I had a long ride to an event organized by Lakeshore Arts and Neighborhood Arts Network where I got to meet and talk to a insightful industry experts about the business of art. Part of my ride to the event involved 30 minutes in the subway and 45 minutes in the street car : perfect time to sketch. On the subway, most of the passengers were most likely going home from a long day of work. There was a lot of tired people, including this tired man who was catching on some sleep.
In the streetcar, I sketched some of the things I saw on King Street while riding the 508. I could mostly sketch things while we were stopped at a red light, trying to catch interesting "landmarks"that could potentially be a great meeting place for the sketching group in the near future. The Roy Thompson Hall is a great candidate. There are a lot on interesting buildings and sculptures along the way. It's also interesting to see the changes in the feel of the areas as we move from one neighbourhood to another.
There was a woman in the subway not too long ago who had an interesting outfit on and was wearing sunglasses. It doesn't get sunny in the subway, so right away, someone wearing sunglasses will get my attention. She had a very stiff expression that I tried to capture. It looks like she was trying to be incognito, but the hat and large necklace worked against that concept. Perhaps it was that contradiction that inspired me to sketch her.
I spotted a parked car, the other day, from a family displaying their support for two countries competing at the FIFA World Cup. I'm assuming it's a family based on the stick figure stickers on the rear window. I was too far to see the details of it, but most likely it belongs to two parents and a couple kids, maybe with a pet. It seems to be a trend to showcase who the owners of the car are by displaying personalized stickers in the back.
This particular car had two Italian flags attached to the side of it. And as I was sketching the car, I noticed that the front was blue instead of red like the rest of the car and realized that it was most likely an Australian flag that they managed to attached to the hood of the car. To me, this is a perfect representation of the diversity and openness of our city. You can support different teams and still get along.
Today, on my way back from a meeting, I started sketching someone busy with her cell in the subway. I didn't get a chance to finish it before she had to leave, so I proceeded to sketch the next interesting person who was also on his cell phone. The theme was then set for this page of my sketchbook: cell phones. So I looked only for hands and cells to fill my page. It was not hard to find and a great excuse to practice sketching hands in motions. It was an opportunity to observe the various gestures involved in using a cell phone: Some hold it with one hand, others hold it with two, some use one thumb to interact with it, others use two and some use one finger. For the most part, the commuters were completely absorbed in the little world bubble they create for themselves. It's like a portal to another dimension. They are there but not really. But really it's not different then someone reading a book, a newspaper or a magazine. It just looks a little different.
There's a worldwide sketching challenge going on right now with Urban Sketchers to cover the 2014 Fifa World Cup. Since it's an international event that connects us all in a way, I thought it would be fun to participate.
My first finding is this decorated balcony from England fans, ready for the game. They even added red and white flowers matching the colour of the flag. I wonder if they were chosen this way or if it's a coincidence. Out of hundreds of balconies in that area, it is currently the only visible flag from that side of the building. The games officially start tomorrow, it will be interesting to see if more flags show up as the game starts.
I'm not too big on sports but from my understanding, Canadians are typically more into hockey than soccer. However, since Toronto is a very multicultural city with Canadians having roots in all corners of the world, I wouldn't be surprise to see flags from various countries appearing throughout the city. I might have to look at different neighbourhoods to see different flags, but I'll try to keep and eye open and my sketchbook at hand to capture the effect the this years world cup in Toronto. If you're curious to see what other sketchers around the world are capturing, search for #UskWorldCup in various social medias and if you happen to be sketching and posting something related to the world cup, make sure to use that hashtag as well.
It's interesting to see what keeps people occupied while riding the subway. There's usually a good number of people hunched over their cell, often playing some mindless game. Perhaps it's a way to disconnect from their work mode and relax before heading home. That day, around 7PM, I noticed this gentlemen who was very focused on his phone, barely moving. I couldn't tell what he was looking at, but it looked quite serious from the expression on his face. Perhaps some unfinished business at the end of the day. The fact that he was barely moving made it easy for me to sketch him.
This young man inspired me to sketch him in the subway the other day. He seemed deeply into his thoughts but somewhat uncomfortable, as he kept fidgeting and changing positions. Perhaps it might have been the stress of the day or he was nervous about something. He was mostly looking down at the floor. It took me a couple tries to lock in a on a position he held long enough for me to capture it but I was able to get the perfect Thinker pose, just like the bronze sculpture by Auguste Rodin.
Last weekend, we headed over to Nathan Phillips Square, an urban plaza in the city nestled between the new city hall and the old city hall, to sketch the area. It's a great gathering place with tons of event going one and interesting details to sketch such as a reflecting pool and fountain, a stage, sculptures and a variety of architectural buildings and features.
Fortunately this time we had a beautiful sunny day so we were able to stay all days sketching various interesting points of view. I mostly focused on the old city hall located across the street. Build in the late 1800's, its architecture is of the Richardsonian Romanesque style, full of intricate details. The more I looked at it, the more I discovered interesting details. No wonder it took 10 years to build!
We had a great turnout and lots of great sketches from the participants as shown above. It's definitely a place I would go back to sketch again.