Sunday, November 29, 2015


It is now officially "Holiday Season" and Weekday Urban Sketchers will be visiting a number of churches and synagogues to get into the mood.  Our first stop will be Temple Emanu-el on 5th Ave and 65th Street which is the largest synagogue in the world. In addition to the rose window, stained glass and painted ceiling,  the altar is decorated with gold mosaics done by Hildreth Meiere a famous art deco muralist.  



LOCATION: TEMPLE EMANU-EL, 5TH Ave and 65th Street

TIME: 10:30 AM to 1:00 P Meet at the entrance to the Community House at 1 East 65th St

TRANSPORTATOIN: 6 Train to 68th Street Station



WPA murals and a century and a half of history will provide another venue to round out our day. Built to resemble a medieval fortress and a railing built out of rifles,  this building now houses a gallery that is open to the public.

Please RSVP directly to Raylie Dunkel at to confirm your attendance.  Looking for us? Call Raylie at 201-978-6387

Museum Sketching

My new favorite pastime is sketching people at our museums.  There's a moment that I've been trying to capture when the viewer pauses lost in thought looking at the artwork.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Balto -

 Perched on a rocky outcrop it would be easy to miss the statue of Balto.   I'm not sure if it was because so many NYC Urban Sketchers were there to book-mark the spot, or if this is just a much more popular location than I imagined.

The first sketch was to get a feel for the form and the second was to capture the setting.  It was a cold day and probably the last one we'll do outdoors until it starts to warm up in the early Spring.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Briermere Farm Before Thanksgiving

Briermere Farm in Riveread is famous here on Long Island. People swear they have the best pies around (especially their blueberry cream). I've only tasted their strawberry-rubard pie and it was good, but that combination is not one of my favorites. I'll have to try another kind some day. Anyhow, for Thanksgiving they do an incredible business. People drive out there from as far as NYC, which is about 80 miles. Most customers order pies ahead of time and expect to stand on line anyway when they get there to pick them up.

I was thinking about where to go sketching today and decided to head out there to sketch the crowd. What a circus! It wasn't easy to find parking and I wanted to sketch from the car since it was cold out. I finally got a spot in the side lot that very few people seemed to realize is there. I didn't have much of a view but patiently waited for the person parked next to me to come back with their pies and leave. That spot had a good side view of the building between the trees. Most people were coming out with several pies and some with cartons filled with pies. LOL I watched the clock a few times to see how long people stood on line before they returned to their cars parked near me. It seemed to average about 15 minutes. I guess they thought the wait was worth it. I happily sketched, didn't buy a pie, and plan on making my pecan pie later today. I hope you have something delicious to share with your loved ones tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Thanksgiving Sketching Furlough

Enjoy the Holiday

There are no planned sketching events for this weekend.  
We resume the following week shifting to indoor venues as the weather dictates.

Don't forget the Thanksgiving Day Parade Sketch - Click for details

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Weekday Urban Sketchers Calendar for December and January

As the cold weather settles in keeping us indoors we have been fortunate to be able to schedule a number of very interesting venues over the next two months.  Please read the following announcements carefully as some require a secure RSVP and some will have a small fee attached to the event. 

All events will be announced as they usually are a few days prior to the date. This notice is meant to give you an opportunity to take advantage of some special events for advanced planning purposes. 

PLEASE NOTE: since some of the events on the following schedule will REQUIRE registration you are requested to respond directly to Raylie Dunkel at and NOT hit reply to this note.  When you hit reply everyone on the distribution list will receive your reply and it will get tiresome for many who will not be participating in the events.  ONLY those who RSVP will receive follow up information as is needed. 


The first two events will allow us to see prime examples of the Art Deco muralist, Hildreth Miere, amongst many other fantastic ecclesiastical works of art. 

Wednesday December 2, 2015: Temple Emanu-el on 5th Avenue and 65th Street. We will meet at 10:30 AM the entrance to the Community Center building on 65th Street off 5th Ave.  The temple and museum are open from 10 AM to 4:30 PM.  There is information about a virtual tour on their web site  After a lunch break we will move to the Arsenal in Central Park.  Details will be posted as usual the week of the event. There is no cost for this program. 

Wednesday December 9, 2015: Saint Bartholomew's Church  on Park Avenue and 50th Street.  When this was announced a few days ago a number of people responded that they would like to attend this event depending on the date and time.  This has now been confirmed as WEDNESDAY December 9, 2015 from 11 AM to 1 PM.  St Bart's has requested a donation so all attending will have to contribute $5 towards the fee.  The group will be limited to 20 people. Even if you have said you would like to attend you MUST RSVP to Raylie Dunkel at again to confirm your attendance.  If you ask for a spot and can't make it you MUST let Raylie know you can't come or you will be asked for the donation.  A waiting list will be kept for the event.  We will move to Grand Central Station for lunch and the afternoon session. 

Wednesday December 16, 2015   We will meet again at a house of workshop.  The notice will be posted later.


We will continue to meet on Wednesdays in January with one exception: Friday January 29th.  See below for details

We have two special events scheduled for January.  One is a private workshop and the other is an invitation to sketch inside City Hall

Wednesday January 6, 2016  TBD

Wednesday January 13, 2016  from 10 AM to Noon. Watercolor Workshop at Kremer Pigments.  

Many of you have small metal pan sets from Kremer Pigments on 29th St near 8th Avenue, which is a specialized art supply store that sells pigment, oils, watercolors and brushes.  They also offer courses about the making of pigment and how watercolor and oils are made, the unique properties of each and how different colors react differently when used.  Since so many Urban Sketchers use watercolor, I have arranged to have a"Crash Course"  on the properties of watercolor dedicated to us.  They can accommodate 25 people and there will be a $10 fee. Here are some details: 
- Limit of 25 attendees
- 2 hour demonstration and Q&A on making watercolor paints
- 10 am to Noon,
- $10 class fee per attendee
- Small samples of what is made in class will be given away.
If you haven't been to this store or sampled their products you are in for a will spoil you beyond measure! 

If you would like to attend you MUST RSVP directly to Raylie Dunkel at and agree to the $10 fee.

Wednesday January 20, 2016 TBA

FRIDAY January 29, 2016  City Hall

Urban Sketchers has been invited to spend time inside City Hall for a two hour sketching session.  We will have access to many of the beautiful meeting rooms filled with an historic collection of  portraits, rare furniture, and architectural details galore.  We will also have access to the atrium and rotunda.  There is no fee for this but you MUST RSVP as a list of participants will be given to the security office.  Only those on the list will be admitted. The group will be limited to 20 participants.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Balloon Inflation - Macy's Thanksgiving Parade

There is nothing more NY then the Thanksgiving Day parade and the kickoff to the Holiday Season.  A big part of this event is the evening before, the inflating of the balloons. 

I invite you all to informally attend this event.  It runs from 3 to 10pm, I plan to attend earlier, rather then later so I can bring my family.  The crowds are intense so I plan to bring a smaller sketch book and pen to prevent too many elbows.


What:  We will sketch the Balloons and crowds informally along the Parade route.

When:  Wednesday, November 25th  starting at 3pm to 10 pm.  Come any time and see the balloons at different stages of inflation.

Where:  Start at Columbus Avenue and 79th Street. You will want to use Mass Transit, the B and C stop right there. 
Notes: It will be in the 50's and crowded.  Come prepared. I doubt you will be able to sit in sketch as it will be too crowded.   
Please post your photos of your sketches!  

Sunday, November 22, 2015

NO Weekday  Urban Sketchers This Week

 The turkey, the side dishes, the relatives and all  that  organization...too much to do and no time for sketching this week, unless you pull out your sketch pad at Thanksgiving Dinner!  

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and watch for announcements for December events.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

SATURDAY: Sketch a Dog Hero

This event was planned by Elaine Langer


The glowing bronze of this statue on a rock outcropping near the East Drive at 67th Street reflects the loving pats of countless children and adults who recall the story of a heroic dog. In January 1925, the city of Nome, Alaska experienced an outbreak of diphtheria. At that time, Nome had a population of 1,429 people and there was only enough antitoxin serum in distant Anchorage to treat about 300 people exposed to the disease. A train line did run over 325 miles from Anchorage to Nenana, the station closest to Nome, but Nome was icebound seven months out of the year. Alaska’s two open-cockpit planes were not safe in the frigid and windy weather.

A relay of mushers and their dog-sled teams was the only way to deliver the fur-wrapped twenty-pound package of serum to the ailing community 674 miles from Nenana. The route followed the old Iditarod Trail used by mail drivers from Anchorage to Nome (now the route of the dog-sled championships). The 20 teams of over 200 dogs covered the frozen terrain at about six miles per hour, in blizzard conditions with temperatures of 50 degrees below zero. An international audience listened over their radios and read in their newspapers of the race to Nome. The last musher, Gunnar Kasson, and his team lead by Balto, a black and white Alaskan malamute, raced over the frozen tundra in only five days and seven hours – a world record time. Within days after the arrival of the serum, the epidemic, which had claimed five lives, was over.

Balto and Gunnar Kaasen

Gunnar Kasson later described the incredible trip to reporters: "I couldn't see the trail. Many times I couldn't even see my dogs, so blinding was the gale. I gave Balto, my lead dog, his head and trusted him. He never once faltered. It was Balto who led the way. The credit is his." Balto survived the journey, and toured the United States with the rest of the dog team. On December 17, 1925, 10 months after his arrival in Nome, Balto was present as this bronze statue was unveiled in Central Park.

As we sketch the dog we'll likely see the statue visited by families.  The kids will do just what my brother and I did when we were kids. They'll get on Balto's back and pose for family pictures.


What:  We will sketch the animals, statues, statues of animals, kids and scenes of Central Park.

When:  Saturday, November 21st starting at 11 AM.  Sleeping late - Come anyway. (Drop me a personal line if you know for a fact that this comment in all the annoucements has be directed to you personally.)

Where:  The Statue is set on a rocky outcrop near a tunnel/overpass.  It's located west of East Drive and 67th Street and north of the Zoo.  (see map)

Lunch:  12:30 We'll walk to the Zoo Cafe to warm up and eat lunch.

Afternoon:  1:30 -  We'll stay in that area to sketch the archway outside of the zoo and some of the structures outside the zoo.  There is a lot right in the vicinity
Click to Enlarge

Show and Tell:  3:00 PM - There will be no Show and Tell this week.  You are invited instead to continue sketching (NUS - Not an Urban Sketching event) at the High School of Art and Design DRAW-A-THON 4 Fundraiser. 245 East 56th Street  USk has attended for a couple of years.  It's a good cause and the sketching three ring circus.  There is a $25 fee at the door.  Save $5 buying in advance.  The event ends at 7 PM.


   -  Bring a stool or chair if you have one.
   -  Dress warmly, the high is supposedly going to 52 degrees it should be mostly sunny

Click to Enlarge

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

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

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Sketching the Nature Walk

The Nature Walk by the Waste Recycling Plat at the Newtown Creek toxic waste site was every bit as strange, and yes, as interesting as you'd imagine.

I've seen these huge vats coming out of the Queens Midtown tunnel.  In my innocence I always fantasized that they were huge brewing tanks being used to ferment beer.  Nope.  Not even close.  The huge tanks are called Digesters and they're used as part of the process to clean waste water.

At the end of the Nature trail there was a docked boat owned with a NYC Logo  Before my enlightenment I could have believed the  boat was there to protect all the beer.  I guess not.  My current theory is that the boat is owned by the Police Department.  Given the real purpose for  the tanks, it might be owned the Department of Sanitation.  Could Sanitation possibly own a large power boat?

Monday, November 16, 2015

A Rare Opportunity For Weekday Sketchers in December 

December is approaching and we will have to move indoors to continue our sketching.  In doing so we have an opportunity to celebrate this season of holidays and be exposed to major works of art housed in the many houses of worship in our city. 

Saint Bartholomew's Church

Urban Sketchers has a rare opportunity to sketch inside of St. Bartholomew's Church. We will be able to sketch for about 3 hours on a Tuesday morning in December  I have been assured that the light is really good inside the church before 1 PM.  (We can move into Grand Central for the afternoon)

If you are not familiar with St. Bart's please look at their web site page about the art and architecture of the building:  Of note are the stained glass window and the Hildreth Meiere mosaics.  Meier was a major Art Deco artist.  She designed murals for many houses of worship, municipal buildings,  the fabulous lobbies in the many art deco skyscrapers  and ....Radio City Music Hall. 

In order to coordinate this event I will need a confirmed RSVP from anyone interested in going.  I am waiting for confirmation of the date but it will be a Tuesday morning.  We will have to make a small donation to the church for allowing us to be there, so anyone who comes will have to contribute $5 to attend.

If you are interested in participating in this event please contact Raylie Dunkel at to reserve your spot.    We will need 10 participants to be able to hold the spot with the church. 

Temple Emanu-el 

Following on this event we will visit another house of workshop that also has Hildreth Meiere mosaics, Temple Emanuel.  Besides the towering sanctuary there is also a museum we can visit.  There is no cost for this venue and we can revert to our Wednesday schedule.  We can combine this site with the Arsenal in Central Park for the afternoon. 

Other Venues

NYC offers and embarrassment of riches in beautiful houses of worship.  As a group we can decide on a third venue for December. Other possibilities are: St. John the Divine,  St. Patricks Cathedral, Central Synagogue, Trinity Church, Marble Collegiate,  and The Little Church Around the Corner to name a few.  

Sketching at the Whitney

 It was my first visit to the inside of the new Whitney Museum.  Earlier this year we sketched the outside on the day before it opened to the public.  There was a long line with lots of interesting people.  I was impressed by the interior space and thought it was a good venue for showing off art.

My favorite thing is watching people looking at art.  They generally hold the position checking out the artwork for only a few moments.  The trick is to very quickly capture the mood and attitude of their body language.  

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Newton Creek

Great weather with lots of sunshine, but it got cold after a few hours of working outdoors... Newton Creek offered interesting views, it is a great location for sketching. Thanks to Mark for organizing another good day!

I just wish I'd be a little more patient to sketch the elements of larger landscape views more cleanly, or be able to simplify. I'd also like to treat myself to an artist quality watercolour palette for working outdoors. Received helpful tips by other sketchers to consider, thank you!

Weekday Urban Sketcher in Conservancy Garden on Wednesday

The Conservancy Garden in Central Park is beautiful in every season. Now it is decked out with mums of every color with the fall foliage as a backdrop.   The three types of gardens should offer a variety of scenes, statutes and fountains to sketch.   This is likely to be our last outdoor event for the year, so dress in layers and come to celebrate the end of autumn in one of New York's most beautiful gardens. 


TIME:  10:30 AM

LOCATION: Central Park Conservancy Garden 
                        We will meet inside the large gates at 105 St and 5th Avenue 

TRANSPORTATION: 6 Train to 103rd Street
                                      2 or 3 to 110th Street

Please RSVP directly to Raylie Dunkel at  Looking for us, call Raylie at 201-978-638

Saturday, November 14, 2015

An Open Letter to the Urban Sketchers of Paris

Our thoughts are with our friends and fellow sketchers in Paris.  

The New York group has been thinking about the harsh realities of our modern world.  Last week our sketching event was at Ground Zero, the site of the 9/11 devastation  It was a somber day that gave us time to reflect.

The world seems very small and we are all very close neighbors.   We are all Parisians.  During your night of darkness we hope it is a comfort to know that the City of Light is in our thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

SUNDAY: Sketch The Newtown Creek Nature Walk

Sunday November 15, 2015

Let's call it the back-side of Urban Sketching.    

The Newtown Creek Nature Walk is "an unusually honest space 
in which to contemplate the nature of our city and our civilization." 

The Newtown Creek Nature Walk, a quarter–mile public walkway along Newtown Creek, is situated serenely between industrial and natural areas. The landscape features indigenous trees, shrubs, grasses, wildflowers and boulders that re-imagine this open space as a vibrant intersection, where multiple histories, cultural identities and geologic epochs coexist.
Visitors are inspired to ponder the various eras of Newtown Creek, from its inhabitance by the Lenape people before the arrival of Europeans, to the thriving cooperage, ship-making and lumber industries of 18th and 19th century Greenpoint. The Nature Walk affords the public its first opportunity in decades to enjoy intimate views of Newtown Creek and to enjoy the local environment and history of the waterfront. is situated serenely between industrial and natural areas.
The landscape features indigenous trees, shrubs, grasses, wildflowers and boulders that re-imagine this open space as a vibrant intersection, where multiple histories, cultural identities and geologic epochs coexist. Visitors are inspired to ponder the various eras of Newtown Creek, from its inhabitance by the Lenape people before the arrival of Europeans, to the thriving cooperage, ship-making and lumber industries of 18th and 19th century Greenpoint.
The Nature Walk affords the public its first opportunity in decades to enjoy intimate views of Newtown Creek and to enjoy the local environment and history of the waterfront.

THE LOWDOWN - What to Really Expect
1)  "Nature" walk might be a bit of a misnomer, but it's certainly an interesting place with a very cool conceptual stairway that tapers down into the creek's water. But be careful. Newtown Creek is an environmental disaster and is a designated superfund site. In the mid 1800s, the creek was "one of the busiest hubs of industrial activity in New York City. More than 50 refineries were located along its banks, including oil refineries, petrochemical plants, fertilizer and glue factories, sawmills, and lumber and coal yards." Yikes. But I'd say this place is still worth a visit if only for the historic curiosity factor and to show support for what a greener, cleaner and "natural" creek could someday be like - Written by Matt B. LIC

2)  This is not a park, and calling it "nature walk" is a stretch. Don't expect a lush oasis where you can get away from it all. It's firmly rooted in its gross, smelly, industrial origins. There seems to be a junkyard and large barges nearby. It's not the prettiest, but there's something life-affirming about a little stretch of plants and rocks adorning a hideous area. I guess planting shrubs on a superfund site could be a metaphor for life, or something. Testament to the human spirit and all that. Written by Magdalena T. Bklyn.

Where: The Newtown Creek Nature Walk

When:  Meet at 11 AM on Sunday at the entrance to the Nature Walk at  Paidge Avenue off Provost Street.  If you're delay - enter the park we'll be sketching inside.

Lunch:  We'll be spending the day - four hours sketching.  There are no food concessions nearby, bring a bite to eat.

Show and Tell:  3:00 we will walking to Esme, 999 Manhattan Ave (between Huron and Green Sts), to share drawings, good stories and a beer or wine if you're so inclined.

-  Coming from Manhattan you can get the G train by transferring from the E or M train at Court Square.
-  Take the G train to Greenpoint Avenue. Use the Greenpoint/Manhattan Avenue exit.
-  With the McDonald's on your left, walk along Greenpoint Avenue one long block east and cross McGuinnes Boulevard.
-  Continue on Greenpoint Avenue to the next traffic light and make a left on Provost Street.
-  Walk eight blocks north (to the end).
-  Make a right on Paidge Avenue where the Nature Walk begins. (It's about a 12 minute walk).

  -  Unfortunately there are no bathrooms
  -  If you have a chair or stool - definitely bring it.
  -  Dress warm - in layers.
  -  Take a hat - there's not much shade. Forecast says Sunny reaching 60 degrees.

Click to Enlarge

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

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

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

NOT Sketching Ground Zero

It was my first time back to the site since before THAT day. You know the one, with that impossibly blue sky. It seemed like a good idea to go back again and sketch there now. After all, 14 years have passed.

As soon as I got off the Wall Trade Center subway stop, though, it brought me back to the days when there were only happy associations with this area. St. Paul's Chapel. Century 21. The traders in their good suits.

And then, the closer I got to the site, throngs of tourists started popping out from every side-- and the stranger it all felt. 

Having lived in lower Manhattan most of my adult life, the memories still haunt--and the feelings are still raw. As fellow blogger, Mark, noted below, it's a sad place to visit.

So I devised a strategy to pay attention to everything else BUT the memorials that day.

Namely the folks of all stripes.

With all sorts of affiliations. 

Boy Scouts


even Urban Sketchers

It was pointed out that of all the trees in the area, only one survived. And that since that day many have been planted, but only that tree remains green. I took this as a good sign of hope against all odds and focused my attention on it.

Lunch at a pizza parlor nearby gave us an opportunity to see (and sketch) more characters.

After a little sustenance, we sketched some more (natch!) 

St. Paul's Chapel aka "The Little Chapel That Stood"

For me, the throwdown (and beer) after sketching is always the highlight of the day.  Especially after being around this somber site all day, it was a nice pick-me-up.

Patricia shows us what she's got

 Our newest members, lovely Lilly and Leiana

Suzala's turn

Susan in the spotlight

 All in all, it wasn't exactly a fun day, but it certainly was a memorable one.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Sketching Ground Zero

It was a gray overcast cold day which seemed fitting for the location.  The tourist didn't arrive in numbers until about mid-day, and then it became very crowded.

I was glad that we finally went to the Memorial site, but it's a sad place to visit.