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

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

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