Architectural Drawing in Pen and Ink

I have a new workshop coming up in several locations in Ontario showcasing my techniques in architectural drawing using pen and ink. The workshop is suitable to anyone interested in developing fundamental drawing skills that relate to the specialized field of architectural rendering. Elements of design will be covered, along with plan, elevation and perspective drawing. I will also cover various techniques that I use to develop high contrast pen and ink drawings (see the example below).

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage By Michael Spillane — Pen & Ink on Illustration Board — 30 x 20 inches

Anne Hathaway's Cottage

Architectural Drawing in Pen & Ink

On March 22 & 29, 2014, I will be teaching this two-day workshop at the Guelph School of Art  (125 Wyndham Street North, in downtown Guelph, Ontario). For more information visit my website at or contact

Every work of art has a story to tell and my pen and ink drawing of Anne Hathaway’s Cottage in England is no exception. Several years ago on a travel writing trip to England, I decided to visit the picturesque Shakespearean gardens in the historic town of Stratford-upon-Avon. The fairytale thatched cottage of Anne Hathaway became the inspiration for my painstakingly detailed drawing on illustration board. Every stipple, every dot, dash and hatch line represented my own Zen moment in being “present,” and allowing the creative process to do its thing without concerning myself with the end result.

The following is an article I wrote on the Shakesperean properties in Stratford-upon-Avon. The drawing in pen and ink came after the trip and was based on reference photos I took to accompany the story. After initially sketching a few views of the cottage, I completed a finished graphite drawing of Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and transferred it onto #79 cold-press illustration board (a good surface for pen and ink drawing). The completed work is 30 x 20 inches and took about 40 hours to complete in total (although I finished it over a period of time). For anyone interested in purchasing a copy of the drawing, high quality prints are available (price depending on the size of the print). The original drawing now belongs to Dale and Caroline Milton from Mississauga, Ontario.

The Shakespearean Properties of  Stratford-upon-Avon in England

Set amongst the rolling hills of Warwickshire (under 90 minutes by car from London) – with its winding rivers, peaceful country walks, thatched and timbered cottages, quaint stone villages and Elizabethan gardens – the historic market town of Stratford-upon-Avon is internationally famous as the birthplace of the world’s greatest playwright, William Shakespeare, and as the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
The five Shakespearean properties, in and around Stratford, provide a direct link to the past when the English cottage garden was a glorious haven of beauty and tranquility.
On my visit to Stratford-upon-Avon, I decided to stay away from the bustle of the town in preference for the quiet of Wimcote village 5.5 km (3.5 miles) north west of Stratford, and home to Mary Arden’s House, one of the five historic sites.

Mary Ardens House, believed to be the home of Shakespeare’s mother before she married John Shakespeare and moved to Stratford, is a timbered Tudor farmhouse built in the early 16th century. The house frontage and tiled roof with picturesque dormer windows, is enclosed by a low stone wall and the front garden, with undulating mounds of clipped box hedging, shrubs, roses, perennials and herbs, sets the building off perfectly.
Behind the house, many of the original outbuildings, still intact, are used as part of a museum of farming and country life. Flower borders, peaceful country walks, picnic areas, a stone dovecote, duck pond and colourful gypsy caravans add an authentic touch to the feel of the place. A working blacksmith is usually on site and there are plenty of farm animals on display.

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage
Perhaps the quintessential of all English cottages, Anne Hathaway’s House, (2.5 km/1.5 miles from Stratford) is known the world over. Purchased by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in 1892, the ‘cottage’ was originally a 12-roomed farmhouse home to the prominent Hathaway family and later to Anne Hathaway before her marriage to Shakespeare.
Fringed with clipped box hedges and a variety of shrubs, the garden exemplifies country living at its best. Old-fashioned perennials, herbs and roses compliment the picture-postcard thatched and timbered cottage, part of which dates from the 15th century. As it was early summer at the time of my visit, brilliant, orange Oriental poppies, white spirea and golden sprays of laburnum contrasted with the deep sea of greenery. As the seasons change, the garden provides an ever-changing palette of colour.

Shakespeare’s Birthplace
Located on Henley Street, in the town of Stratford, the half-timbered building is typical of the type found in Elizabethan times. It has been a place of pilgrimage now for over 250 years, attracting over a half a million visitors a year. Shakespeare was born here in 1564 and spent most of his early years here before marrying Anne Hathaway in 1582.
The house is approached through the Visitors’ Centre where an exhibition, William Shakespeare: His Life and Background, leads through the garden and into the house. The garden is a peaceful sanctuary overflowing with old-fashioned flowers and herbs such as thyme, chamomile, fennel, mint, marjoram and lavender.

Hall’s Croft
On 26 May 1583, Shakespeare’s daughter, Susanna, was born, followed two years later by twins Hamnet and Judith. The house, situated near Holy Trinity Church in Stratford, where Shakespeare is buried, is named after Dr. John Hall, the poet’s son-in-law. He married Susanna in 1607 and they lived in the house until moving to New Place after Shakespeare’s death. The Tudor building has a beautiful walled garden and tea room/restaurant.

New Place / Nash’s House
Magnificent gardens including an excellent example of an Elizabethan-style knot garden mark the site and foundation of the last of the Shakespearean properties. The house was one of the largest houses in Stratford in Shakespeare’s day. The Great Garden, as it is called, comprises a manicured lawn with an impressive beech and an old mulberry tree said to have been grown from a cutting by Shakespeare himself. Cottage-garden perennials provide a blaze of colour in amongst dark-green yew hedge compartments.
After a busy and successful working career in London, in 1597, Shakespeare returned to Stratford and purchased New Place. He lived here with his family up until his death at 52 on St. George’s Day, 23 April 1616.
The building was demolished in the 18th century but the site and grounds remain as a prominent memorial to the legendary playwright. Nash’s House, which belonged to Thomas Nash, the first husband of Shakespeare’s grand-daughter,

Elizabeth Hall, leads into the garden of New Place and has on display many fine examples of Tudor furnishings of Shakespeare’s time.
Besides its historic and literary importance, Stratford-upon-Avon and the surrounding Warwickshire countryside is an area of unparalleled beauty and a haven for gardeners, nature lovers and historians alike. A garden tour of England would not be complete without visiting these famous sites. The five Shakespearean properties represent a piece of history and will fulfill any visitors’ expectations as to what constitutes a true English country garden.

One thought on “Architectural Drawing in Pen and Ink

  1. Pingback: STRATFORD UPON AVON | Explore the world

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