Archive | July 2018

Toronto Botanical Garden Workshop — July 2018 — How to Draw Plants & Flowers

Toronto Botanical Garden in July.

Above: Purple Verbena (Verbena bonariensis)

I was back at the Toronto Botanical Garden on July 7 & 8 for another two-day botanical drawing workshop titled, How to Draw Plants & Flowers. 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. The projects for the workshop included a Fuchsia and Cattleya orchid.

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.”

Above: Magnificent Shashta Daisies (Leucanthemum × superbum) and Coneflower (Echinacea). This summer was particularly hot and the gardens were spectacular.

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.

Above: Glorious Canna Lilies (Canna indica) provide a blaze of colour outside the entrance to the TBG building.

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.
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

How to Draw Plants & Flowers

Above: Lecture and teaching rooms at the TBG.

Below: Student, Diana kang shows off her completed drawings.

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, the next step is to produce a simple geometric framework of the plant as a base for developing the drawing. When the sketch is completed over the geometric lines, a final contour drawing completes the process prior to applying graphite tonal values.

Blending stumps and tortillons are used to create smooth transitions in tone.

Below: Fuchsia drawings in progress

The next project on the second day of the workshop featured my Cattleya Orchid (originally completed in coloured pencil).

First the basic geometry of the subject, then the contour or line drawing, followed by tonal rendering in graphite.

With step-by-step instructional pages, demonstrations and individual attention given to each student, developing drawing skills necessary for botanical art becomes relatively easy.

Below: Kneaded eraser used to soften the graphite tone.

Below: Completed Cattleya orchid drawing.

My next workshop, Brilliant Florals with Coloured Pencils is on July 16 & 17, 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