Monday, August 26, 2013

The Toronto B-Girl Movement Celebration

In an attempt to practice drawing people in motion, I decided bring my sketchbook to the Toronto B-Girl Movement Celebration at the Dovercourt House. It was great to see all these people of various ages, dancing and having fun. The event was to celebrate the end of the session of a three-month program created to support girls interested in learning more about breakdancing. The celebration featured 2 on 2 battles (pairing a guy and a girl to compete against another girl-guy team), cyphers (dancers taking turns expressing themselves by showing off their moves within a circle of participants), and food. Whoever organized this, did an awesome job. 

Bboys and Bgirls don't really stand still for long periods of times, especially when there's music going on, so I started by drawing people sitting down to chat, eat or take a break. During the first part of the event, most dancers were warming up, learning tricks from one another, catching up with friends. I really got a nice sense of community while I was there. People came to see my drawings, I chatted with a couple dancers and even lent my belt to a young girl who decided to participate last minute to the battle. 

The MC presented the girls who took part in the program and who were going to participate in the battle. It was a great occasion for me to sketch the group of people who gathered to listen to her. Then battling teams were randomly selected and after a little strategy session between team members, the battle began. 

I stood on a bench in order to get a better view as more people gathered around to see what the dancers could do. It's very impressive to see what some of them can do and the creativity in their movement and choreography. I've always been fascinated by the amount of control they have over their body. And the ability to carry their weight on one hand never get's old. 

While the battle was going on one side of the room, there was also a cypher going on the other side of the room. I sketched one instance of it and I'm happy with the result, especially the movement of the dancer in the middle. I hope that with time I'll be a little faster and will be able to concentrate more on the movements and the beautiful shapes these dancers create with their body. To me they are like a dynamic, living, breathing, moving works of art : organic sculptures. I'm glad I was able to see this and would definitely do this again. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sail-in Cinema

The 3rd annual Sail-in Cinema event occurred last week, and I was able to check it out and make some sketches.  The event features the world's first 2-sided floating movie experience - boats can sail in and drop anchor on one side, while people can sit by the lake on the other side.  Each night features a different classic movie, and "Ghostbusters" was playing on the night I attended.

Two-sided screen set atop a barge located at Sugar Beach @ 25 Dockside Drive, Toronto.

(On the left) The first 500 people received a complimentary Bum Box to seat on.  The Bum Box is made out of cardboard, and it has a flap that folds down for seating.  It's good for situations where you don't want to get your pants dirty from grass / dirt, but I have to admit it was not very comfortable to sit on for extended periods of time.

(On the right) My friend and I got there early, so we ordered some food to take out from the nearby restaurant - Against the Grain Urban Tavern.  I ordered the classic Burger and Fries combo, and it was quite delicious.  It also attracted a bunch of ants in our area!!  Whoops...

Since we got ourselves front row seats by the lake, it was rather hard to do sketches of people without being too obvious.  I am still not that comfortable drawing random people because I never know how they would react if they saw me sketching them.  I only managed to sneak in 4 sketches while waiting for the night to turn dark so the movie can start.

Overall, I really enjoyed the night.  Thank you Toronto Port Authority for putting on such an awesome event!

For more Information about the event, please visit:

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Townhouse perspective

This building project in Toronto has a series of townhouses in three rows between two streets and a little alley between the rows of townhouses where lots of plants have been installed to give a sense of privacy. It's interesting to see how townhouses are built in a city and how people make it their own. Most of them are relatively empty, but this one couple was having breakfast under their garden sunshade this morning. Looks like a nice way to start to day if you don't mind all theses windows looking in. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Subway Sketching

Long before I even knew about urban sketching, while I was still in Ottawa, I found out about the Toronto Subway Sketchgroup. It's a group of artists who meet every Sunday in the subway to sketch people. I thought it was an awesome idea and kept it in mind in case I would get a chance to go. Now that I'm in Toronto, I'm looking forward to get some time to meet up, but in the mean time I practice whenever I get a chance. On my way back from Caribana I took the time to do a couple sketches of people in the subway. I always try to draw people who look like they will be still long enough for me to draw them. It's an interesting guessing game as well as a study into human behaviour. The man sitting on the left was reading while eating an apple. I thought it was cool that he had a purple tie to add some colour to his black ensemble. On the lower right there was a couple sitting and paying attention to their baby. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Sketching from Toronto to New York

My friend and I decided to head off to New York during the Civic Holiday, and one of the things I have decided was to sketch my way there. Equipped with a pocket size Moleskine notebook and a variety of Pigma Micron pens, my journey begins at the Toronto Pearson Airport.

We have an hour to spare before we board our plane, so we decided to grab a bite at the Molson Pub.

Everyone seems to be having a great time there, and the waiters and waitresses were very friendly and attentive.

This sketch was a view behind their bar area, and the waitress is handing over a beer to be served.

After half an hour of waiting, our food finally came.  Since we don't have that much time left before boarding, we quickly finished off our food and pay the bill.

When we arrived at the gate, the waiting area was full of people.  We checked the electronic bulletin board for our flight status and noticed our gate number was changed.  Luckily it was just the next gate over, so we found a seat to get settled.

I was sitting across from a boy that was travelling with his grandparents. His grandparents did not speak English, so he was translating any airline updates to them.  I started drawing his grandmother, but she was moving too frequently, so when the boy was focused on watching a show on his laptop, I took the opportunity to switch and draw the boy instead.

Half way through the sketch, the airline worker at the gate provided an update about our flight.  That's when the boy closed up his laptop and went over to the gate to listen. The airline worker said the plane is fuelled and ready to go, they are just waiting for the crew to show up.  That's when we found out that the previous flight to New York was also delayed.  That explains why there were so many people at the waiting area!

The lower half of this sketch was done from every opportunity I've got.  He was constantly turning his head to check for updates, so it became difficult.

After I finish the sketch of the boy, I noticed a well dressed woman sitting a couple rows ahead.  She was waiting patiently for her flight.  I imagine she has been waiting for a long while since she was holding her neck with one hand, while the other hand does the support.

I decided to do a loose gesture / mass drawing of the young woman because I wanted to capture her elegant pose.

At the end, our flight got cancelled due to the fact that there were no crew available for the flight.  We ended up having to re-book our flight to New York, and got hotel and meal vouchers for the night.

By midnight, we finally ended up staying at DoubleTree Hotel.  All the restaurants at the hotel was closed, so we grabbed a sandwich from the convenient store and called it a night.

The next day, we used our meal voucher at the hotel cafe for breakfast.  While waiting for the food, I noticed an interesting plant decoration on the table and decided to sketch it.  Instead of soil, the plant holder was filled with coffee beans.

After breakfast, we took the shuttle bus back to Toronto Pearson airport for our flight to New York.  Since there was roughly 2 hours to spare, I decided to wander around the airport and sketch!  One thing that caught my eye was the rows of luggage carts parked outside.  I found a window seat and started sketching the scene.

Finally it was time to board the flight!  I was assigned a seat on the exit row, so I got extra leg room.  I took the opportunity to sketch the interior of the plane from my perspective.

Time really flies when you are sketching.  Before I knew it, we have arrived at our destination - New York!

We were waiting for a bus from the Newark terminal to take us to Port Authority when I noticed a really cool looking tree.  Uncertain about how much time I have before the bus arrives, I sat down on the bench and quickly sketched the tree.  About 5 minutes passed and the bus arrived, so I had to wrap this sketch up.

Sadly I didn't have much opportunity to sketch during my 2 day trip.  I did 2 sketches and one of them was my friend Ken's place in NYC.  It was a really nice and cozy place, close-by to everything - very convenient for tourists like us!

The other sketch I did in NYC was at a restaurant call VYNL. It features this cool light fixture, but I didn't have time to complete the whole thing.  Ended up doing half of the light fixture but you get the idea.

Before we knew it, the trip was over!  We really enjoyed our time in NYC, and would definitely visit again.  I did one last sketch at the Newark airport of the United Airline plane.

Monday, August 12, 2013

local fair

One thing I learned from the symposium is that you don't always have to go to places to find interesting things to sketch. A lot of the time, you just have to take the time to look. A couple weeks ago, a fair took place in a small park in my neighbourhood. It's a park where a lot of people usually walk their dogs and children play from time to time, but on this particular day a truck showed up and uniformed staff stated to installed tables, tents, a BBQ started, an ice cream truck showed up, there was a dunking game set up, speakers, etc. Then people stated to pour in. There even were umbrellas for the guests to allow them to enjoy their meal despite the little bit of rain that day. They also had sponsored prizes and trampoline acrobats on the side. I have no idea what it was for but it looks like it was a successful event and it was a great unplanned opportunity for me to do a little sketching and playing with watercolors.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Toronto Caribana Parade 2013

There is no lack of things going on in Toronto. It's seems like no matter what you're into you'll find an event to go to. I found out the day before that the Caribana Parade was going on this weekend and decided to take the opportunity to practice some of the things I learned during the symposium (i.e. people in motion and watercolors). I've always heard of the Toronto Caribana but I had never been to one before. It's a huge event spread over multiple days and attracting over 1 million tourists every years. In order to make sure I had a good point of view to do some sketches, I bought a ticket to see the parade from the Exhibition Place and have a seat. 

The announcer said that there was an estimated 17,000 participants to the parade. While spectators were settling in and the participants were gathering, I started to sketch the people around. It was fun to see people in all kinds of costumes and masks walking around. You don't get to see that many color around you on a day to day basis in North America. The three girls in bright blue in the bus on the way there made the bus driver's day. He was smiling ear to ear. 

The parade started with the sponsored cars that were decorated for the occasion. Then  a group of police officers headed the march followed by a sea of people in red and white from Scotia Bank. It was quite a scene to witness. 

I learned that each Mas band (which is what they call each group of people in costume parading) have their specific costumes created based on a chosen theme. These bands are like little companies with their own band name. They each have their own website where anyone can apply to be part of the group and order their own costume to participate to the parade. Some of the costumes are very elaborate and creative. They must have required quite a bit of time to put together. I didn't realize how serious of a business they could be. 

I used the breaks between the mas bands as an opportunity to draw the spectators and see  who was coming to the event and what everyone was doing as well. Yesterday was the perfect day for such an event : Hot and sunny.  I realized that in order to really enjoy the event on such a sunny day, you need to be prepared and bring a hat or umbrella for some shade as there was not a lot of available shaded areas. So despite having available seats, many of the people who did not bring a hat or umbrella sat under the few available trees. 

After a couple hours, all the bands headed off to Lakeshore Blvd to continue their parade and I decided to call it quits, as I was getting a little tired. But it was a great first experience and I'm looking forward to try this again next year, hopefully with fellow urban sketchers.