My second botanical art workshop of 2016 was held on April 23 and 24 at the Toronto Botanical Garden and featured botanical drawing with coloured pencils. This was a two-day workshop for the botanical artist looking to further develop their botanical drawing skills. My intention was to teach students how to produce stunning coloured pencil techniques in botanical art equal to that of watercolour painting.
Coloured pencils can be used alone or combined with graphite, are easy to use and convenient to store and replace. During the workshop we covered techniques such as burnishing and layering, along with accurate colour matching, tonal rendering and composition — all relating to botanical art. I used step-by-step floral projects in graphite and coloured pencils with demonstrations, one-on-one interaction with the students and detailed instructional handouts.
About the Toronto Botanical Garden
The Toronto Botanical Garden is located in Toronto’s Edwards Gardens and is a gardening education and information centre. Termed “The little garden with big ideas,” the TBG opened in 1958 and features a superb collection of themed “city-sized gardens.”
Edwards Gardens is a public park, owned and administered by the City of Toronto, whereas The Toronto Botanical Garden is a volunteer-driven charity dedicated to disseminating horticultural and gardening information to the public. Alexander Milne, a Scottish miller, settled his family and built his business on the site that we now know as Edwards Gardens in 1817. The land stayed in the Milne family for over a hundred years. Subsequent owners made some improvements to the property, but the area eventually became over-grown and weed-ridden. In 1944, a Toronto businessman, Rupert Edwards, bought the property to fulfill his dream of creating a magnificent country garden with wide open spaces and plenty of room to move and breath.
Edwards transformed the property into a glorious garden, boasting one of the largest rockeries in Canada, a private 9-hole golf course and a safe haven for wildlife. Ten years later, when the city began to encroach upon the property, Edwards decided to sell. Wanting to preserve the estate as a public park, he sold it to the then Metro (Toronto) Council.
In 1956, Edwards Gardens was opened to the public and the Garden Club of Toronto shared Milne House facilities with The Federation of Ontario Naturalists. The Garden Club wanted to establish a facility which would provide horticultural information to the public and to that end, the Toronto Botanical Garden was established.
The gardens are open year-round from dawn until dusk and admission is free of charge. Check out their website to see what is happening!
The first day of the workshop was spent establishing a botanical project in graphite (in this case an iris), exploring contrast through the grey scale process and using shading to create three-dimensional form (see below).
The second day featured coloured pencil techniques and a step-by-step botanical project. It was a challenge to complete a detailed botanical work like this in one day but that was the goal I had set for the workshop and everyone remained focused and engaged. I went over the initial drawing process and explained how to set up and transfer a line drawing onto good quality paper — in this case hot-pressed watercolour paper.
I chose the Cattleia orchid (shown below) for the step-by-step project of the day.
Cattleia orchid in coloured pencil by Michael Spillane
After transferring the drawing onto the paper the next step (using the undertoning process) was to shift from a line drawing to a tonal rendering with a full range of light and dark values. The tonal drawing, rendered with a warm grey pencil, produced a high contrast, monochromatic (one colour) base ready for the colour layers. Faber Castell Polychromos coloured pencils were used for this project.
Developing the leaves.
Admiring the progress.
A lot can be accomplished in a short time by using a three-part system to teach these botanical projects: 1) demonstrate each step of the project; 2) progress by working from a live plant or step-by-step detailed instructional sheets and 3) give individual attention and guidance to each student.
Judie showing off her orchid (above).
My next workshop, titled The Fundamentals of Botanical Drawing will be on June 8, 9 & 10 at Southampton Art School.
Southampton Arts Centre
Art School & Gallery
201 High Street,
Southampton, Ontario N0H 2L0
Telephone: (519) 797-5068
Toll Free: 1-800-806-8838
Hope to see you there!