Thursday, July 2, 2015

Riverdale Farm

I spent the day at the awesome Riverdale Farm here in Toronto.
I painted this with a small watercolour kit that was once an eyeshadow case. : )
I also used the popular waterhandle brush which, just like it sounds, holds water in it's plastic handle.
This is a wonderful quaint pizza oven outside the historical Simpson House. There are tons of subjects to paint at the Farm, which was once the original Toronto Zoo. They have horses, cows, chickens, goats, and rams. Also, a wonderful duck pond and a huge natural pond full of beautiful birds.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

St Mark's Coptic Cathedral

Happy Canada Day! People always say Canada is a multi-cultural country. Yes! It's so true. We have different religions and so, different churches as well. We have found this Egyptian church. The architecture is simple but solemn. I really want to visit the interior as well. The height of the church is 29.7 metres with the capacity of 1,800 people.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Richard L Hearn Generating Station

The station was built in 1951 and decommissioned in 1983 after 30 years operation. It is Toronto’s largest and most remarkable heritage building. It is a late-deco behemoth in red brick with translucent windows; its 70-storey smokestack remains one of the 10 tallest structures in Canada. In the 70s, the plant was converted to burn the natural gas for generating electricity till early 80s. This reduced pollution and efficiency but increased operating costs. The power production then stopped in 1983. The plant is now abandoned and sometimes was used in a number of movies for production.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Another Rainy Saturday

I couldn't sketch outdoor today because of this rain. It kept raining and raining, the forecast said it would be raining till tomorrow. So I only could did it inside the car. Some folks sat under the canopy of the café for chatting and enjoying the chilly rainy Saturday afternoon. I enjoyed watching and sketching them, listening the sound by the rain hitting the car and a cup of coffee. Where is Mr. Sun?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Sketching Toronto's Disappearing Landmarks : McLaughlin Planetarium

This summer, the Toronto Urban Sketchers are working on a special project, sketching some of the disappearing landmarks in the city to create an illustrated book that will commemorate their place in the history of the city, before they are demolished. Amongst the many endangered historical buildings in the city is the McLaughlin Planetarium.

Located right next to the Royal Ontario Museum, the planetarium opened its doors to the public, in 1968.  It stayed in operation for 41 years until it was sold to the University of Toronto in 2009. The planetarium has since been closed and sadly the University of Toronto plans to demolish it to build a new site. A couple of us met on site to sketch the building before it disappears. We were fortunate to have a beautiful day during the sketching session, and we produced quite a few rendition of the building and its surroundings, as you can see below. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Sketching at IKEA

Just before the weather started to get a little nicer, a couple weeks ago, the group met at IKEA to sketch inside the store. I got this idea from Nina Johanson, over in Sweden, and thought it would be a great indoor spot for the group, and it was!

The store is full of interesting and colourful subjects to sketch and has tons of comfortable spot to sketch from. Looking for the sketchers during our session was a bit like playing "Where's Waldo".

Below are the resulting sketches for the day. Everyone did a great job, as always. And a couple of us stayed to eat IKEA's famous meatballs. Overall it was a great outing and definitely a keeper for cold winter days. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Urban Sketching at University of Toronto campus

While wandering through the University of Toronto campus, this little lane jumped out at me as an interesting subject.
Cherry Trees are in season right now, so I quickly spotted this one, along with the bicycle with a basket, the birch trees and the lane. As I sat down to draw it, I realized there was too much going on, especially since I like to add people to my urban sketches as well. So, I figured since I didn't see the birch trees at first and they weren't what really interested me, they would have to go.

I decided to make the white tree pink, as many of the Cherry Trees are. A lot of students were walking by so I added a few, one with a knapsack.
There are some warm red flowers at the base of the tree that I used to contrast the hot pink (Opera Pink) I used for the tree. 
Here's my paintbox with my Cotman Travel Watercolour Kit (squeezed my own tube watercolours into it), my favourite Micron Graphic pen, brush and a 5x7" watercolour pad that fits into the lid. The water cup and rag are attached to the side with a bulldog clip.
Thanks and Happy Painting Everyone!
Nora MacPhail
See My Blog - with a link to my YouTube painting videos.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Urban Sketchers Symposium - Singapore 2015

Little note from the organizers of the upcoming urban sketchers symposium. 

Urban Sketchers Symposium - Singapore 2015 

Registration is still open for the International Urban Sketchers Symposium in Singapore July 22-25
Join the amazing faculty for top-notch programming open to sketchers of all levels, experience, and backgrounds!
Workshop passes and Sketching passes are still available – standard registration is open through May 31.

For more information about the Symposium including schedule and registration information, please visit

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Sketching at 401 Richmond

401 Richmond is a restored heritage building right in the city and home to several artists, cultural producers, microentreprises, galleries, festivals and shops. Fortunately it's also open to the public, so a couple of us sketchers recently met there to sketch the many beautiful and eclectic vignettes throughout the building. We had a great turnout of over 20 sketchers, each capturing beautiful details of the building through their sketches. If you're in the area, it's a great place to visit. 

Check out some of the sketches below and head over to our facebook page for more. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

a Sunday in April

Today I did an urban sketch of 850 Yonge Street in Yorkville, Toronto. The building was the well known 'the cookbook store' for over 30 years. Sadly, this lovely old building is soon to be a condo. 
In 1885, the building was owned by Charles J. Frogley who ran it as a confectionery and bakery. His name still appears up top! Here is a LINK with some info about the building. 
Also, here is a pic of my sketch box (about the size of a lunchbox) which holds my travel watercolour kit and up to 8x10" watercolour paper. The lid remains propped up as it balances on a table or my lap. I was sitting in the cafe across the street. : )
Thanks and Happy Urban Sketching Everyone.