Sunday, January 28, 2018

Weekday Sketchers Celebrate an Early Chinese New Year 

It is almost Chinese New Year.  Join us for an early celebration at the 
Museum of Chinese in America. 

Taking advantage of free admission on the first Thursdays of the month (which is why we are celebrating early),  we will be able to see their newly mounted core exhibit highlighting the migration of a people and culture to America.  It is a familiar story told by all who have come to this country but told from a perspective that might not to be known to many of us. 

There will be lots to sketch: beautiful artifacts, unique architectural elements that capture the culture as it was transplanted in a new country and the unique renovation of an old tenement into a beautiful and modern museum. We might even find a dragon or two. 

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Museum of Chinese in America

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Apothecary Shop Display

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Innovative Architectural  Rehab 


                       215 CENTER STREET (one and a half blocks north of Canal Street) 

START TIME: 11:00 AM  (MoCA opens at 11 AM)

TRANSPORTATION:N, Q, R, W, J, Z and 6 trains to Canal Street.

Please RSVP directly to Raylie Dunkel at  Looking for us? Call/text Raylie at 201-978-6387.  Bring a stool.  No food or drink allowed in the galleries.  There will be an optional lunch at a restaurant/dim sum parlor.   Following lunch and weather permitting, we will sketch the street scenes in Chinatown.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

SUNDAY: Groundhog Day Sketch

January 28, 2018

Think the movie with Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell, not the event in Punxsutawney, PA.  It's the artistic chance to repeat, ... a do-over.  A sketch event that allows you to try endless variations and loads of explorations.  Unlike other sketch events where we go from one subject to the next,  the idea for the Groundhog Day Sketch is to pick one subject and do several versions, changing things, trying new ideas, experimenting.

Monet's famous Haystack paintings would be an example of a Groundhog Day exploration:


Where:   The Metropolitan Museum of Art  - Meet in the lobby near the Information Desk

WhenSUNDAY, January 28, 2018 starting at 10 AM.  (Sleeping late? Come anyway - we'll meet-up later)

Morning10 - 12:00  Find your subject and start sketching

LunchNoon:  Meet in the basement cafeteria. Towards the back.

Afternoon1:00 PM Back to drawing;

Show and Tell - 3:00 PM The social part of our day.  We'll meet in the cafeteria again. where will share drawings, good stories and and a snack or refreshments if you're so inclined.

-  The museum doesn't mind if you bring a stool as long as you don't block traffic.
-  The Museum has a pencil only policy that is unevenly enforced.  Often when the guards change - so do the rules.
-  I always check my coat.  I use the school entrance at 81st Street and check my coat there.  They may ask you to also check your backpack.  If you sling it over one shoulder that's often okay.

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

There are no fees.   All drawing skill levels are welcome.

Weekday Sketchers Schedule for February and March

To help you plan your participation in Weekday Urban Sketchers events, here are the meeting dates for February and March 2018.

Thursday February 1. 2018  Museum of Chinese in America. 

(Note: this is a change from the original scheduled for this week of Jan. 31.)

Thursday February 8, 2018  Brooklyn Navy Yard Building 92

Wednesday February 14, 2018  Ford Foundation

Tuesday February 20, 2018  Juilliard Concert at Holy Trinity Church

Thursday March 1, 2018   Criminal Courts

Thursday March 8, 2018  Hudson County Court House 
Wednesday March 14, 2018  Chelsey Piers

Thursday March 22, 2018  Industry City , Brooklyn

Wednesday March 28, 2018  George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal

Monday, January 22, 2018

Review for SMARTRO Electric Pencil Sharpener.

I have been sketching with the NYC Urban Sketchers for about 5 years, and through the duration, I have been experimenting with many brands of colored pencils.   I have come to prefer pencils with a very high chalk content.  They are brighter and deliver more pigment to the paper, leaving more vibrant color,  than can be delivered by a pencil that has wax binding the pigment together. 

The down side of chalk pencils is that they become dull very rapidly and it is impossible to sharpen them with any manual pencil sharpener.  They must be sharpened carefully with a small knife or with sand paper.  The colored chalk does not have enough strength to survive being twisted in a manual sharpener.  I have tried several brands of manual portable sharpeners, and the point always breaks off inside the sharpener.  The chalk pencils can be very nicely sharpened in a desktop version of an electric sharpener, but that doesn't work for Urban Sketching.  The other problem that I experience when sharpening art pencils in a standard office style electric sharpener, is that the art pencils are too large.

In late December 2017, Amazon advertised as one of their daily specials the Smartro portable electric pencil sharpeners that can be powered by either batteries or an USB cable.  It was available for $28.95.  I decided to try it out and have been pleased so far.  It took 10 days to arrive.

The first surprise is that it comes with 4 pencil sharpening blades -- 2 of each size.  The photo below shows the Smartro after two of the blades are installed and I have sharpened a variety of pencils.  So far, I have only used it in battery mode.  It uses 4 AA batteries.  It took less than a minute to install the sharpening blades and make the sharpener usable.  I have been very impressed by how well it sharpens my extra wide pencils.  They have never been sharpened better!    Its size and weight are modest.  I would describe it as being about 3 times the size of a typical portable pencil sharpener.  It fits in my art bag easily.  So far, I have used it while sketching in 2 museums.  In both cases, the guards came and stood beside me while I used it, but left with smiles.  It is very sturdy, and there is no chance of the shavings spilling out either during use, or during transit.  I am very satisfied with its performance.

Weekday Urban Sketchers at NY Waterways Terminal and John Jay College

Join us for a day along midtown's west side. Really about as far west as you can get....out at the end of Pier 79 in the enclosed NY Waterways Ferry Terminal. The glass enclosed terminal will be our first stop where we can take advantage of the unobstructed views along the Hudson with the boat traffic and people scurrying on and off the ferries.  

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In preparation for our annual visit to the NY Court System, we will then take the free ferry shuttle busses to John Jay College on Amsterdam Ave and 59th Street to view the exhibit of courtroom artists, entitled "Rogues Gallery: A 40 Year Retrospective of Courtroom Art".  Here is a link to the exhibit posted by one of our own members

 If you are joining us for the afternoon only, the exhibit is at the Shiva Gallery 524 West 59th Street

START TIME: At NY Waterways Terminal    10:30 AM
                         At John Jay College      Approx. 2 PM

                        459 12TH AVE
                        West 39th Street on Pier 79

TRANSPORTATION: The closest subway lines are the A, C, E to 42nd and 8th Ave or the 7 to 34th and 11th Ave. Then take one of the free  NY Waterways bus shuttles. Please check their web site for the one that is best for you.  

General Information :

Peak Hour bus routes:

Please RSVP to Raylie Dunkel at  Looking for us? Call Raylie at 201-978-6387.  There are plenty of benches in the terminal but bring a stool if you want and some lunch. We will have a quick bite to eat at the terminal before leaving for John Jay College.


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

SUNDAY: Sketch the Natural History Museum

Sunday,  January 21, 2018

So many incredible things to see and draw 
at the 
Museum of Natural History

I've arranged free admission for the first 25 Urban Sketchers who meet me at opening time.  They will also be given a free guest pass to the Butterfly Conservatory - Dense humidity, lush green plants, and tropical butterflies of every color filling the room—who'd guess this is New York City in the middle of winter?  (Note:  We will probably not be able to sketch in the Butterfly area, but still, won't that be incredible in January?)


WhenI'll be there at opening time 10 AM if you're interested in the free admission and tickets to the Butterfly Conservatory.  However, life is complicated - come when you can.

Where:  The Museum is located at Central Park West & 79th St.  Meet me at the North entrace (- the Planeterium entrance) on West 81 Street

Morning:  There is so much to see and sketch that it's likely we'll split up into small groups or sketch as individuals.  I'm going to looking at the elephants and dioramas, but also groups of people viewing things.

Lunch12:00 Noon.  Meet at the Cafeteria on the lower level.  We'll be sitting all the way in the back. Try to reserve table space if you get there early.

Afternoon:  1 PM  Back to sketching

Show and Tell - 3:00 PM The social part of our day.  We'll return to the back of the cafeteria where we will share drawings, good stories and maybe get a snack or refreshments - if you're so inclined.

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

There are no fees.   All drawing skill levels are welcome.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Weekday Urban Sketchers at Roerich Museum

Tucked away in a town house on the Upper West Side, is yet another hidden gem of New York City: the Nicholas Roerich Museum.  Brought up in Russia in the late 1800's where he studied art and law, he quickly become part of the avant-garde movement led by Sergei Diaghilev. Highly spiritual, he traveled throughout India and Central Asia writing and painting. His paintings reflect this spiritual search in a stylized and colorful manner. Please visit the museum web site for  background on his life and paintings: 

Bring a stool and your brightest colors for a day exploring this unique person, his paintings and his home.

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Please RSVP directly to Raylie Dunkel at  Looking for us? Call/text  Raylie at 201-978-6387.

NOTE: Since the museum opens at noon, and we have been asked to gather after 1:00 PM, there will be an optional morning visit to Saint John the Divine. We will meet in the main sanctuary.  Following a lunch break we will walk to the Roerich Museum.  

DATE: Wednesday January17, 2018

LOCATION: 319 West 107th Street, NYC

START TIME:    10:30 AM at St. John the Divine (optional) 
                               1:00 PM at Roerich Museum

DIRECTIONS: 1 Train to 110th Street/Cathedral Parkway.  ,Walk south three blocks and turn right on 107th St.  The museum is between Broadway and Riverside Drive.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

SUNDAY: Sketch the Frick


Sunday, January 10, 2018

Just another house in NYC, but now that the Frick's moved out it's a great place to sketch. An impressive abode with furniture still in place suggesting how they lived.  Their art collection is incredible.

My two favorites - there in the living room are the Holbeins of More and Cromwell, almost glaring at each other.  On the left Thomas More the humanist scholar, the Lord Chancellor of England and martyr saint for refusing to accept Henry’s break with the Catholic Church. Facing him on the right is Thomas Cromwell, one of the architects of England’s break with Rome, engineer of Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn, and, eventually of More’s death.

If these two could only speak - the stories they'd tell (about each other)!

Another must see:  Veronese in Murano: Two Venetian Renaissance Masterpieces Restored, two recently conserved and rarely seen paintings by the celebrated artist Paolo Veronese (1528–1588), St. Jerome in the Wilderness and St. Agatha Visited in Prison by St. Peter. While the paintings are known to scholars, their remote location in a church in Murano, an island in the lagoon of Venice, has made them difficult to study.  See them this Sunday.


Where1 East 70th Street, at the northeast corner with Fifth Avenue.

When:  Opens at 11 AM  starts closing at 4:45.  Feel free to come anytime you like.  If you arrive late chat with the first person you see sketching it will be an Urban Sketcher.

Lunchsee notes below - no lunch planned.

Show and Tell - 3:00 PM  The social part of our day will be at Match 65, 29 E 65th St, (212) 737-4400, where we will share drawings, good stories and a snack or refreshments if you're so inclined.

-   No lunch.  There's nothing nearby.  Come well fed or bring a power bar to snack on.
-   Technically they only permit pencil sketching.  In the past this hasn't been enforced.  Be polite to the guards and considerate to the other visitors and we should be alright.
-   Stools seem to be okay if you don't block the flow.
-  Admission:  Adults - $22,  Seniors  $17 (65 and over), Students  $12 (with valid identification)

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

There are no fees.   All drawing skill levels are welcome.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Weekday Sketchers at Hoboken Terminal

The Hoboken Terminal is a hub of commuter transportation along the Hudson River, providing access to NJ Transit Commuter lines, PATH trains, the NY Waterways ferries and the Hudson Bergen Light Rail system.  Inside of what is now a rather forlorn building, is the beautiful waiting room.  Huge windows, chandeliers, balconies, a glass ceiling, marble ticket booths, and beautiful wooden benches are hallmark that echo the times when rail travel was a luxury experience. 

Morning Session: Either try to capture the entire scene or spend the day drawing the many details in the iron work, lighting, shoe shine stand or woodwork. Or, capture the people coming and going through the terminal.

Afternoon session: The  temperatures are supposed to be in the high 40's on Thursday, making it feel like a balmy day after all this cold.  Weather permitting, we will move outdoors for the afternoon session for views of the exterior with the iconic clock tower. 

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TRANSPORTATION:  Take ether line of the  PATH system.   One runs along 6th Ave with stops from 33rd Street to Christopher Street, The other is accessed at the World Trade Center.  Take either but make sure you are on the train to Hoboken.  When you exit at the Hoboken Terminal, come up to the street level but stay inside the terminal. Make your way to the Waiting Room that is located at the east end of the building near the gates to the NJ Transit Commuter lines.  

Please RSVP directly to Raylie Dunkel at  Bring a stool and some lunch. There are some food outlets in the building and along adjacent streets if you prefer. Looking for us? Call or text Raylie at 201-978-6387.  (We shouldn't be hard to find as the Waiting Room is one large space) 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Weekday Sketchers Change of Schedule

Due to a forecast of snow and cold temps on Thursday, the meeting date for this week's session will be on WEDNESDAY JANUARY 3, 2018. Hopefully you will still be able to join us. 

Except for the date, all other information is the same:



                       5TH AVENUE AND 82ND STREET
                       We will meet at the Christmas Tree 


Please RSVP directly to Raylie Dunkel at  Bring a stool and dry materials to work with. We will break for lunch in the cafeteria in the building.  Bring your own or purchase something there.