Archive | September 2016

Guelph School of Art Workshop — July 2016

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My next botanical art workshop of the year was again at the Guelph School of Art (Guelph, Ontario) on July 9 & 10, and featured a two-day workshop titled, Floral Portraits with Coloured Pencils. This was designed for the botanical artist looking to further develop their overall 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.

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First, though, to repeat a little  history of the town of Guelph

Known as “The Royal City,” (named after British Royal Family monarch, King George the IV), Guelph was founded on April 23, 1827, and officially became a town on January 1, 1856. Guelph was chosen as the name for the town because it was one of the family names of British royalty and had, apparently, never been used as a place name before. Guelph is located in southwestern Ontario, roughly 28 kilometres (17 miles) east of Waterloo and 100 kilometres (62 miles) west of Toronto. The town is consistently rated as one of Canada’s best places to live and it plays a very important role in the history of Remembrance Day as Canadian physician, soldier, teacher and poet John McCrae who wrote the poem “In Flanders Fields” was born in Guelph, Ontario on November 30, 1872.

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Wyndham Art Supplies: A cornucopia of supplies for the artist

Wyndham Art Supplies has been providing the city of Guelph and surrounding area with art supplies for over 20 years. The location is also home to the Guelph School of Art, and also boasts a fantastic picture framing department on the second floor.

Come visit at 125 Wyndham St. N. Guelph, ON.

The Workshop

Floral Portraits with Coloured Pencils

Coloured pencils  can be used alone or combined with graphite. They are easy to use and convenient to store and replace. The workshop covered techniques such as burnishing, blending 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.

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We spent the first day of the workshop establishing a botanical project in graphite (in this case a Cattleia orchid) to explore contrast through the grey scale process with shading used to create three-dimensional form (see below).

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Finished orchid in graphite.

The tonal drawing was rendered with a warm grey pencil and produced a high contrast, monochromatic (one colour) base ready for the colour layers. Faber Castell Polychromos coloured pencils were used for the orchid project and Prismacolor Premier coloured pencils for the apple.

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The workshop included a Cattleia orchid and an apple project.

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Prismacolor Premier Coloured Pencils

These are professional-quality, wax-based coloured pencils originated by Berol in 1938 and later manufactured by a company called Sandford in Illinois. They have been around for a long time and are still one of my preferences for botanical work. They come in a range of 132 colours and can be purchased individually or in boxed sets. There is a good general starter set available with twelve pencils. Wax-based pencils tend to be softer than oil-based ones which make them ideal for blending gradations to a smooth finish. Due to their softness, however, they often break easily and it is difficult to maintain a sharp point. Wax-based pencils can be used individually or in combination with oil-based brands such as Faber-Castell Polychromos, which do maintain a sharp point.

Prismacolor Verithin coloured pencils have harder cores than Prismacolor Premier pencils, making them more suitable for detail work. They also blend well and maintain a fine sharpened point. The hexagonal wood pencils are color-coded for easy identification and can be purchased individually or in sets of up to 36 colours.

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Faber-Castell Polychromos Coloured Pencils
The renowned German company, Faber-Castell, is the oldest pencil manufacturer in the world and its Polychromos line of oil-based coloured pencils has been around since 1908. Polychromos (meaning many colours) pencils come in a range of 120 colours and have excellent lightfast pigments that blend well and maintain a sharp point without breaking

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Absolutely stunning student project.

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Group display.

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A few comments from the students:

  • I learned a lot and would like to take another course with this instructor.
  • Great project with lots of step-by-step instructions.
  • Excellent instructor.
  • Michael is a great art teacher for all levels.
  • Great artist, very helpful.
  • Can’t wait to do another workshop with him.
  • Much individual help. Instructor met each student where they were at artistically in regard to the projects.
  • Pleasant and supportive manner with many handouts and step-by-step instructions.

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My next workshop, titled Botanicals with Coloured Pencils will be on July 16 & 17 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!


Michael Spillane