Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Urban Sketching Disappearing Landmarks in Toronto

Urban Sketching Disappearing Landmarks in Toronto Book on Amazon Urban Sketchers

Toronto is said to be one of Canada’s fastest growing cities. Consequently, you’ll see a lot of construction year round in the city. Old small buildings are being replaced by new tall buildings in every corners of the city. I’ve only been living in Toronto for a little over two years, and already many areas don’t look the same as they did only two years ago. This growth often comes at the expense of the architectural history of the city often to the sadness of long time residents who have a history with some of these buildings. This gave  the Toronto Urban Sketchers the idea of creating a book capturing some of the landmarks of the city before they disappear, as a way to commemorate them in a creative way. So over the past couple months, we gathered around places like Honest Ed’s, the Cookbook Store, Captain John’s Restaurant Boat and more, to capture their portrait while we still had time.

21 sketchers collaborated in putting together our first book : Urban Sketching Disappearing Landmarks in Toronto. We self published the book. Towards the end of 2015, I got invited by CBC Radio to talk about the book. The interview inspired me to create a little video montage of our journey thus far.  It’s a great little memento that you can see below. 

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, it is currently available on Amazon. I’m looking into the possibility of having the book available in local bookstores and libraries. It’s a first for me so we’ll see how that goes. But it was a great experience for myself and for the group and we’ll probably try to create another one this year.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

A long line at Starbucks

We had a meeting at Yorkdale shopping mall yesterday. It's always hard to find a parking spot there. And it's also not easy to find a sketching spot because there were so many things happening in the mall.

We walked around and finally we decided to sit at Starbucks. I went to buy a coffee and it was a long line. I felt so tired after I got one and started sketching. 

I looked at Starbucks and the line was still very long. Then I have found that I forgot to bring my pen, so I used a pencil instead and painted with watercolor. Back home, I put the black lines and the wordings on the page. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Sketching at the Museum of Inuit Art

Toronto Urban Sketchers at the Museum of Inuit Art

It's always a bit of a challenge to find an new and interesting place to host an urban sketching event in the winter, specially as the group keeps growing. I tend to spend hours online searching for new places and planning the day around it. Fortunately I came across the Museum of Inuit Art and despite its relatively small size, it looked like there were quite a few interesting sculptures for everyone to sketch, so it was chosen as the first destination for 2016.

I've always been curious to find out more about the culture and history natives, as I find it's not a topic that is readily available to non-natives, so the fact that this museum exist definitely got my attention. What an awesome place!! I love the modern minimalist design of the space which is a great backdrop for the intricate artwork in the museum. It is meant to evoke the ice flows, snow drifts and wind swept tundra of the Canadian Arctic, so that Inuit art can be appreciated with some sense of the environment in which it was created. 

As the organizer, I ofter only have time for one good sketch, so after greeting the participants and taking pictures and videos of the space, I chose to sketch a piece from master sculptor Abraham Anghik Ruben called Beowolf, made out of Brazilian soapstone. It just captured my attention right at the entrance of the museum. The receptionist was amazed that I could stand there for an hour or so, just fixated on the sculpture. 

Toronto Urban Sketchers at the Museum of Inuit Art Marie-Judith Jean-Louis

There's something interesting that happens when you start sketching something like this, at least for me. I get in some sort of trance where only me, my thoughts and the object I'm sketching exists and I start discovering all kinds of things I wouldn't have if it wasn't for essentially interacting with that subject. In the case of Beowolf, I was intrigued  by all its intricate parts and how the openings create intense contrasts. And then I noticed all the little creatures embedded in the sculpture like a mix between a rabbit and a chameleon on top of his head, a pig nestle on his side, a dolphin and a bird closer to the front, and other animals I probably missed on the other side.

Toronto Urban Sketchers at the Museum of Inuit Art Marie-Judith Jean-Louis watercolor
I worked a little more of the contrasts and the details of my sketch, carefully noting where the darkest area were so that I could complete it later on at home, as I knew I wouldn't have enough time that day. Later on, I went over my drawing with an Inktense pencil that's water soluble. Using a water brush, I then increased the contrast of the sketch and added a green and blue wash over it.

We had a great turnout. A little over 20 sketchers took part in this event and many, including myself, plan to go back again in the near future. I also was made aware of two other places where we can see more native art in the city : the TD Gallery of Inuit Art and the Bay of Spirit Gallery. 

Toronto Urban Sketchers meetup

The next sketching event will take place at the Yorkdale Mall. For more information, you can visit our meetup group here