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.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Canada Blooms

It's always challenging to find interesting places for the group to sketch in the winter in Toronto, fortunately there's a lot of things to do in the city in the winter and one of them is to check out Canada Blooms, an annual flower and garden festival. It's a great way to shake off the winter blues and start experiencing Spring time. Despite the cold temperature, a couple of us headed over to the Direct Energy Centre to sketch some of the floral arrangements, an full scale landscape design displays. It was very impressive, especially the one with a tree house perched a couple feet above ground and completed with a commercial spiral slide. It must have been quite a bit a work to put all of this together. The aroma of the flowers were very enticing. It definitely felt like spring in the building. There was plenty of great colourful subjects to sketch, and we had a great time.

The Gardiner Museum

Earlier this month we visited the Gardiner Museum for a sketching session. It's a cute little museum focusing on ceramics. They even offer classes on how to work clay and had a little demo table at the entrance the day we visited. About 20 of us made our way to the museum to sketch interesting sculptures, vases and plates from around the world. Some were as big as 3 feet tall, other as small as a couple inches tall. It's a great place to sketch when it's cold outside. We had a great set of sketches at the end of the session and quite a few subjects as you can see in the photos. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Toronto Urban Sketchers Exhibiting in the Subway

A couple months ago, I posted about the Sketching the line contest organized by PATTISON Onestop, encouraging sketchers to apply. The purpose of this project is to feature the works of established and emerging artists, as well as those who enjoy drawing as a hobby, on digital screens of Toronto’s TTC subway stations and Edmonton’s LRT stations. Sharon Switzer, National Arts Programmer and Curator for PATTISON Onestop, states that “This exhibition explores the medium of drawing as well as the social context that the artists worked in, and the influences that affect their practice. Sketching in public is not only a useful tool for observation, it is a raw and immediate expression of the artists’ unique vision."

I am please to announce that  3 of the selected 10 sketchers this year are from Toronto! So if you find yourself using the subways in Toronto or the LRT in Edmonton, be sure to check the digital screen to see sketches of the commuters by Marek, Wil and myself, as well as sketchers from Richmond (BC), Newton (MA, USA), Berlin (Germany), Edmonton (AB), London (UK) and Brooklyn (NY, USA). 

For more details on the selected sketcher, be sure to check out the Sketching the Line web page. Also, feel free to tweet @arttransit using the hashtag #sketchingtheline if you snap a shot of the screen too. It's a great way to promote and encourage more artistic projects like these.