Toronto Indie Arts Market

Last weekend, I was invited to the Toronto Indie Arts Market  which took place at the Gladstone Hotel. I was helping a local illustrator and author, Mili Fay, with her table where she was selling her first children's book, full of beautiful drawings. The event took place at the Gladstone Hotel. 

It was my first time attending this event and I found it interesting to see who showcased their work there. I got the opportunity to meet a couple local artists, authors and publishers and was able to get a better grasp at the local art scene in this part of the city. During breaks, I took out my sketchbook and did a couple quick sketches of some details of the hotel as well as one of the exhibitors that day. The hotel has a lot of interesting architectural details. It was built in 1889 by a local architected named Georege Miller. I hope to be able to go back and do a couple more sketches. The hotel even has the old school elevator that requires an operator to activate. 

Torontonian 13 : Keanu Reeves

Although I had seen him in other movies before, I really noticed Keanu Reeves after seeing the movie The Matrix, in which he was the lead actor. It's one of these movies that really made an impact on my perspective on life in general and created a paradigm shift. He's an interesting person, who doesn't appear to be very public. I couldn't find any official social media accounts from him. He doesn't even have a personal website. Still, from bits of interviews it seems like he's a very down to earth and hard working man who loves the movie industry. He has a lot of movies under his belt, both as an actor and also, more recently, as a producer. He also has a book called Ode to Happiness, which is described as a picture book for grown-ups. It looks like he is collaborating with the same illustrator in another book about Shadows, due to be released later this year in October. 

The process
I took a couple pictures as I was drawing his portrait. After getting a comment on Instagram about "teaching" how I colour my portraits, I figured I would share my process a little more in case it might help or inspire others. 

I usually start with a pencil, check the proportions and fade the lines before I start adding colours with a kneaded eraser. (I never realized how useful this little tool is until I recently started using it). Then, sometimes, I add a quick wash with watercolour to add more depth and locate the shadows. Then I start using watercolour pencils. I start with the eyes (usually my favourite place to start) and expand from there. I look for the many colour that make up the face. After following a couple artists who are expert in portrait, I quickly realized that there are many layers and colours involved in drawing a realistic portrait. So for me, part of the process is finding out how many colours make up each area of the face. It's a bit like looking for individual pixels on a screen. I tend to go back over a couple times to add more contrast and correct the shadows and colours. Then I go back to watercolour with a brush mostly to intensify the black and finish up by dipping some watercolour pencils in water to intensify some details.  

Inside and Outside the Fox and Fiddle

Since it was too cold to stay at the High Park to sketch, we decided to go to a pub to eat and warm ourselves up. We ended up at the Fox and Fiddle on Bloor street. Pubs are always a great option for a large group of people without reservations.

While I was there, I decided to sketch a couple who was eating and chatting at a table in front of me. It was towards the end of their meal. I was trying to capture a moment they seemed to be having and the high contrast between the dark indoors and the light outdoors. For some reason, the way they were positioned against the window made for a inspiring image. 

The second sketch is the outside view from an adjacent window. It was facing the back alley of another building, behind a black metal fence with the colour coded garbage and recycling bins. At first I thought it wasn't the greatest view, but it made for an interesting subject to sketch. Maybe it's the combination of the texture of the red brick walls, the black fence and by the colourful bins. 

Sketching at High Park

I was hoping to see the famous cherry blossoms at High Park during our sketching session, but the heavy rain fall from the previous days and the unusually cool temperatures of the past few weeks have considerably reduce the volume of flowers in the trees this year. So it's not as spectacular as it could be but it was still nice to be in the park and take in the scenery. There were a few petals on the ground and a fewer flowers holding on to the trees. It was interesting to see the amount of people taking pictures along the path. 

Today was a particularly cold day and, despite our good intentions, it was just too cold to spend the whole day sketching outdoor. I managed to sketch a view of the pond with a little cherry tree closer to the pond. The tree was more green then pink, but still attracted a good amount of photographers and models. Some even picked up petals from the ground and threw them in the air to simulate petal falling from the sky. 

After about an hour and a half, we called it quits and decided to look for a warmer place to sketch. According to the Sakura Cherry Blossoms website, this long weekend is the last chance to see them in full bloom as more rain is expected in the next couple day, most likely knocking out the remaining flowers. I guess I'll have to wait until next year to experience this display of natural beauty the as shown in the video below from last year. 

Torontonian 12 : Jeanne Beker

I used to watch Jeanne Beker's Fashion Television show religiously when I was younger. I believe it was on every Saturday night. I would get to see and hear about the concept behind the art of fashion through the eyes of the fashion designers and the models from around the world. It was fascinating to get a glimpse of that scene. It's also impressive that the show lasted 27 years. I can only imagine what a great experience it must have been for her. 

Sketching at the Brookfield Place

A little over a week ago, our sketching group met at the Brookfield Place to do some sketches of the office building complex located near the Union Station. We gathered in the spectacular Allen Lambert Galleria, also known as the "crystal cathedral of commerce", which was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. Looking up at the curved ceiling, it definitely reminded me of Spain. 

The place was rather quiet during most of our session. There was classical music playing in the background and people passing by at various time. Two couples came with their photographers to apparently take engagement pictures. It's a very popular place for that. It just goes to show the importance and impact of designing spaces to not only be functional but aesthetically pleasing. The design for this space was the result of an international competition to comply with Toronto's public art requirement. I would say that this is a success, judging by the amount of people who felt compelled to stop and take photos while we were there. 

Once again we had a great turnout for our event and lots of great sketchers from the participants, as shown below. Now that the weather is getting warmer, I'm hoping we'll be able to sketch outdoors a little more. But on a cold day, this is a great place to hang out. The only thing missing in my opinion, are seatings for people to fully take in this beautiful space. 

Dr. Sketchy Toronto with St. Stella

Last week I was able to make it to a Dr Sketchy session with St. Stella despite being super tired. This session was particularly challenging because of all the draping from the fabric, which is great, and the fact that I had not attended a life drawing session in a while. I managed to capture some interesting lines. Stella had great poses and fun personality. I'm still amazed at her ability to hold one foot in the air like the French Cancan girls long enough for us to capture it. 

Torontonian 11: Drake

It looks like Drake has been doing a lot to represent the city of Toronto in the hip hop industry. I don't recall so many shout-outs to the city of Toronto from various international hip hop artists before Drake got on to the scene. He also started the OVO Fest, an annual concert which brings a lot of my favourite artists to the city: people like Kanye West, Jay-Z, Eminem, Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, etc. I definitely have to go check it out, hopefully it will be this year.