Archive | November 2016

Guelph School of Art Workshop — October 2016


I was back once more at the Guelph School of Art (Guelph, Ontario) on October 23  & 30 for my last botanical art workshop of the year. The two-day workshop was on botanical drawing using pen & ink and watercolour washes — an interesting mix of mediums for the botanical artist looking for something a little different.


Although put on by the Guelph School of Art we had a different location to use just behind the school on Douglas Street.

Housed in the basement of the Brownlow/Gummer building at 5 Douglas Street, Guelph, is the Necessary Arts Company.

Necessary Arts

Founded on December 1, 2012, Necessary Arts Company is a space dedicated to teaching arts and crafts and supporting local artists. The studio is fully accessible and child friendly with work spaces available, a large cutting table, home and industrial sewing machines, a knitting machine, data projector, free wi-fi, 24/7 access, design and art library, studio supplies, printer and copier — plus some giant white walls and lots of floor space.


Even the floors are painted with inspirational messages!


The original Brownlow/Gummer building was constructed c. 1870 with the top floor and additions added in the late 1890’s to early 1900’s. The building is built of locally quarried limestone and the façade at 1–7 Douglas Street is an excellent surviving example of 19th century stone commercial architecture.

The property was first purchased by Jonas Ely from the Canada Company in 1843. William Brownlow, a carpenter owned the property in 1872 giving it its early reference name as the Brownlow Block. In 1905 Gertrude Gummer owned the building jointly with the Day family. Bertrum Gummer took on full ownership by 1912 and operated the Gummer Press, publishers of the Guelph Herald. Over the years the building has been used by barristers, insurance agents, retailers and artisans.


Below: The Red Brick Cafe, opposite our workshop location, is open all day on Sundays. Perfect!


Below: Always something interesting to see in downtown Guelph. A nice, shiny Volkswagen Beetle parked outside the Red Brick Cafe on Douglas Street.


Below: Necessary Arts co-op studio with 1,300 square feet of creative space available for artists, designers and writers.


Below: Comfortable sitting areas.



The Workshop
This workshop was on botanical drawing using pen & ink and watercolour washes. Students worked on floral projects first using graphite, then pen & ink and finally applying subtle watercolour washes. I included demonstrations, one-on-one interaction with students and detailed instructional handouts, so that everyone could benefit and get the most out of the learning experience. My Iris and Poppy drawings were the botanical subjects for the workshop.  We started with a line drawing then progressed to a fully rendered tonal drawing in graphite before adding the ink layers (see below).

Once the graphite undertone is established (see above), the first layer of ink is applied (see below). With the pen & ink layers completed, a kneaded eraser can be used over the drawing to remove any excess graphite. After finishing the pen & ink layers (two to three layers), colour swatches are prepared and the watercolour washes are applied over the pen & ink drawing. I used Micron (or Staedtler) 005, 01 and 03 ink drawing pens.


Work in progress.


Above: Iris in pen & ink.

Below: Student, Christine Knarr applying pen & ink to her Poppy.


Below: Student Poppy projects completed in pen & ink. Left: Christine Knarr. Right: Marina Henriquez.


Below: Iris in pen & ink (4 student projects). All very different but rendered perfectly in pen & ink.



Now to apply the subtle watercolour washes over the pen & ink drawing.



Above: Students Christine Knarr (left) and Wendy Shearer showing off their completed Iris projects.

Below: Suzanne Hase showing her Iris project.


Below: Two more finished projects in watercolour and pen & ink.


Spray painted on the floor of the studio… could be true?


Check out the GSA website for all course and workshop listings.

Telephone: 519-767-1317
Toll Free: 1-800-560-1970

Hope to see you next March!

Michael Spillane

Michael 2 B&W