Thursday, March 26, 2020

Practice Instructions for the Second Virtual Sketch Event

The event will take place this coming Saturday, starting at 10 AM (ET) 

Practice Information You’ll Need for Saturday

We will be using Google Maps, and their Street View Feature.  If you are already familiar with the technology you can practice using the information below.  If you’re unfamiliar I think you’re going to love this.

Google has been mapping the entire world using special high resolution cameras. I've seen their cars recording in NYC driving up and down the streets.   It’s easy to visit almost anywhere you like, virtually walking the streets and exploring.  You can compose pleasing compositions to draw from.

Here's several helpful YouTube videos that can help you get started:

How to Use Google Map Street View - Explore the World From Home: 
This 4 minute video will teach you the basics and will show you what to expect.

Learn Google Earth: Street View:  
This 2 minute video has additional information.

How To Use Google Earth (Street View) to Research Properties Remotely:
This video is intended to help you research real estate remotely.  You can skip the first two minutes which don’t apply to what we’re doing.

You can access Google Maps on a computer, a tablet or a smart phone. This can be your starting point to explore almost anywhere in the world.   I find it much easier to do this on a computer.  Doing this on a smart phone provides an imafge that I think is too small, however  it will work with whatever you’ve got.


Let’s practice by taking a walk around Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village.  Click on the link directly above.

You'll see a map of NYC with a view of the park.  To move from the map view to the street view look  for the icon of a little yellow man.  (He looks like a gingerbread man.)  Using your mouse (or your finger on a tablet) you can pick him up and drop him on the map.  The scene will change to the view of the street.

Use the controls, your finger or your mouse to navigate on the street, move left and right exploring the block you’re on, turning corners.  It's the way you would explore a street if you were walking except it's virtual!  You can also look up at tall buildings or down at the ground.  You  can also zoom in and out, reading signs or getting a wider view of things.

In other words you can explore, find a view you like and then compose the picture you want to sketch. You’ll notice the pedestrian’s faces are blurred for privacy reasons, so are license plates, etc.

Your controls might vary depending on what kind of computer you're using,  what kind of browser you have, or if you’re using a tablet or a phone.  However the principles are the same.  Be bold in exploring.  Try a few things.  Find the home where you grew up, visit your old school, etc.  It’s incredible how many places you can visit virtually.

Click to enlarge

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Get comfortable using the technology and we’ll have an interesting time together on Saturday.

All the details of where we’ll be going and what we’ll be doing will be shared at the start of the event.  If you’re late, or in a different time zone the instructions will be posted to the NYC Urban Sketchers Facebook Group.

Art In Isolation: Urban Sketchers Style

A note to the Weekday Sketching Group  (and others) 

The great paradox of the pandemic is that we are in isolation together.  

Perhaps some of you have seen the article in the NY Times "Art In Isolation, a Coloring Book". which is supposedly the view from the artist's window of how his neighbors are dealing with confinement.  Here is a link to the article.

The artist is Tomi Um. I too didn't recognize the name but realized I know his work from the NYC Subway campaign for Casper Mattresses 

And here is a link to a longer article about Art in Isolation: 

My point in sending this note, is to say we are not alone in our isolation.  The article shows the work of many artists using their creative spirit to help deal with the reality of the crisis.  That is a message for all of us. 

Going forward with NYC Urban Sketchers, you will be receiving a weekly "meeting" notice from Mark Leibowitz.  Since we are all home bound, I will not be posting a weekly "meeting" notice for the Weekday Sketchers.   Let's just consider the NYC Chapter for now as one large group and follow Mark's prompts on collective art experiences.  

In addition here are some suggestions: 

  • Visit our blog page for the Weekday Schedule March/April (you have to keep scrolling backwards) and virtually visit the places we were to go as a group and sketch away.

  • Visit the Urban Sketchers International site ( to see how chapters around the world are working through the pandemic.  Also look up the current and past issues of Drawing Attention (click tab "about" and then "Drawing Attention") 

  • For those who like figure drawing there is Croquis Cafe, Line of Action and Bodies in Motion, to name few sites offering models for sketching.

  • Danny Gregory of Sketch Book Skool has contacted us and invited us to participate in the many free daily drawing experiences on their web site and Facebook Page. He is also offering free access to one lesson in each of his paid courses. 

  • Try working in a new medium, style or subject matter. You might find out you like colored pencils, toned paper, or still life.  Try this: use an ordinary ball point pen. Do your sketch with cross hatching. Then take a cotton swab dipped in 70% or higher alcohol which will dissolve the ink creating a wash.  

  • My new mantra is: every day that goes by is one day closer to the end of this isolation. Feel free to use it as often as you like.

  • Just think of how much better your skills will be after this concentrated art experience. 

Going forward, watch for Mark's posting for the Saturday sketching events.  I am looking forward to seeing you all again on the streets of NYC!

Raylie Dunkel 

Monday, March 23, 2020

Wednesday: Westchester Sketchers Virtual Visit to the NYBG Orchid Show

Since we cannot able to visit the New York Botanical Garden to sketch on location, let's take a virtual walk through The Orchid Show for some welcome respite and inspiration. Tune in for a Facebook Watch Party with a video tour of the exhibition featuring Marc Hachadourian, Director of Glasshouse Horticulture and Senior Curator of Orchids. Through this tour Marc will show kaleidoscopic highlights of designer Jeff Leatham’s bold vision. Be inspired by what you see in the video or something else you find on the NYBG web site to create your sketches. Hope to "see" you Wednesday!


WHEN: Wednesday, March 25, 2020, 12 PM – 1 PM EDT

WHERE: Orchid Show Tour Public Watch Party
· Hosted by New York Botanical Garden

Virtual SHOW and TELL: Post your sketches to the NYC Urban sketchers Facebook page


Please RSVP to Cathy ( to let me know if you like this idea.

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

Saturday, March 21, 2020

 Urban Sketching While Being Confined: A Virtual Experience

Thank You Mark for organizing our first virtual Urban Sketching Event

While nothing will replace the experience of being together for a day's sketching, our first virtual sketch event was a great substitute.  Being confined for a long period of time is certainly a different way of living in New York City, where so much of our lives take place outside our dwellings.

And talking about being confined for long periods of time in small spaces, here is an article writen by Scott Kelly who has just come back from a year at the space station.  This op-ed piece appears in tonight's on line edition of the New York Times. He has some great tips on how to sustain yourself in these circumstances, among which are: keep a schedule of activities, pace yourself, go outside and have a hobby. 

And what better hobby could we have than sketching.  Let's get through this by being creative in using our time and talent.  

Click here to see the article:

See you soon, on site, outdoors at a Urban Sketchers event! 

Friday, March 20, 2020

Our First Virtual Sketch Event

This is an experiment so please be patient and forgiving if things don't work perfectly.  With your feedback we'll be able to improve. 

The starting place for the event is the NYC Urban Sketchers Facebook Group

Have our FB Group page open at the starting time.  If you're late you can join in at any time during the day.

Our event will start at 10 AM this Saturday, March 21, 2020.  It will start with a short live video.  We'll share the guidelines you'll need to participate.  Just listen, you don't need to write anything.  When the video is done we're going to post all the details you'll need.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Sketching Virtually

This note is directed specifically to sketchers who are not using Facebook, or sharing their artwork and comments on line.

This global pandemic is changing a lot of things in our lives.   I"m sure we still can't appreciate how deep and pervasive these changes will be.  However,  there are a number of positive aspects to what's going on.  It's a "stop and smell the roses" moment that helps us appreciate things.  It's also potentially a time to learn new concepts and acquire new skills.

For me using Facebook and other internet things has been like having a window in a small room.  It's a huge help and expands the vista incredibly.

You might already be involved on-line and just need to figure out how to share your artwork.  Or you might have some fundamental issues with Facebook.  They are not a perfect company, but now isn't the time to fight that fight, especially if using the technology can help us get through this together.

If you would like some coaching on how to use the internet and facebook send me an email (  I'll get you paired with a volunteer who can help.  If you already have those skills and would be willing to coach others -  send me an email.

We are having our first virtual sketch event this Saturday.  I'd love it if you could participate.  That means following what's going on, sharing your own work and offering positive supportive comments to your friends and fellow sketchers. 

I hope you'll be able to join us.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

SATURDAY - Sketching Together Virtually

Welcome to the new world of social distancing.  I've still go the urge to sketch with my friends.  Hoping you're feeling the same.  Let's try something new this coming Saturday March 21, 2020.

This is an experiment but if it works there's a lot of really interesting things we can do with this idea.  Joy Hecht has been actively promoting this idea and has been a great source for ideas - thank you.

See the picture of the crowds?  That's what we're going to avoid. We'll meet at our usual time, but stay at home.   At 10 AM go to our Facebook Group:

There's going to be a short live video that will explain what we're going to be doing.   In case you come late, or don't feel like taking notes - detailed instructions will be posted at our FB Group page on Saturday morning.

We're going to have two sketching sessions, one in the morning and a second one in the afternoon with lunch sandwiched in between.

If you don't live in the NYC area and follow us remotely - feel free to join in.

If you don't use Facebook this could be a great time to start.  It's a great way to share your art and your thoughts.  Even better you can see the beautiful creative work your friends are sharing.  Click this link   and ask to join the group, be sure to add a sentence explaining why you want to join.  This should be done before Saturday so you're ready to go at 10 AM

Friday, March 13, 2020

Sketching in Special Times

Bowling with CORVID-19 

There was a phone meeting this morning with six of the people who organize our sketch events.  It's official, until further notice New York City Urban Sketchers will not be meeting to sketch together.  Meeting together is optional but many would say the urge to draw and express ourselves isn't.  And, sketching is a good way to deal with the craziness.

Now more than ever, it's important that we share our artwork.   It's important for us to be in communication.  I've noticed that posting artwork has dropped recently.  I am part of that problem and intend to share my artwork online regularly.  I urge you to do the same.

We all need to learn how to share our work on the internet.  It's not hard. We can help each other.  We can each contribute by either learning or sharing what we know.

We can make this period interesting, by thinking up themes we can explore, and challenges to build skills.  If you have a good idea - share it.

Our old rules don't make sense at this moment. It's not so easy for us to do on-location drawing, but we can record what's going on at this particular moment.  I think what's going on inside is vailid and also should be shared.  Feel free to be expressive, use words if it helps you communicate.  Share what you're doing.

Here are a couple of things we can do right now:

1)  Let's create two lists.  One for all the people who could use help figuring out how to share their work on-line.  The other group is people who are willing to take the time to help.  Send me an email with either the phrase, "I could use help", or "I can be a helper".   I will pair those who want with those that got.   Don't hit reply - please send the email to me directly  Mark Leibowitz (

2)  Find something and post it to one of our social media sites, - our Facebook Group or our Instagram account - or both.  Write something too.  Let us know what's happening with you.

3)  Here's a theme you can use to stimulate your creativity.  It will take us to the heart of what's going on:
Bowling for CORVID-19 is my attempt.  I'm curious to see yours.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020


As Mark noted in his message little while ago, it pains me to send this message, but in light of the precautions being taken to keep the spread of the Coronavirus at bay, the event scheduled for Thursday at the Brooklyn Museum of Art is canceled.  Please watch for notices of future events when the situation clears and it is safe to gather in groups. 

Weekend Sketch Canceled

This is a hard message to write. The highlight of my week, every week, is sketching with the group.  This has been going on for years so it's a consistent wonderful part of my life.  I know that many of you have similar feelings about urban sketching. 

The NYC USk organizers had a meeting yesterday to discuss the CORVID-19 health crisis.  We've also been in touch with many of the organizers of other Urban Sketching groups around the world to discuss this issue.  Depending on your personal situation minimizing contact with others might be difficult.  However sketching together is definitely optional.  It's one easy thing we can all do to minimize potential contagion.

This is sad, because it's very clear we like one another.  We also share a love for sketching.  However there are ways we can continue to sketch, share our artwork and have discussions without sketching in public spaces.  Part of our mission as Urban Sketchers is to share our work online.

This is not a permanent situation.  This will pass and things will return to normal.  Until then we will find creative ways to explore and thrive in this new environment.

We will have more to say about this in the days ahead.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Weekday Sketchers at Brooklyn Museum Thursday

The Brooklyn Museum is a wonderful place to sketch: beautiful architecture, wonderful Rodin sculptures, great Egyptian collection...and the list goes on.  Right now there are two exhibits that will offer us some unique opportunities for sketching:   African Arts Global Conversations and Jaques-Louis David meets Kahinde Wiley.   For more information on both shows, click here:

If time and weather cooperate, we can sketch outside in the garden or in the front on Eastern Parkway.

Image result for brooklyn museum images

Kuba artist. Mask (Mwaash aMbooy), late 19th or early 20th century. Rawhide, paint, plant fibers, textile, cowrie shells, glass, wood, monkey pelt, feathers, 22 × 20 × 18 in. (55.9 × 50.8 × 45.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Robert B. Woodward Memorial Fund, 22.1582. (Photo: Brooklyn Museum)

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

Bring a stool and be prepared to work in dry materials.   We will break for lunch in the cafeteria at 1:00 PM. 


STARTING TIME:  11:0O AM (museum opens at 11:00. If weather is mild, meet in front of the museum at 10:00 to sketch the exterior of the building) 

                        200 EASTERN PARKWAY

NOTE:  There is an admission fee of $12 for adults and $10 for Seniors. However, the museum has a policy that these are suggested amounts. Pay what you wish for admission.  American Alliance of Museum memberships are accepted. 


Thursday, March 5, 2020

SATURDAY: Sketch the Fire Museum

The Fire Museum is like the attic of the New York City Fire Department.  It’s where all the old interesting stuff is, and exploring it is very much like sifting through a collection of fire-related artifacts that someone at some point considered worth keeping.

Including a taxidermied fire dog, whose name goes unrecorded but who became much loved by the staff of Engine Co. No. 2013 in Brooklyn after he wandered in out of the cold in 1929.  Little No-
Name actually earned some medals for helping rescue people and such, before being hit by car in 1939.  Dog that good, you don’t just bury him.  You stuff him.  And he eventually ends up in the Fire Museum.


What:  Sketch the the NYC Fire Museum

Where278 Spring Street, Manhattan.  The New York City Fire Museum is located in a renovated 1904 firehouse at 278 Spring Street, between Varick and Hudson Streets

When:   Meet at 10:30 - If you're running late - come anyway.  We'll be there for the entire day.

How: To reach the Museum by subway, take the “C” or “E” train (8th Avenue Local) to Spring Street. Walk west 1½ blocks. Alternately, take the “1” train (IRT) to Houston Street. Walk south along Varick Street for 4 blocks to Spring Street. Walk west ½ block.

To reach the Museum via bus, take the M10 or M21 to Spring Street.

Lunch12:30 - 1:30  Loads of restaurants in the area.

Afternoon1:30 - 3:00 - Back sketching

Show and Tell3:00 The social part of our day when we share drawings, good stories and and a snack or refreshments if so inclined.  Location to be determined.


-  Bring a folding stool if you have one - it's a big help allowing you to sketch from the perfect spot.
General Admission

  • $10.00 for Adults
  • $8.00 for Students, Seniors, Firefighters, AAA members, Federally Disabled (with ID)
  • $5.00 for Children

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

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

MONDAY March 9: Westchester Sketchers at Mamaroneck Artists Guild

The Mamaroneck Artists Guild comprises approximately 200 artists, many of whom have achieved national recognition for their paintings, drawings, digital art, mixed media, sculptures, prints, photographs, woodwork, jewelry, ceramics, glass and fiber art. The Guild showcases unique Arts and Fine Crafts, handmade by juried artist members. Throughout the year they hold a number of programs and activities open to members and to the public. These include popular Life-Drawing sessions, Coffee Houses, Children's Workshops, art demonstrations and lectures.

The Guild's current exhibition, celebrating Women's History Month, is called Her Story / His Story. Art is a journey full of surprises and detours. Looking at your personal journey from the beginning to the present, what best expresses where you are now and where you want to go next?

Local host: Alison Nichols


DATE: MONDAY, March 9, 2020

LOCATION: Mamaroneck Artists Guild, 126 Larchmont Avenue, Larchmont, NY., 10538.
Phone: 914-834-1117.

Take Metro North Railroad from Grand Central Terminal to the Larchmont Station via the New Haven Line. Please call Marianne (914) 355-6507 to arrange for pick-up.

START TIME: 10:30 AM.  

SHOW and TELL: 12:45 PM This is the social part of our day where we share our drawings, tips, and stories. It is a time not to be missed. 

LUNCH: We will have lunch at Villa Maria Pizzeria, 6 Chatsworth Avenue.

  • Admission is free, but donations are welcome.
  • You can park on the street or find parking around the back of the gallery. The back door will be open, although it’s a little difficult to find (down some steps) even though it has MAG written on the back.
  • Bring a stool if you have one. 

Please RSVP to Cathy ( We will provide an attendee list to the Foundation.

Looking for us?
Call/text: Cathy at (914) 625-0766 or Marianne at (914) 355-6507.

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

Mark you calendars for these UPCOMING EVENTS:

Wednesday, April 1st - New York Public Library, 42nd Street, NYC
Friday, April 17th - Clay Arts Center, Port Chester, NY
ThursdayApril 30th - The Cloisters, Bronx, NY

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Weekday Sketchers at Jewish Museum Tuesday

Have you seen the sculptures by Rachel Feinstein at the Jewish Museum?  Large and partially deconstructed they look a bit like jig saw puzzles that have exploded and never got back together again.   Angles, planes, light and shadow will be the challenge in getting these highly original pieces drawn into your sketchbooks. This exhibit will be closing soon, so let's get see it and draw it before it goes away.  For more information on the exhibit, click here:

Not to your liking? Join us anyway at the museum and try the Scenes from the Collection with 7 "scenes" highlighting the museum's holdings from different perspectives.

Bring a stool and be prepared to work in dry medium. Please RSVP directly to Raylie Dunkel at  Looking for us? Call/text Raylie at 201-978-6387


STARTING TIME: 11:00 AM (museum opens at 11:00)

                      1109 5TH AVE AT 92nd St.

NOTE:  There is an entrance fee for the museum.  $18 for Adults, $12 for Seniors.  American Alliance of Museum membership is accepted.