Thursday, July 31, 2014

MONDAY Urban Sketching is Divine! - 8/4/14

Cathedral of St. John the Divine

If you think that Urban Sketching is heaven sent, join us to sketch in and around St. John the Divine.  St. Johns is a massive cathedral with beautiful gardens and great architectural features just right for urban sketching. (We will also sketch from the sidewalk cafe at the Hungarian Pastry Shop across the street from the Cathedral…. between bites!)

St. John is the largest Cathedral in the world, meaning a church that is also the seat of a Bishop. Measured by length or internal volume, it is one of the five largest church buildings in the world.  Construction of the Cathedral began in 1892, making it over 120 years old.

Date: MONDAY - August 4, 2014 at 11:00 AM
Place: Cathedral of St. John the Divine
          West 112th Street and Amsterdam Avenue
           By Subway:  The #1 Train to 110th Street - Cathedral Parkway

Please RSVP if you are going to attend. 

If you can’t find us
call Raylie at 201-978-6387

There are no fees or attendance taken. All drawing skill levels are welcome

SUNDAY - Sketch The Aerial Lotus Gardens, August 3, 2014

Please note:  This sketch is planned for SUNDAY, ... not our usual weekend date.

The Lotus Garden, 
a community garden 
on West 97th Street between Broadway and West End Avenue.

Years before the Highline, Urban Gardeners on the Upper West Side created a unique and virtually unknown piece of paradise on the roof of the garage of the Columbia condominium, on West 97th Street.  It is only open the public for a few hours on Sunday’s during the summer months. We will discover  a sixth of an acre supporting mature trees, shrubs and serpentine paths curving around clumps of fragrant plantings maintained by 30 gardeners of various ages and experience levels.

You can read more about this treasure in a New York Time article about the Garden, or by visiting their website.

Because the Gardens don't open until 1 PM
our first stop will be to sketch the Hudson River views at Riverside Park.

Part One:  At 10:00 Meet Riverside Park (96th Stree and Riverside Drive)

Part Two:  Lunch at 12:00

Part Three: The Lotus Garden:  at 1:00 PM(Look for the gate just to the east of the garage on the south side of West 97th Street between Broadway and West End Avenue.)  The Garden is open until 4 PM.

Take the 1,2 or 3 train to 96th Street and walk west for two blocks to Riverside Park.

This event was suggested by Raylie Dunkle and Mary Lynch.  
Many thanks to you both for your creative ideas.

If you can’t find us
call Mark at 973-809-9128

There are no fees or attendance taken. All drawing skill levels are welcome

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

From Chicago: Tips and Tricks

Urban Sketcher of Chicago recently started a new feature called Tuesday's Tips and Tricks.  The first post was from Wes Douglas and I thought it was great:

Tuesday Tips & Tricks: How to include people in your urban sketches

Today we announce a new feature to the USk Chicago blog--a weekly urban sketching "Tips & Tricks" post.  Each Tuesday a new sketching tip will be shared.  Tips will span a range of topics and will aim to give you a new skill to work on during that week.  Before you know it you will have a new arsenal of sketching ideas, tips and tricks to use on sketching outings and to refer back to, all in one place, on our blog.  Blog posts will also be posted to our Pinterest board "Tips and Tricks," so if you want, you can share these and other pins with your own followers.  If there is something you would like to see as a post, please add your suggestion in the comments below.

Topic: How to include people in your urban sketches
The question often comes up about how to draw people. Drawing people can require years of anatomy study and practice to get the proper proportions. For those of you who do not have that kind of time, here are a few of my favorite tricks for adding people and a human element to your urban sketches. First let us review why you would want to add people in the first place. If you still have questions, pose your question in the comments section below. Thank you.

5 Reasons To Add People To Your Urban Sketch:

1. To give scale (size relationships) to your environment

2. To add a human element to your environment

3. To observe how people live, work or play

4. To capture movement and gesture

5. The "unintentional portrait" happens when a person is so engrossed in whatever they are doing that they will stay in position for a long period of time and present you with the perfect model from which you make your detailed sketch.

5 Types of People Sketches in Urban Sketching:

The Stick Figure Silhouette: Stick figures thickened up to look like clothes. Perfect for subjects that are further away and the people are not the main focus.

The A-Frame People: A variation of the stick figure based on the simple letterform “A”. It is the suggestion of a person without having to be anatomically correct. Perfect for subjects that are further away and the people are not the main focus.

Block People - Basic: The human form made up of blocks and circles. No facial details needed and the pose contributes to the scene.

Block People - Detailed: The human form made up of blocks and circles, but more detail is added such as clothes, hair, and the suggestion of faces.

The Close-up Portrait Study: A more time-intensive study of the subject focusing on anatomy, shading, details, clothing and environment. Careful observation and attention to small details are important here. Shading can come in many forms such as watercolor, hatching, markers or pencil.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Paying some old debts

In the past half a year I have become a more or less regular Saturday sketcher, but not really a blogger. In my attempt to post more regularly, I am starting with some old debts.

Grand Central

George Washington Bridge (view from Riverside Dr at 181 St)

Food Emporium (under the Queensborough Bridge)

La fete de la musique (at the Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn) 

I have also become more interested in watercolors recently, especially in working "loosely", with as little pencil as possible. I think the results do look loose, sometimes even looser than I would like. But I find it really enjoyable to let go of lines so this is something I will keep working on.

Chinatown (Mott and Bayard)

The Little Red Light house (under the George Washington Bridge)

Dyckman Farmhouse in Inwood

Church of Michael the Archangel in Cheboksary (the town in Russia where I grew up)

The sculpture of Pan on the campus of Columbia University

Serenity at the Chinese Scholar's Garden

Just walking into the beautiful Chinese Scholar's Garden at Snug Harbor in Staten Island gave me such a feeling of serenity. What a gorgeous peaceful place! A few minutes after we arrived a gentleman started playing a flute, which just added to the meditative feel of this location. 

I started with the front area of the main garden which has a pond, a courtyard, a pavilion, and windows that are open to extended your view to the outside. Apparently all the architectural components including the roof and floor tiles, columns and beams, doors and windows, bridges and paving materials, as well as the rocks were shipped from the Suzhou area of China. This is the only garden like this in the United States.

I loved the hint through the round opening in the wall of the treasures in the next area of the garden.

I continued into the back garden area which was had so many views to sketch.
I included Christine (up top) and Shaun (on the right) who were also sketching that area of the garden.

Here are a few photos of some of our sketchers at work as well as the musician.

After a lengthy lunch break some of us returned to continue sketching. Luckily there were many covered areas around the pavilion because we did have some rain for a while.

I just had to do a view with the small stone bridge in the distance.

The garden closed at 5 and we had to be dragged out so they could lock the gate, otherwise we may have spent a few more hours there.

The guard took a group photo of us. By this time we had lost about half of our sketchers.

We did stop to display and share some of our work.

Each of us told a little about what we did today and our process. 

Everyone else headed back to the ferry but Susan and I remained to sketch one of the buildings in the park before driving back home. These little buildings had a lot of character.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chinese Scholar Garden - Staten Island, Saturday July 26th

The Chinese Scholar Garden 
at the 
Staten Island Botanical Garden

"The garden is created by the human hand, but should appear as if created by heaven."
 Paraphrasing the 15th century garden designer Ji Ching.

This garden elicits both a contemplative and sensual experience. All the elements of a classic Scholar's Garden are present: wood, rocks, water, plantings, furniture, walls, walkways, pavilions,  The structure is designed to give the illusion that the building is floating over the water's surface), bridges, paving, painting and calligraphy. We hope you will cherish a day of sketching at this sanctuary.

 All the architectural components of The New York Chinese Scholar's Garden were prefabricated in Suzhou, including roof and floor tiles, columns and beams, doors and windows, bridges and paving materials and carefully chosen rocks.

This is the ONLY Chinese Scholar's Garden in the United States.  

(description by Victoria V. via Yelp)


  • Take subway to lower Manhattan, via the 1 train to South Ferry or the 4/5 train to Bowling Green or the R train to Whitehall. 
  • Exit and walk south to blue neon Staten Island terminal to take FREE ferry. 
  • After landing in Staten Island take the S40 bus at Gate D to travel along Richmond Terrace, less than a 10-minute ride. Let the bus driver know that you want to get off at Snug Harbor.

WHEN:   We meet at the Staten Island Ferry, our starting point at 10:00 AM.
HOW MUCH:  There is a $5 entrance fee to the Garden.

If you're delayed or off to a slow start come anyway.

If you can’t find us
call Mark at 973-809-9128

There are no fees or attendance taken. All drawing skill levels are welcome

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sketching Columbia University, July 19, 2014

We had beautiful sketching weather and a knowledgable guide.  Gene was able to give us the "insiders" view of Columbia from the vantage of his many years working there.

Saint Paul's Chapel
Although the library might be the most famous building on campus, I loved St. Paul's Chapel and found the mix of rounds and rectangles interesting to sketch.

Bellerophon Taming Pegasus
I guessed Picasso, but that would be wrong. Jacques Lipchitz was commissioned to create the 23 ton sculpture that adornes the Law School building on the Columbia Campus  When approached, Lipchitz purportedly told the committee that they weren't going to get a blindfolded justice sculpture holding the scales of justice.  It's a jumble of forms, some human-like others horse-like.  Jim did a version that I hope he posts that had beautiful color.

We Morning Group Portrait
We had a couple of first time sketchers join us including Susan, Ileana and Emma - welcome.

At the end of the day we went to a sidewalk restaurant and after ordering drinks we all started sketching.  Susan clued me to the woman sitting behind us.  I moved my seat for a better view of what I took to be a true New York character.  A woman, easily in her 80's was wearing every bright color of the rainbow and seemed to have one of those larger than life theatrical personas.  My quick sketch as she perused the menu doesn't begin to do her justice.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Enjoyed drawing this street scene from the Columbia upper campus today.  Thank you, Gene for hosting this.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Traveling to Maine

Leaving Long Island meant taking the Orient Point Ferry to Ct to start my trip to Maine on Wednesday. Never one to waste a minute I sketched from my car while in line waiting to board.

People on the ferry are very good models.

By the time I got to Maine it was dreary and raining. It didn't stop me. I headed to the shore in York, and could barely see the rocks because of the fog and rain. I sat in the car to sketch, but even got wet inside the car. lol I figured if the guy could be out there fishing, I could keep sketching.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

West Village Sketch Crawl and Gallery Visit

Date: Monday July 21, 2014

Time:  11:00 - 3:30

Place: St Luke of the Fields Garden

The weekday sketchers will meet in the garden of St Luke of the Fields on Hudson Street near the corner of Barrow Street.  Look for the brick wall surrounding the garden
See Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation site for the interesting history

 From there we will walk and sketch our way around the "shady" streets of the West Village to draw famous and infamous spots along the way including the Edna St Vincent Millet House (narrowest house in NYC), the Cherry Lane Theater and Westbeth where there is a gallery open to the public.  

Join us for an interesting stroll through a beautiful park of Old New York.

The Church of Saint Luke in the Fields is located at 487 Hudson Street, in Greenwich Village, New York City, at the intersection of Hudson Street and Grove Street. 

By Subway: 
Take the 1 to the Christopher Street station, the 2 or 3 to the 14th Street station, or the A, C, E, B, F or D to the West 4th Street station. 
   -  From Christopher Street: Walk west on Christopher Street, away from Sheridan Square, towards the Hudson River. At Hudson Street, make a left. The church is one block to your left, on the west side of the street. 
    - From 14th Street: Walk south on 7th Avenue to West 11th Street. Turn right on West 11th to Hudson. Turn left on Hudson and walk to Grove Street. The church is on the west side of the street. 
    - From West 4th Street: Leave the station at the south (West 3rd Street) exit. Walk south on Sixth Avenue to Bleecker Street. Turn Right. Follow Bleecker across Seventh Avenue. At Grove Street, turn left. Follow Grove to Hudson Street. The church is across the street. 
    - By PATH: Take the PATH to the Christopher Street station. Turn left upon exiting the station at Christopher Street, and make a right on Hudson Street. The church is one block on the right.


Can't find us?
Call Raylie Dunkel  201-978-6387

There are no fees or attendance taken. All drawing skill levels are welcome