Friday, 20 October 2017

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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.

Pen and Ink Studio at DVSA – Week Seven!

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.

Pen and Ink Studio at DVSA – Week Seven!

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.

Pen and Ink Studio at DVSA – Week Seven!

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!

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Every Thursday afternoon this winter, I meet with my dedicated students at the Dundas Valley School of Art for Pen and Ink Studio. I offer a project every afternoon and the students have also been working on personal drawings which combine pen with wash and watercolour. The students are always curious as to what I’ll bring in and I always try to surprise and challenge them. I don’t know what I’d do without dollar stores and thrift shops!

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Our colourful trumpets were a cheerful subject and quite a few questions arose as we drew them. We discussed ellipses, in particular, as well as a sound planning process. I’d already erased my pencil ‘planning’ lines before I photographed the demonstration shown below but there were a lot of them! The study in the lower right corner is an analysis of light and shadow on the trumpet.

Pen and Ink Studio at DVSA – Week Six!

I started with the pen before adding watercolour to this drawing and I added more penwork after the watercolour had dried. I left a few paper-white highlights, as well.

Pen and Ink Studio at DVSA – Week Six!

The students did very well with the trumpets. One was particularly chuffed although she didn’t want to toot her own horn (she gets credit for the joke).

Pen and Ink Studio Critique

Pen and Ink Studio Critique

Val brought in two drawings that she’s been working on. The upper one is done with stippling and a grey wash. The lower drawing of objects on a beach utilizes a mix of pen techniques with watercolour. Lovely work, Val!

Pen and Watercolour Projects by Val

Pen and Watercolour Projects by Val

 

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Last Thursday afternoon was Pen and Ink Studio time at the Dundas Valley School of Art. I brought in my collection of milkweed pods. Natural forms are a very rewarding subject and the students enjoyed drawing them.

I showed a few different approaches to studying the milkweed. This is a demonstration from a past workshop. I started with a pencil drawing before adding a light wash of a sepia-like brown. When it dried, I added a second darker wash of the same colour. Once again, I waited for it to dry. The pen work was my final step.

Pen and Ink Studio at DVSA – Week Five!

The next study is the one I worked on during the Thursday class. It was developed with local colour and then I explored it with the pen using mostly the technique of cross-hatching.

Pen and Ink Studio at DVSA – Week Five!

Some of the students elected to use colour and others stuck with values of sepia. One of our students devoted the afternoon to her personal project and it’s coming along very nicely. I hope to post some of these projects soon!

Pen and Ink Studio Critique

Pen and Ink Studio Critique

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These old cans and containers have a lot of character and are always a popular subject with the watercolour students. On Saturday, I focused my demonstration primarily on colour and texture.

Watercolour demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs

A Sustained Saturday class is six hours long and it allows the students lots of time to complete thumbnail sketches and small studies before starting a more ambitious piece. This extra effort always pays off!

Sustained Saturday Critique

Sustained Saturday Critique

Tuesday was quite a challenge and I’m not talking about the watercolour painting! Our region experienced an ice storm. I followed the weather report every half hour and decided to run the classes. Amazingly, eleven determined students showed up for the afternoon class. Unfortunately, conditions worsened but four undaunted (maybe crazy) artists turned up for the evening session.

I concentrated on simplification and colour with my demonstration. The small study on the right was done in the evening. I’ve drawn attention to the foregound object by eliminating all paper white in the background with a cool grey wash. When that wash dried, I added shadow shapes of the other objects in a single value. Suggestion versus depiction.

Watercolour demonstration sheet by Barry Coombs

A potentially disastrous day turned into a success!

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

Tuesday Evening Critique

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I dipped into my treasure trove of drawing subjects yesterday and found an entire ancient realm of castles. Albeit, castles with the names of American resorts. They offered a great opportunity to discuss ideas about handling architecture with pen and ink.

Step one of my demonstration shows some a wet-in-wet wash over a pencil drawing. The wet wash was a combination of Raw Sienna and Cobalt blue, mingling in places to create a grey. The red roofs were added after the first wash dried.

Pen and Ink Studio at DVSA – Week Four!

I did a lot of work on the demo with the pen. Note that before I spent time on any details, I tried to establish the main shapes of light and shadow. We didn’t have table lamps available to light our castles, so we all tried to imagine a single light source. I decided upon a light source from the upper right.

Pen and Ink Studio at DVSA – Week Four!

The castles look complicated but they were a lot of fun to draw. The students did very well. We’re still missing a few holidayers but expect them back in the studio at the Dundas Valley School of Art next week.

Pen and Ink Studio Critique

Pen and Ink Studio Critique

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