Friday, March 27, 2015

Upstate Barn

My sister and I were upstate in Orange County yesterday to pick up paintings. Whenever we go up there we do a search for a scenic barn to sketch. The problem is that there is usually not anywhere to park when we find one. We finally found a barn and diagonally across from it was an area to park...perfect...except we had to keep turning on the windshield wipers because it was raining. lol

Thursday, March 26, 2015

SATURDAY - Double Header

New York City has such rich choices for Urban Sketchers.

Sketch the Ukrainian Museum
The finest collection Ukrainian Art outside of Kiev.  

The Ukrainian Museum is the largest museum in the U.S. committed to acquiring, preserving, exhibiting, and interpreting articles of artistic or historic significance to the rich cultural heritage of Ukrainians. At its founding in 1976 by the Ukrainian National Women's League of America, the Museum was hailed as one of the finest achievements of the Ukrainian American community.

- The folk art collection, with more than 8,000 objects, is one of the most important collections outside of Ukraine.
  - The fine arts collection consists of some 2,000 paintings, drawings, graphic works, and sculptures

ALSO:  Of interest but independent of our sketching: 

Pysanky: Ukrainian Easter Eggs 
– Spring is here and so are the Easter holidays, which together will offer welcome relief from the harsh winter of 2015. It's the season for making pysanky (Ukrainian decorated eggs), and for reviving the ancient Ukrainian Easter traditions signifying the renewal of life. 

For one day only (March 28) visitors of all ages will have an opportunity to watch artists proficient in this art form in action as they create beautiful pysanky. In addition to the demonstrations, the award-winning short film Pysanka by Slavko Nowytski will be shown continuously from 1-5 p.m. 

Pre-registration is required for the Pysanky Workshop .  Call 212-228-0110 to book a seat.


Dr. Sketchy's Vanitas:

Latin for "vanity." In art, vanitas paintings are meant to be symbolic of the transience of life, the futility of pleasure, and the certainty of death. In reality, they celebrate as much as condemn vanity, providing a moral justification for many paintings of luxurious objects and macabre curiosities.  Click for their website

When:  Part 1:  The Ukrainian Museum opens at 11:30

Where:  222 East Sixth Street (between 2nd & 3rd Avenues)

How:  Subway options:
  • #6 (Lexington Ave. line) to Astor Place (8th St./4th Ave.)
  • N,R to 8th St./Broadway
  • F to 2nd Ave./Houston S
How Much:
Admission to galleries:
  • $8.00 adults
  • $6.00 seniors
  • $6.00 students (with valid ID)
  • Children under 12 – free
Lunch:  This is a late lunch be prepared:  We leave at 1:45.  Destination - Bareburger - 85 2nd Ave between E.5 and E. 6th Sts, Vegan Burgers and Salads available.  Considered one of the Best Burger Joints in New York!  Done and out by 3:00

When:  Part 2: Dr. Sketchy starts filling up at 3:30. The best seats go quickly.Session runs from 4-7 pm. 

Where: The Botanic Lab, 86 Orchard Street. (lower level)

How:  by Bus M15 - 2nd Ave. (southbound)  to Allen St/Delancey St
or Walk  an 18 minute walk, slightly less than .9 miles.

How Much:   $12 in advance, $15 at the door, and  a 2 drink minimum.  
(This is a new policy, it sounds fine to me - it's a three hour session, ... but be aware!)

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

Homage to Raphael Soyer

I joined the weekday Urban Sketchers at the Chaim Gross Foundation and super-surprised to see several paintings by brothers Raphael and Moses Soyer - two of my all time faves.  I sat and sketched this homage to Raphael.  Its also an announcement that after years of avoidance I am finally on social media, and you can follow me on Instagram.

So Sketchers, see you on my hand held device!

Sketching the Cathedral

I'm always staggered by the interior space at the Cathedral of Saint John the Devine.  It is hard to capture.  You either have to deal with the unimaginable visual complexity, or you have to be guided by the feel and the spirit of the space.

This first drawing tries to capture the soaring heights of Church:

 The second sketch focuses on a beautiful blue vase located on a stand beside the alter.  Although every line in the church focused the view on the cross to the right, by cropping the scene the vase becomes a more important player in a conversation with the cross, the columns and arches of the church.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

One of My Favorites

Peggy Roalf featured Melanie Reim in the latest issue of DART.  Both are NYC Urban Sketchers.  If you're not familiar with DART it's a great newsletter to which you can subscribe.

Melanie is one of my favorite sketchers.  She's part of the 100 original sketchers that were there at the birth of the Urban Sketching movement.  As her schedule allows she joins us sketching all over the city.

You can check out the DART and enjoy the article about Melanie by following this link

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Heavenly Sketching

It was wonderful that the Cathedral Of Saint John The Divine arranged to have choral music all day while we sketched. I knew they were from out of town when they called me "mam"! High school students from California, Vail, Georgia, Washington, Florida. Imagine singing , and sketching in the largest Cathedral in the world!

The bright back light behind the ornate fretwork captured my attention.

The building is soooo large, it was difficult to include or see so much of the architecture .

One of the stone statues.

I included this photo of a sculpture in the church yard. Hello to the first day of Spring!


Saturday, March 21, 2015

A "Divine" Experience

Visiting the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine was a "divine" experience. Sketching while listening to so many choir groups put me into such a different mental place. Each group sounded so peaceful and made me feel so tranquil! The music really added to the experience. 

I sketched one of the groups...and using artistic license I left out a large number of performers.

With all the wonderful architectural details it was hard to select a view that I thought I could handle without all the arches making me crazy or getting a stiff neck from looking up for too long.  The view from the center of the cathedral towards the rose window in the front caught my eye. That was easy enough...NOT!

I had a few minutes before we were heading out to lunch so I sketched one of the young girls in another choir. I did a simple drawing of her with a blue watercolor pencil...and left it that way.

After lunch I decided I needed to do a sketch from Xu Bing's project the Phoenix which had already been taken down. Too bad we missed seeing it diplayed hanging from the ceiling. It must have looked wonderful.

My final sketch was a view through the arches from one of the side rooms where you can look almost all the way across the cathedral.

Inside and Out

I've been out and about with my watercolors, sometimes with my sketching buddies and sometimes alone...all are 5x7 except for the cathedral ones are 8x10.

 Inwood Hill Park:

The El at Dyckman Street

The American Museum of Natural History
Hall of the Mammals dioramas

The Cathedral of St John the Divine.


Weekday Urban Sketchers 

Chiam Gross was an important mid-century sculptor who lived and worked in Greenwich Village. His home and studio are now a museum featuring his many sculptures and art collections. Urban Sketcher will be able to visit the museum on March 26th from 1:00 to 4:00 to wander, contemplate and sketch the many pieces in the gallery and workshop.  

Thank you to Karen Kraskow for making the original introduction to the Foundation. 

NOTE:  You can bring your own stool or use one of theirs.  You can use any form of dry media, no open paints or water.  You can take pictures but no flash. 

The Foundation has asked that we limit the group to 15. Please RSVP directly to 

Please visit the web site to learn more about Chaim Gross and the Foundation:


TIME: 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM

PLACE: Renee and Chaim Gross Foundation
                526 LaGuardia Place (off Washington Square Park)

                                   A,B,C,D,E,F,M 4th Street or D,F to Broadway/Lafayette

Thursday, March 19, 2015

SATURDAY: St John the Divine

The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine

Officially Spring - Saturday March 21, 2015

On Saturday let's sketch what might be NYC's most impressive church.  

In a city of skyscrapers, the Cathedral impresses with sheer size. Its detailed facade towers over Amsterdam Avenue, and the building extends a full avenue block to Morningside Drive. The Cathedral is more than 120 years old, and remains unfinished. Despite incomplete construction, it is the largest cathedral in the world, making it a global landmark. The Statue of Liberty could fit under the church's dome.


References to Saint John the Divine, the Cathedral’s namesake, are infused into the building. John is credited as the author of the Book of Revelation, relating his vision of the end of the world. The number seven is the most prominent symbol in Revelation, and structures the text itself. Sevens are therefore abundant in the Cathedral: in its seven chapels, north and south side bays, and in its dimensions. The digits of its length (601 feet) and Nave height (124 feet) both add up to seven, as do the digits in the circumference of the Great Rose Window (124 feet) and the number of angels surrounding its center (16). The ratio of the height of the Nave columns to the distance between them is 7:1.

John’s symbol, the seven stars or candles, is echoed in the seven lamps above the High Altar. The colors of the paving stones in the Apse and Great Choir echo the precious stones named in Revelation as those adorning the walls of the New Jerusalem. Visitors will find many more examples of this “sacred geometry,” with its symbolic numbers and shapes, throughout the building.

Art Exhibits at the Church

The church regularly has special art exhibits that are always of interest.  There are three current shows:

Phoenix: Xu Bing at the Cathedral: Over the course of two years, pioneering Chinese contemporary
artist Xu Bing culled detritus from construction sites across the rapidly changing urban landscape of Beijing, and transformed it into his most monumental project to date: Phoenix (2008-10)

Stations:  Gregory Botts' collection of fourteen paintings rendered abstractly in tones of black, white, and gray, subtly parallels the traditional form of The Stations of the Cross.

The Intersection of Dreams:   Terry Flaxton's new work, The Intersection of Dreams, is a moving-image triptych inspired by Salvador DalĂ­'s Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus).


Where:  1047 Amsterdam Avenue at 112th Street, one block east of Broadway.

How:  By Subway - take the 1, B, or C Train to the 110th Street / Cathedral Parkway station.
           By Car - From the North and East sides: FDR Drive to 96th Street; west on 97th Street; north on Amsterdam Avenue to 112th Street

When: The action starts at 10:00 AM, and if you're running late - come anyway.  It will be good to see you whenever you arrive.

Lunch:  12:00, leave for the Thai Market, 960 Amsterdam Ave, b/t 107th St & 108th

Afternoon:  1:30 back to St. John for more sketching

Show and Tell:  Mel’s Burger Bar, 2850 Broadway, b/t 111th St & Cathedral Pky - to share drawings, good stories and beer, coffee, tea or wine if you're so inclined (food too if you like).

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

Monday, March 16, 2015

Going it Solo on a Rainy Afternoon in NYC

Sorry I missed the sketch events this past weekend, but after an exhausting work week I felt like going it solo.  On Saturday afternoon I sat at the Starbucks on Astor Place and did this watercolor sketch.  In other news I finally caved to the social media thing, and you can follow me on Instagram at @jlevinemd.

So sketchers I look forward to seeing your work!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Travel Sketches

I have been away for nearly 2 weeks. First I visited my brother who lives in Kennesaw, GA. On one of the only nice days we were there we drove up to Blue Ridge, GA. I sketched a bit of the town and the Blue Ridge Scenic Railroad.

Then I was at a watercolor workshop in Myrtle Beach. We were too busy for sketching. I walked the beach every morning at 7 and then didn't really get back to the room until 9 or 10 each night. I was too exhausted to sketch.

But we are on the way home...presently in Fredricksburg, VA. I just had to sketch something. So I pulled up a chair by the hotel window and sketched the view across the street.

I also sketched at the Mexican restaurant where we had dinner often will I get to sketch a bull's head mounted above a fireplace?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

SATURDAY & SUNDAY a Doubleheader

Take your pick - ... or do both, I am!

SATURDAY: Draw a Thon

(NUS = Technically not urban sketching) ... but who cares?!?

Who wouldn't love "an epic 9-hour marathon of figure drawing”?  It's a fund raiser for the High School of Art and Design organized by their alumni association.

It's also a three ring circus cubed of things to draw.  Two huge rooms with five models in each room, wearing crazy costumes in one room, and no costumes in the second room. Take your pick. Something to draw everywhere you look.  Figure drawing - the foundation of all art.

Saturday, March 14, 2015
1:00 PM to 10:00 PM
at The High School of Art & Design
245 East 56th Street, (between 2nd and 3rd Ave)
New York, NY
Admission = $20 for adults


Sketch the Music - Enjoy the Atmosphere at the Belle Reve

We've been looking for a really friendly bar with live music that loves having sketchers.  Found it.  Say hello to The Belle Reve.  Was there last Saturday with an Urban Sketcher visiting from Paris.  The staff loved that we were sketching and made a point of inviting us.  This Sunday they have a three piece band playing music in the style of the incomparable
Django Reinhardt.  Their food is excellent and the place has a great vibe.

Sunday March 15, at 11:00 AM, until - 
305 Church St,
at the corner of Walker St in hip TriBeCa.

By Subway
The A, C or E to  Canal Street, or
the #6 to Canal Street, or
the #1 to Franklin Street

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

I've been Frickitized

Really enjoyed the Frick this past Sunday.  We had a good group of sketchers and were fanned out all over the museum.

I had to marvel that this was once someone's home.  I selected the view that I thought best captured that spirit.

At home with the Frick family:

Checking out the painting in their living room.  Oh, there's an El Greco and two Holbein's. ... Nice.

Save the Date

Weekday Urban Sketchers Starts Again In Two Weeks

DATE: Thursday March 26, 2015

PLACE: Renee and Chaim Gross Foundation
                526 LaGuardia Place (right off Washington Square Park)

Chiam Gross was an important mid-century sculptor who lived and worked in Greenwich Village. His home and studio are now a museum featuring his many sculptures and art collections. Urban Sketcher will be able to visit the museum on March 26th from 1:00 to 4:00 to wander, contemplate and sketch the many pieces in the gallery and workshop.  

Please visit the web site to learn more about Chaim Gross and the Foundation:

Please save the date.  More information will be posted prior to the event.

Renee and Chaim Gross Foundation
The Renee and Chaim Gross Foundation is dedicated to documenting, archiving, researching, protecting, sharing, and furthering the understanding of the life and work of the America modernist sculptor Chaim Gross (1904-1991).