Archive | August 2017

Guelph School of Art Workshop — August 2017


I was back once more at the Guelph School of Art (Guelph, Ontario) on August 12 & 13 for another botanical drawing workshop. I designed the two-day workshop titled, Brilliant Florals with Coloured Pencils, for the botanical artist looking to further develop their skills using coloured pencil techniques. During the two days we focused on developing two botanical portraits, one an Alstromeria (Peruvian Lily) and the other, a glorious Cattleia orchid. My intention was to convey to students the magnificent and versatile qualities of coloured pencils in botanical art.

Below: Wyndham Art Supplies in Guelph — 125 Wyndham St. N. Everything an artist could possibly need!

The workshop was held at the Necessary Arts Company. (located just behind the Guelph School of Art on Douglas Street) in the basement of the Brownlow/Gummer building at 5 Douglas Street.

Below: Douglas Street, Guelph.

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 (see photos above).

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 on Douglas Street (opposite our workshop location) is conveniently open all day on Sundays.

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.

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

Comfortable sitting areas as well.

The Workshop

Brilliant Florals 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. I used detailed step-by-step instructional handouts, demonstrations and one-on-one interaction with students to complete the botanical portraits. We were also lucky enough to work from live plant material with a few Alstromeria plants on hand.

Below: My completed Alstromeria in coloured pencil.

Alstromeria or Peruvian Lily
Alstromeria, also known as the Peruvian Lily or Lily of the Incas, produces beautiful blooms ranging in colour from white, pink and salmon to bright orange, red and purple. Although the plant is poisonous and also a skin irritant, it is commonly grown for the cut flower market. Alstromeria is a genus of flowering plants in the family Alstroemeriaceae. They are native to South America although some have become naturalized in the United States, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Madeira and the Canary Islands.

Below: Alstromeria flowers.

We spent the first day of the workshop developing the drawing and working both from step-by-step instructional pages and live plant material.

After completing studies of a single Alstromeria leaf and petal, students produced a graphite drawing of the plant followed by a grey monochromatic (one colour) tonal base. The base undertone was rendered with grey coloured pencils prior to adding colour layers.  I used Faber Castell Polychromos coloured pencils throughout the project, although some of the students came with Prismacolor Premier coloured  pencils which were cross-indexed to match the right colours.

Below: Base tone and first colour layers.

Developing the flowers.

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.

Below: Students working from instructional pages.

Below: First layer completed with the second layer started on the lower leaves.

Below: Detail showing the second colour layer on the lower leaves.

Work in progress.

My detailed instructional handouts make it easy to follow through to the completion of the project.

Below: Marina in deep concentration.

Step-by-step details.

Below: Hiding behind her masterpiece!

And again…

Below: On the second day we started the Cattleia orchid project.

Below: On the left, student orchid project in progress next to my finished Cattleia orchid on the right.

I will be teaching this workshop again on October 14 & 15 at the Toronto Botanical Garden (777 Lawrence Ave. E. North York, Toronto).

To register contact Michael Spillane at 905-891-8422


Or: contact the Toronto Botanical Garden at 416-397-1340

Hope to see you all soon!

Michael Spillane