Gareth Bate

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Your Mission,
should you choose to accept it...

Loosen up, let go and find inspiration this summer.


Outdoor Abstract City Drawing

Explore Toronto with new eyes.

REGISTRATION IS OPEN! Deadline: Fri. June 1, 2018 at midnight.
Seven Weeks + One Free Bonus Makeup Class. Summer of 2018


Kensington Market. Drawings by Clover Clarke, Siiri Kornel Sylvia Lustgarten and Andrea Yermy. Photos: Gareth Bate.


It's time for a staycation!

We'll explore the colour
and energy of Toronto's streets.


Do you spend way too much time stuck indoors staring at a screen?

Tired of representational studies?

Are you looking to find imagery that is unique to you?


I teach a lot of classes. But this one is my favourite. It's really fun and I look forward to it all year. Let’s get outside and enjoy the nice weather while it lasts! If you’re feeling stuck indoors then this is perfect for you. This course is like summer camp for adults.

Toronto is a beautiful city filled with colour and fascinating imagery. There are so many wonderful locations. This is your chance to really explore the city this summer.

Outdoor Abstract City Drawing is all about letting go and experimenting. Every week we visit a new Toronto location. You'll be drawing inspiration from the energy, imagery and sounds of the city. Together we explore the locations and then you draw from your own experiences and imagination rather than directly from observation.



Yonge and Dundas Square. Drawings by Ayfer Samancioglu, Noreen Palley, Ana Majstorovic. Photo: Gareth Bate.


Why Abstract?

Let's face it sometimes doing representational studies gets boring. Want to get into more creative, experimental or imaginative drawings? What if you could convey the feeling or mood of a place rather than what it literally looks like? What if you could express your own inner vision?

With abstraction there are no rules, no boundaries, no structures and no limits. Abstraction is ambiguous, it doesn't give you everything. It's open to interpretation. It can be mysterious and evocative. The most exciting thing about this course is seeing the surprising things that come out of people when they free up and stop needing everything to look realistic. This is an oppertunity to play and express yourself. Abstraction is liberating.

When you see the fantastic drawings by my students on this page remember that they're just making something up on the spot. They had no idea what the project was in advance. They just responded to the location. That's the key, just being present to the place and what it gives you.

It’s time to step out of your comfort zone and try something different. Your drawings might surprise you. What else is possible?


Yonge and Dundas Square. Drawings by Simone Diselets, Christine Dart, Arlene Lerer, Gary Christie. Photo: Gareth Bate. Water photo: Gary Christie.


Everything is right here...

When I was a student the biggest revelation to me was carrying a sketch book everywhere and drawing from life. It was like discovering that I had never really seen before. Quite a shock. For 5 years I never thought once about travelling because the world around me was so fascinating.

I want to share that experience with you.


"Gareth had the rare ability to understand and answer my questions!... I would say that anyone who is excited by and wants to expand on their own artistic ideas should take this course. It provides a great exposure to expressive art and the instructor is really good at gauging and instructing at each artists' level."
- Sudeshna Maitra


Harbourfront condos and Gardner Expressway. Drawings by Ayfer Samancioglu, Sudeshna Maitra, Janet Hope and David Barron. Photos: Gareth Bate.


Here's How The Class Works...

I created Art School Untangled to teach one of a kind courses that you can't find anywhere else. These courses get right to the heart of problems students face and focus intensely on a single issue. This will be the fourth year of this course.



THE MESSAGE: Good morning. Each week you’ll receive an email with a new mission from me. That’s right, every week I surprise you with a new location somewhere in Toronto’s downtown. It'll include our new meeting spot, maps and directions. I’ll also include examples of abstract artists who fit our upcoming theme as inspiration.

ON LOCATION: I’ve selected places that're visually exciting with access to bathrooms and shade and the potential to relocate to somewhere covered or indoors if necessary. For each drawing assignment I give you a theme or approach designed to make you notice unexpected things. You’ll go off to explore the location for about 20 minutes. You'll draw inspiration from the energy, imagery and sounds of the place. We then all get back together and begin a drawing. We'll do two drawings in each class.

APPROACH: The emphasis is not on perspective or representational urban studies. Instead you'll draw from your experiences, feelings, memories and imagination rather than from direct observation. There is no right or wrong approach. It's really whatever comes to mind. I teach both abstract and representational painting. You are welcome to use any kind of imagery you want. It’s totally up to you. I’ll respond to what you need.

LAST CLASS CRITIQUE: For the last class we draw for the first half then head to my Toronto studio at 401 Richmond. We'll put up all your drawings and see how they all come together. This is fascinating to see as often despite having drawn in very different locations, and with a different purpose, there is usually a distinct style or approach that develops.

HOMEWORK: I’ll give you a drawing assignment each week which will encourage you to explore your own neighbourhood with the approaches we’ve been using in class. I’ve come up with assignments that will change your perception of where you live and make you notice all sorts of new things about it.


"You make it easy for us to show up and get underway. You are prepared and have planned the course which I really appreciate and you clearly know how to give constructive feedback on abstract work which I think is rare. Most of the other instructors I have had when working abstractly have just left us alone and not been able to say much on how to improve or develop the piece." - Sue Simington





Grafitti Alley. Photo: Gareth Bate. Drawings by Christine Dart, Angelique Davies, Arlene Lerer.


Art School Untangled:


Outdoor Abstract City Drawing

Explore Toronto with new eyes


Instructor: Gareth Bate

Duration: Seven Weeks + One FREE Sunday bonus make up class.

Number of Spots per class: 12

Registration is OPEN! -  Deadline: Fri. June 1, 2018 at midnight.

Locations: I surprise you with an exciting new location each week. We'll always be in downtown Toronto, close to public transit. I'll let you know via email the week before with precise directions and google maps.


University College and Hart House at the University of Toronto. Drawings by Clover Clarke, Angelique Davies and Gary Christie. Photo: Gareth Bate.


Class Group #1: Tuesday. Evening
(New Students)

Dates: Tuesday, June 12 to July 24, 2018

Time: 6:30 - 9:00 pm (It's light until this time)

Spots Remaining: 6 - Confirmed Running!


Class Group #4: Thurs. Afternoon (New Students)

Dates: Thursday, June 14 to July 26, 2018

Time: 2:30 - 5:00 pm

Spots Remaining: 7 - Confirmed Running!


Class Group #5: Thursday Evening (New Students)

Dates: Thurday, June 14 to July 26, 2018

Time: 6:30 - 9:00 pm (It's light until this time)

Spots Remaining: 11


Evergreen Brick Works. Drawings by Alison Michell, Janet Hope, Clover Clarke, Simone Diselets, Christine Dart. Photo: Gareth Bate.


Special Offer:

You can SAVE $50 if you sign up a friend who hasn't taken my courses in the past.


Going away during the course?

No problem, I got you covered!

I offer one FREE Bonus Sunday Makeup Class. You're welcome to attend even if you don't need to miss a class. I've got a particularly good location planned!


"I had trouble starting work from nothing in the abstract classroom sessions but was more successful using outdoor sites for inspiration. Learning to paint cityscape from memory was really useful and satisfying... This is a serious art class where you can expect to learn a lot. A great opportunity for people that 'wish they had gone to art school' - it's not too late to get good tuition." 

- Susan Montgomery


About Me

My name is Gareth Bate and I’m a full time artist, curator and art teacher. I work in painting, installation and photography. I've been teaching this course for two years and Abstract painting for 8 years. I've been asked if everything I do revolves around art and the answer is pretty much yes! I've travelled extensively and visited all the major museums in London, Paris, New York, Washington DC, Boston, Montreal and Cape Town. I'm Festival Curator of the World of Threads Festival an international festival of contemporary fibre and textile art in Oakville. I graduated with a BFA from OCAD University and a diploma from Central Tech's adult art program. I've been teaching since 2008. I’ve been featured on CBC News and Radio Canada and in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Now Magazine and La Presse among others.

Here are the courses I teach:
Art World Untangled
Art History: The Masters: 1400-1850
Art History: The Moderns: 1850-1980
Abstract Painting
Outdoor Abstract City Drawing
The Colour Mixing Detective
The Colour Match Maker


Royal Ontario Museum. Drawing: Carol Pasternak. Lower Photos: Front Street. Drawings: Sue Simington, Irene Hung, Simone Diselets. Photos: Gareth Bate.


Where does the first class happen? It's a surprise. I'll email you to let you know the first location. ; )

What are the locations? Every week is a new location. I'll email you a week in advance with google maps and directions. Locations will always be within the downtown and close to public transit, bathrooms and cover.

I’m going away so I’ll have to miss class. What do I do? I’m offering a FREE bonus makeup class so this hopefully will allow you to make up for missed time.

I need to miss more than one class is that going to be a real problem? Honestly no. This class is more like an anthology. Each location is a completely different experience and has different projects. So it's not a huge deal to miss more than one class.

I'm a bit embarassed to be drawing outside. What if people come look and comment? A few people will come by and look at what we're up to. They're just curious. People love seeing artists on the street. I've found that since we're drawing abstractly people have no idea what to make of the drawings! So they tend not to comment or linger. It's quite funny. There is no need to be shy about your drawings.

What do we do if it rains? I have carefully chosen locations that allow for the possibility of either going under a shelter or going indoors. Bring a small umbrella just in case we need to walk. You’ll need a few artist markers in case we have to go inside. Just so that we aren’t making that place messy. I'm pretty lucky, I've done this class for 3 years and it's only rained once so far.

What if I have to go to the bathroom? The locations will all be downtown. There will be cafes/bars/restaurants around for you to pop into.

How will I find you if I get lost? I’ll have my cell phone on and I’ll give you the number. I’ll let you know in advance the exact location where we are meeting and send a Google map and a Google streetview image via email.

My previous work is representational. I'm worried that the way I see is too literal. How will I know how to make abstract drawings? We’ll discuss various ways of approaching this in class. Essentially there is no right or wrong way. You'll draw what comes to mind. One technique I use is to have the class explore the area and then we all get back together to draw. So you're not looking at anything in particular while drawing. You're not drawing from observation but rather based on your feeling of the place, memory or from things that caught your attention. I also have no problem with you using imagery in the drawings if you want. The best advice I can give is to be detached from the outcome. To just draw and not really care what happens.

Abstract is new to me. Will this work for me if I don't really get abstraction? Yes. Anyone can do this. I'll show you lots of examples of artists working abstractly that you can draw inspiration from. Overall, there's no right or wrong way to approach this. It's about letting your own imagery emerge.

Can I work in a medium other than pastels and chalk? If you really want to yes. Chalk and oil pastel are really versatile and easy to carry. Some people have worked in professional artist markers which are awesome but expensive. You could also work in watercolour or ink if you want. I don't think lugging acrylics or oils around on location will work. It's just too much.


Grenadier Pond in High Park and Evergreen Brick Works. Drawings by Paul Goodram, Andrea Yermy. Photo: Gareth Bate.


Essential Class Materials

Art Supplies are extra.


2 large sized pads of watercolour or mixed media paper. Get ones where you can easily turn the pages rather than a block. You only need one pad during class.

1 box of varied chalk pastels. Unless you hate chalk. A pack of at minimum 20. The bigger sets are even better.

1 box of varied oil pastels. Unless you hate oil. A pack of at minimum 20. The bigger sets are even better.

Optional: I recommend working in oil pastel and chalk. But if you want you could also try watercolour, ink, artist quality markers.

Spray Fixative: This is an artist quality spray from the art supply store used to fix your chalk and oil pastels on the paper so they don't smudge. Don't bring this to class. It should be done outside on your own time.

Optional: Colour Paper: If you want you could experiment with differnt coloured paper. You can choose the colour that feels right for what you're feeling.

Latex or rubber gloves. This is to keep the pastel mess off your hands.

4 or more artist quality coloured markers. (These are in case we need to work indoors)

Light weight folding stool or chair to sit on if you want. I have a tiny little fabric stool that folds up. It works great.

Bag to carry things in.

Hat and sunscreen

2 Bulldog Clips to keep your drawings in place if it's windy.

Small umbrella or rain coat. If it rains we will move to a shelter or in doors. But it might be down the street so an umbrella is probably a good idea.

Art Clothing: You should dress appropriately for getting messy.

Crappy Towel or Apron: You can put it on your lap so you don't get chalk dust on your clothes.

Optional: Digital Camera or smartphone to document things for future reference.


So it’s time to make a decision.

You can waste your summer...

Or you can join us and really explore what Toronto has to offer.


Loblaws in Maple Leaf Gardens. Drawings by Sudeshna Maitra, Siiri Kornel and Janet Hope. Photos: Gareth Bate.


Register Now to

Reserve Your Spot!



Seven Week Course  +  One FREE bonus makeup class: $349

Art supplies are not included.



You can SAVE $50 off your course price if you sign up a friend who hasn't taken my courses in the past. You can email me about this later.



How to Pay

When you book I'll send you an invoice. You can then send me an online e-transfer in advance or you could also pay by cheque or cash during the first class. Payment is reguired during the first class.



Refunds Policy

I'm 100% confident in the value of this course. I therefor don't offer refunds. This is a small class. When you sign up you're taking a spot, so it's important to commit to taking the class. I offer a lot of information on this page to help you made a decision. If you're unsure, send me an email and we can talk about it.


Here's how to register...

Send me an email:

Subject Line: Registration for Outdoor Abstract City Drawing

What to include:


"...Your critiques were always constructive and honest. Loved the different sites we ventured into to draw. Brought about a greater appreciation of the vast diverse areas of Toronto." - Elaine Whittaker


Still Got Questions?

Send me an email:



I'm looking forward to seeing you!


Please share my courses with anyone you know who might be interested.


Toronto City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square during the Pan Am Games. Photo: Gareth Bate. Drawing: Sue Simington, Andrea Yermy, Ana Majstorovic, Susan Montgomery. Photo: Gareth Bate.


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