Archive | December 2018

The Brush and Palette Club (London) Workshop — November 2018

I was visiting London, Ontario, to teach a one-day botanical drawing workshop (Floral Portraits with Pen & Ink and Watercolour) for the London-based, Brush and Palette Club. The last time I was here to teach a workshop was in 2014, and the the weather was less than accommodating (see below).

Thankfully, this time (above), there was only a sprinkling of the white stuff, the road conditions were perfect for driving and the day presented a sunny blue sky and picture-postcard scenery.

Above and below: The workshop was held at  Riverside United Church on Riverside Drive in London.

The Brush and Palette Club is a not-for-profit organization, now in its 46nd year. The club is dedicated to providing a supportive arts and social environment for its members to learn, grow, interact with each other and share ideas. The club started when artist and teacher, Dorothy Heaven started painting classes for a small group of interested women. When the sessions ended, the remaining group members formed The Brush and Palette Club. At first the group met in the home of Wyn Slemon — who continues to be a very active member of the group. By 1989, the original group had grown to 50 and the need for more space brought them to St. Aiden’s Church Hall and then to Riverside United Church. The membership has grown to over 110 members with a substantial waiting list.

Check out the website.

Above: Early morning light in a spacious, inviting room at the church.

Below: A selection of my botanical works.

The Workshop

The workshop brought together a group of talented artists interested in learning more about using pen & ink and watercolour in botanical art.

The project for the day was my drawing of a group of poppies, completed first in pen & ink as shown below.

Below: Working from her own poppy reference photo, Helen Bruzas, an experienced artist and teacher in her own right, first establishes a light base undertone in graphite.

Below: Members of The London Brush & Palette Club.

It was quite a challenge to complete a detailed botanical project in one session but that was the goal I had set for the workshop and everyone remained focused and engaged throughout the day. We had a large group of 26 participants and got started early. My idea was to complete various sections of the poppies at each stage so that if we ran out of time, the artists would have the information on hand to complete the project at their own pace at home. I began by going over the initial drawing process and then discussed how to set up and transfer a line drawing onto a good quality surface — in this case Peterboro #79 cold-pressed illustration board.

Above and below: Once the graphite layer is completed the work begins, applying the first and second layers of ink. Detailed instructional pages are provided to ensure success in the process. The graphite tonal base provides a framework on where to apply the ink.

The graphite undertone base has been established and two pen & ink layers are added. Once the pen & ink rendering is completed the graphite is erased.

Pens used in the project were Micron 005, 01 and 03.

Below: The next step in the process is to add subtle watercolour washes (time permitting) to compliment but not overpower the delcate pen & ink work in the drawing.

A combination of delicate hatch lines and stippling with dots adds dramatic contrast to the drawing.

Below: Poppies completed in pen & ink on illustration board.

Below: Transparent washes added over the pen & ink drawing.

A few kind words from Brush & Palette Club member, Jacqueline Kinsey and her two finished projects below: Poppies and Iris

“Absolutely fantastic step-by-step teaching methods! Michael’s teaching allows for different levels of artists, from beginners to professional, to acquire a new method of drawing and painting in ink and watercolour. I feel that he gave everyone their share of attention throughout the workshop.”

This is my last workshop for 2018. Winter is setting in and it is time to hibernate and catch up on some new projects for next year. I hope also that my book on botanical art will be finished and ready for publication in 2019 (see cover below).

My next workshop will be on March 30 & 31, 2019, 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