arts toronto

10 fun ways to get artsy this summer in Toronto

While the cold winter months might sound like the best time to hole up and work on art projects, when it comes to artsy activities in Toronto, summer reigns supreme. From photo meet-up groups to outdoor art fairs, the warm weather fosters brings together the city's artistic community in ways that are less stodgy than gallery openings. Summer is the comedy to winter's tragedy in Shakespearean terms, a time when things are less serious in general. The pull to be outdoors and to do "outdoorsy things" is strong, particularly after a brutal winter like this last one, but that doesn't mean you can't also satisfy your artsy streak.

Here are 10 fun ways to get artsy this summer in Toronto.

Drink and draw at a bar
Taking place at Handlebar in Kensington Market, Draw By Night is a casual event that witnesses the bar covered in paper before being covered in drawing and doodles before the night is done. It's about as casual as it gets, but that's the whole fun of it. If you're just swilling beer anyway, why not get a little creative along the way. The best part is you can take bets on whose drawings get better as they drink more (a.k.a. the true artists). Check their Facebook page for upcoming dates.

Try a photo meet up group
I can think of few artistic endeavours that make better use of the summer than photography meet-up groups. Not only do such get togethers help you to elevate your creative game by challenging you to shoot in a way that's unique to the group, but the social element is typically ripe with shop talk and advice on how to hone your craft. There's a number of groups to choose from in Toronto, with summer the robust season for events.

Check out Toronto's newest art galleries
Toronto's gallery scene is a changing. Where streets like Queen and Ossington were once central hubs of activity, the latest cluster of gallery spaces is concentrated around Lansdowne Avenue, stretching from Queen north to Bloor, before moving northwest. Along this route you'll find the brand new BAND Gallery in Parkdale, alongside recent but established industrial spaces like Scrap Metal Gallery and Daniel Faria, as well as the new location for Clint Roenisch (190 St. Helen's Avenue). Start at Queen and head north to Mercer Union, before heading northwest to Arsenal Toronto, Jessica Bradley, and Katzman Contemporary.

Hit up an outdoor art fair
Outdoor art fairs are a summer staple in Toronto. No longer limited to the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition and the Queen West Art Crawl, the city is teeming with open air art events, from the new Kensington Market Art Fair to the Toronto Art Crawl and the Cabbagetown Arts and Crafts Show. These are great events to interact with artists and to acquire work at prices far lower than you'd find if you were dealing directly with a gallery.

Draw some naked people
Well, that's an immature way to refer to life drawing, but whatever, I'm like 12 years old. Toronto, you might be surprised to learn, is blessed with a host of life drawing options, which range from the casual to the more formal. The AGO offers some of the most expensive classes around town, while places like the Gladstone charge just $10 cover for its classes.

Celebrate Shakespeare in High Park
As great as outdoor movies are, theatre in the park takes the cake as far as artsy ways to get your entertainment in the summer. Of the various options in Toronto, CanStage's Shakespeare in High Park is the best-produced and most popular. This year's offerings are As You Like It and Titus Andronicus, one comedy and one tragedy. The best bet is to see them both. Pack a picnic, discreetly sip on some wine, and just be thankful that you're not eating human pie.

Hit up Toronto's Paintlounge
Now with a new location in Leslieville (which joins existing spaces on College St. and in Markham, the Paintlounge is your ultimate temporary art studio, where you can go to spend some time at an easel without worrying about destroying your apartment. In addition to their freestyle rentals (i.e. instruction-free painting time), the lounge also does a series of workshops for those looking to develop their painterly skills. And, of course, the space can also be rented out for parties should one want to dial up the fun factor.

Try your hand at 3-D printing
Have you always wanted to sculpt something but are useless with your hands? 3-D printing could be for you. Blending together art and technology, 3-D printers let you make fun things like Rob Ford crack pipes or even edible objects. Toronto has a few places to get started with 3-D printing, but the cheapest is surely the new machine at the Reference Library, at which you can print small objects for less than five bucks. You're really only limited by your creativity here.

Check out the new Theatre Centre
Originally built as a library by Andrew Carnegie, the stately old building at 1115 Queen St. W is the new home of the Theatre Centre, a live arts hub and performance venue that is also home to one of the city's most desirable residency programs, which hosts artists for two years, giving them both funding and workspace to develop their ideas. The space is already hosting performances, so check out the schedule to see what's in store.

Go on an arts-focused weekend getaway
You don't have to travel particularly far to enjoy an arts-focused vacation in the vicinity of Toronto. Within an hour's drive you can hit up the Shaw and Stratford festivals, not to mention the booming gallery scene in Hamilton. And that's not to mention the most summery escape of them all: an artist residency on the Toronto Islands.

Growers CiderThanks to Growers Cider for sponsoring this post.

For more fun things to do this summer, check out our Toronto Fun Guide.

Photo by Katrin Shumakov in the blogTO Flickr pool

Latest Videos

Latest Videos

Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in Arts

The AGO remains closed indefinitely as strike drags on

Giant glowing wall will divide busy Toronto destination from Gardiner Expressway

Mean Girls the Musical is coming back to Toronto this summer

Toronto organization behind annual holiday street festival facing financial challenges

A massive interactive floating arch that glows at night is coming to Toronto

Toronto museum with confusing and often misspelled name is changing it

People from Toronto can now apply to live out their dreams working for Disney

Lake Ontario to be dyed bright pink for Toronto art installation