Archive | May 2018

Aurora Cultural Centre — April 2018

This was my first visit to the Aurora Cultural Centre in Aurora, Ontario, to teach a one day workshop on botanical drawing. Mid April and finally the sun is starting to shine, although as you can see in the photo below, still a sprinkling of snow on the ground.

The Town of Aurora

The town of Aurora is located approximately 40 minutes north of Toronto and is consistently ranked as one of the top places to live in Canada. With its picturesque rolling hills and heavily treed woodlots, Aurora has managed to blend its small-town charm and historic downtown core with a thriving urban and suburban centre. Aurora is the childhood home of Lester B. Pearson, Prime Minister of Canada from 1963 to 1968. In 1851 the population of Aurora, then known as Machell’s Corners (after a local merchant), was 100 residents. In 1854 the name of the settlement was changed by postmaster Charles Doan to Aurora – meaning goddess of the dawn in Roman mythology. The settlement was incorporated as a village in 1863 with a growing business community, several factories and mills, five churches and a school house. By 1869 the population had grown to 1200 and in 1888 Aurora became a town. On April 8, 2010, the town re-opened the historic and fully renovated Church Street School as the Aurora Cultural Centre.

Aurora Cultural Centre

It is the vision of the Aurora Cultural Centre to provide a facility that enhances cultural life in the area through the fostering of art practice and presentation, production and reception. Since 2010, the centre has welcomed the community to participate in diverse creative experiences for all ages. Located in a beautifully-restored 1886 schoolhouse, the Aurora Cultural Centre is a charming historical treasure featuring four gallery exhibition spaces, a range of instructional classes for children, teens and adults, an eclectic live music series, special family events, summer arts camps, and stunning rental spaces for community activities and partnership participation. The centre is a registered charity, funded in part by the town of Aurora. The professional staff is supported by a dedicated volunteer board of directors and enthusiastic team of volunteers. The building is wheelchair accessible, air-conditioned with parking surrounding the building.

The Aurora Cultural Centre is located at 22 Church Street, Aurora.

Phone: (905) 713-1818
Check out the website to see what is happening!

The Workshop

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.

Developing the fuchsia sketch to create a realistic three-dimensional drawing.

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 a range of graphite tonal values.
Below: Students at work.
By following my step-by-step instructional pages, each student easily reproduced the technique of tonal rendering with graphite.


If you could only take one art class in your life, Michael Spillane’s class will give you the greatest return on your investment. A brilliant and generous teacher delivering invaluable fine art methodologies with humour and inspiration. I improved noticeably after just one class — Ann Jovanovic

Just a note to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the class yesterday and learned a great deal.  I have endorsed you in the survey sent out by the Aurora Cultural Centre!  I also told them that I would like to have you come back to teach any of your artistic skills. Your mini drawing lesson and remarks about drawing an object as an object  rather than always thinking about the final result was valuable. Struggling (as usual) with painting (w/c) water this week I overheard your recommendation about turning the paper and painting it as you would a tree trunk, great advice which I am about to try. Thanks too for the laughs we all had — Jennifer Wingate

My next workshop titled How to Draw Plants & Flowers is on May 26 & 27, 2018, at: Southampton Arts Centre

Art School & Gallery

201 High Street, Southampton, Ontario
Telephone: (519) 797-5068
Toll Free: 1-800-806-8838

Hope to see you there!

Michael Spillane