Learning to See Through Drawing

AGOMakes From Home: Inspired by the AGO Collection

Arthur Lismer, boat sketch

Arthur Lismer, boat sketch

Arthur Lismer. Sketch from Strathmore Alexis Sketchbook, 1956. Spiral bound sketchbook, 6 sketches in black conte crayon and 2 sketches in black ink on wove paper, Overall: 30.2 x 22.5 cm. Gift from a Private Collection, Guelph, Ontario, 1998. © Art Gallery of Ontario 98/471

Arthur Lismer (1885-1969) was one of the founding members of the Group of Seven, who were famous for painting the Canadian landscape. He was also a leader in child art education and started the Children’s Art Centre at the Art Gallery of Toronto (now the AGO) in 1933. Lismer drew as often as possible and always had paper and pencil with him. He particularly enjoyed working outside so he could see the shapes and colours exactly as they were. Here is his drawing of boats in a fishing village in one of his many sketchbooks. You can tell he is recording the scene to make a painting because he has written the names of the colours on various parts of the sketch. This will tell him which colours to paint later in his studio.


Blind Contour Drawing

  • Does Arthur Lismer's contour drawing remind you of a place you have been to? One might see fishing, docks in Ontario or docks further afar. Someone else might see a sandy shore with boats pulled safely up from the water.

  • Watch AGO Associate Curator of Studio Programs Tiana Roebuck show you how to make a blind contour drawing inspired by your surroundings at home. Learn how to draw from observation with this fun drawing technique that feels like a game and all you need is a pencil and paper to play.


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