The Collective

The Collective

I am a founding member of The Collective, a Toronto based figure drawing group. The Collective has been meeting weekly since 2009. Each week, a different member hosts. The sessions last three hours, with poses between 1 and 30 minutes. At the end of the session, we pass around our sketchbooks. 

My work within The Collective ranges from the conventional to the experimental. During Covid-19, the group has been meeting via Zoom sessions. I have been drawing portraits of Collectivites off my phone in my car parking lot. 

I am a founding member of The Collective, a Toronto based figure drawing group. The Collective has been meeting weekly since 2009. Each week, a different member hosts. The sessions last three hours, with poses between 1 and 30 minutes. At the end of the session, we pass around our sketchbooks. 

My work within The Collective ranges from the conventional to the experimental. During Covid-19, the group has been meeting via Zoom sessions. I have been drawing portraits of Collectivites off my phone in my car parking lot. 

An Index of Thursday Sessions

Covid-19 Sessions

Awful Lime Green Shrink Film

I ordered shrink film. It was supposed to be white. It is not white. It is this… lime green. BUT it IS tonal paper, when you think about it. So I used green to shade and red for contrast and I honestly like a couple of these portraits. Now I’m thinking that I’ll get some pink paper and some white paint, or maybe a light blue.

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Portraits with Pink

Marker portraits from 1 – 10 minutes. Some on Shrink Film, others on paper.

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This week, I stuck to a 6B pencil. Weirdly, this made every mark more permanent than my usual marker routine. Since I lay down lighter marker layers first and correct with darker colours after, the perspective gets fixed with every layer. But when I went to erase pencil marks, it didn’t work. Maybe I need a different eraser? Anyway, you can see my issue with foreheads. I chronically underestimate the length and then have to correct. But the trade-off with the 6B is line weight. Lots of loose light sketchy marks and then tight black nostril depth blacks. I think the pencil work is better for quick expressions.

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Too much distraction from the family this week. Kept my lines loose but I’d have liked to sit and concentrate on the work.

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I put together a minizine: How to Build an Artist Collective! These are the images of Toronto Collective members that I used for the zine!

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Drawing Outside the Box

I started out with the notion that I would draw boxes and fit the drawings into that space. Seemed to really help me with proportions and relativity. In the 10s, I broke out of the boxes, but only with the sketch. I only worked detail and colour into the boxes. I feel like this has the potential to become an interesting lesson plan, actually. It was very helpful to have rules and then to make modifiers that still upheld the original rules. I can see the lesson in three parts – warm up (no boxes), 5 minute in the box sketches, and then 10s with the modifiers. I ended up breaking the 10 minute pose of John into two fives because he has a second camera. I like the results in the longer sketches and I think the lesson plan has some potential. I’ll return to this again.

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Thinking Community

This week, I’ve been searching for “community” in Rijksmuseum and other galleries that have gone online during Covid. I’m putting together a January zine on the theme. I drew this week’s Collective to fit into some sketches I’ve done of museum artworks. I’m guessing that I’ll use pieces from other weeks instead, just because there are some that I really love… but we’ll see. Here’s this week’s “community collective”

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Sketchy People Jewelry

I’ve been obsessing over shrink film recently. These were drawn and baked on the same night. I think the floating head of John works the best as a necklace pendant. It’s super hipster though. I’m also partial to the Anthony surrounded by Gilas with the blue background. Something about that reads as jewelry to me. The issue with pendants is that it is expensive to make them into necklaces. It’s one thing to attach a piece to earring findings and another huge step to bead or even string a necklace. 

Click on images for isolated view. These images are small. The pieces are a little larger in real life.

The Last Collective of the Year - December 31st 2020

A quick afternoon session. Just two hours. I’m glad we got one last one in for the year. Great poses from everyone, as per usual. I love stripes, so Jake’s shirt made me a happy drawer. 

Christmas Eve Sketches - December 24th 2020

Great session. I talked too much, as is my way. My son joined us for a bit on this session. He posed for a couple ones and a two minute with me and he drew too! I’ve included his drawings in their own slideshow (his are the top ones). I think James did a good job with the hands! What a nice Christmas present! Made my night.

Sketches and Shrinks - December 17th 2020

A good group this week. Always great to have extra faces to draw.

Christmas Ornaments! - December 3rd 2020

Jake, Francis, Kathleen, Anthony, Brian, and Gila… a 6 pack of Collectivites. Marker on transparent shrink paper, double coated in resin.

Back to Portraits - November 26th 2020

Familiar faces and even some familiar poses. I’m partial to the 5s and 10s this week. I’ve tried something different with the slideshow ordering this week. Each model is shown in sequence, from their shortest post to their longest. This isn’t the way we draw (we take turns) but it is nice to see the details fill in. At this point, I’ve drawn each of these people dozens if not hundreds of times, so even the ones and twos should capture them a little.

1-3: Brian, 4-7: Jake, 8-11: Anthony, 12: Gila and Francis, 13: Gila, 14-16: Francis, 17-19: Ones of everyone

An Excellent Zoom Model - November 19th 2020

An excellent model over Zoom. He has always been great at giving us interesting angles. Now, he seems to have mastered the art of creating interesting forms within the camera frame. When he took breaks, we jumped back into portraits. This week, I’m partial to the the fives and a few of the later, colour drawings.

Portrait Collage - November 5th 2020

Another comfortable indoor session. I ended up last in the line up this week because we went alphabetical. Worked out very nicely for me because everyone else posed for a ten and then, alas, we ran out of time. 

Comfortable Means Colourful - October 29th 2020

I have a new arrangement on Thursday Collectives that puts me comfortably indoors in a spare bedroom. This week, I had actual room to lay out my markers and actual, large paper to draw. Even though the individual drawings are about the same size, the ability to move wherever on the page really frees me up. This is a pretty colourful set. That has a lot to do with having the materials laid out beside me. I think my next step will be to curate the colours. I do tend to just use what I have on hand. Realistically, I can easily create a colour scheme before I begin. It’s not as if any of the colours I choose actually match the reality.

Shout out to the awesome model/artists last night. I especially enjoyed the exaggerated perspective on the butts! 

A Loose Line - October 15th 2020

Emotional draws this week. I didn’t put any performance pressure on myself and ended up with overlapping drawings and random compositions. But I do really like the jeans.

Blind Contour Based Portraits - October 8st 2020

This week, I accepted a one time gig where I will be blind contour drawing online. I thought it made sense to do a full session of Blind Contours. If you are interested in Blind Contour Drawing, please visit my Blind Contour Instruction Page. The technique is very simple. With practice, it automates the process of developing proper line flow. It also teaches you to draw what you see, not what you assume.

For the short drawings, I only used Blind Contour. For the longer drawings, I added colour and detail onto the blind contour base. For a few drawings, I layered multiple blinds on top of each other. I tried to switch mediums and colours when I did this. Generally, I found doing a whole session this way very tiring. I will have to keep that in mind for my students. I will be drawing objects using the technique this week and posting them to my Covid blog.

Finally, a Big Monitor - October 1st 2020

This time, when it started to rain, I came inside and stole the family computer. It’s great to be able to see while you draw!

Excuses Excuses! - September 24 2020

Came late after hanging out with a friend. We had a model but then it switched to portrait drawing. It got dark, fast. I was using the light of my cellphone to draw. An interesting night.

Portraits - September 17 2020

This week was a mess for me. I was drawing at my folk’s place and the signal kept dropping. I really like the chatter but this week the sound wasn’t right and I eventually had to mute it. Complaints (and excuses) aside, people did a great job posing. I also had the option of jumping inside without being pounced on by little ones. So my hands didn’t get cold and my lines stayed loose. I fiddled about with framing using painters tape. I do like the result but I think I might just leave the tape on next time and colour it black. When the pictures were taped, you could really tell they were cellphone images. I like that.

Portrait Gallery

Portraits - September 10 2020

Not really sure what to lead with this week. It felt like there were some solid drawings but no real standouts.

Portrait Gallery

Portraits - September 3 2020

Drawing other artists really changes the dynamic. Artist tend to give each other challenges. And there’s a friendly one-upmanship in picking a really great pose. It feels… collaborative. The poses this week were great. Visiting artist (and hopefully regular) Toni was a welcome addition. I do think my portraits would have benefited from some white gel pen highlights though.

Portrait Gallery

Back to Portraits - August 27 2020

At the end, when we saw each other’s work, I thought it was such an exciting show. Really a remarkable evening. My portraits were fairly experimental, especially as night set in. For the second half of the evening, I was using my camera flashlight to see the page while I drew from the screen. This practice is so unusual but oddly fulfilling. And, of course, the chatter is very pleasant as long as I check myself and don’t talk too much. 

Portrait Gallery

Bonus Peter - August 26 2020

An extra session with Peter, mostly 10 minute poses.


Peter (Zoom Figure Drawing) - August 20 2020

I really struggle to see the whole figure in any detail on the phone. On the other hand, the camera simplifies the image. I make fewer choices and I am finding that I can fill in many of the details I cannot see. George is one of my absolute favourite models and he could not be more suitable for Zoom drawing. His features are bold and his poses are dynamic and easy to read from a distance. In fact, he has the presence and features of a stage actor.


Zoom Portraits on Grey - August 13 2020

This week, I used gel pens and grey paper alongside my usual markers. I am noticing that I like the work that starts out with a light rough in one colour. I can adjust the placement of features with darker colours and the process gives the work some depth.

Portrait Gallery

Zoom Portraits in the Dark - August 6 2020

Portrait Gallery

I came in late to the session and missed the one minute warm ups. Thankfully, the Collective indulged me and we did some ones at the end. I have always wondered what happens when you do your quick drawings after completely warming up, so it was a real treat for me to try the experiment out. I really like the results! A one minute session at the end feels quite slow. You have lots of time to get in detail. Before you warm up, it feels so rushed!

Cellphone Life Drawing - July 30 2020

Lifedrawing Gallery

Is it really life drawing if the model is a 2 inch figure on your cellphone? Yes. The camera flattens and the angles are oddly exaggerated, but Richard is an inspiring muse in any medium. Unfortunately, the scanner really does a number to neons so the colours aren’t as they should be, but oh well.

Zoom Cellphone Portrait Session - June 18 2020

Portrait Gallery

More black brush pen and white pastel pencil portraits. It’s really odd how easy it is to draw for 3 hours with only modeling breaks breaks on Zoom. It doesn’t seem to matter that I’m straining to see the screen. It doesn’t seem to make a difference if the modeling pose (we take turns) is uncomfortable. It’s easy to just keep going. On the last pose, I’m usually ready to stop for the night, but then sometimes I end up doing a sit down piece with a more imaginative bent. I think the socializing really keeps the energy up. It’s the only really relaxing social interaction I have outside of family all week long. It’s nice to laugh.

Zoom Cellphone Portrait Session - June 11 2020

Portrait Gallery

Switching up the Medium this week…

Zoom Cellphone Portrait Session - June 4 2020

Portrait Gallery

Lots of quick zoom cellphone portraits this week: ones, twos, fives, and a couple tens. 

A small group this week so here are some introductions. That’s Brian (with the beard), Francis (with the scruff), and Kim (beardless, ha!).

Mixed Media Portrait Session - May 28 2020

Portrait Gallery

I pre-painted my paper with acrylics this week. The originals are far pinkier but those colours get lost in the scan. Even though the drawings don’t really suit the medium, I wanted to bring some colour back into my work.

I’m finding the Covid sessions have tended toward black ink on white paper. There’s a starkness to my mood – the prevailing mood, really – and it’s affecting the way I express myself. Maybe it’s because I’m indoors so much. This is month three of isolation. We visit my parent’s backyard a few days a week now and it’s doing wonders for my mood. But still. I miss being able to move about.

Zoom Cellphone Portrait Session - May 21 2020

Portrait Gallery

Zoom Cellphone Portrait Session - May 7 2020

Portrait Gallery

Lots of quick zoom cellphone portraits this week: ones, twos, fives, and a couple tens.

Blind Contour Zoom Session - April 30 2020

Blind Contour

For Blind Contour Drawings, the artist looks at the subject but never the page.

Contour/Blind Contour Mix

These pages contain a mixture of Contour and Blind Contour Drawings. 


For Contour Drawings, the artist may look up and down from the subject to the page. They do not lift their pen from the page.

Collective Zoom - April 23 2020

Lotto Tickets - December 2019


Cut Outs

Figures on Tile

Gallery of Weirdness