Thursday, March 9, 2017

Sketching At Ottawa's NEW Art House Cafe

The Ottawa urban sketchers held a sketching event at Ottawa's newest art venue, the Art House Cafe at 555 Somerset St West (at Bay) in Centretown.

The welcoming front porch of the Art House Cafe
Sketch of  Art House Cafe entrance (by Cindi Foreman)
Owner Josiah ("Jo") Beaton was an incredibly welcoming host for the Ottawa Urban Sketchers. Not only was he most gracious in welcoming all of the Ottawa urban sketchers and answering all of our questions, he was our skilled barista and cook extraordinaire throughout the evening!

The Art House Cafe is a special art space that Jo had dreamed of creating for Ottawa artists and you can tell that a LOT of thought has been put into so many of the details.

Art House Cafe owner Josiah Beaton serving up lots of great food and beverages.

Art House Cafe Art Director/Co-owner Geneviève Bétournay, chatting with Ottawa urban sketchers
Art Director/Co-owner Geneviève Bétournay, (Gen, who is also the director of the Studio La Mouche art collective) spoke with us about the process of filling this space with all of the incredible that surrounded us while we sketched.

"Gen’s role as Art Director will have her in charge of keeping the space alive with art: she’ll be looking to local artists to stock the on-site Gift Shop with Ottawa-centric goods (the second floor of the building will be run separately as short-term vacation rentals), managing exhibits, and overseeing equipment, resources, and services for artists such as silkscreening and printing.  Joe will be focused on the operation of the cozy front-room cafe and overseeing the Art House Cafe as a whole.  There will be spaces to rent for workshops, events, and performances, a gorgeous patio to enjoy, and great hopes from the new business partners that their venture will be a space for artists and non-artists alike to learn, connect, and be inspired."
Wow! What an inspiring space with so much potential for the future!

Ottawa urban sketching events are free, and open to sketchers of all ages and all levels and, lucky for us, the Art House Cafe is a child-friendly venue. We were so happy to have the two young sketchers below join us for part of the evening!

The Art House Cafe is a child-friendly creative environment

The seating throughout the Cafe is comfortable and every wall is filled with art. Such an inspiring place for artists to sit!

So many great spots to sketch at the Art House Cafe
All of the urban sketchers in attendance were encouraged to sit and draw whatever they liked and we asked that they share their sketches to our online facebook event page if the wished (this is entirely voluntary)
A sketch of me sketching (by Marisol)
All you need to participate in any of our events is something to draw with and something to draw on! For this event, sketchers were using pen, pencils, pastels, conte, watercoloursand even iPads to sketch on.

There were lots of tables to sketch on throughout the space.
The seating and tables in the Art House Cafe make it a perfect spot to sit and sketch. They also have spaces that would be perfect for hosting future sketching workshops as well.

These sketchers are all from thee U.K.! How wonderful that they dropped in to join us!
Our sketching events are open to anyone in the Ottawa area including visitors like our friends from the U.K. in the photo above. Anyone in Ottawa including visitors from out of town are welcomed to join us!

This urban sketcher on the left did a great sketch of the Art House Cafe owner Josiah Beaton!
There are sketchers at our events that have been coming since the beginning, like artist Laurie below. We also have new sketchers show up at every event we have organized and that is always exciting!

Long time Ottawa urban sketcher Laurie working on the sketch featured below.

Laurie's ink & watercolour sketch (size 11.5" x 16.5", in Moleskine sketchbook),

Sketchers are welcomed to attend our events, arriving in the time block at whatever time works for them and staying as long as they like - an hour or for the duration.

Ottawa urban sketcher administrator Kristina chatting with Toronto artist Matti - his first time with Ottawa Urban Sketchers
Often folks who are NOT part of our Facebook group and/or Facebook page hear about our events though friends. If you are not on Facebook, it might help to sign up for our emails on our Ottawa Urban Sketcher blog (add your email to space on right that says "Follow Us By Email") if you wish to be alerted about future events.

Trish Woolaver's sketch  of the Art House Cafe 

More sketchers were seated in an area that we may hold future workshops.
Most of the sketchers took advantage of the fact that this art space was also a cafe. The selection of coffees and teas were great and some of the Ottawa urban sketchers had rave reviews for the empanadas and gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches that were being served up. There are some incredible sweets available as well!

Coffee, sketching and FREE WiFi - a perfect spot for artists!
This sketch of the night by Evan Buchanan
This sketch of the night was by Ed Aguilar

This room at the back of the Art House Cafe was really full at one point!
It was daylight when we arrived and each room was filled with natural light. Later in the evening, each room was wonderfully lit for art-making as you can see from the pictures above and below.

More artists seated at tables that are found in every room.
Each room had paper and pencils out on the tables. The urban sketchers brought their own, but if you found yourself in the neighbourhood without your sketchbook, rest assured you will find some supplies to go with your coffee.

Near the end of the night many sketchers were still going strong.
Loved this sketch of the night by artist Neal Shannocappo

Some sketchers arrived as late as 8 pm (we finished at 9 pm)
It was a terrific night at a terrific venue. We will have to do this again in the future.

In the meantime, drop by the Art House Cafe if ever you have a chance

Friday, March 3, 2017

March 2017 Sketching Events

Tuesday March 7, 2017

This monthly life drawing event is organized by Ottawa artists Rebecca and Peter Purdy and takes place at the Atomic Rooster, 303 Bank St. from 7-10 pm.

Drawing at the Rooster is a relaxed and non-judgmental creative environment where all skill levels are welcome. There will be multiple models and a mix of short and long poses.

There will be food and beverage specials, so bring your sketch book and your creativity. Be sure to get there early to get a good seat. 

Wednesday March 8, 2017


It's been awhile! Come check out Ottawa's newest art space, enjoy some coffee and empanadas, and bring out your sketch books for some urban sketching at the Art House Cafe on Somerset, 555 Somerset St. West, from 4 to 7 pm.

Everyone of all skill levels is welcome to attend this free event, but please bring your own sketching materials. We'll be sketching all around the first floor of the Art House - come when you can, find a comfortable spot, and sketch for as long as you'd like.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Thank YOU Ottawa Sketchers!

It has been one year since Ottawa become an official urban sketcher regional chapter and was welcomed into the international urban sketchers (USk) family by the USk membership committee!

Colin White, Kristina Corre and I (Cindi Foreman) made the application in late 2015 in order to build a local community that would meet to sketch and share and promote the Urban Sketchers mission and manifesto. (Read more about Urban Sketcher Chapters here:

Thank YOU! 

In 2016, we met many times and met LOTS of Ottawa sketchers! At every event we saw familiar faces and new faces as well! We love when new sketchers come out to our events!

If you came to sketch with us once or twice; if you tried to attend every event; and if you wanted to attend but something always got in the way and you could not make it but followed along on social media, we thank you for all of your support in our inaugural year!

Some group shots of Ottawa Urban Sketchers: National Art Gallery of Canada, Nature Museum. War Museum and Sketching the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra rehearsal
Ottawa urban sketching events are FREE and open to all ages and all skill levels! Everyone is welcome from veteran artists to first time sketchers!

2016 Recap 
We, your three administrators (Colin White, Kristina Corre and Cindi Foreman) of the Ottawa chapter, extend our heartfelt thanks and we hope to see you in 2017!

Don't forget to join/like our Facebook page and our Facebook group for the latest news.

From our last sketch event of 2016

In Memory of Ottawa Urban Sketcher Mathieu Trudel (1979-2016)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

December 2016

Christmas Shopping Sketching at the Rideau Centre

Photo source: Ottawa Citizen
We love getting requests to sketch together through our blog and facebook pages. Here are a few of the last requests that we have received:
  • I'm coming back to visit my hometown Ottawa over Christmas and am wondering if anyone would like to meet up and draw? Cafe, museum, gallery, Rideau centre in peak Christmas rush, all of it would be good! I'm in town from the 19-30th. 
  • I am thinking that the Ottawa Urban Sketchers should have an event at the site of the new Civic Hospital before those beautiful old Experimental Farm buildings get razed or surrounded by new construction.
  • I think it would be fun to have a "Sketch Skate" - say in late January or early February depending on the state of the ice. There are plenty of "sketch-able" activities and landmarks we can capture. How about January 28 or 29? 
  • Should the Urban Sketchers Ottawa consider a monthly get-together too? Maybe this group could have an Ottawa Citizen article or a local TV news piece ...
Well, we listen and we want you to Save The Date for a possible "Sketch Skate" in January and we plan to do monthly get-togethers in 2017. 

But first, for folks interested in sketching the Rideau Centre in peak Christmas rush let's schedule December 18 (day) and 19 (evening) as our last get-together for 2016!

Start and Finish on the Rideau St. Pedestrian Bridge

Come for an hour or two or three. The times are set for starting and finishing on the pedestrian bridge over Rideau St. and then you can decide what you would like to sketch and which direction to go in between.

Artist rendering of planned pedestrian bridge - featured in 2015 Ottawa Citizen story (

There's plenty to sketch inside the Rideau Centre or you could follow the pedestrian bridge through The Bay to the ByWard Market to capture the festive outdoor vendors there and so much more.

Byward Market screen grab from Ottawa Tourism

Below there is a weekend time and a weekday evening time (Note that sun sets at 4:19 pm)

Sunday December 18: From 10 am to 1 pm

Monday December 19: From 5 pm to 8 pm

If these times don't suit you and you would like to see if folks are interested in alternative times, use the comment section below. 


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

October 23: Sketching Haunted Ottawa

Inktober #18 sketch by Cindi Moynahan-Foreman of The Beckta, 150 Elgin
Join us Sunday October 23, 2016 from 1 to 4 pm to sketch some of the more notorious places in Ottawa that are rumoured to be haunted!

Map: Excerpt from Mark Leslie's book: Creepy Capital
As always, arrive whenever you can and stay as long as you like!


What: Sketching "Haunted Ottawa"
When: Saturday October 23, 2016 between 1 and 4 pm
Where: Meet at City Hall to sketch The Beckta House (150 Elgin) and/or The (Former) Ottawa Teachers College at City Hall. We will then move to  Lisgar Collegiate and finish at the Ottawa Jail Hostel.

STOP #1 
The former Grant House "was built in 1875 for James Alexander Grant, a politician and doctor who is said to have maintained a morgue in the basement and to have once dissected a human brain at a nighttime gathering. Grant died there in 1920, a month after falling and breaking a hip. The building later became home to Friday’s Roast Beef House, where employees told of hearing coughs in empty rooms (Grant was asthmatic) and of seeing plates mysteriously crash to the floor. The structure now is home to the Beckta Dining and Wine Bar." (Source: The Ottawa Citizen)

STOP #2 
The (Former) Ottawa Teachers College, 195 Elgin St.

1910 postcard of Ottawa Normal School (now part of City Hall) (Source: Toronto Library)
Eliza Bolton was a teacher at what was then called the "Normal School,"and reportedly (and unfortunately), "Miss Bolton still thinks it's a school. She's often seen by staff walking the first-floor hallway between classes in her long dress and shawl. They know its her because she's there, in an old class photo hanging in the building. One evening, Miss Bolton went too far, and confronted a security guard while in the attic on his rounds, scolding him to return to class. The guard resigned the next day." (Source: Metro News)

Read about the Ghost of the Normal School from the 1916-1917 Yearbook

Image source: Parks Canada - Historic Places (screen capture)

STOP #3 
Lisgar Collegiate,  29 Lisgar St.
1918 Postcard from Centretown blogspot

One of Ottawa’s top rated high schools is also home to a ghost. "Story goes that two people have died at Lisgar Collegiate Institute–one, who was a janitor, was murdered and a student who was killed by fallen ice. They are known to ‘protect’ the school, and it’s a known fact that multiple people have seen a young girl staring out of the window in the attic." (Source: Narcity)

The attic has a small window that overlooks the grounds and many students claim to have seen a young girl staring out at them.

STOP #4 Finish 
Ottawa Jail Hostel, 75 Nicholas St.

What was once a jail home to many murderers, is now a hostel. "This forbidding stone building on Nicholas Street has long been home to the HI (Hostelling International) Jail Hostel Ottawa, which makes the most of the site’s reputation as “one of the most haunted buildings in all of Canada.” Invites the hostel: “Come hang with us!” (Source: The Ottawa Citizen)

Sketch Challenge: Try Another Angle?

Do  you want to try a sketching challenge? The first two locations (150 & 165 Elgin St.) can be seen from the terrace on the 7th floor of the Morguard's Performance Court office tower at 150 Elgin St. (attached to The Beckta) and  this terrace is open to the public!


Jim Dean, creator of Haunted Walks Ottawa, says:
"ByTown, the first name of the city (Ottawa), was once considered to be one of the most dangerous places in North America. The gang warfare between the rival English, French, Irish and Scottish groups, contributed to significant violence, murder and riots in the city streets. The construction process of the Rideau Canal, today a UNESCO World Heritage Site, also claimed the lives of close to 1,000 workers along its banks. With such a dark and deadly past, Ottawa certainly has all the elements to be one of Canada’s most haunted cities.”   (Source:

Friday, July 29, 2016

Sketching the Somerset House

On July 28, the Ottawa urban sketchers chose the historic Somerset House for our outing. (

Ottawa Urban Sketchers chose this location because the City of Ottawa recently approved to have Somerset House partially demolished.

This great building has, since 2007, suffered from what Heritage Ottawa calls "demolition by neglect".

The building was built in 1896 to House the Crosby Brothers Dry Good store. If you are interested in reading the entire history of the building (including the mystery behind the missing Turret) visit the link at urbsite by Robert Smythe here:

At this link you will also find a magnificent 1973 ink sketch of "The Ritz" (one of Somerset House's previous monikers) by well known Ottawa artist Arthur II.

Visit link above to urbsite article by Robert Smythe
There were lots of NEW faces to the Ottawa urban sketching group - we LOVE that! And plenty of wonderful familiar faces.

The evening light on Somerset House

The evening light was just starting to hit the western facade and the sketchers located themselves along Bank and started sketching.

5 sketchers sketching from the Second Cup location
 Bank and Somerset is an incredibly busy intersection in the evening! (All the more reason to be sad about this lovely building sitting empty since 2007) Because of the busyness of the pedestrian and vehicular traffic, sketchers looked for alcoves and walls to tuck into to sketch.

Three more sketchers in front of the former "Hartmans"

Sketch by artist/urban sketcher Trish Woolaver

My first sketch of the night.

Unfinished detail sketch by artist Laurie Foster

The sketchers moved over to Gabriel Pizza to share their sketches and talk about some future sketching venues. A great night was had by all!
My last sketch of the evening from Gabriel Pizza