Monday, June 29, 2020

Weekly Theme: Food Glorious Food

Tomatoes - Mel.jpg
Tomatoes sketch by Mel Barranco

ART and FOOD are creative channels that nourish our health and well being. We love both, so why not combine them? This week's theme was suggested by Susan Chavez after viewing the colorful salads that Sophie Cheung makes with vegetables from her garden. For this week's theme we will be sketching and painting the various foods that we buy, prepare and eat. Let's look for some foods with eye-catching, appetizing colors, and draw from life to make interesting images of preparing, cooking and presenting food in creative ways. Play and have fun. Give your foods some personality or experiment with different forms of food. Remember foods make great models - they stay still when they pose for you.

Need some ideas for inspiration? Here are a few suggestions:

 Colorful Foods, Seasonal Fruits

Pear - Joan.jpg
Pear sketch by Joan Tavolott

Onions sketch by Margaret Casagrandes

Shawne - Cherries.jpg
Cherries sketch by Shawne Cooper

Eye-Catching Arrangements with Fresh Garden Vegetables  


Carrots - Sophie.jpgRadishes - Sophie.jpg
Vegetables from Sophie Cheung's Garden

Interesting or Unusual Produce at the Local Farmer's Market

artichoke - Sophie.jpg
Vegetable sketches by Sophie Cheung

A Beautiful Salad

Colorful Fruit Salad prepared by Sophie Cheung

An Artistic Table Setting

Lemons - Lynne.jpg
Lemons sketch by Lynne Friedman
Apples  - Elaine.jpg
Apples sketch by Elaine Marks


Well, you get the idea. Remember to post your work on 
and add the hashtag #nycurbansketchers.
If your sketch is not done from real life, please add NUS (not an urban sketch) to your post.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

SATURDAY - Collaboration Creation

This weeks virtual sketch event - designed and hosted by Danna Feintuch

For this week’s event, on Saturday June 27, 2020 we will be working together in groups of 5 in our Breakout rooms on Zoom to create one collective piece. You will be given a photo before the event and each person will be assigned a section of the photo to draw from or in.

The photo will be of 5 buildings in a row. It’s attached in this email. You will draw only one of the buildings. (Example: building #3)  You will decide these assignments upon entering your Breakout room. See the example drawings also attached. *** Please keep your heights restricted to around 8” to make it a lot easier for your Tech Leaders to combine them all.

Lunch break / editing time for our Tech Leaders

Garden Bed
The assignment is to create a garden together. Attached is a photo of an empty garden bed and you will create your own plant that will take up a section in it. Remember to draw it from a slight above angle. See the attached example.


    At the end of each session you will email a photo or scan of your drawing to your Tech Leader and they will edit all 4 images together to create your group’s collaboration creation! They will then upload it to the NYC Urban Sketchers Facebook page and tag you as one of the artists.

In the case that your room does not have a Tech Leader, please email all your drawings to one member in your Breakout Room who will then forward them all in one email to Danna at

Please note:
    This event is organized by how many people we have. Once you RSVP, your name will be randomly put in a group with 4 others. They are counting on your attendance to complete the piece. Please RSVP responsibly.

Closes at noon on Friday
Click here to regisgter

Monday, June 22, 2020

Weekly Theme: Go Take a Hike! 

Its summer....go take a hike, get lost, find something wonderful in the woods to sketch.  If you're thinking this isn't urban sketching you are wrong.  We have wonderful wilderness areas right here in the middle of our city and they in a park right near you. 

Prospect Park forest
Prospect Park Reserve Brooklyn
Two things came together for me last week.  

First, we had a virtual meeting with a number of NYC USK organizers to determine if it was safe to hold large (more than 15 people) group events again.  Sorry to say, it isn't.  BUT we did come up with a idea of how to facilitate our members gathering in small groups to do some sketching keeping social distancing in mind.   Recognizing that many sketchers live in some proximity to other sketchers we will try to create a spreadsheet to help you find your neighbors to have get together in a park near your homes,  Many will be able to walk to one of these locations.  For those willing to use public transit, find others to go out and sketch a bit farther away.

Central Park waterfall
Cental Park Manhattan

Then I read the attached article from Untapped Cities about urban wilderness areas. Perfect confluence of events: a list of nearby sketchers and a list of nearby parks!  

Note: not all the places in the article are easily accessible and you might need a car to get to others. However there are enough accessible by foot or public transit to give you choices. 

Inwood Hill Park
Inwood Park Upper Manhattan
In addition to the parks listed in the article. there are many other parks with wooded areas near your homes. You might know about them or look them up on the city parks department site.

 And let's not forget the beaches and waterways that surround NYC, New Jersey, Long Island and Westchester.  For starters there is Gateway National Park that weaves around the wilderness waterways of the NY/NJ, including Jamaica Bay in Queens, Sandy Hook in NJ and a number of facilities on Staten Island.   Check the web site for updated information on park hours:

And here is one little gem that few people know about in Brooklyn. Naval Cemetery Landscape, Brooklyn. Located on the edge of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, it is an oasis of greenery abutting the neighborhoods of Clinton Hill and South Williamsburg.

The Chicago Athenaeum - NAVAL CEMETERY LANDSCAPE | Brooklyn, New ...
Naval Cemetery Landscape
For those living outside the 5 boroughs of NYC there are plenty of choices accessible by car. 


Before you start for a park, check out if you'll need a Westchester County Resident Pass and if parking fees will be collected. It's always good to know the opening and closing hours of the park. Check this information by selecting the park you'll be visiting.

Rt. 117, Pocantico Hills
Tel: (914) 631-1470
Rockefeller-designed carriage trails. Wetlands, woodlands, meadows, fields and lakes. Hiking/ bridle, fishing and nature trails. Visitors Center Art Gallery. Open year-round dawn-dusk.
Long Island
Check your county Parks Department....there are many areas to choose from the Queens border all the way to the tip of Montauk. 
Here is on recommended by Aaron Liebowitz: Caumsett State Park and Preserve in Lloyd Harbor,  was an estate of Marshall Field offering miles of wooded trails, salt marshes, and a long rocky beach facing LI Sound and Cold Spring Harbor. It has historic barns, mansion house ... paved and unpaved paths.
New Jersey
Numerous State and County parks as accessible by car.  Here is a link to State Parks in NJ.

Alley Pond Park lake
Alley Pond Park Queens
So, get out there in the wilderness that is in the middle of our urban center. Get lost and enjoy some respite from the grind of confinement in our apartments.  Remember that even in wilderness areas be aware of social distancing, hand washing and use of masks.  Bring a stool, bug spray and lots of green paint!


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

SATURDAY: Sketch Vegas

Las Vegas also known as Sin City, and the Gambling Capital of the World, is an absolutely unique place.  It is among the most visited places on earth, and has an architectural style all it’s own.  It is an American creation and the architecture is one of the truly American styles. 

The Las Vegas style has been imitated but the original resides here in the US.  It’s not a place that instantly comes to mind when you consider sketching the urban environment, but, why not?  Last week we loved the wonderful architecture of Providence, RI, but the styles were, for the most part, an imitation of European design.  Not Las Vegas.  Love it or not - it’s us, and there’s a lot we can express with our drawings.

Feel free to use any source you like.  The morning will focus on the outside - the buildings themselves and the afternoon will focus on interiors.  Although we’re working from photographs  you should challenge yourself to do more that just be a copiest.  Add your creativity, change things, create pictures that are uniquely your own.

The event starts on Saturday June 20th  at 10 AM EDT promptly.  The afternoon session begins at 1 PM.  You are invited to enjoy both.  Registration ends at noon on Friday.

To register - click here:

Monday, June 15, 2020

Weekly Theme: Using Alternative Drawing Tools

A few weeks ago our weekly theme was using alternative substrates.  Anything would do from shopping bags to cardboard boxes, from different papers to old journals. This week's theme will take the use of alternative materials one more step by using different mark making tools.

KK Ch'ng, one of the USk instructors, has been teaching workshops on using twigs and ink as primary drawing materials.  Having attended his workshop and being handed a chiseled twig from his garden as a pen, I realized I was never without a drawing tool.  Just look around on the ground and there would be something that can make a mark on a page.   Then the other day I picked up a piece of burnt wood from our backyard fire pit and was delighted with my newly found supply of charcoal.

Art Tools of Ch'ng Kiah Kiean | Parka Blogs
KK Ch'ng

Mark making tools from nature

This week anything goes: ball point pens (try using 70% alcohol to dissovle and blend the ink), sponges, burnt matches, cotton swabs, gauze pads, plastic wrap, net bags from produce, old toothbrushes, plastic forks. fingers, hair, string, leaves and branches. The list is endless.  Anything that can carry your ink or paint to the substrate is game. And try using something other than paints and inks.   Use anything that will stain your page such as coffee, tea or tomato sauce. (it has been rumored that someone made a copy of the Mona Lisa using peanut butter and jelly!).

john wolseley
Marthe Isaac

Here are some articles that can help fire your imagination:

Mark making tools from everyday objects

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

SATURDAY: Sketch the “Cottages”

With special thanks to Cecilia Maricel Evasco for suggesting this event - we are off to visit the “cottages” of Newport.

The Gilded Age: The mansions of Newport are where Gilded Age splendor still resides. In classical understatement, the rich referred to these breathtaking mansions as "cottages”.  In the lavish era before income taxes the wealthy tycoons of New York and Philadelphia built summer homes in Newport, in the second half of the nineteenth century.

The Breakers. Marble House. The Elms. Rosecliff. Chateau-sur-Mer.   The names themselves stoke the imagination.  Everything there is fair game for our sketching event, including the “cottages” themselves, the grounds, the gardens and anything that delights you in the interior.

Your starting point can be this wonderful website Cecilia discovered, or you can use any other internet resource.

  • Our mornings will concentrate on the exterior
  • The afternoon will focus on the interior.

Take a look:

The virtual sketch event starts at 10 AM EDT on Saturday, June 13, 2020.

Click here to register:

Registration closes at noon on Friday. You will receive login information for the video call on Friday afternoon.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Weekly Theme: "All Aboard to ALBANY " (Sort of!)


Had there not been the Covid-19 pandemic, we would be drawing and painting in the New York State's Capitol this week. We had to defer this special trip to a time that will be healthier and more relaxed. In the meantime, let's virtually explore and draw in the footsteps of Alexander Hamilton and the Roosevelts. Albany offers a treasure cove of art and history. Let it inspire you and wet your appetite for the time when we can return in person. Use Google Maps, Street View, or any other sources to spark your imagination. 

Suggested Drawing Itinerary:        
1. Empire State Plaza which houses Nelson Rockefeller's permanent modern art collection               


2. New York State Museum - This oldest and largest museum in the country is dedicated to exploring human and natural history of the state. Here you will find 911 artifacts and an 1890's carousel.      

3. Albany Institute of History and Art - This second oldest museum in the country has a wealth of art and historical objects documenting life and culture of New York's Upper Hudson Valley, including a collection of Hudson River paintings.

4.Schuyler  Mansion Historic Site - The home of Revolutionary War Major General Philip Schuyler (father-in-law to Alexander Hamilton) and his family.

5. New York State Capitol Building - A marvel of 19th century architectural grandeur, this extraordinary landmark took 32 years to build. It features three grand staircases, stunning stonework and a Senate Chamber considered one of the most beautiful legislative chambers in the world. 

Need further inspiration?  

Happy Travels! 

Use the hashtag #nycurbansketchers 
Add NUS (Not an Urban Sketch)

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

SATURDAY: Stories and Sketches

SATURDAY, June 6, 2020 
starts at 10 AM

Adding words to your drawings and paintings can add an extra dimension to your sketchbooks. It can enhance the mood you've created, give power to an idea, and evoke powerful memories. And you don't need to be a poet to express your unique authentic voice.

Shawne Cooper will be leading this session. On Saturday, she'll show some inspiring images that combine words and pictures. Shawne is an active Urban Sketcher with a professional background as an advertising copywriter. She's a firm believer in the beauty of combining the visual and the verbal—that 1  + 1 can add up to more than 2.

Morning Session:  10 AM to 11:55 AM EDT
Something or someone that you miss.

Afternoon session:  1:00 PM to 2:55 PM EDT
Something good that's come out of these last few months for you.

You're free to interpret the assignment any way you like. Or, you can choose another topic entirely. You can draw inspiration from objects in your home, from the great outdoors, home movies, personal photographs, the internet, or your imagination.

Registration closes on Friday at noon.  You will recieve log-in details on Friday afternoon.


Monday, June 1, 2020

Weekly Theme:  

Painting Outside the Box.....or Just Use The Box!


Have you wondered if you could do something better than just throw out all those delivery boxes?  For this week's theme we will not just think outside the box...but use the box to create art. 

Danny Gregory, in his book "Art Before Breakfast" suggests newspapers, old boarding passes, coffee cups, ..... as substrate for art.  Some other ideas include: pizza boxes, old ledger papers, leftover gift wrap, seashells and rocks.  Just about anything that will hold the mark making. 

Use these links for inspiration:

Use your left over boxes, old books and letters, sheet music, ledger books, AND lots of imagination to intertwine you art with the materials at hand.