Performance sketching

As urban sketchers we are used to people looking over our shoulders as we draw on street corners or in cafés. But drawing on a wall in front of a crowd  — that’s a new experience, at least for me. Marc Taro Holmes and I were invited to be part of the Nuit Blanche party at the Canadian Centre for Architecture last night. We thought we’d be drawing on giant sheets of paper but as it turns out we were given a box of sharpies and a bare wall in a gallery space as part of the exhibition ABC : Montréal. We didn’t have a master plan but both of us had some laser copies of our recent Montreal sketches so we improvised. Before the crowds arrived, we figured out what the design of the mural would be: Marc’s sketch of Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral would be the largest vertical element with my panorama of Montreal as the horizontal baseline. In between we would weave in other elements from our sketches: a bit of Old Montreal, the Plateau Mont Royal, Carré St. Louis Victorian houses, Griffintown construction and some of Marc’s beautiful statues for the detailing.


Here’s the start of the Sharpie drawing with some of our sketches taped to the wall.


A few hours into the drawing, and tired of repeating the name of our group, I integrated the Urban Sketchers website into the mural (in my best imitation of the font Gill Sans Bold).


As the night wore own crowds gathered, took photos and tried to figure out the locations of various parts of the mural.


We’re almost finished (6 or 7 hours later!!) — just unifying the design with a center mass of distant buildings and trees.


And here is the final mural. A true Urban Sketchers collaborative experience!


26 Comments on “Performance sketching”

  1. Lee Kline says:

    Wow! What a wonderful experience it seems you two had. Congratulations. Shari, I met a pastel artist, Marvyn Rivett, who said he knows you. He’s Canadian, but I think from west of Quebec Province. He has some nice things on his web page,


  2. Awesome drawing on the wall!


  3. Mrs. P says:

    WOW…Fabulous! What an experience…good for you!


  4. This looks like so much fun! And I love the finished product.


  5. Verla says:

    WOW! The audience must have had a wonderful time.

    I know Lee Kline and Marvyn is my husband. I signed him up for your posts. We live in Florida near Lee in the winter and Niagara Falls the other six months. I also get Marc’s posts. Both of you are amazing.


  6. Helena says:

    Looks amazing. I wish I had been there to see you in action.


  7. Looks fabulous! It’s not easy going from a horizontal surface to a much larger vertical one. And you two didn’t even cheat with projectors!! Do you know if it is going to stay up for a while? I might have to swing by and check it out.


    • Nope, no projectors. I guess because we did the drawing in sections it was easier than I thought to enlarge the sketches. I assume it will be up for awhile unless they have already gone in there with whitewash!!


  8. Ross C says:

    Very impressive… particularly in the way the two artists’ work combined so well. But I am thinking that this must have been physically tiring… standing for so long and all that elevated work… tough on the arm and shoulder? Much harder than sitting in the car with a coffee conveniently located.
    And even not knowing Montreal, it was interesting to pick out the references to your previous posts… but no wheelbarrow… sigh.


    • Thanks Ross. I thought it would be more tiring physically but we tooks breaks to talk to people. And found some bean bag chairs in a party room to take a dinner break so that was a good rest.
      No wheelbarrow. This was strictly urban, no suburban paraphernalia.


  9. Jane Hannah says:

    Wow-wow-wow! The drawings turned out to be fabulous — a real combination of both of your talents, gathered together. Must have been exhausting, and exhilirating at the same time. Thank you for posting this — I would love to see it in person. Congratulations Shari and Mark!


    • Thanks Jane! Yes, it was both exhausting and exhilirating. I am feeling the fatigue today. Of course I didn’t get home until almost 1 am which is way past my usual bedtime : )


  10. Ethna says:

    Oh, what a fabulous result! what was the wall surface like to draw on with the Sharpie?….not too slippery?…did you have to press hard with the pen?


    • Thanks Ethna! It was a painted or maybe just primed wall surface. So it absorbed a lot of ink from the Sharpie. We went through them pretty quicky and we did have to press hard with the pen.


  11. Umm…complete WOW!


  12. captelaine says:

    Well I can’t think of anything new to add to WOW..


  13. Gina B.Gina says:

    Fabulous! I hope they keep it so I can see it next time I’m in Montreal!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s