Archive | April 2019

Toronto Botanical Garden Workshop — March, 2019

Springtime in Canada!

My first workshop of 2019 was back at the Toronto Botanical Gardens on March 30 & 31 for another two-day botanical drawing workshop titled, Brilliant Floral Portraits with Coloured Pencils.

As you can see in the photos above and below, the end of March was still clinging to the remnants of winter, although the witch hazel flowers were providing a striking show with their golden blossoms topped with delicate snow caps.

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.”

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: The classrooms and lecture rooms at the Toronto Botanical Garden.

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

Brilliant Floral Portraits with Coloured Pencils.

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

Below: My completed Alstromeria (Peruvian Lily) botanical drawing in coloured pencil on hot-pressed watercolour paper.


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.

Below: Actual flower.

We spent the first day of the workshop developing the drawing and working from step-by-step instructional pages. Students produced a sketch of the plant followed by a grey monochromatic (one colour) tonal drawing. 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 students came with Prismacolor Premier coloured  pencils which were cross-indexed to match the right colours.

Below: Developing colour layers over the grey tonal base.

The workshop covered 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 two botanical portraits.

Below: Work in progress.

Below: Completed project.

Below: On the second day of the workshop we started the Cattleya orchid project.

Cattleya loddigesii

Often called the “Queen of Orchids” or “Corsage Orchid,” Cattleyas are widely known for their large, showy and often fragrant flowers and broad range of vibrant colours. More than a century of hybridizing has led to a multitude of magnificent orchid flower types in all shapes, colours and sizes. Throughout the 1920s through to the 1950s, Cattleyas were popular as fashion accessories, arrangements and corsages. Cattleya orchid flower arrangements were in great demand which prompted growers to grow and hybridize these exotic flowers.

First the monochromatic undertone drawing was produced before adding the first layers of colour.

Developing the colour layers.

Below: finished projects.

My next workshop also titled Brilliant Floral Portaits with Coloured Pencils will be at the Guelph School of Art — 125 Wyndham St N, Guelph, ON — on April 13 & 14.

Check out the GSA website for all course and workshop listings.

Telephone: 519-767-1317
Toll Free: 1-800-560-1970

I will be back at the Toronto Botanical Garden on June 15 & 16  to teach another botanical art workshop: Fundamentals of Botanical Drawing Check out the website for more information.