to be back at the Arts on Adrian studio yesterday. I must have been hungry when I set up the still life and, by the end of the day, the students had done some delicious paintings.

As you can see on my demonstration sheet, I painted a few studies of some of the vegetables. I also discussed cool and warm whites as white had a large role in our subject. You can barely see the whites on the left side of my sheet.

Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

The students showed a real appetite for the subject matter. The challenge of the whites was met with success and everyone had fun looking at each other’s treatment of the cabbage. We relished some lovely watercolour paintings when we sat down for our critique.

Sustained Saturday Critique

Sustained Saturday Critique