Archive | May 2017

Toronto Botanical Garden Workshop April 2017

Spring has finally arrived here in Toronto and I am back at the Toronto Botanical Garden (April 22 & 23) for another two-day workshop on botanical drawing using pen & ink and watercolour washes — an interesting mix of mediums for the botanical artist looking for something a little different.

The gardens are bursting into spring blossom with Magnolias and spring bulbs in full show everywhere.

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 Toronto Botanical Garden is located at 777 Lawrence Avenue East at Leslie Street, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Phone: 416-397-1340

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 Workshop

The workshop featured botanical drawing with pen & ink and watercolour washes. Students were given a floral project (Iris) to work on, first developing the drawing using graphite as a monochromatic base, then adding pen & ink over the graphite, and finally adding subtle watercolour washes to finish. The workshop included a mix of experienced botanical artists and absolute beginners, so to keep everyone on track, I used detailed instructional handouts, demonstrations and one-on-one interaction with each student. My Iris drawing was the botanical subject for the two days. 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 the first layer of ink is applied. With the pen & ink layers completed, a kneaded eraser is  used over the drawing to remove any excess graphite. After finishing the pen & ink layers (two to three layers), accurate colour swatches are prepared and the watercolour washes are then applied over the pen & ink drawing. I used Micron (or Staedtler) 005, 01 and 03 ink drawing pens.
Below: Completed project in pen & ink and  watercolour.
Below: Students showing off their completed iris projects.


If you missed it at the TBG, I will be teaching the same two-day workshop on June 19 & 20 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