Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Urban Sketching - Sunnyside Pavilion

Last Thursday night, I joined up with an urban sketching group to make some art at the Sunnyside Pavilion on Lakeshore Blvd. here in Toronto.  I'd heard about the group on the website calendar posted by a new art store my friend Lorraine had told me about, which she and I had visited the previous Sunday in the Junction, called Articulations (great store, interesting collection of merchandise, reasonable prices. I'm looking forward to taking some classes there in the fall.)

You can read some of the history of Sunnyside here.  The building we visited dates back to about 1908.  When we arrived at 6 p.m., the pool was full of bathers and on a warm, summer's evening like last Thursday was, the beachfront itself was bustling with activity.  There were all manner of boats on the water - kayaks, dragonboaters, canoes, sailboats - and an equal number of activities taking place on land as well - beach volleyball, walking and jogging (with or without dogs and/or strollers), bicycling, rollerblading or inline skating as they call it these days (or does it have another name now? so hard to keep up!).  The Pavilion is also home to a cafe which was quiet until later in the evening when a number of the athletes sat down for a cool drink and a nosh.

I met up with Michael (easily identifiable as a painter by the portable stool he was carrying) and Ernie (other members of the recently formed group being away on vacation or unable to attend that evening) and we settled down to sketch from this viewpoint. 

Michael kindly lent me his stool (turns out he had two other smaller ones in his knapsack!).  Seagulls came by to check out what we were doing, they probably thought we might have food.  I didn't have time to paint them but quickly took photos to work from later.

When we finished our first drawing, we showed each other what we had done. I thought I had done reasonably well in such a short time period, given my novice status as a sketcher and watercolourist:

However, I quickly realized I was way out of my league.  Michael, an architect, and Ernie, a graphics designer, have both been drawing for most of their lives and had created stunning watercolour sketches in the half hour we had sat there.  Both of their creations were suitable for immediate framing and were stunningly beautiful.  My painting was...not nearly as good.  It was incredibly intimidating but luckily for me, they were both very gracious and welcoming in spite of my obvious lack of skill and talent. 

We then moved to the road side of the Pavilion, which was much noisier from the traffic and road construction going on behind us but which offered prettier aspects of the building's architecture.

I focused on sketching the left hand side of the pavilion and didn't get very far along before time ran out.

As dusk arrived, we headed back to the beach to do one more drawing from the water's edge.  I like this one of mine the best, perhaps because I only used a Derwent sketching pencil (medium wash) and water (we chose to work only with a monochromatic scheme for this last painting) and didn't have to worry about getting everything painted in before it was too dark to see any more.

Like I said, these gentlemen were very kind and friendly, and graciously invited me to join them in two weeks' time when the group meets again (location TBD).  They also suggested I come along to the live model workshop taking place this coming Thursday but I'm pretty sure I'm not ready for that yet!  It's one thing to do a bad drawing of an inanimate object, I certainly wouldn't want to insult an actual person with my as yet unschooled renderings!

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