Monday, December 30, 2013


Spending a few hours alone with Frizzzbee last week finally broke my dry drawing spell, and the closest things lying around were a ballpoint pen and a paper bag.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Wanda's Pie in the Sky. Kensington Market

I stopped by to pick up a Lemon meringue pie for tomorrow's Christmas dinner with the family and I decided to sketch a bit. A small space but really nice to sketch in, if you like sketching people pretty much face to face.

Anyways, here's my last entry the night before Christmas. Merry Christmas, Toronto Urban Sketchers!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Jet Fuel Cafe on Parliment

A nice americano and and hour of drawing before I had to meet a friend. Next time I'll come in a bit earlier so I could finish the sketch.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Holiday Art Battle

I attended the Holiday Art Battle and did a little urban sketching while on site. The event took place at the Steam Whistle Roundhouse, which is a beautiful space. The canvas were bigger than the ones in the previous Art Battle event I attended a couple weeks before, so we only got to vote once. Once again, it was great to see live painting and how each artist had their own painting strategies to tackle such a bit canvas in 45 minutes. Some started by tracing an outline, some started with shading and others went straight for the background first. After the painting session, the artwork were auctioned off to the public. The winning art piece sold for $1100. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Toronto Holiday Comicon

I found out through a fellow sketcher that there was going to be a Toronto mini Comicon for the holidays, so a couple of us went out on Sunday to check it out. I figured it would be a great opportunity to sketch fun costumes, and it was. There was all kinds of costumes from the very simple to the intricate. I saw many known characters like Sailor Moon, Batman (he was uber tall), Dr Zoidberg, Picard, Poison Ivy and a couple unique and personalized characters like pink spiderman and a creepy realistic zombie in a wheel chair. It was fun to see various characters walking around the convention centre, checking out the items for sale and taking pictures. It's impressive to see their level of creativity especially considering those made by hand. 

I  was able to draw a few of the people sitting around or standing long enough for me to capture them. There was so much more to draw! I saw a lot of creative and talented people in this conferences. It's definitely a feast for the eyes and something that I will do again, perhaps for the annual ComiCon in March

Monday, December 9, 2013

TOUSK Meetup #6 : Balzac Coffee

Toronto Urban Sketchers | Coffee Balzac at the Distillery District

The plan for our 6th meetup was to go sketch the Christmas Market at the Distillery District, but we were so cozy and comfortable at our meeting point,  Balzac Coffee Shop ,  that we decided to stay and sketch there the entire time. Despite the place being packed due to the holiday attractions all ten of us managed to find a nice spot on the second floor. It gave us a great opportunity to get a birds eye view of the space.

This coffee shop has a lot of character and interesting vignettes to sketch. I managed to capture various groups of people enjoying a hot drink after waiting in line forever. I felt bad for the staff, they were going non stop.  The coffee machine just couldn't keep up with the volume order fast enough. While I was waiting for my drink, I took the opportunity to sketch the sweets on the counter and a portion of the only coffee machine. The staff was moving too fast for me to capture them.

It was great to see all the sketches from the other artists. It always amazes me to see the variety of subjects that can come out of a single location.  
Toronto Urban Sketchers | Coffee Balzac at the Distillery District

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Steam Whistle Brewing at The Roundhouse Park

Originally this was not my choice of subject.  I was going for the John Street Roundhouse, which is a preserved locomotive roundhouse home to the Toronto Railway Museum at the Roundhouse park.  They have a collection of trains positioned around the park, and I was drawing one of the featured train with the Roundhouse as the background.

But since I only have a couple hours after work to get to the location and sketch before the sun goes down, I only managed to finish sketching half of the train.  When I went back for a second session another day, I realized something was off. The featured train doesn't look like the one I was drawing before, and then I realized that the park actually rotates the trains around, so it has a different configuration every day.  The train I was drawing was no where to be found.

Not to waste precious hours before the sun sets, the Steam Whistle Brewing tower with the featured railroad alert sign is what I have decided to draw instead.

There are lots to do and sketch around the Roundhouse Park, here is the wiki page to provide more information about the park:

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

TOUSK Meetup #5 : Union Station and Subway

On our 5th meetup, we first went to the Union train station. It's a beautiful space with lots of great architectural details. I could spend hours sketching in this space. We had planned to go to the Skywalk as well but it didn't work out that day. There was way too many people for our group to comfortably find a spot to sketch, so we went back to the union station for a little more sketching before heading towards the subway station to meet the Toronto Subway Sketch Group. It was really fun and we had a great turnout. It was funny to see the reaction of some people entering our cabin and seeing a couple of us with our sketchbooks sketching people.  I managed to do a couple sketches, but I always wish I had done more :) 

We're lucky to have Mei, who's also a photographer, in our group. She took quite a few awesome photos  of us during the event. Check out her facebook page ( to see more from our latest meetup as well as several other sketching events and her own sketches. 

Our next meetup will take place at the Toronto Christmas Market on December 7. Then, the next day we'll join Sketching Around the City to sketch at the University of Toronto Campus downtown.

Friday, November 22, 2013

TOUSK Meetup #4 : Art Gallery of Ontario

A couple of us met at the AGO for a little bit of urban sketching the other night. We hung out in the basement where a lot of boat models are displayed. The level of details of these boats is really impressive. I found a nice comfortable spot in front of a large display case of British boat models from the early 1900s. The room was a little dark but it worked out alright. Time flew by, it's the only drawing I managed to complete but I would love to come back to visit the place and sketch other areas. What's interesting about this museum is that there are a lot of comfortable seats scattered around, and even portable stools, which makes it very convenient for urban sketchers :)

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Things have been busy lately and I've really been missing time for urban sketching.  I have, however, observed three new Aroma Espresso Bars opening up around my neighbourhood over the past month.  It reminds me of this drawing I did years ago, when there was only one Aroma in the Annex.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dentist Office

I had a few minutes to sketch yesterday, before my dental appointment. A couple walked in just as I was finishing the long wall behind the reception desk, which was filled (from the floor to almost ceiling height) with hundreds of patient files.Glad it's not my job to keep them organized!

When I am working on a quick drawing, I like Ultra-Fine Sharpie on 7" x 10" Demco, Which is super easy to carry around. Sharpies bleed, so I tuck some paper between sketchbook pages, otherwise I will get weird dots on previous drawings.

Monday, November 18, 2013

35th Annual National Business for the Arts Partnerships Awards

I had the opportunity to attend the Annual National Business for the Arts Partnership Awards. Each year, Business for the Arts (BFA) organizes this event to recognize, celebrate and thank the business and art leaders for their support of the arts across Canada. It's a very inspiring organization who is "dedicated to the proposition that any nation lives by its creative minds, and that such creativity has to be carefully nurtured.” 

The event this year consisted of the gala and a 1920s-themed after party. It took place at The Carlu, also known as Eaton's Seventh Floor and the best example of Art Moderne style in Toronto. It was designed by famed French architect and designer Jacques Carlu. The interior is stunning.

Upon arrival,  there was a photographer taking pictures of guests on a red carpet. It was great to see the various outfits of attendants. It was a black tie event, so most men were wearing black suits, while most women were wearing very creative attire inspired by the 1920s flapper girl era. 
I started to sketch right away during the cocktail hour. A pianist playing in the background created a great ambience for everyone.  There was so much I wanted to capture and managed to make three sketches during that time. It really was a feast for the eyes. I didn't really see time go by. 

After a little while, guests were then invited to the dining area for the gala for the presentation of the awards and some entertainment. The gala was hosted by Canadian Juno Award-winning Molly Johnson who also sang. I also had a great time meeting and chatting with some of the guests at my table. The food was good. We had a nice 3 course meal.  I was also able to do a quick sketch during dinner, between courses. There was a lot of glasses on the tables :) 

During the event, we had the opportunity to hear from the recipients of the various awards presented that night, which was very inspiring, especially the ones won by Gary Slaight, President & CEO of Slaight Communications Inc. and Slaight Music Inc., and Steven Delany, Senior Associate in Corporate Finance at Paradigm Capital Inc.  It was great to get to hear from them what inspires them to contributes to the art community and also to hear from others about how their contribution has help the community.

After the gala, I headed over the The Arnold party in the round room, for more music and entertainment from various artists, including Saidah Baba Talibah, who had a really neat musical style. I managed to capture her and her band on stage in my sketches. The band and DJ were good too, people were dancing and having a blast. Part of the entertainment also included a live art show, where an artist was painting a mural that would light up as her work progress. That was really neat. 
I also had fun drawing some of the 1920's inspired outfits I managed to capture. The attention to detail was really inspiring, from the haircut, to the hair accessories, and outfits. I wish I would have been able to do more, but people move a lot at a party! 

I really like this venue and took the time before leaving to do a quick sketch of the waiting area near the washrooms. I would love to come back and do more detailed architecture drawings of the space. It would be a great place to do some urban sketching with the Toronto Urban Sketchers group

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The St. Lawrence Market

It's been a while since I've been to the St. Lawrence market, so I thought it'd be a perfect day for it. It was super busy but I managed to find a table in the midst of all the action.
On a side note, the only good thing about smart phones when used in public is the fact that it makes their users planted in one spot, motionless. Recipe for a good model.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Artists at The Only Cafe

Toronto has tons of choices of activities to do for artists. There seem to be something for everyone. A couple weeks ago I joined a group called Sketching Around the City and the other day, I met up with members of the group to sketch and hang out at The Only Cafe. It's a cozy little coffee shop and bar. The place has an eclectic style with tons of frames on the wall, stained glass, disco ball and a mix style of furniture. 

We essentially took over their little lounge area to sketch and talk. It was nice to meet more fellow artists from various backgrounds and exchange ideas, tips, information and aspirations. The place was interesting to sketch. There was a good flow of people on the coffee shop side. I wish I had a little more time but I managed to draw the space and partially draw some of the other sketchers (in the foreground). After our drawing session we went to eat in a restaurant in the Kensington Market area. It was a great night. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

TOUSK Meetup #3 : Toronto Reference Library

For our third sketching meeting, we went to the Toronto Reference Library. The place is huge. It is currently undergoing some renovations in various portions of the building, so there is an interesting mix of old and new. The interior structure of the building is fascinating. It has a large atrium in the centre, giving a beautiful view of the space from various locations. At one end, there are two round exposed elevators, reminiscent futuristic style of The Jetson.

The reference library seems to have many functionalities. There are various types of furniture arrangement to accommodate all kinds of need. There is event a stage where some people can sit on the floor to read a book or use their laptop, while the stage is not being used. We used it as our starting point to do some sketches.

I noticed an interesting space with several television screens showing various programs. There were two men sitting right in front of them and not moving for several minutes, as if they were in a trance. I felt compelled to draw them. The large translucent pendant lights above them were really interesting as well. 

From the third floor looking down, I noticed that some of the new furniture weren't even completely unwrapped, like the short wall on one of these custom circular desks. I assume they were created for people working in group. The way they were arranged looked like a nice giant piece of abstract art. 

We sketched from opening to closing, and I feel like I barely scratched the surface of what can be drawn at the library. There were so many great subjects. It's definitely a place I'd like to go back to again to do more sketches. Above is a sample of our combined work that day.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Village Annual Halloween Block Party

I couldn't pass the opportunity to go sketch some amazing halloween costumes at the Village Halloween Block Party. It was my first time attending this party and it was very inspiring to see all kinds of characters walking down the closed street. We lucked out with the weather. Despite the bits of rain here and there, it was fairly warm and we managed to get a great spot with a table and chairs outside under a little roof at a Starbucks.

We had a bit of time before the street were closed,  so I drew the store right in front of us. It had a cute little halloween window display. Soon after that all kinds of characters started to walk up and down Church streets, to the beat of the music playing from the next door commerce by a DJ disguised as Superman.

The types characters parading on Church street were very diverse. The sketches I managed to complete are a very little portion of the range costumes I saw while we were there. This is a collection of the most completed sketches for the night. There was a pregnant Kim Kardashian in a catsuit version of her famous flower dress, a giant lego character, a fun lady in a mask dancing to the beat of "DJ Superman", a really well put together Robin, Batman' sidekick, some sort of Sasquatch angel, and a cute little boy in a spiderweb cape, also dancing to the DJ's tunes. There were very simple costumes and very elaborate costumes. The attention to details of some of these costume was unreal. At one point, a guy in a very believable zombie costume, came to our table to fix his contact lens and complete his outfit with fake blood oozing out of his mouth with fake maggots. It was very creepy. Some of the fake blood he used to complete his character feel on the ground and most people passing by it after were freaking out and wondering if it was real before it slowly got washed away by the rain.

The overall ambiance was great. Many people were there to have fun and embody their character. We had zombie Captain America growling at us a couple times while passing by our table and met a team of volleyball guys in tight white t-shirts and short red shorts inviting us to take pictures of themselves because they were awesome. Hilarious.  Lot of people were also taking pictures of themselves with various characters (creepy zombies, sexy nurses, sexy cops, ghosts, beautiful drag queens, cartoon characters, etc).  I wish I would have been able to stay longer as more and more new characters kept showing up, but it was getting a little too cold for me.  

Our next sketching event will take place at the Toronto Reference Library. If you would like to participate join our group on Facebook (Toronto Urban Sketchers)  to get the latest updates.  

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Candies and pumpkins

I had a bit of time while waiting for our food at the local butcher shop to sketch the little display they had for halloween on their display tables. It was very simple but cute : a couple small pumpkins, dried corns and candies in an aluminum tray. It's interesting to see the color variation of pumpkins. I particularly like the one on the far left. It  reminds me of the changing colors of tree leaves in the fall : from green to orange.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Bits and Pieces from the Toronto Subway

I often don't have time to sketch people while in the subway as they move around and don't necessarily stay put or stay visible long enough to do a proper sketch. It was a little frustrating at first, then I started to do little vignettes of details, not really worrying about being able to draw everything. As long as I get to draw a piece of something : a shoe, a hat, a pair of glasses, a cup of coffee, etc. Put together, they strangely tell a story about the people who regularly take the subway and perhaps their fashion sense.

It's interesting how some sketches still tell a story, or at least a hint of a story, like the guy on the top left who was reading with his sunglasses on. Was he really reading? Could he really see the words on the page or was he just faking it?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

High Park

 High Park is one of my favourite drawing destinations. I'm so glad I was able to meet some fellow sketchers there on Sunday, just before the weather turned. While the people strolling by Grenadier Pond look bundled up in coats and sweaters, the sunshine made it feel more like a warm Spring day than October.


Having arrived super late for our first USK Toronto meeting, I wanted to get as many sketches in as possible before the group dispersed for the evening. Here are some of my fellow sketchers ( I managed to get all but one). Turns out I could have taken more time - people were still drawing when I left for home.

Monday, October 21, 2013

High Park

This weekend, a couple sketchers met at High Park to do a little bit of sketching. Luckily, the weather was nice and comfortable enough to draw and paint outside. It's was my first time visiting High Park, which is located on the west side of the city and walking distance from the subway. Toronto never ceases to amaze me with the amount of green spaces you can find right in the city. This park is huge! There were so many great scenes to sketch, I barely scratched the surface that day. I spent most of my time near the giant Grenadier Pond, watching people walking by with their family and friends. It was a very relaxing area. I will have to come back again at some point to explore the park a little more.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Bata Shoe Museum

Last week I joined some fellow sketchers at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. I became a bit obsessed with the high heels.

Some of the pieces, like the satin bejewelled Roger Vivier pair, were very architectural. The 1920's T-strap features intricate cut-work and hand-stitched detailing on the 'vamp' (upper top) and toe box. Another earlier example mixes tartan fabric and leather, dyed mauve. It's doubtful many women could have afforded such luxuries.

Toronto Urban Sketchers inaugural meet-up

I thought it was appropriate to start my first post here with my sketch from the inaugural meet-up of the Toronto USKers this past Thursday.  It was absolutely delightful to see everyone immediately whip out their sketchbooks and materials and get right down to drawing. Our waiter didn't even bat an eye!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Second lunch at Rice Factory

I missed Toronto USK meet-up but I had a strong intention to make it. Obstacles, obstacle...
Anyway, a couple of day before I visited that magic lunch place I've discovered recently and it brings me a new discovery!

Bistro has a golden fish pool with a fountain in it's patio!.  All that in the middle of the urban fabric full of midweek-day's razzle-dazzle... Dzen galore! 
I think I became a lunch a food sketcher. Though it's also considerate as urban but still...

Friday, October 11, 2013

My laundrymat

It's not the typical Urban sketch fare. It's not glamourous. It's not famous. It's my laundrymat in the west end of the city. What they do offer is a never ending stream of 80's hits over the sound system... score!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Bata Shoe Museum

I went out with some fellow urban sketchers from Toronto and Kitchener to do some sketches at the Bata Shoe Museum. It was very interesting to see all the different shapes of shoes, read the history behind their design and visually get to walk in other people's shoes. I never realize how much shoes can tell a story before this. I managed to draw four shoes from various parts of the world and various time in history.
The Paduka from India looked very uncomfortable. I can't imaging having these large knobs between your toes and lighting all that weight with your toes. They were used by people in the upper-class.

Lotus feet, which are very small feet that have been prevented from growing through foot binding, used to be a coveted feature on women back in the days in China. The method used for foot binding was a little creepy. Grown adults essentially had baby feet with only one toe. As a results, they needed special shoes and the shoes that were made for these women were very small. It's quite something to see. The shoes were typically designed by the person who wore the shoes. This one was very intricate. 

I really like the Apache boots with all the symbols created with beads. They are really works of art. It must have taken quite a bit of time to put together because the beadwork was very intricate. All the colored parts are rows of beads arranged in a way to create various patterns and shapes. These boots look like the most comfortable.

I had 30 minutes left before closing so I decided to drawn something simple : clogs. I always wondered why would people want to wear heavy flat wooden shoes like clogs. I learned that they were created for gardeners for them to smooth the ground after they had sown seeds. The more pointy clogs, with the upturned toe, was used by fishermen. The pointed part was used to catch the net with the shoe to allow the fisherman to use both this hands to repair his fishnet while the show would hold the net. Neat, isn't it? 

At the end, we got together to check out each other's drawing. It's one of my favorite thing to do when going sketching with a group. I get to see things that I missed (it's fascinating to see what attract other people's eyes in the same environment), learn about new techniques, new materials, get inspired to try different things, etc. To me, it's one of the major benefit from sketching in group. There's always something to share and something to learn, no matter what your skill level is. This time, I learned about stone paper. I'd never heard of that before. It's paper made out of stone and a bonding agent. The surface is very smooth and the paper is heavier. I'll have to try it at some point. I also saw what kind of pen was good to use on colored paper, which is also something I'd like to play with in the future. All in all, it was a great session.