Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sketching the Gowanus Canal

September 27, 2014- NYC Urban Sketchers returned to the Gowanus Canal for a second time this year to join with the Gowanus Conservancy to celebrate 'Plein Air on the Canal,' an event to raise visibility for the organization working to improve the Brooklyn waterway.

We started at the 'Salt Lot', a vacant lot bordering the Canal where we were joined by plein air oil painters also invited by the Conservancy.  After drawing a while, lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs and veggies was served.

I am told the floats in the foreground were field tests of aquatic plants that could survive in the water of the Canal.

A view to the north with the largest Whole Foods market ever off to the right behind the bushes.

This was a cement factory across the Canal from the Salt Lot.

 Here is Michael risking life and limb in the service of great art.  He climbed under the Carroll Street Bridge to sketch out of the sun.

The Carroll Street Bridge was quite interesting: one of only two 'retractile' bridges in NYC and four in the US, it moves horizontally and back to open the Canal to boat traffic.

This is a view north along the Canal: notice the energetic development in Brooklyn. The same cannot be said of the dilapidated pier directly in front of us. To the right is the iconic Williamsburg Bank Building. After the strong sun and heat, it was a welcome relief to retire at the end of the day to Lavender Park for drinks in a cool bar.

Jim W.

Gowanus Canal - Saturday, September 27, 2014

(This is a compilation of two blog posts.)

Part 1:

Another Saturday off found me having breakfast in Penn Station before I walked the long crosstown block to the F train which took me to Brooklyn. Hey! Wasn't I there last week also? When I was a teenager I was forbidden to go to Brooklyn. The only thing/place forbidden to me in those days.

The NYC Urban Sketchers spent the day with a plein air painters group and volunteers at the Gowanus Canal Conservancy. Things are being cleaned up and the neighborhood is thriving.

Still. Someone joked that if you fall in the canal you will glow in the dark.

After the first two sketches I couldn't stand the hot sun a minute longer. I found a large patch of shade just on the other side of an old school bus.

I sat on a stone wall and sketched and chatted with the artists already there. I learned about corbels but refrained from drawing any.

Intermission now. We were being treated to free barbecue and I spotted some Dunkin' donuts. Veggie burger and a donut. Yum. Stay tuned.

(Process and Apps Used:
iPad; New Trent Arcadia stylus.
#1&4 - Pen & Ink and ArtRage
#2&3 - Gridded notebook and Pilot V-ball pen, drawings photographed using iPad and then imported into ArtRage for painting #5 - ArtRage only.)

Part 2:

After lunch we all spread out and headed in the direction of Whole Foods (ladies room and free beer samples) and the streets around the canal. It was tough finding shade. The sun seemed to be following the path of all the streets leaving small nooks and crannies of shade. I stood on one small bridge looking toward a turquoise bridge just a block away and sketched the view. A quick sketch and then I had to scurry into some shade down the block to do the painting.

This little oasis of shadow was occupied by a gaggle of sketchers and a plein air oil painter. At one point a woman pushing a stroller with a toddler and infant squeezed in and took refuge for a few moments. The toddler had a notebook and pencil in his hand! All up and down this street and every parallel street were clumps of painters with easels or sketchers huddled on little folding stools in slivers of shade.

At 4:00 everyone converged in Lavender Lake, a really nice neighborhood bar/restaurant. All the shady tables (theme of the day) out back were taken so we stayed inside and had something to drink and nosh on, talked and shared our drawings. And of course, most of us continued to sketch.

I happened to have a piece of charcoal, yes, I did, so I drew Michael in my totally inappropriate notebook. My fingers were black from wiping off his face. Tell me something: I have drawn multi-hundreds of iPad drawings and never once does my palm touch the screen, but, as soon as I pick up a stick of vine charcoal my hand just happily rests on the paper smearing everything. What's with that?

Just before leaving the bar I did this quickie. Jessica was from the Gowanus Conservancy, a plein air oil painter who stood on the bridge in the sun, uncomplainingly, with her easel and who got us all together for a great day of art making.

And then! What a lucky person I am! Susan drove me back to my car again!

(Process and Apps Used:
#1,2,5: Pen & Ink, ArtRage
#3,4: Gridded notebook and Pitt Brush Pen (3) and vine charcoal (4), drawings photographed while in the bar using iPad and then imported into ArtRage and painted while sipping my ginger ale.)
Gowanus Canal
September 27, 2014
Looking north from the Salt Lot at the cement factory across the canal
Composite sketch of sketchers and water testers
Looking northwest of canal from park behind Whole Foods
Same view as above shifting a bit to the south
View north from Carroll Street bridge. I colored it from memory after I got home.
Lavendar Lake bar. I colored it from memory after I got home.

It was a perfect day for sketching!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Gowanus Canal

A very sunny day but it was still great to come back to the Gowanus canal because it gave me the chance to sketch industrial buildings....
The first sketch was our first stop, I think someone said is was a cement plant(?). 
This was on the bridge behind(next to?) Whole Foods(which was also very nice). It was nice and shady and not a bad view. 
Awesome place to sketch! It was great of the Gowanus Conservancy to let us come and sketch. 


The dates for the weekend in Ithaca with the Canadian and NYC Urban Sketchers is OCTOBER 18-19, 2014.  Most people who are going will go up on Friday the 17th. Some people will stay through Monday as it is a long holiday weekend for Canadians (Canadian Thanksgiving).

There will be 4 organized sketch sites both in the city of Itaca and in surrounding scenic areas.  The schedule will be posted about a week before the event only to those who will be attending.  There will also be an organized dinner on Saturday night.

If you are interested in going there are still 5 rooms (more may be released with increased demand) at the special rate of $129.00  To get this rate call Trip Hotel in Ithaca  1-607-257-2000 and request the special rate for Urban Sketchers. The rate includes a hot breakfast.

If you are planning on attending please let Raylie Dunkel know at raylie@verizon.net so that a list can be distributed for potential car pools.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Fall Weekend Away with Urban Sketchers

When the International Urban Sketchers Symposium ended many of the Canadian and east coast American sketchers wanted to schedule another meet up in the fall.  The goal is to sketch the colors of the fall in the beautiful lakeside city of Ithaca NY on Cayuga Lake, one of the Finger Lakes.  This site was chosen because it is a drivable distance from Toronto, Montreal, Kitchener-Waterloo (KW) and NYC (about 4 hours).

Mark Holmes of Montreal and Brenda Murray of  (KW) near Toronto have arranged for a wonderful sketching weekend in Ithaca NY. Hotel arrangements will be at the Trip Hotel with a great rate of $129. per night including a hot breakfast.  We will have 4 organized sketching sites around Ithaca, a communal dinner at the Moosewood Restaurant and lots of time to be with other sketchers on a beautiful fall weekend. 

If you are interested you can contact Raylie Dunkel at raylie@verizon.net or Brenda Murray brenda.murray@sympatico.ca.

Here is a link to the itinerary 

The hotel website is:  http://triphotelithaca.com/

I am looking forward to being in the company of the wonderful people I met in Brazil and have the opportunity to sketch next to these wonderful artist.  Please consider joining us. 

Location: The High Line 
                 We will meet UP on the High Line at 14th Street

Time: 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Directions:  A, C, E or L to 14th Street and walk to the High Line or any subway to 14th St and the cross town bus to the High Line.

Street-scapes, river views, beautiful flowers, unique settings and lots of people strolling, sitting and splaying in the water features make the High Line a great Urban Sketchers site.  

RSVP:  Please RSVP directly to Raylie Dunkel at Raylie@verizon.net

Need to find us on Thursday call Raylie at  201-978-6387

(In case of rain we will meet in the Chelsey Market in front of the Manhattan Fruit Exchange.) 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Passing Through Union Square

I walked to Union Square and had plenty of time to sit and sketch before I took the subway down to Battery Park.


Gridded notebook, Pilot V-ball pen (1) and Pitt Brush Pen (2); drawings photographed using iPad and then imported into ArtRage for painting.
iPad; New Trent Arcadia stylus.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Sketching Green-Wood Cemetery

I've been to Green-Wood Cemetery to sketch several times and have been struck by it's strange beauty.  This time I was drawn to something different.

As we waited for everyone to show up we sketched at the front gate.  It's a large area and hearses and limos queue there.  I was struck by the social aspect to funerals.

The first sketch above was quickly done trying to catch the fact that all the limo and hearse drivers know one another. They might work at different funeral homes but end up seeing each other frequently enough to say hi, and socialize.

The second sketch was a group of beautiful people who came in different cars and got out to socialize at the gate.  They were all attractive and beautifully dressed in stylish black mourning clothing.  They were either relatives or friends of the deceased.  As they got together, there was a moment's hesitation for the solemnity of the event that had drawn them together, but you could see how delighted they were to see one another.

The third sketch is more about the oddity of Green-Wood compared to other cemeteries.  They have tour busses that take sightseers on guided tours around the cemetery.  You can see a sketcher sitting  in the shade of a mausoleum recording the scene.

Greenwood Cemetery, Saturday, September 20, 2014

(This is a compilation of three of my blog posts.  The links - if they show up - are to the blog of Mia and the film of Lynne's which were posted to this blog earlier in the week.)

Before Lunch:

Since I had Saturday off (due to a switch of shifts with someone else) I got on the train early, walked from Penn Station to the R Train, which took its own sweet time getting me to 25th Street in Brooklyn. The destination was Greenwood Cemetery. This blog post will give you more insight about the place than I will, plus, it has the added bonus of a glimpse of me(!).

I found the NYC Urban Sketchers outside the gates sitting or standing and successfully sketching the ornately, intricate facade. As you can see, I adeptly avoided any semblance of intricacy.

Inside the cemetery I spotted some steps to sit on which afforded a view of the rear of a mausoleum.

I walked up to the 1:00 meeting place and, while waiting, I sketched this urn, the view from the convenient bench.

(Process for the above group of drawings:
iPad; New Trent Arcadia stylus.
#1&4 - Gridded notebook and Pitt Brush Pen, drawings photographed using iPad and then imported into ArtRage .
#2 - Pen & Ink and ArtRage .
#3 - Zen Brush and ArtRage .)

During Lunch:

Greenwood Park is the name of the restaurant a few (many) uphill blocks from Greenwood Cemetery. We had lunch in this beer garden, sitting outside at long tables. I got carded at the gate! Well, he took a second look and told me not to bother. Sigh. It was a happy, bustling place and we all felt that an entire day could be spent here.

Hugh posed for Mark, next to me, so I took advantage of the situation.

They were at the table behind him.

There were so many NYC Urban Sketchers that we had to use two tables. That's Mia over there sketching someone opposite her.

Doesn't Sunil look like a Bollywood star?

By the way. I had the BEST IN THE WHOLE WORLD (no exaggeration) Veggie burger I have ever ever ever eaten. YUMYUMYUM.

And. If you follow this link and don't blink at the Exact Right Moment you will catch a glimpse of me.

Some of us walked back to the cemetery and some left. Stay tuned.

(Process for the above four drawings:
iPad; New Trent Arcadia stylus.
Apps Used:
#1 - Zen Brush, ArtRage
#4 - Sketji, ArtRage
#2&3 - Gridded notebook and Pilot V-ball pen, drawings photographed using iPad and then imported into ArtRage for painting.)

After Lunch:

Five of us sat on a curb, partially in a lopsided gutter, ditch or gully - whatever the right word is -,  happily sketching an angel.

And wondering why "." is carved at the end of the name on this mausoleum.

AND THEN...as if the day hadn't been magnificent enough...Susan saved me from the dreaded Super Duper Slow R Train and drove me all the way to my car parked at the train station near my house, thereby saving me probably two hours of travel.

(Process for the above two drawings:
iPad; New Trent Arcadia stylus.
Apps Used: Zen Brush and ArtRage)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

                 Sketching In Gowanus             September 27th 


With the Canal designated a Superfund site in 2010 and the gentrification of surrounding neighborhoods, Gowanus is an evolving urban landscape. Industry, development, and the green movement overlap here attracting artists, documentarians, horticulturists, landscape architects, photographers, eco-hipsters, and more. Historic factory buildings, a new Whole Foods (powered by wind turbines and solar panels), train trestles above, waters below, billboards, bioswales, and lots of sky (due to the open space & low rise buildings) all make this a great place to sketch.



  • This event is sponsored by the Gowanus Canal Conservancy
  • Other artist groups will be in attendance including plein air oil painters
  • The artist collective, The Gowanus Swim Society, will solicit sketches and paintings for a Gowanus Studio Tour event happening Saturday, October 18
  • Paper & drawing tools will be available for friends or anyone who'd like to join in sketching

9:00-9:30 Convene at "The Salt Lot": Meet & greet, get area map & schedule, learn about the GCC and check out their compost facility, nursery, and bee keeping along the canal. 

9:30-12:00 Sketch at the Salt Lot & on adjacent side streets 

11:30-12:30 Lunch; enjoy BBQ provided by GCC & Whole Foods 

12:30-4 Sketch from canal bridge crossings 3rd Street  & Carroll Street

4:00 Regroup for beverages at local bar; Lavendar Lake (383 Carroll Street)

Running late, no problem. . . . come to the Salt Lot; 2 Second Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215


When: Saturday, September 27th (If 70% chance heavy rain . . . rain date: Sunday, September 28th)

Where: “The Salt Lot” 2 Second Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215 
What to bring:
Sketching and/or painting supplies, hat and/or sunblock,
friends who want to sketch or explore the area.

How to get there:
 By subway: Take the F or G train to Smith & 9th Street station. Descend to sidewalk, cross the bridge spanning the canal (you'll walk under the overhead train), walk one block to 2nd Avenue, make a left onto 2nd Ave, and walk until it dead ends (4 blocks) - you’ll be at "The Salt Lot". 
By car: 2 Second Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215 (parking is available). 

Can't find the group contact:

Mark (973) 809-9128 or Natasia (267) 319-3688


Monday, September 22, 2014


There will be NO Weekday Urban Sketchers Meeting this Thursday.  We will meet next Thursday October 2, 2014 on the High Line.  The location will be posted shortly. 

Washington Square Park - Thursday, Sept. 18

The NYC Urban Sketchers wandered around Washington Square Park last Thursday.  I didn't really know what to expect since I had never spent any time here - just passed it on the way to someplace else,  I did have a preconceived idea formed many many years ago and was pleasantly surprised.

This poor guy had no customers.

I stood here, under the arch for a long time because as soon as I finished drawing him they took a break, ate something, and then he sang two songs solo before she picked up her instrument again.  I used my time fruitfully though.  Instead of eating lunch I walked across the street and got an ice cream cone from the Ice Cream Man in the truck.  Yum.  I saw Shirley with one so I was a copy cat. Then I resumed position under the arch.

Benedicte and I took a walk  and found this snuggling couple watching yet another group of musicians so I took advantage of their oblivion.  While I was sketching, a woman from Australia, sat next to me and we discussed apps and I let her try my stylus.  She distracted me, in a good way but, if you squint and turn your head to just the Right Angle, you will be able to see the invisible thread that goes up to the clouds and holds up the end of the bench.

iPad; New Trent Arcadia stylus.
#1-  Sketji and ArtRage
#2&3- Gridded notebook and Pitt Brush Pen (2), pencil & Pilot V-ball 0.5 (3), drawings photographed using iPad and then imported into ArtRage for painting.
#4- Pen & Ink and ArtRage