Archive | March 2018

Clarkson Society of Artists Workshop — February, 2018

My first workshop of 2018 was for the Clarkson Society of Artists and held over two days at Christ Church United church in Mississauga, Ontario. Clarkson Society of Artists started way back in 1963 and, with a membership of approximately 38 local artists, is one of Mississauga’s oldest art groups. The artists get together weekly on Wednesdays at Christ Church United church on Mazo Crescent in Mississauga, from September until the end of April and have an annual members show at Visual Arts Mississauga (VAM) in April. They show their creativity in a number of mediums including Oil, acrylic, watercolour, pastel and multi-media. Workshops are put on every 2-3 weeks with paint days in between.

My two-day workshop was titled Florals with Coloured Pencils and featured Alstromeria and Cattleia Orchid botanical projects.

Clarkson Village

The Strawberry Capital of Ontario

Strawberry — Oil on Canvas — By Michael Spillane

Once a rural village within the Township of Toronto (now the City of Mississauga), Clarkson Village (Clarkson) is a neighborhood locale in the city of Mississauga, Ontario. Situated along the shore of Lake Ontario, Clarkson is bordered by Lake Ontario to the south, Oakville to the west, Erindale  and Erin Mills to the north, and Lorne Park to the east. Clarkson and the surrounding area consist mostly of a mix of Suburban homes, along with some of the last major industrial sites in Mississauga. Places of Interest in Clarkson include The historic Bradley Museum and Benares House. The Bradley Museum provides a window into the everyday life of early Ontario settlers, and hosts Sunday teas, exhibits, and special events. The museum grounds include the original farmhouse built in 1830 by Lewis and Elizabeth Bradley, a United Loyalist couple who lived in the house with their seven children. Benares House features an interpretive gallery and hosts special events.

In addition to discovering these historic sites in Clarkson, visitors may also explore Rattray Marsh. This protected and ecologically sensitive wetland is the last remaining lakefront marsh between Burlington, Ontario and Toronto, and provides a tranquil place to explore nature with opportunities for bird watching and walking the nature trails throughout the marsh. Witness abundant displays of Ontario’s provincial flower, White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) in late April and early May. Originally the marsh provided a suitable habitat for majestic White Pines and a source for masts for the British Navy. At that time the land was called Oliphant Swamp. Major Rattray bought the property in 1945 from H.H. Fudger. After Rattray’s death in 1959, local citizen groups convinced the City of Mississauga to purchase the property.

In 1808, fifteen-year-old Warren Clarkson and his brother Joshua left their home in Albany, New York to seek their fortune in Canada. As the years went by Warren bought more and more land. He built the community’s first store along the stage coach trail which was later re-named Clarkson Road. In 1855, the Great Western Railway arrived. A train station was on part of Warren Clarkson’s property and given the name of “Clarkson’s,” later shortened to “Clarkson.”

In 1856, Captain Edward Sutherland (1794-1885), a widower, moved to Clarkson with his seven children. He purchased “Bush’s Inn,” a former inn and coach house and is said to have introduced both strawberry and raspberry cultivation to the area. Clarkson eventually became the “Strawberry Capital of Ontario,” and commercial fruit farming expanded in the area through the rest of the 19th and into the early 20th century. In 1915, a sign was erected at the Clarkson railway station declaring “Through this station passes more strawberries than any other station in Ontario.”

From 1924 to 1928, iconic Canadian writer Mazo de la Roche (1879-1961) was a summer neighbour of the Harrises of Benares, living nearby in “Trail Cottage.” She was a talented woman whose life was shrouded in many mysteries and contradictions. It was in Clarkson in 1927 she wrote her best-selling novel Jalna, the first of 16 novels about the fictional Whiteoaks family. Her books have sold over 10 million copies in more than 100 languages.

The Workshop

Florals with Coloured Pencils

Coloured pencils are easy to use and convenient to store and replace. They can be used alone or combined with graphite.

We spent the first day of the workshop developing the Cattleia orchid, working from step-by-step instructional pages. Members first produced 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 artists came with Prismacolor Premier coloured  pencils which were cross-indexed to match the right colours.

The workshop covered coloured pencil 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 (see below).

Cattleia orchid in progress.

Below: Accurate line drawing and colour matching.

Below: Silvia Damar Radvansky showing off her orchid in coloured pencil.

Our next project for the second day of the workshop featured an Alstromeria plant.

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.

Let’s look at the Alstromeria drawing: A line drawing is completed with detailed instructional handouts to make it easy to follow through to the completion of the project.

Below: Monochromatic undertone.

Below: First layer of colour using Faber Castell Polychromos coloured pencils. The base green colour was May Green FC 170

Below: Barb Clarke deep in concentration.

Below: Sarah Root holding up her Alstromeria project.

Below: Sandy Greer admiring her work.

My next workshop — Floral Portraits with Coloured Pencils — will be held at Guelph School of Art on March 24 & 25, 2018.

125 Wyndham St N, Guelph, ON

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 all soon!

Michael Spillane