Plein Air Drawing: Toronto Skyline from Leslie Spit

Plein Air at Leslie Spit in Tommy Thompson Park on Sun Aug 10, 2014. View of the Toronto skyline through some leafless trees covered in birds. ©Brenda Clews, 2014, 9" x 12". Permanent inks on Fabriano 100% cotton cold-pressed 140lb watercolour paper.

We were to meet at a subway station at noon but it was more like 12:45pm before we left in 3 vehicles. There was a street festival, which took some manoeuvring to get by, and then the base of Lesley St was under construction which meant another detour and different route in. By the time we met at the foot of the Lesley St Spit it was nearly 2pm. Then we walked for about an hour in to find a spot to draw from.

I had planned on doing a smaller sketch - the one above - and then a larger one. It was very hot under direct sun and windless where we were, so everyone was ready to leave after an hour or so. I couldn't stay since they were my ride back.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the jaunt in (my art supplies, camping chair and beach blanket were in a bag with wheels), the company of a great group of young artists, and am not unhappy with my drawing, there were a few problems. I had taken a ton of supplies - but forgot a tin of Inktense blocks and had no white, so used a bit of white conté crayon and added some white from the ink block at home. But there was a bigger issue for me too. Normally, we get 3 hours to draw at these sketching-around-the-city events. After set-up, chatting, and so on, I had maybe 40 minutes in total to draw. Not long enough. There were, for instance, long grasses in front of the rock I was sitting on and some golden ragweed flowers (I'm not allergic - and can therefore admire their beauty) which I was going to add last (and which would have been in the larger drawing I didn't do due to time constraints) but didn't have time.

Writing this post, I realize I must add my expectation to the group post - that I need to be assured we will have 3 hours to draw on one of these trips. Otherwise, I don't think it's worth going.

Valerie Animus Leo organizes a Sunday afternoon sketching-around-the-city MeetUp and Facebook Group. This trip was to the Leslie Spit at Tommy Thompson Park in Toronto. Photo credit: Valerie, except the one of her painting a beautiful scene with gouache in a black floppy hat on the bridge, which I took. Lovely group and stunning surroundings, as you can see! The rest of the photos are here:

As you can see in the 2nd and 3rd photos top row from the left, yeah, well. I took everything but a studio easel to the Plein Air trip to the Leslie Spit! Haha. That's a little camping chair I've had 20 years and swear by if you are going to be sitting for any length of time, a beach blanket, two plywood boards for water jars and supplies, two watercolour paper blocks, one smaller and the other I've had like 30 years and is larger, tins of pencils, pens, inks, sizing medium, paper towels, sun screen, and half a dozen yummy vegetable samosas which I shared.

After, we went to the Bampot Bohemian House, where we learned that they are starting a new life drawing series in the back every other Sunday from 2:30-5:30pm. I am rather ecstatic to have a life drawing venue close to where I live.


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