Southampton Art School Workshop — July, 2019

Back again at Southampton Art School & Gallery this July to teach a two-day workshop titled Florals & Landscapes in Watercolour.

Below: Summer Daylilies blooming in the courtyard garden at Southampton Art School.


The town of Southampton is located at the mouth of the Saugeen River on the shores of Lake Huron, in Bruce County (Ontario), and is one of my favourite places to visit during the summer months. It is a popular tourist and retirement destination and known for its magnificent sunsets.

Southampton Art School & Gallery

Southampton Art School and Gallery can be found in the heart of downtown Southampton and a short walk to pristine, sandy beaches. The facility provides a wonderful teaching environment and also a gallery showcasing regional and local talent. The building has been around since 1957 and is an integral part of the art community of Bruce County. The original community was known as Saugeen by the early settlers but was later named Southampton after the English seaport, when the town was incorporated as a village in 1858. It was later incorporated as a town in 1904. Southampton was also  one of the last communities in Ontario to use the Gaelic language in everyday speech; the language could still be heard by local fishermen as late as the 1930s. Just off the Southampton shore, the Chantry Island Lighthouse is a popular visiting spot for tourists. Boat tours to the island run throughout the summer months. As well as Chantry island, the town is close to Sauble Beach, Port Elgin and Saugeen First Nation.

Below: Southampton Art School

Below: The bell tower and clock was built in memory of the young men who enlisted in World War I. The bell still chimes every hour on the hour in Southampton.

The Workshop

Magnificent Florals in Watercolour

This two-day workshop has been designed for the botanical artist looking to paint realistic and vibrant floral portraits in watercolour. Step-by-step handouts take students through the process of botanical painting from setting up the subject to establishing a good composition and then following through to produce the finished painting. Demonstrations, one-on-one interaction with students and detailed instructional pages help to provide a successful model for teaching. The workshop covers the drawing process, composition, how to transfer the drawing and prepare it for painting. colour theory and various watercolour painting techniques. Studies and exercises lead up to the completion of a finished watercolour floral painting.

Above: My watercolour painting, Zinnia elegans, the botanical subject for the workshop.

The drawing is established as a sketchbook study using a series of observational drawing techniques. The finished line drawing is then transferred onto watercolour paper and a neutral grey underpainting (or shading) serves to create a monochromatic three-dimensional painting. Liquid masking fluid is applied to the brightest areas of the flowers and leaves before painting the undertone.

Above: Monochromatic tonal painting

The flowers and leaves are masked and painted with a neutral undertone; the masking is then removed and colour is built up in thin layers as shown below.

Step-by-step instructional handouts provide an efficient method to reproduce the Zinnia floral project.

The neutral tone I used for the underpainting is a mix of cadmium red, cadmium yellow, burnt sienna, ultramarine blue and Payne’s grey. The three primary colours – red, yellow and blue – form a good mix for a neutral undertone and can be modified (depending on the subject) by adding a warmer tone such as burnt sienna (or vermillion), a cooler tone such as cobalt blue or a neutral grey to the mix.

Base colour layers established.

Flowers are formed through layers of yellow, yellow/orange, orange and orange/red.

Above: Deeper colour layers provide dramatic contrast to the painting.

Below: Two student zinnia projects.

Almost there!

We changed direction on the second day of the workshop and moved to a more traditional watercolour style of painting to complete a serene, pastoral landscape – complete with rolling hills, depth of field, pleasing sky, trees and hedgerows and mixed wildflowers.

Above: Establishing the horizon line and sky.

Below: Adding the green base.

Below: Trees added to the scene and foreground flowers masked. The wildflowers are added using white gouache with the edge of a small, bristle fan brush and a small pointed detail brush.

Below: Here is the finished watercolour landscape, complete with rolling hills in the distance and a foreground bursting with clusters of striking umbelliferous Queen Anne’s Lace wildflowers (see, I didn’t completely abandon the botanical theme of the workshop).

High contrast with the foreground wildflowers and deep green hills and trees.

Work in progress.

Below: Completed!

I will be returning back to Southampton Art School for my next workshop, Magnificent Florals with Coloured Pencils on August 26 & 27, 2019.

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






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