Archive | August 2019

Toronto Botanical Garden Workshop — June 2019

I was back at the Toronto Botanical Garden on June 15 & 16 for another two-day botanical drawing workshop titled The Fundamentals 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. The projects for the workshop included a Fuchsia and Daffodils .

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

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: Krinkled White Peony (Paeonia lactiflora) features large slightly fragrant blossoms with white paper-like, crinkled petals and and a central burst of golden stamens.

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.

Above: Perhaps the tallest of the ornamental onions, Allium giganteum has a striking globe of tiny star-shaped lilac-purple flowers. 

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.

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!

Allium giganteum

Above: Golden yellow Flag Iris (Iris pseudacorus)

The Workshop

The Fundamentals of Botanical 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, 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.

Many layers in graphite create a high contrast drawing.

Light H (hard) graphite pencils form the initial tonal base.

Below: First the basic geometry of the subject is established, 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.

Student project shown next to a copy of my completed fuchsia drawing.

Below: Completed student drawing.

Below: Blending stumps and/or tortillons and a kneaded eraser work hand in hand with the H and B graphite pencils.

Below: Completed fuchsia drawing.

The next project on the second day of the workshop featured Daffodils, completed using a hatching technique in graphite.

Hatching is a technique often used in graphite or pen and ink drawings to produce tone and texture in a range of values by applying small hatch lines or strokes sloping in the same direction. Darker values are built up by closing the gaps between the hatch lines to produce more density in the hatching. Cross-hatching is also used where the lines are crisscrossed over each other to create a different range of darker values.

The sketch is transferred onto illustration board and the first layers of hatched lines are established.

Below: Shows the development of the drawing.

Step-by-step project pages help to create an accurate drawing.

Below: Daffodils and Fuchsia on a 20 x 15 inch #79 Peterboro Illustration board.

Working on detail.

Below: The layers of hatch lines are starting to show contrasting values and three-dimensional form.

Below: Daffodils and fuchsia drawings.

Below: Starting my Kordana Rose drawing.

Detail of the rose flower in graphite.

My completed rose project in graphite.

My next workshop, Flowers & Landscapes in Watercolour is on July 22 & 23 at Southampton 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