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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

The Art of Urban Sketching: Montreal

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This week, Spacing presents excerpts from The Art of Urban Sketching, the new book by Seattle-based artist and journalist Gabriel Campanario. The book examines a global movement driven by urban sketchers drawing their cities and sharing their visual dispatches.


Montreal’s small, walkable city center makes the second-largest city in Canada ideal for urban sketching. Local artist Marc Taro Holmes is drawn to the ornate architecture of French and English historic buildings around the Old Port, as well as the many intricate lines of cathedrals and churches.

Queen Mary of the World Cathedral
11″ x 14″| Winsor & Newton watercolours, with touches of white gouache on Canson Montval cold-press blocks; 2 hours.


Tall Ships at the Old Port
9″ x 12″| pencil and watercolour on a cold-press block; 40 minutes


Marc Taro Holmes

“I’m kind of a late starter as an artist; finally becoming a full-time artist at age 40. Part of my method of self-retraining has been obsessive daily sketching– either from the model, from imagination, or by placing myself in exotic locales. After a few years of inveterate sketching, I think it’s becoming a lifestyle”

“I have a short attention span, so sketching and designing has always been my ideal form of expression. For me, the artist’s gestural line carries a lot of feeling that can be lost in protracted work. I starting keeping sketchbooks while travelling, as a way of recording my experiences in foreign cities, while simultaneously calming my fidgety attention. I can get mesmerized capturing all the little antique details on an old Gothic building, Victorian houses, sprawling mansions, and old stone bridges.”



  1. Marc Taro Holmes pencil and watercolour sketches are breath-taking… to think he can create such beauty in 40 minutes… mind-boggling!