Gareth Bate

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Outdoor Abstract City Drawing

Explore Toronto with new eyes.



Photo: Gareth Bate. Kensington Market. Drawings by Sylvia Lustgarten and Andrea Yermy.


Want to find inspiration as you explore the colour and energy of Toronto's streets this summer?


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

Need a "staycation?"?

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


Let’s get outside and enjoy the nice weather while it lasts! If you’re feeling stuck indoors and just need to get outside, then this course is perfect for you.

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 on 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.

Feeling bored by representational studies or still lifes? Want to do creative, experimental or imaginative drawings? What if you could convey the feeling of a place rather than what it literally looks like. What if you could just let go and express your own inner vision.

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


Three important things to know:

1) I only offer this course once a year.

2) Special Offer: You can save $50 if you sign up a friend who hasn't taken my courses in the past.

3) I know you might be going away at some point in the  summer so I offer a FREE makeup class!



Photo: Gareth Bate. Grafitti Alley.


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.


"The instructor 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


Photo: Gareth Bate.


Here's How The Class Works...

The emphasis is on letting go and experimenting.

We’ll be in different locations throughout Toronto's downtown. Every week I’ll select places that are visually exciting with access to shade and the potential to relocate to somewhere covered or indoors if necessary.

At the start of each class I show a slideshow on my laptop with examples of abstract artists who fit our theme for the day.

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 park. We then all get back together and begin a drawing. We'll do two drawings in each class.

The emphasis is not on perspective or purely representational urban studies or on learning materials and techniques. 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.


"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



Photo: Gareth Bate. Yonge and Dundas Square. Drawings: Sylvia Lustgarten, Noreen Palley, Ana Majstorovic.


Art School Untangled


Outdoor Abstract City Drawing

Explore Toronto with new eyes


Instructor: Gareth Bate

Location: I surprise you with a new location each week. We'll always be in downtown Toronto, close to public transit.

Meeting Place: I'll let you know via email the week before with precise directions and google maps.

Past locations included: Kensington Market, Yonge & Dundas, Nathan Phillips Square, Queen St. W, Union Station, Maple Leaf Gardens, construstion sites, Bloomfield Place, Bloor St., Rail lands, Everygreen Brick Works,  Grenadier Pond in High Park. I've got new ones planned for this year.

Spots: 12

Spots Remaining: 10

Duration: Six Weeks + 1 free Sunday bonus make up class

Days: Wednesday Evenings

Dates: June 21 to Late July 26.

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


Going away during the course?

No problem, I got you covered!

Free Bonus Makeup Class: Sun. July 16. 11 am - 2 pm
Toronto Brickworks in the Don Valley


"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 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
Colour Mixing Boot Camp


Photo: Gareth Bate. Royal Ontario Museum. Drawing: Carol Pasternak. Lower Photos: Front Street. Drawings: Sue Simington.


Essential Class Materials

Art Supplies are extra.


2 medium to large sized pad 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 least 20.

1 box of varied oil pastels. Unless you hate oil. A pack of at least 20.

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.


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.

Digital Camera of smartphone to document things for future reference. (Optional)

Clothing: You should dress appropriately for getting a bit messy.


Photo: Gareth Bate. Toronto City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square during the Pan Am Games. Drawings by Noreen Palley and Elaine Whittaker.



Where does the first class happen? I'll email you to let you know the first location.

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

I’m going away a few weeks 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.

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 drawing from observation but rather based on your feeling of the place, memory or from things you noticed. 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.

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 are up to. They're just curious. People love seeing artists on the street. I've found that since we are 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 an 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.

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.



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.



Photos: Gareth Bate.


Register Now to

Reserve Your Spot!



Package 1: Course  +  1 free bonus makeup class: $349

Package 2: Course + 1 free bonus makeup class + Personal Consultation. $449

Personal Consultation: During the hour and a half personal consultation we will discuss your artwork and your artistic development and what you are struggling with. This takes place at my studio at 401 Richmond St. West (at Spadina). You bring examples of your paintings and drawings or other work and we discuss them. Consultations take place during the run of the course.


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.



Gareth's Art Rocks

100% Money Back Guarantee

I’m committed to offering you an outstanding course. If you aren’t happy I don’t want to take your money. If after the first class you are not satisfied or don’t think this is right for you, I offer a 100% money back guarantee. All you need to do is inform me via email before June 24, 2017 at midnight. No problem. The only thing I ask is for you to let me know what didn’t work for you.


How to Pay

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



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.


Photo: Gareth Bate. Drawing: Sue Simington, Andrea Yermy, Ana Majstorovic, Susan Montgomery.