Archive | December 2017

Elora Centre for the Arts — Botanical Art Workshop — October 2017

My last workshop of the year (October 28 & 29) was at The Elora Centre for the Arts in beautiful Elora, Ontario. It was Halloween time and the town was brimming with paranormal activity! Elora’s Monster March Parade is proof they take Halloween very seriously here in this town with hundreds marching in the annual Parade.

Below: HE wasn’t marching too far, however!

These scary dudes were a feature at the Flying Leap bed & breakfast where I stayed during my time in Elora.

The Town of Elora

Elora is a quaint little town in Wellington County (Ontario) with many of its original limestone buildings dating from the 1800′s. The town was settled mainly by Scottish pioneers who left their mark on many of the finely crafted limestone buildings. Captain William Gilkison, a sailor and land speculator from Ayrshire, Scotland, founded the town in 1832. Originally named Irvine Settlement, the town was renamed Elora in 1839.  It has maintained its old world charm, suitably contrasting with the natural beauty of the surrounding area — in particular the spectacular Elora Gorge and its 80 foot limestone cliffs descending into the Grand and Irvine Rivers. The town is a dream destination for artisans and tourists alike, with an abundance of galleries, live music venues, arts and crafts boutiques and restaurants.

Beautiful fall colours and pumpkins galore!

Elora Centre for the Arts

The Elora Centre for the Arts is a dedicated heritage building and charming, historical treasure. The building has been serving the community for more than 160 years and is located in a restored, three-story limestone school house consisting of 10 large classrooms converted to provide over 10,000 square feet of dedicated studio, gallery, and performance space. It is the vision of the ECFTA to “provide a facility that enhances cultural life in the region through the fostering of art practice and presentation, production and reception.”

Elora Centre for the Arts is located at 75 Melville St, Elora

Phone: 519-846-9698
Check out their website to see what is happening!

The Workshop

Below: Classroom set up on the first morning and ready to go.

The Art of Botanical Drawing

The workshop featured graphite as a drawing medium in botanical art. Students were given step-by-step instructions along with exercises on gesture, contour drawing and blending techniques to produce realistic botanical drawings.
Above: Busy at work.
After completing a few exercise to get warmed up we started with the first project — drawing a Fuchsia in graphite (see below).
The drawing process  starts with a series of gesture sketches and exercises to establish a good composition. Once the basic composition of the subject has been decided on, the next step is to produce a simple geometric framework of the plant to help develop the drawing. When the sketch is completed a final contour drawing completes the process prior to applying graphite tonal values.
Below: Student drawing shown next to my Fuchsia drawing handout.
Drawing complete — Fuchsia “Dancing Ballerina”
The next project on the second day of the workshop featured my Cattleia Orchid (originally completed in coloured pencil).
Below: Contour drawing of the orchid at the sketch stage.
Below: Layer by layer graphite is blended to create a high contrast, monochromatic drawing.
Drawing in progress.
Coffee time…
… needed to get to the finish!
Below: Samples of the completed graphite projects for the weekend.

My next workshop titled Florals in Coloured Pencils is on February 7 & 21, 2018 in Clarkson, Mississauga  (for the Clarkson Society of Artists).

Contact Michael Spillane at 905-891-8422 for more information.


Hope to see you all soon and happy holidays!

Michael Spillane