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.

Seven Weeks Course in Summer of 2019


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?


"The only drawing that I did was life drawing. I really had no sense of how to approach abstract art or abstract drawing at all. I was very hesitant and unsure about how to move away from realism. I knew that the course was going to push me and get me out of my comfort zone. You’re very supportive and encouraging. You always find something positive to say about the work. You notice what the heart of it is, and how we can improve it, and go to that next step to continue to grow through each piece of artwork. It’s a process and a journey.


I also really appreciated the critiquing and seeing other people’s work. It really strengthens your idea of your own personal expression. And makes you see that other people have very different but very effective and beautiful ways of drawing. I really loved the sense of community created by the class and the supportive environment and being in new locations to inspire us." - Arlene Lerer


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.


"It was always an adventure. I loved going to unexpected places, and waiting for the secret e-mail made it feel like an episode of Mission Impossible! It was really wonderful to sit in different places in Toronto and interpret them in different ways. It makes you see what’s possible and how your own city gives you a lot to look at. I liked being connected to other like-minded people, in particular the teachers in your class. You’re always so attentive to people when they are working. Creating art makes me feel better about the things that frustrate me. The three hours a week is time that belongs to me to make something I can feel good about. It has been impactful to walk through a door and not really know everything that was going to be on the other side."

- Angelique Davies


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.

There are three ways to take this course. A seven week course in the afternoon or evening on Thursdays. Or a four full day intensive course in early August. For the intensive class there's a two hour break between classes and the locations change.




THE MESSAGE: Good morning. For each class you’ll receive an email with a new mission from me. That’s right, every time 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.

HOMEWORK: After each class I’ll give you a drawing assignment 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.

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.

"At the start of a drawing I don’t know what I’m doing. I have no direction. But I found in the class in the environment we had things to focus on and think about. It helped me have an idea of what I was trying to express. I really liked the idea of getting outside in a group and not always working at home. I’d be shy to do that on my own. You’re always really well prepared for class. You’re so knowledgable and supportive. It’s always really encouraging. It was a really great class and I’m really happy I took it." - Christine Dart





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


Art Untangled:


Outdoor Abstract City Drawing

Explore Toronto with new eyes


Instructor: Gareth Bate

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

Number of Spots per class: 10

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:
Summer Thursday Afternoons

Dates: June 20 - Aug. 1, 2019

Time: 2:30 - 5:00 pm

Spots Remaining: 2

Week 1 - Thurs. June 20, 2019
Week 2 - Thurs. June 27, 2019
Week 3 - Thurs. July 4, 2019
Week 4 - Thurs. July 11, 2019
Week 5 -  Thurs. July 18, 2019
Week 6 - Thurs. July 25, 2019
Week 7 -  Thurs. Aug. 1, 2019 - Critique! PARTY TIME!

Class Group #2:
Summer Thursday Evenings

Dates: June 20 - Aug. 1, 2019

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

Spots Remaining: Full

Week 1 - Thurs. June 20, 2019
Week 2 - Thurs. June 27, 2019
Week 3 - Thurs. July 4, 2019
Week 4 - Thurs. July 11, 2019
Week 5 -  Thurs. July 18, 2019
Week 6 - Thurs. July 25, 2019
Week 7 -  Thurs. Aug. 1, 2019 - Critique! PARTY TIME!



“I thought the course was terrific. Your emails were delightful. I loved your philosophy of not taking it too seriously, it’s just a drawing. I thought the homework assignments were excellent. It kept us focused on the course even when we’re not with you. You really do give a lot of help to get people working. I really appreciated that you came around several times in a class. I found that quite refreshing. Quite often instructors will let you fend for yourself and afterwards there’d be a critique. There was personal attention throughout class. That was really special.” - Gillian Morden


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: Museum Tours
Brushstrokes and Painting Effects
The Colour Mixing Detective
Colour Stories and Relationships
Outdoor Abstract City Drawing Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Art History: The Masters: 1400-1850
Art History: The Moderns: 1850-1980
Abstract Painting


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.

Is there a makeup class for the 4 day intensive course? I will invite you to attend the free makeup class earlier in the summer.

I'm a bit embarrassed 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.

I'm a bit concerned about the heat, sun and bugs. If heat is a concern doing the evening class is probably better. I'm careful to select locations that have access to shade where you can work. There's usually a place where you can buy drinks close by. I've never had an issue with insects.

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 ask the question "What is it about it that attracts you?" So you focus on what stands out rather than capturing lots of irrelevant stuff. 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.

I have no experience working in chalk or oil pastel, are they difficult? No. They're very straight forward and you can't really go wrong. I'll do a basic demo in class 1 of how to use them. But honestly you don't even need the demo. You just start drawing with them and you'll learn quickly how to use them.

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.


What are your plans for COVID-19?

My intention right now is to proceed business as usual until things change. One has to “Keep Calm and Carry On”, no? All the homework assignments are already delivered via email. They are completed from home with no problems. This has always been the case with my courses. So half the course already operates “online”. If some kind of lock down were to occur I would continue to run the course as best I can via email with the assignments that I would invent for you that you could do from home or in your neighbourhood. As of right now I'm running my courses normally, while taking the same precautions that everyone is taking.


“I’d never known how to approach abstract art. So I felt insecure about it. I liked that people were allowed to do their own thing. You gave specific feedback that I found very helpful. The idea of going to an environment and being quiet, and listening, and watching, and then somehow thinking about what it’s doing to you, and then putting it down on paper, is a nice process. It was really fun. You know that phenomenon of synesthesia? When we went to Yonge & Dundas Square, I had that experience. Oh, that sound is brown and this one l is purple. It was like a symphony. I loved that. It was exciting and I’d never worked that way before.” - Alison Fleming


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 heavy 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.

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

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.

Latex, fabric 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.


"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



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!


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

That's a 17.5 hour course which breaks down to around $20 a hour. Plus the free makeup class.


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. You could also pay by cheque mailed in advance of the course. Payment is required within two days of recieving the invoice.



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 make 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 2019

What to include:

    Full Name: 

    Your Email:

    Your Cell Phone (So we can connect on location in case you are lost or running late.)

    What Group do you want to join?
    Class #1 (Thurs. Afternoon)
    Class #2 (Thurs. Evening)

    Payment Policy: Payment is required on registration within 10 days of recieving your invoice.

    Payment Method: Online: e-transfer or check.

    Your Expectations: Anything in particular you'd like to learn?

    Where? How'd you hear about the course?


"...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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