Posts Tagged ‘St. Michael’s College’

Plein Air Toronto 2018 – Final Two Days!



We visited St. James Cathedral in the heart of downtown Toronto on Thursday. The cathedral grounds abut a well-treed park with lovely gardens.

I set up to demonstrate and, being day four, asked the participants if they had any pressing questions before we began to paint. The key question concerned the four-value planning studies that had been a theme all week long. It was a good question. I proceeded to paint a small four-value study. You can probably tell that I invented the simple subject but the exercise helped to clarify the process for everyone.

We enjoyed a lovely, sunny day with a fresh breeze.

The shade of the cathedral wall provided a sheltered spot for our critique.

Thursday Critique a

Thursday Critique b

One more day of painting together! We met at St. Michael’s College on the downtown University of Toronto campus. Historic architecture, gardens and public sculpture highlighted the subject matter at this charming and peaceful oasis in the city core. As usual, we met for my demonstration.

I followed up on Thursday’s ‘Q and A’ lesson with another discussion of value. Looking at a sun-dappled doorway, I sketched in pencil. Next, I determined my lightest lights and, leaving them as paper-white, I shaded a light middle value everywhere else. The participants were interested in the simplification of a complex subject. I added a bit of a dark middle value and that was enough to communicate the lesson. Later on, I added a wash to further clarify the pattern.

Once again, the weather was spectacular and everyone enjoyed the location.

All good things come to an end, apparently! It was a wonderful week of creativity and companionship. Have a look at the Friday critique.

Friday Critique

I thank all of the participants for their hard work and enthusiasm. Thanks for following us. Next stop is Grand Manan Island and that workshop starts on July 29. Care to join us? There are a few spots left. Click here for the details.



Toronto Outdoor Week – Days Three and Four


WEDNESDAY: We visited Riverdale Farm and the adjacent Necropolis on Wednesday. The farm is always a good experience. It’s right downtown and chickens peck at your feet while you’re concentrating on a sketch. I did a pen and watercolour demonstration at the start of the day. There’s a lovely chapel at the gates of the Necropolis and I’ve drawn just a section of it.

The weather has been cooperative this week and everyone settled in for a good day of sketching and painting. I even made friends with a local art critic (below right).

I visit the workshop participants regularly during the day but, sometimes, I take the time to prepare a piece for an afternoon discussion/demonstration. You can see three steps of a pen and watercolour study of a barn interior below. The first step is a wet-in-wet wash over the pencil drawing. I added some local colour and deepened the interior with the second step. I believe that’s some kind of horse collar hanging on the post but I’m definitely no authority on barnyard paraphernalia.

I did this pen work at the end of the day, just before our critique. I don’t consider it to be finished at this stage. Actually, I rarely finish demonstrations as I often dig them out of the pile at a later date and show them to another group. If they’re finished, an observer is less able to see the process involved.

THURSDAY: The University of Toronto has a large and attractive downtown campus made up of several colleges. We worked at St. Michael’s College today and it’s village-like atmosphere is very conducive to a relaxing day of art.

I thought about our first three days before planning my morning demonstration. Everyone had done well but part of my  job is to notice the less successful things and to make suggestions as to their improvement. My morning demo was a sort of worksheet, reviewing some ideas from earlier in the week as well as drawing attention to some of the current site’s challenges.

This area features a popular sculpture called “Neighbours” by Joe Rosenthal (2001). It was equally popular as a subject for sketching and painting. I thought I’d forgotten my pencils and sketched the study below with an orange pen. I mixed up three values of wash, applying the lightest first and touching in the darker values while still wet. I was going to continue this study with black pen but decided to leave it for a while. I like it’s simplicity.

We endured a brief thundershower in the afternoon, our only wet spell thus far. The back of the Pratt Library is recessed about eight feet and provided a dry shelter for us. After the rain, the Rosenthal sculpture continued to attract our painters (below left). I made a quick pen and watercolour sketch of this artist at work. It was a prelude to my Friday morning demonstration at Edward’s Gardens.