Sunday, December 11, 2016

12 Trees @ Gardiner Museum

It is a 12 trees show in Gardiner Museum. The Toronto urban sketches group has an event here. I picked up the one piled up with books. When you get closer to the tree, it will speak. And other trees was made of men's shirts, The pattern is quite interesting. The trees are designed by different artists in different styles, very creative! 
The museum is located in a very convenient location near the subway. It's a small museum but very cozy and informative. You went to the second floor where they have different ceramics from different periods and different countries. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Robarts Library - University of Toronto

On October 30, TOUSK met at the University of Toronto Library called Robarts Library. We hoped to sketch outside since the building has a very interesting architectural structure. It is shaped like a turkey, or maybe a peacock, or is it a turtle... ; ) We all seemed to hear and see different things...
Nonetheless, the cold weather drove many of us inside where there was lots to sketch. 
Here are my 5x7" sketches, done in 6B pencil on 90lb watercolour paper. 
I didn't bring watercolour paint with me since I wasn't sure the library would be cool with it... so, I added paint to this one once I got home.
The students were so busy studying, they didn't notice me drawing them.  Also, I don't believe there is enough of a likeness to anyone to cause offence. 
 I liked the composition of this one below, so I left it alone.
 Practising a bit more perspective on this one. 
There were lots of new member there last week. Great to see so many more Urban Sketching Enthusiasts out there!! See you all next time.
My Etsy Page -

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Day at the Harbourfront


I spent the day down at Toronto's Harbourfront sketching on Hot Pressed Watercolour Paper (Fluid Brand) with my Micron 03 pen. 

I tried to get a foreground, a mid-ground and a background in. Here's the finished result, with watercolour added. : )
There was a woman relaxing in the park, so I quickly drew her too. I tried to keep my lines spontaneous and relaxed in order to capture her mood. 
And here's the finished result with watercolour. I added splatters of paint to match my pen lines.

Happy Painting Everyone

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Old City Hall view from Toronto City Hall Green Roof

I didn't know there is such a nice place on the 2nd floor at The City Hall. You can walk around and see different views around The City Hall. Lots of high rises there. I picked The Old City Hall to sketch. It is the only old building in the middle of the high rises and seems that the time has frozen there no matter how the surroundings change. It was really hot today, but we found shades and stayed there for sketching. There were not many visitors and was very tranquil. If you have found the ground was too noisy and crowded, the green roof definitely is a nice and quiet place to visit.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

McMichael Plein Air Painting Competition

I always want to paint at McMichael and didn't think that the first time I painted here was in a competition. We were about 50-60 artists painting on location during the weekend. We had a sunny but not very warm day, unless you stayed under the sun without shades.

The arrangement was simple and easy to follow. McMichael staff and volunteers provided the artists fruits, coffee and water twice a day, one by one! We scattered around McMichael and Kleinburg area, it was not easy for them to find us. Thank you!

The first day I painted the gallery building because I wanted to paint this building. I loved the sunlight behind the cloud and put more trees behind the gallery. I had not enough sleep the night before and planned to work faster so that I could go home and sleep. However, I was very tired and worked very very slowly. When I got home around 4 pm, I threw myself on the couch and slept right away.

On Sunday, I went to Kleinburg, a beautiful town, to paint one of the beautiful houses made of logs and this painting was selected to be the 3rd place in the group 11" x 14"

Some of my artist friends won too. Congratulations to Hasibush Shaheed and Dougal Haggart from our group, and Karin from my art club, amazing works. I met many talented artists there and saw their wonderful works, same locations, different styles, definitely very inspiring. It is always amazing to see different approaches, styles while everyone is painting at the same places and similar scenes.

Monday, July 4, 2016

My Travel Watercolour Palette

Flower pots in front of Sony Centre on Front street.


Some people keep asking me about what kind of travel watercolour set I am using/  what do they consist of. I have to say I am an amateur painter who is still finding the colours that suit my style best. I have yet to try all of the different watercolour brands or art supplies out there.

A few years back I wanted to sketch on location, I started off with Winsor&Newton Cotman Watercolour Set for my first travel watercolour palette. The reason I bought this set was because of its small size, convenience and the colour quality is good enough to paint on my tiny sketchbooks. Later I realized some of the colours were not bright enough for my style. I personally love vibrant colours, so I purchased some artist grade watercolour paint to try out. 
Here are the colours I am using in  my travel watercolour palette - Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Yellow Hue, Winsor Red, Cadmium Orange, Purple Lake, Lamp Black, Sap Green, Viridian Hue, Cerulean Blue, French Ultramarine, Indigo, Burnt Umber and a couple of tiny colours I put on the top are Cobalt Blue Hue and Permanent Rose.

I would love to hear what travel watercolour set are you using. Want to share? Comment below.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Oakville – Plein Air June event – “Paint the Town Extraordinaire” 160626

I travelled to the historic downtown Oakville for the last day of “Paint The Town Extraordinaire”.  It was a plein air event put on by the Oakville BIA and Oakville Art Society. The Town of Oakville, home to over 180,000 people, is located 30 kilometers west of downtown Toronto along the shore of Lake Ontario.  I was hoping to meet some local Oakville artists and socialize, but it seemed that I was the only one painting that day.   I felt like a foreigner from out of town who would be painting alone on the main commercial street. But I set my heart on challenging myself.

I was pleasantly surprised by the volume of people up and about mid morning – eating breakfast, jogging, walking their dogs, biking…engaging in life.  It seemed like a very active and vital community.  Many people stopped and said hello and were very curious about what I was doing on the street painting.  My first painting was at a place called The Goldstar Café.  It is one of many cafes on the main street teeming with people while manifesting a rich street life.

After painting on the main street in the mid-day heat, I moved to the waterfront.  It was much cooler and the view from Lakeside Park was spectacular. The many large historical homes that I walked by are a painter’s/sketcher’s dream.   

I painted at the OAKVILLE Museum gardens that sit at a high point along the waterfront and my painting captures a view over a pier that has a lighthouse at the end.  There was a naturally sculpted pine tree in the foreground and the gardens poetically framed the view.  In general, the harbour is wonderfully picturesque.

I was delighted to discover that the Post Office and Thomas House at the museum was also open for visitors.  What a treat to explore.   I toured the old historic buildings and learned a bit about the history of Oakville.  I sat and sketched these two historic buildings that had been relocated and now overlook the lake.

What a lovely day I had. It was a truly an experience “Extraordinaire”.
Thanks for the invitation.
I will visit again soon!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Riverdale Farm

 A few of us headed over the Riverdale Farm to do some urban sketching. There are lots of farm animals, including pigs!
I found this hidden door, out of the sun and away from the crowds and thought it had lots of potential. Good contrasts. 
I used my paintbox, which opens like a pizza box, and holds a 6x8" watercolour pad (bulldog clip to hold it on) and my Cotman Watercolour Travel palette. A paint box is great to work from. I was sitting on a stool (from a camping shop) and it balances nicely on my lap. I recommend it if an easel is too much to carry and if you want to try watercolours on site. : ) You just need a box that opens like a pizza box....
I enjoy painting rocks. They are good chunky shapes. Also, I tried to keep the bricks quiet with light colours to contrast the interesting door. 
Happy Sketching Everyone.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

"travelling along" - at Toronto Botanical Gardens

I spent the day painting with the Don Valley Art Club at the Toronto Botanical Gardens, also known as Edwards Gardens. If you haven't been, it's a fantastic place to sketch. Lots of greenery, flowers, little buildings, people walking around, sitting at the cafe, and of course, this waterfall. It sounds more 'nature' than 'urban' but it's definitely 'TOUSK friendly'.

Here is my step by step process...
Here's the drawing in 6B pencil on my 6x8" hot pressed watercolour paper.
I painted the waterfall while working from my trusty little paintbox. It's got my Cotman Travel Watercolour Palette in it. I used up the pan paint that it came with, then replenished it with artist quality tube paints, mostly Holbein brand. 
Half way there... I like to add darks early, so I can determine the values right from the beginning. Artists often do watercolour from light to dark however, when I do that it never seems to get dark enough...
All done. You can see the pink bulldog clip on the right of the box holding a rag in place. There's also a few paper towels, a compact mirror (to look at the piece in reverse while painting) and I always bring an 8x10"mat to make sure the composition will fit nicely into a store bought frame when finished. 
See more at my Etsy Shop HERE.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

My Victoria Day!

We didn't go anywhere for the long weekend.  I planned to go to The Distillery District to complete my unfinished painting. However, the booths blocked most of my view. Went back to the car, I felt at least I needed to do something before I left. I saw a senior crossing the road with a walker. I put her on my sketchbook, adding the background for her as well.

One of my favorite ramen restaurants is Kinton. We always go there whenever we come to the downtown area. I love to sit at the bar table and watch the staff preparing the ramen, using a fire gun to cook. 

Before going back home, we went to St Lawrence Market. I have found a good spot under the shade. It was not much traffic. People were walking the dogs, buying lunch. Everyone seemed to enjoy a relaxing afternoon.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Sketching at St. Jacob's Market, Waterloo

I became a member of KWUrbanSketchers group that organizes several events around Waterloo region over the year. On their recent event, at St.Jacobs Farmers' Market I was overwhelmed with beautiful weather.    It was a two hour long trip from Toronto to this wonderful rural location, where entrance of the market is ornamented with a Horse drawn wagon station. The sunny outside inspired me to do a watercolor sketch of the wagon placed beside a store. However, I was rushing at the end of this sketching, as an unexpected frozen rain pushed people to get inside the market. The interior space was packed with crowds. When you running short of time you can try a quick sketch on a toned paper. In the picture on the right, an effective technique was tried. Specially, when there are multiple sources of lighting, a toned surface helps us to set the mid-tone and local color.  I tried to capture the interior light. Overall, it was a wonderful experience with few other artists from Waterloo.

Friday, April 15, 2016

How a financial corporation supports local artists by connecting them with a wider audience

Toronto Urban Sketchers TD Gallery of Inuit Art Toronto Dominium

Do you know about the TD Gallery of Inuit Art? 

I certainly didn’t until a receptionist from the Museum of Inuit Art in the Harbourfront told me about it. Of course, I had to check it out. So I decided to organize an urban sketching session at the TD Gallery, located right in the heart of the city in the Financial District. 

Turns out this great little gallery is the result of a vision from Allen Lambert, TD's former chairman and president in the 60s, who recognized the potential for art to make a personal connection and start conversations. After working as a branch manager in Yellowknife in the late 40s, Lambert developed an interest and deep respect for natives and their artwork. He believed that displaying art in the workplace would not only enhance the corporate environment, but would also enhance the lives of the staff and customers as the art would provide a way to forge relationships. 
“I feel that the value of a Corporate Collection is not just a matter of dollars or decoration. It is the commitment by the corporation of its concern for a fuller quality to life; an extra dimension is added to the normal business day by providing a stimulating and sometimes challenging environment for our staff, customers, and visitors.”
He also hoped that this would enable Inuits to inform others about their culture and tradition. I would say that’s exactly what he did for the Toronto Urban Sketchers. By providing free public access to the gallery, the bank is helping more people better understand and connect to Inuit art. On April 9, 2016 about twenty urban sketchers made their way to the gallery to sketch some of the sculptures beautifully displayed in the mezzanine of a Mies Van Der Rohe building located at 79 Wellington St. Sketching the artwork enable them to spend some time with the artwork and develop an new appreciation and understanding if Inuit art and culture. 

It’s very encouraging and inspiring to see corporations like TD take it upon itself to purchase local artworks and to share them with the general public. Toronto is not yet at the point where museums are free like in London, UK and Washington, DC which restrict access to some members of the population. So it’s great to see some corporations taking the lead on enabling more people from the general public to connect with the artwork of local artists. In this case, they’re contributing to raising the awareness of Inuit art and its significance in the history of the country which for some reason have been lacking in the classrooms (at least at the time I was a student).

So how does TD's project support local artists? 
1. TD Bank buys local artwork
To date, the TD Bank Canadian Art Collection, comprising Contemporary Canadian and Inuit art, numbers over 5000 works. The bank originally acquired 1000 inuit artworks. While 200 of them are displayed in the gallery, the rest, including inuit prints and drawings, are located in offices throughout the bank’s global operation. Most of the larger domestic and international offices own at least one inuit sculpture.

2. TD Bank familiarizes its staff to local art
As a result of the bank's corporate art collection, many employees have been able to develop a greater appreciation of Inuit art without having to make a special trip to a museum or gallery. For some individuals, having ready access to works of art has sparked their own personal collecting activities or helped stimulate creative thinking in their day-to-day work. 

3. TD Bank showcases local artwork as part of its marketing process
Through the years, TD's marketing efforts reinforced their association with Inuit art.  An Inuit carving is often presented as a gift to important clients, visitors, retiring board members, or dignitaries. For many years, an annual corporate Christmas card was produced highlighting a sculpture from the collection.

Toronto Urban Sketchers TD Gallery of Inuit Art Toronto Dominium
Toronto Urban Sketchers at the TD Gallery of Inuit Art
Toronto Urban Sketchers TD Gallery of Inuit Art Toronto Dominium
Toronto Urban Sketchers at the TD Gallery of Inuit Art
Toronto Urban Sketchers TD Gallery of Inuit Art Toronto Dominium
Toronto Urban Sketchers at the TD Gallery of Inuit Art

Getting acquainted with Inuit Art 
I was particularly attracted to a carving by Osuitok Ipeelee from Nunavut called Mythical Owl. The way the wings are positioned above its head and its twisted tentacle-legs were intriguing and inspired me to sketch it. I wish there was a bit more information about the actual artwork. It's great to know the name of the artist and the title of the work but I have so many questions like : Why the owl? What does it represent? Why do its legs look like tentacles? Why are the wings placed above its head? Does the position of the owl mean anything? Etc. It did however start a conversation with fellow sketchers about how the carvings are typically created and how the artists typically start by sitting with the stone to visualize what’s "hidden" in the stone before they proceed to remove the unwanted pieces of stone and reveal the hidden gem within it. What a fascinating concept! That could also explain why the figures are not an accurate replica of a particular animal or person, and can have unusual characteristics like the Mythical Owl.

Toronto Urban Sketchers TD Gallery of Inuit Art Toronto Dominium
My rendition of the Mythical Owl by Osuitok Ipeelee at the TD Gallery of Inuit Art
You can see a quick timelapse of my sketch here

Toronto Urban Sketchers TD Gallery of Inuit Art Toronto Dominium
Some of the sketches from the Toronto Urban Sketchers at the TD Gallery of Inuit Art

The sketchers created quite a nice range of artwork including sketches of the sculpture, the space and other sketchers. Everyone looked like they had a great time interacting with Inuit Art. I highly recommend you checking out the TD Gallery of Inuit Art next time you’re in the area. It is open 7 days a week and admission is free. Since the gallery opened to the public in 1986, the bank has maintain it’s commitment to do the collection justice and share it with the community. I hope this inspired other corporation to do the same as it’s a great example of how large corporation an artists can work together to enhance the lives of the community as a whole. Artwork should be shared with everyone. While not everyone can afford to own an original artwork, they should be able to see and appreciate them in public spaces like this and it's great to see companies doing something about it. 

friends with

Spent a lovely Friday afternoon enjoying a tea and drawing a few people. Cafe culture is up and running now that Spring is in the air. : )
close up -
I drew this with a 6B pencil then added some watercolour from my Winsor & Newton travel kit. The painting is 6x8", so pretty discreet at a cafe.
close up -
It's nice to see people talking to each other, rather than staring at their computers and iPhones. ; ) 
If you haven't tried sketching at a cafe, I highly recommend it. No one has ever minded that I am drawing them, in fact the few people that notice over the years, have been thrilled! Happy Urban Sketching Everyone.
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Monday, April 11, 2016

My last Toronto sketches

The latest Toronto sketches I've done last summer. Since then we were getting prepared for relocation and all my sketching attempts were postponed.  
However it Toronto it was well known that I'm able to sketch only during lunch break.

Somewhere in August I rushed to Spadina Staircase to catch the summer sun and this majestic view. In my lunch break of course :) The next sketches were done already this winter at the new place.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Toronto Urban Sketchers Celebrate Toronto

A couple months ago I got a chance to meet Micayla who's the founder of Celebrate Toronto : A growing event celebrating the birthday of the city. Toronto's turning 182 years old this year and for the past 3 years she's been honouring the official birth of the city by throwing it a party. As part of the festivities, artists are invited to submit their artwork to showcase and sell the night of the show and throughout the entire month of March. This year, 10 Toronto Urban Sketchers, including myself, will be participating to the artshow. On the left are the three artworks that I submitted for the show, two of which are also in our recent publication : Urban Sketching Disappearing Landmarks in Toronto

The celebrations will take place tomorrow, Saturday March 6, 2016. Here's a sneak peek of the installations :

You can still get you tickets for the show on the main site or at the door.