Thursday, February 26, 2015

SATURDAY: Eyes Starved for Color?

February 28, 2015

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden Conservatory in Summer

Colors that will sooth your winter eyes
My eyes are hungry for green, for the natural vibrant colors of summer.  Escape the cold and discover the plants of South Africa, Australia, and Brazil! Join us sketching at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens Conservatory where it's warm and colors of summer are alive and waiting for you.

Nature's Tranquility

When:  From 10 AM to 4:30.  Sleeping Late?  Come anyway - join us when you can.  See instructions below on how to find us.

Lunch:  At 12:00 in the Basement Cafeteria, which has excellent food.

Afternoon: Back to sketching at 1:15.

Show and Tell:  3:15 walk to Tooker Alley 793 Washington Ave,  to share drawings, good stories and a beer or wine if you're so inclined.

The Winter Above

The Desert Below

Where:  The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens Conservatory
150 Eastern Parkway (or enter at 990 Washington Avenue,) Brooklyn, NY 11225

Admission:  Free from 10 AM to Noon (incentive to come early.
From 12 PM on

  • Adults - $10
  • Seniors (65 and over) - $5
  • Students with a valid ID - $5
  • Children under 12 - Free
How:  Best Bet - 2,3 Subway,
           Close but not as convenient - Q to Prospect Park
           Note:  No 4, 5, B train service this weekend.
By car:  There's convenient parking behind the Brooklyn Museum which is adjacent to the Gardens.

Click to Enlarge

Can't find us?  
Call or Text Mark - 973-809-9128

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

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Radegast, Williamsburg

The bratwurst was delicious, the light lovely and the company excellent.

Stuck in Orlando Airport

When I left NYC for my medical meeting in Florida a little birdie sat on my shoulder and told me to take my sketch bag.  Its a great thing that happened because my return flight was cancelled due to bad weather and I was stuck for hours in the Orlando airport with crowds and crying children.  So I took out my equipment and went into my meditative mode and here is what magically appeared on the pages of my sketchbook:

So now I am back and happy to feel the cold weather once again!   Follow me on my Google Page for more sketches.  Thanks for looking, Sketchers!

Saturday, Williamsburg, Brooklyn 2015 02 21

Girl with camera and beret on the L

Breakfast at "egg" (Williamsburg)

Brooklyn Art Library - stacks

Wall lamp, Radegast Hall and Biergarten, Brooklyn
Mandatory-Jim, Radegast Hall, Brooklyn
Radegast Hall and Biergarten, Brooklyn

Friday, February 20, 2015

Westminster Dog Show

Brutal would be a mild description for the winter we have been having on Longeyeland. When the city got 8" of snow, my town got 24".  It has been a season of shoveling, shivering, sniffling, eating and sleeping. I needed  a sketching fix. It started with this portrait(from a photo) of my friends English Bulldog, Coco Chanel, who passed several months ago. I had so much fun doing this, I am now on a roll to do more.

 When the Westminster Dog Show came on TV the other night, I thought this would make the perfect sketching opportunity to keep from getting rusty. All I can say is Wow! This was some of the most taxing , marathon sketching I have done. I can also say that some of the results were pretty pathetic, but I wasn't sketching a beauty contest to capture its beauty.Here are the sketches, and some of them are real dogs(pun intended).

When sketching people, you can pretty much wing it when it comes to the face, eyes, hair. Who's going to know if it isn't exact? When you sketch dogs from a dog show, they have very specific characteristics. The show pace is very fast and a close up shot is very short before they go trotting and strutting their stuff around the ring so I concentrated on the face only. About 10/15 seconds of intense observation of eyes, ears, head shape, muzzle, and fur, and about the same amount of time to get it down on paper.

Maybe next year I can go sketch backstage during the primping and grooming and do location sketching, but during the winter of discontent, the TV will have to do. And the winner is... Miss P, the cute little Beagle!

Natural History Museum

The huge blue whale is in a beautiful but very dark and mysterious room. Here it is almost impossible to see what you've done until you come out into the light but it's always a fascinating experience.

The dinosaurs are perhaps the most popular displays in the museum.

There is a seating area in one of the museum's turrets where you can look out over Central Park.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

SATURDAY: A Williamsburg Winter Treat.

Saturday,   February 21, 2015

We have an interesting three-part indoor day planned.  It will be our first adventure into Williamsburg. Three parts means you can tailor this event for your own schedule.  Sketch all day if you want or arrive and depart for the parts you like:

The Sketchbook Project

1)  Start at 11 AM at the
The Sketchbook Project:
Fascinating. A Sketcher" Heaven. A definite must see if you've never been! The Sketchbook Project is a crowd-sourced library that features 32,018 artists' books contributed by creative people from 135+ countries.

Where: 103A North 3rd St. Brooklyn, NY

Best bet: Take the L Train to Bedford Avenue. Note: The Transit Authority advises there will be no L Service between 14 St-Union Sq and 8 Av on Saturday

From there at 12:15 we will walk about 200 feet to:

The Biergarten

Radegast Hall
2)  12:30 Lunch at:
Radegast Hall and Biergarten

Long tables and an authentic German Atmosphere..  Good hearty food, with some vegetarian selections.

Where:  113 N 3rd St

Best bet:  Take the L Train to Bedford Avenue.  Note: The Transit Authority advises there will be no L Service between 14 St-Union Sq and 8 Av on Saturday

       The next stop is about a 12 minute walk (.6 miles)

Muchmore's Home of the Experimental Drink and Draw

3)  2:15 PM  The  Experimental Drink and Draw at Muchmore's until 5 PM

(Shout Out to Sunil for finding this!)

Experimental Drink and Draw at Muchmore's.  Join us for an afternoon of figure drawing! Burlesque models, victorian costumes, and other experimental themes weekly.

Starts at 2:30PM at Muchmore's- 
Take the L train to Bedford ave, the address is 2 Havemeyer St (between Withers St & 9th St). Note: The Transit Authority advises there will be no L Service between 14 St-Union Sq and 8 Av on Saturday

Drop-in and cash only, donation of $10-$15 gets you 2 and half hours of drawing time!  Come early, stay late - drinks specials and excellent oslo coffee is served. We're in the side room and it's incredibly cozy

Where:  2 Havemeyer St, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Click to Enlarge

Can't find us?  
Call or Text Mark - 973-809-9128

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

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

AMNH x 2

On Valentine's Day, the Urban Sketchers gathered at the American Museum of Natural History. I arrived pretty late, but I had time for this sketch. I layered in some lettering and a museum-goer.

A diorama at the American Museum of Natural History

Mark took us over to Fred's for lunch. It was nice to catch up with the sketchers and meet some new people.

A waiter at Fred's sit and prepares centerpieces for the evening diners.

A few days later, I returned to the museum with a friend for some more exploring and sketching.

Fellow museum-goers in an incredibly slow line at the American History of Natural History

The Hall of African Mammals and the American History of Natural History

Zen and the Art of Subway Sketching

This essay was recently published on my personal blog but the sketches are new.

When one rides the subway, particularly the local, time is marked by the staccato passage of stations punctuated by announcements and the in-and-out rush of commuters as the doors open and close. I recently began carrying my sketchbook on my commute to work and noticed that sketching can make time disappear. My observation brought understanding of the right side of the brain, and connected me to an essential concept in Zen Buddhism. This is how it happened.

It took a few sketches to notice this phenomenon but first I should describe my routine. As I enter the car I scope out a seat opposite an interesting looking person. I take out my sketchbook and render a likeness as quickly as I can, trying to stay unnoticed in my efforts. The biggest challenge is to capture a gesture or expression before my subject gets up to exit or the view is blocked by another commuter. If I am lucky I might have time to use my watercolors to throw in come color on the fly.

After completion of each sketch I noticed that I had no clue where I was on the subway line and had lost complete track of the stops. Occasionally I was startled to find that I arrived at my destination with no awareness of any of the stops from when I began the sketch. I realized that I had experienced the disappearance of time which is a hallmark of the left-to-right brain shift.

The left-to-right brain shift is a well known phenomenon, and when one is dwelling in right brain mode there is no measurement of the passage of time and sound is tuned out. Alertness and clarity of mind replaces the cacophony of the underground, and a pleasurable state of relaxation takes place.

There is an important concept in Zen Buddhism called wu-hsin, loosely translated as “no-mindedness.” This is the contemplative state of giving up all subjective feelings and individuality and allowing the mind to react and perceive without conscious control. I noticed that my best drawings and paintings are produced when this frame of mind is reached.

So by taking my pen and sketchbook into the subway I received insights into neurophysiology and Eastern philosophy. Sketching caused a shift in brain function resulting in the disappearance of time and connection to an intuitive state that blocked out words and sound. This might not be the safest thing in the NYC Subway and I therefore don’t recommend it for everyone. Sketching and other creative endeavors however, are recommended to anyone seeking improved presence of mind, particularly in today’s over-wired world of constant distractions.

More of my subway sketches can be seen here.

Monday, February 16, 2015


 Sketching in the dark (in the hall of biodiversity) makes me cranky. Had much more fun on the fourth floor.....

sketching over beer: watercolor and sepia pencil
Dino bones: monochromatic wash

obligatory sketch of Jim

Sketching the Museum of Natural History

Valentine's Day - February 14, 2015

Urban Sketchers all over the world  are congregating in museums.  No kidding.  Recent posts from Berlin and London show their sketchers ducking in out of the cold so they can sketch in museums.  New York was no exception.  The American Museum of Natural History has such a rich trove of things to sketch.

These drawings all came from the Hall of Biodiversity:


Drama at Sea

A Carpenter Ant Crawling over an Acorn

Saturday, February 14, 2015

14 portraits

This project was interesting difficult and fun. At times it felt like I was doing illustrations for an eyewear catalogue. Especially enjoyed mixing up the media from one drawing to the next. This was a great way to get to know everyone's names!