Tuesday, February 23, 2021

SATURDAY:  Sketch Darwin’s Lab - the Galapagos

Sketch Darwin's Lab - The Galapagos Islands

Thanks to Alan Wernicke for the idea and the research for today’s event.

We will be visiting the Galapagos Islands, a volcanic archipelago on the equator in the Pacific Ocean, about 600 miles west of South America. The islands are known for the large number of native species found nowhere else in the world. Many of these plants and animals were studied by Charles Darwin during the second voyage of the HMS Beagle in 1835. Darwin’s observations and collections were instrumental in his theory of evolution, ultimately published as On The Origin of Species in 1859.

Today, the Galapagos Islands is a huge national park and marine preserve, established in 1959 by Ecuador and covering over 3,000 square miles. The park was created to protect such native species as the giant tortoise, marine iguana, and the Galapagos petrel. It was designated a UNESCO World Herald Site in 1978, becoming only the second international location to receive this honor.

  • In the morning we will focus on the animals of the Galapagos. You have lots to chose from. Everybody’s favorite is the giant tortoise, but you cannot go wrong with a sketch of the blue-footed booby, or its cousin the red-footed booby. And don’t miss the male frigate bird, especially when it balloons its bright red chest (said to attract female frigates.) There are also fur seals, marine and land iguanas, sea lions, the flightless cormorant and the only species of penguin found north of the equator. You can get very close to the animals, but park regulations advise “no touching.”
  • In the afternoon we will explore the three zones of the islands’ landscape. The coastal zone features magnificent beaches; take time to do yoga with a sea lion. In the arid zone there are beautiful cacti and desert vegetation. And in the highland or humid zone you will see the tops of volcanoes and jungle plants.



There are no fees. All drawing skill levels are welcome


Saturday, February 20, 2021

Weekly Theme: Tools


We thank Margaret Casagrande for suggesting this week's theme, and Jennifer Ransom for her historical research.

What do you do when you're stuck at home due to inclement weather and looking for something to draw? You need only to look around your house, your basement or tool box. For this week's theme, we will draw tools. Start with one tool, then add another, and another. Soon you'll have a group. There are all kinds of tools used to make tasks easier: for art work, crafts, hobbies, carpentry, home repairs, gardening, and even cooking. Try drawing your favorite tools. Or, the tools you use most often. Are they separate or in a pile or box? 

Sketches by Margaret Casagrande

Another fun option might be to draw people using tools. How about someone cooking a meal, shoveling the sidewalk, hammering a nail, etc.?

Goldsmith Marin Marino in the Studio, by Marc Taro Holmes

The above sketch is from the book: The Urban Sketching Art Pack: A Guide Book and Sketch Pad for Drawing on Location Around the World by Gabriel Campanario, Veronica Lawlor, and Stephanie Bower.

For more information, these books can be accessed, at least in part, on the Web at no cost:

Ancient Carpenters' Tools: Illustrated and Explained, Together with the Implements of the Lumberman, Joiner and Cabinet-Maker in Use in the Eighteenth Century by Henry C. Mercer

Hand Tools: Their Ways and Workings by Aldren A. Watson

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

SATURDAY:  Sketch Black History Month


Thanks to  Katje Lehrman for the idea and research for this week's virtual sketch

There's no American History without Black History

It began as a way of remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. It is celebrated in February in the United States and Canada, while in Ireland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom it is observed in October.

The most important purpose of Black History Month is to make us all aware of the struggle for freedom and equal opportunity. It is a time to celebrate the many achievements of African Americans in every field from science and the arts to politics and religion.

It is a rich subject with loads of visual reference materials to feed your creativity.  Our creative day will be divided into two parts:

Our Morning Sketch:  Use materials and events that focus on the time before your birth.

Our Afternoon Sketch:  Will focus on the times and events that occurred during your lifetime.


Mount Zion Cemetery: Washington DC
Sandy Spring Maryland, Quaker Community:

Integrating America



There are no fees. All drawing skill levels are welcome


Tuesday, February 9, 2021

SATURDAY: Sketch Staunton - The Queen of the Shenandoah Valley

This event was designed and developed by Penelope Studwell

Staunton - the Queen of the Shenandoah Valley

Staunton, Virginia is nestled in western Virginia in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains of the Appalachian Mountains. Staunton is also called Queen City of the Valley, and named after Rebecca Staunton, wife of a colonial governor Sir William Gooch. She was considered “a woman of queenly grace of mind and heart”. 

Staunton was settled in 1732 primarily by Scotch-Irish and Germans and later incorporated in 1801. The Frontier Culture Museum has authentic Scotch-Irish, German, English, and frontier homes; this living museum is one of our favorite spots to sketch!

Stauntonian and architect Thomas Blackburn worked with Thomas Jefferson on the construction of the University of Virginia and thus brought the Jeffersonian influence to Staunton.  

Staunton became a transportation hub when the Virginia Central Railroad arrived in 1854 and became the site of a supply base during the Civil War.  Woodrow Wilson, our 28th president was born in Staunton in 1856; the home and grounds of his birthplace is a popular venue to sketch.

Another noteworthy architect T.J. Collins who began his career in Washington, D.C., moved to Staunton in 1890 and infused the downtown and neighborhoods of our little city with the styles of Queen Anne, chateauesque, French Second Empire, bungalow, Beaux Arts, mission, and revivals of Italian Renaissance, Tudor, Romanesque, and colonial styles. 

Staunton Sketchers love our city.  It gives us great joy to share our part of the world with our fellow sketchers.


Here are some places and photos for you to use:

Gorgeous Shenandoah Valley Stock Photos:


Urban Sketchers Staunton - Instagram Account:
​(See how the local artists have interpreted the area)

A Visitor’s Guide to Staunton:


Erik the Travel Guy - Long Video Guide to Staunton:
(Freeze the video for great source material)


Erik the Travel Guy - Short Video Guide to Staunton:

Southern Living Guide to Staunton: 

Tripadvisor’s Guide to Stuanton: 
(click where it says "see all photos"​)​

The Frontier Culture Museum:



There are no fees. All drawing skill levels are welcome


Sunday, February 7, 2021

Weekly Theme: Hats, Scarves and Headdresses


Sketch by Leslie Gordon Sim

What we wear on or about our heads says a lot about us. Since time immemorial, headwear speaks of our position in life, our beliefs and ethnic and cultural background. As a fitting follow-up to our portrait party, this week we will observe and draw people sporting headwear - woolen hats, hoodies, scarves, etc. If it's too cold to be out and about town, dive into the past. For inspiration, take a look at Dolly Madison's signature turbans, Henry VIII's velvet bonnets or the feathered headband of the Wampanong's tribal leader Maasasoit. What hat from history would you like to wear?

Sketch by Arlene Weberg
Photo Courtesy Marianne Milsoff
Please be sure to post your work https://www.facebook.com/groups/nycurbansketchers/? and add NUS (not an urban sketch) if applicable.

How to draw hats, two different ways
 / Mark Crilley.
How to draw hats that look natural and that look like they really fit.

Thanks to Marianne Milsoff for suggesting this theme, and to Jennifer Ransom for her research on hats.

Sketch by Cecilia Evasco

Friday, February 5, 2021

Grand Central Terminal Exhibit 

Call for Submissions

Image result for grand central images

Just to prove that there are silver linings in the darkest clouds, NYC Urban Sketchers has been presented with an opportunity to mount an exhibit at Grand Central Terminal (GCT).  We are now seeking submissions for the exhibit.

Taking advantage of diminished traffic in GCT,  a number of construction projects have been started throughout the terminal. Temporary walls have been constructed in many places in the main hall and passageways which beg to be decorated.   The  management of GCT has asked NYC USk  to submit sketches to be displayed for the duration of the construction. 

Since we have had a number of live and virtual visits to GCT,  many of our members have sketches that can be used.  There is no requirement to do any new sketches.  All you have to do is submit a JPEG of your sketches that will be sent to GCT for printing.  No original art work will be displayed, so no need to worry that your work might be destroyed.  Your sketch can be of GCT, inside or out,  No sketches of GCT? Not a problem. submit sketches of any landmark buildings, sites or scenes in NYC. 

If you would like to submit a sketch please do the following:

  • Select a piece that will be retain integrity when it is printed in a large format.  Make sure the lines a clear and clean and there is good contrast and color in the piece
  • Write your name clearly on the lower right corner of the piece when you take the picture or place the sketch on a piece of white paper and write your name clearly in the lower right corner of he paper.
  • Submit the sketch to Raylie Dunkel at Raylie@verizon.net by February 15th.
  • Please keep your submissions to only two or three pieces.
As soon as we know when the sketches will be mounted there will be an announcement. Unfortunately due to COVID restrictions we will not be having a grand opening but you can visit GCT to see the exhibit at your leisure. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

SATURDAY: The Annual Portrait Party

The Portrait Party
Covid Style

Welcome to NYC Urban Sketchers Annual Portrait Party.   A lot has changed this year, and there are a number of adjustments we’ve also needed to make for the Portrait Party.

We are  using this event as a fundraiser.  We are asking for a modest voluntary contribution of $5.  If donating is difficult - we understand, please come anyway.

We will all take turns being the model so it is very important that your image on camera is clear and well lit.  Give this some thought and make whatever adjustments are needed so we can see your happy smiling face!  

You will be using your own paper.  We suggest you work life size, meaning 9x12” or 11x14” paper held in portrait mode.  Try to use one sheet of paper for each portrait.   Include the models name at the bottom.  Start thinking of a strategy to work quickly.  Color is wonderful and most people will be working in color.  Use any materials or medium you like.  Working digitally is also acceptable.

     You will have 10 minutes to complete each portrait.  I know that sounds crazy but “necessity is the mother of invention,”  you will devise strategies and by the time you’re working on your last portrait of the day you will have developed your own creative solution - we promise!
Each group will need someone to keep the time.   You can take turns.  Be sure to bring a clock or some way to keep the time.  Each person will get a chance to be the model.  You could take turns based on the alphabetical order for everyone’s first name.  It’s your choice - organize any way you like, but keep things moving.
There will be 5 or 6 people in your group.  After an hour of sketching we will form new groups.  If you stay for the entire day, you will be in two groups in the morning and two in the afternoon and you'll have lots of completed portraits.



There are no fees. All drawing skill levels are welcome