Southampton Art School Workshop – September 2020

My second workshop of 2020 was at Southampton Art School on September 26 & 27 and titled Florals on a Black Background in Coloured Pencils. We still had strict protocols in place for COVID-19, kept our distance from each other and had our masks at hand.


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 and fall months. It is a popular tourist and retirement destination and known for its magnificent sunsets (see above and below).

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 and Gallery

The Workshop

Florals on a Black Background in Coloured Pencils

This workshop is ideal for the botanical artist looking for something a little different. To that end I have chosen two of my botanical projects for this workshop – hopefully to demonstrate how interesting and dramatic the technique of using coloured pencils on black paper can be. The workshop will include demonstrations, one-on-one interaction, and detailed instructional handouts to guide students through the process from start to finish in completing the two projects. Techniques such as burnishing and layering, along with accurate colour matching, tonal rendering and composition, help students master this rewarding method and medium. 

The two projects are shown below.

Stargazer Lily (Lilium ‘Stargazer’)

Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis)

Below: The sketch drawing was transferred onto Fabriano Black 680 GSM paper, taped down onto a 18 x 14-inch masonite board. I used a sheet of reverse transfer paper to transfer the line drawing onto the paper and then cleaned off most of the white powder with a kneaded eraser.
I then reinforced the line drawing with a white pencil.

Below: A base tone of white was first established over the petals with White Faber-Castell 101 pencil.

The tones are blended smooth with a clean, thick blending stump.

Below: The white pencil base shows up clearly on the black paper.

Right: The first layer of pink is applied over the white and then burnished again with the white pencil to create this soft blended look.

Below: Step-by-step pages help students to accurately learn the techniques and complete the project.

Below: As the colour layers are added the drawing becomes more dramatic and three-dimensional.

Above: Line drawing shown next to the coloured pencil project.

Above right: colour layers being developed through burnishing.

Above and below: Completed projects.

The same process was followed in the second project, the Bleeding Heart perennial. Drawing completed and transferred using reverse transfer paper onto the black paper.

Bleeding Heart
(Lamprocampos spectabilis) (formerly Dicentra spectabilis) is an old-fashioned favourite for the Victorian, shade, woodland or cottage garden. The pink or white heart-shaped flowers (cultivar ‘Alba’) with their white or pink teardrops (referring to the common name) hang on graceful, arching stems with bluish-green, fern-like foliage that provide a striking accent in early spring.

The drawing slowly developing layer by layer.

Nancy with her finished Bleeding Heart project.

This amazing botanical project completed in one day!

For more of my step-by-step botanical drawing and painting projects, check out my new book, Botanical Drawing & Painting, available on and

My next workshop, Magnificent Florals in Coloured Pencils is on Saturday, October 24 at Aurora Cultural Centre in Aurora, Ontario

To register contact Michael Spillane at 905-891-8422


Or call the Aurora Cultural Centre at 905-713-1818

Hope to see you all soon!

Michael Spillane

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