Monday, August 31, 2015

Weekday Sketchers Draw Whimsy 

This week we will explore the whimsical creations of the sculptor Tom Otterness.  His little people and animals populate the subway and other places around the city but the treasure trove of his creations are in Rockefeller Park at the north end of Batter Park City along River Terrace between Chambers and Warren Streets.  

Little people, big feet, strange animals and coins are scattered on the tables, floors and walls are throughout this playground which is laced with water features filled with children.  We can move to Teardrop Park after lunch and drop into the figure drawing session at 2nd Place in the later afternoon. Don't like whimsy?  There are always wonderful river views to add to your sketchbook.

 Nelson A. Rockefeller Park/The Real World/Tom Otterness Nelson A. Rockefeller Park/The Real World/Tom Otterness

DATE: WEDNESDAY September 2, 2015 


LOCATION: Real World Park at the foot of Warren Street

Transportation: 1,2,3 to Chambers Street. Then walk west to the river.  Or any train to City Hall or World Trade Center and follow Battery Park City to the north end of Rockefeller Park.

Optional Afternoon Activity: 2:30 -4:30  Free figure drawing session sponsored by Battery Park Conservancy at 2nd Place in the South Cove.   

Bring your lunch or a snack for a picnic along the river.  Indoor bathrooms are adjacent to the park.

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

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Flatiron Building

Yesterday at the Flatiron Building. Had to leave early, so I saw the installation at Madison Square Park but had no time to paint it.
Better late than never. This is my rendition of the Hoboken train station.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

In and Around Madison Park

I arrived in the city early enough to stop en route to our location and do a sketch at the corner of 7th Ave and 25th St. I watched the first lesson of Mark Taro Holmes' latest video class which focused on a single line sketch. He did mostly landscapes but I gave some typical NYC buildings a try. I found it hard to keep my pen on the paper without lifting it, but most of this was done as a single line sketch. He also uses a brush pen to do strategic darks in the drawing. I like how that works.

When I got to Madison Park I sat on a bench outside and faced the Flatiron Building. I know...I know...I missed a few windows. LOL This one wasn't a single line sketch but I did use the brush pen for dark accents.

Next we headed into the park where the art sculpture was located. It was really interesting but not so easy to sketch.

We had an out of town guest sketching with us today. Visiting from Memphis was Elizabeth Alley, President of Urban Sketchers. It was a lot of fun to chat with her and see her sketches. Here she is sketching with Shawne.

After lunch I did a few sketches of people enjoying the sunny day in the park.

It was a great day for a picnic lunch....

or just sitting out in the park.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

SATURDAY: Sketch Madison Park

August 29, 2015

The Golden Glow is Coming from Madison Park

In the shadow of the Flatiron Building, Madison Park is a NYC Jewel.  We will be treated to Teresita Fernandez's installation - Fata Morgana (an Italian phrase meaning mirage).  It's the Park Conservancy’s largest and most ambitious outdoor sculpture to date. The outdoor sculpture consists of one and a half football fields worth of golden, mirror-polished discs that create canopies above the pathways around the Park’s central Oval Lawn.

The sculpture hovers above the viewer in the Park’s winding walkways to define a luminous experiential passage. The metal forms, perforated with intricate patterns reminiscent of foliage, will create abstract flickering effects as sunlight filters through the canopy, casting a golden glow across the expanse of the work, paths, and passersby.  Should be a fascinating challenging puzzle to sketch.


When:   10 AM.  Sleeping late?  Come when you can.  No one takes attendance and we'll be happy to see you.

Where:  We'll meet at the park entrance at Fifth Avenue and 23rd St.  There are loads of ways to get there.  The N, R train to 23 Street is the closest (see map for other choices)

Lunch:  12:00  We'll take advantage of the fine weather and have a picnic (try that in February!)  Bring your own food or purchase from the numerous stores and stands in the area.  We'll find a shaded spot on the grass.

Afternoon:  Sketch from 1 to 3. Don't forget to step out of the park for a view of the Flatiron.

Show and Tell:   3:15 Live Bait, 14 East 23rd St. to share drawings, good stories and a beer or wine if you're so inclined.


-  Added bonus - we expect to be joined in the morning by Elizabeth Alley the President of Urban Sketchers (we are the NYC Chapter).  Elizabeth is in town for a brief visit.

-  Bring a hat and a sketching stool for added comfort.

Click Map to Enlarge

Can't find us?
Call or Text Mark - 973-809-9128

There are no fees or attendance taken. All drawing skill levels are welcome

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

My New Sketch Partner

Really sorry I missed the sail and sketch event, but I picked up a new puppy in Ohio and drove over 450 miles back to NYC.  The drive took 2 days and we did some serious bonding, taking our time sketching along the way.  Here is our journey…

Our first stop was a defunct factory with an old diesel locomotive in Mansfield, Ohio.  He watched me from the car, his first exposure to a sketcher.   He is thinking, "Hope he feeds me as well as he draws..."

The pooch slept in the car while I grabbed some breakfast and made a quick sketch of people at the next table - a couple taking the parents out.  

Saw this incredible nuclear reactor and stopped to paint it. 

My dog (named Winslow after my favorite painter) enjoyed watching me paint. Check out the reactors in the background.

Painted this farm late afternoon from the top of a hill.  While sketching, my car battery died because I left something on, but thats another story…

Winslow looked at the sketch and said, "Great job human, now feed me."

Enjoy the remainder of the summer Sketchers, and I promise to see you all soon!

The Sketch and Sail

What a great day.  The weather was wonderful and we had a great group.

This is a sketch of the Titanic Memorial.  It's a spot that's easy to overlook, although it must have had awful significance at the time it was built.  It might have also been a tall structure originally but it's now completely dwarfed by the immensity of the Wall Street neighborhood in which it stands.

I took some video while we were on the boat sailing in New York Harbor.  If you were there - I'm pretty sure you'll see yourself.  My wife commented that the music is pretty zippy≈ considering that it's a video where everyone is basically concentrating on their sketching.  I don't know, the day felt pretty zippy to me and the music felt appropriate to the day.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Fun first time out

Thanks to all at the urban sketchers boating event. My wife--Val--and I enjoyed it thoroughly. While it was fun to sketch with like minded artists, it was especially nice to see all the approaches to handling the subjects being tackled.

I've posted these sketches to FB. but thought, on this page I'd try to conjure up a thought or two about them if only to highlight my favorite bits.

Showed this one as a pencil sketch afterward at the Highwater bar and mentioned that I intended to put some color on it. The figures were indicated in the simplest of terms, so when adding color, I stuck to that gestural standard. I used a signo white gel pen for some of the rope. The coil specifically. For that I just laid down a darker value and spiraled out with the pen. I'm particularly pleased with the sail and whatever those little rope things dangling down from it are called.

A confabulation amongst sketchers. Drawn from the shadow side of the Kiosk in the middle of the pier.

Bowne & Co. Stationers A challenging subject to get right and I'm not quite sure I did it right, but got some good stuff down. I worked directly with pen in this and established proportions based on the central pillar by the red door. A nice subject to go after.

Erika, the young lady modeling on the boat. I draw the figure in a studio setting at least once a week, and found the modeling here to be a bit artificial. Seems for a vintage ship, a vintage costume would best suit it. Drew this one with a Derwent Drawing pencil, which lays down a good black, not unlike charcoal, but does not easily smear due to the makeup of the lead. There is a superior version of it I use in the studio with a 5mm chuck holder by Cretacolor. May bring that along at some point in the future.

Thanks for showing your work and having us along.

Weekday Sketchers Special Event

 Sketch crawl through Jersey City to coordinate with design exhibit from Rutgers University

NYC Urban Sketchers has been invited to support a very special event on Thursday August 27. 2015.  Jeanmarie Hartman, professor of Urban Landscape Architecture at Rutgers University, has asked that Urban Sketchers bring our skills to a project currently on display in Jersey City. 

Rutgers students have designed urban landscapes for sites in Jersey City.  The designs have been on display in Casa Columbo in Jersey City with closing ceremonies on Thursday evening at 6 PM.  We have been asked to create sketches of sites in the city, placing people and atmosphere into our works.  We have been invited to display our work along with the students' work at the ceremonies.

DATE:  THURSDAY August 27, 2015

TIME:  3:00 PM to 7:00 PM


First Session:  3:00 - 4:00 Meet and draw on the plaza at Grove St Station.  Lots of action, people and traffic. 

Second Session: 4:00 - 5:00 City Hall.  Beautiful Beaux Arts building with lots of architectural detail and a shady plaza in front.

Third Session:  5:00 - 6:00 Van Vorst Park. Beautifully restored urban Square with playgrounds, bandshell and lush gardens.  Optional site is the Main Library adjacent to the park. Another Beaux Arts beauty

Fourth Session: 6:00 - 7:00 Closing ceremony at Casa Columbo, an Italian American Club and Museum. 

Optional Fifth Location: Dinner.  Lots of place to choose from on the walk back to the PATH along Newark Ave, Jersey City's Restaurant Row. 

NOTE: all locations are within a few blocks of each other.  Each is rather different and will afford us the opportunity to put people into three rather different settings.

TRANSPORTATION:  PATH train to Grove Street Station which is only two stops and less than 10 minutes from the World Trade Center.  You can use your NYC Metro Card in the turnstiles. The PATH trains leaving from either 33rd St or the World Trade Center will stop at Grove Street.  Come up to the street level and find us on the plaza. Use this link for more information about using the PATH:

PLEASE NOTE:  Due to the unusual format of this session it is important to RSVP directly to Raylie Dunkel at if you are going to attend.  If you are looking for us at a location please call Raylie at 201-978-6387.

Here is a link to the students' work:

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Last week: Sun. Aug. 16

Alwyn Court (and a subway rider)

Carnegie Hall (and a foot)

Sunday Aug.23, 2015: South Street Seaport and Draw-Mania on the Pioneer

Anchor outside the South Street Seaport Museum

The Titanic Memorial Lighthouse

The Captain on the Pioneer

On the Pioneer

Thursday, August 20, 2015

SUNDAY: Sketch and Sail

August 23, 2015

A two-part day, come for either, ... come for both.

The Titanic Memorial

Sketch Pier 16 and the South Street Seaport.  We will meet at 10 AM at the corner of Water and Fulton Streets at the Titanic Memorial Park (see photo).  The first part of the day we'll sketch the walk from the Memorial down to the South Street Seaport.  Every inch of the walk is sketchable!

During one of our previous visits two years ago Lance Gambis 
created a video that you might enjoy that shows a portion of that day:

The Sail:  You need to purchase tickets in advance.  The sloop set sail at 1 PM and we return at 3 PM

We'll be sketching on-board the 1885 sailing vessel, Pioneer, for Draw-Mania!,W'll have the opportunity to sketch during a two-hour Pioneer sail. Subjects include: three live art models, the harbor, shoreline, other boats, Pioneer, and the crew as they sail Pioneer. Please bring your own materials, bearing in mind that there will be no space for easels. Pioneer will provide extra water, paper towel, a place to keep work till ashore, and once ashore, fixative for those who wish to use it.

The vessel, first launched in 1885, was built as an iron-hulled sloop to carry cargo along the Delaware River and was even featured in an episode of "Boardwalk Empire."

We will depart at 1:00 pm and return at 3:00. Pioneer is docked on the South side of Pier 16, (past the Peking) on the East River. Walk east on Fulton Street and cross South Street to arrive on Pier 16. You are welcome to bring a picnic lunch, afternoon snack or favorite beverage to enjoy while sketching under sail!

Click here for tickets or more information.
Use this Discount Code to save $10 and get your tickets $35 tickets each: DM823 

SHOW and TELL:  After the sail we'll go to the Watermark Bar, 78 South Street to share drawings, good stories and a beer or wine if you're so inclined.


-  Sleeping late?  Come anyway for the first part.  Text me if you can't find us.

-  Easy to get to:  2,3,A,C,4,5 to Fulton Street

-  Food?   There's food all around the area.  Bring your own or purchase something to eat before or during the sale.

Click to Enlarge

Can't find us?
Call or Text Mark - 973-809-9128

There are no fees or attendance taken. All drawing skill levels are welcome

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Sketching the Masterpieces of NYC

I've always loved Alwyn Court.  The fantastic visual complexity is riveting.  Rather than try to capture the entire building this time, instead I focused on appealing details. 

I didn't know Jim was going to leave early on Saturday and was lucky enough to catch him sketching the Alwyn and was able to knock-off my Mandatory Jim sketch.  

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Weekday Urban Sketchers at the SeaGlass Fish Carousal Wednesday August 19, 2015

Be the very first person in your neighborhood to sketch the brand new SeaGlass Fish Carousal in Battery Park!  This week we will try to stay cool under the trees with river breezes and a view of the newest addition to NYC!

The Carousal will open on Thursday but we can get a head start in sketching it.  Meet at the carousal at the south end of the park approximately across from Pearl Street.   Click on this link to "take a ride":

In addition to the carousal there are playful fountains, river views, views of the lower Manhattan skyline, Castle Clinton and the requisite street performers dressed as the Statue of Liberty.

Optional afternoon event will be the free figure drawing session conducted by the Battery Park Conservancy from 2:30 to 4:30 at 2nd Place. 

DATE: WEDNESDAY August 19, 2015

LOCATION: SeaGlass Carousal in Battery Park


TRANSPORTATION:  R train to Whitehall St.; 4 or 5 train to Bowling Green

Please RSVP directly to Raylie Dunkel at  Looking for us call Raylie at 201-978-6387

 The weather will be very hot, please bring a hat and lots of water.  

NOTE:  last week at the session in Green Acres park we said we would go to Brooklyn to sketch the Gowanus Canal.  However since the prediction is for temperatures in the 90s we thought it best not to go there as there is no shade and we would be on an asphalt parking lot.  We will save that site for a cooler day in the fall. Sorry if anyone was inconvenienced.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Sketching Maine

Really sorry I couldn't make it to Singapore for the international UrbanSketchers event, but I was happy as a clam in Maine.  I sketched and painted like crazy as you can see.  Also took a watercolor class with the great master Alvaro Castagnet, sponsored by Coastal Maine Art Workshops.   Spent days wandering the DownEast coastline towns such as Rockland, Camden, Southwest Harbor, Bass Harbor, and Belfast, visiting shipyards, lobster docks, and flea markets while watching the tide go in and out.  Check out these sketches and share the adventure.

So I am back in the Big City now, ready to rejoin the NY Urban Sketchers when I can.   If you want, see more sketches and follow me on Instagram @jlevinemd or check out my Facebook page.  Enjoy the rest of the summer, Sketchers!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

SUNDAY: Sketch the Masterpieces of NYC

Sunday August 16, 2015

The three locations we've chosen to sketch are all on 
the List of New York City Designated Landmarks.  

Each is incredible in it's own way
(Plus special bonus event at the end of the day)

We meet on Sunday at 11 AM at Alwyn Court. If you like sketching complexity - this is the building for you!  Alwyn Court is a 12-story apartment building located at 180 West 58th Street on the corner of Seventh Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. It was built in 1907 in French Renaissance style, with elaborate terra-cotta ornamentation in the Francis I style covering
the entire facade.

The Alwyn Court was designated a New York landmark in 1966

Lunch:  12:30 - we'll walk one block to Columbus Circle (8th Avenue at 59th Street) to picnic in the park.  Bring food or buy from the numerous street vendors or stores in the area.

A) 1:30 (a 45 minute sketch)  How do you get to Carnegie Hall? 
Located at 881 Seventh Avenue, occupying the east stretch of Seventh Avenue between West 56th Street and West 57th Street, two blocks south of Central Park. Designed by architect William Burnet Tuthill and built by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1891, it is one of the most prestigious venues in the world for both classical music and popular music.

The Carnegie Hall Joke:  The only site on our list that has a Wikipedia Joke:
"Rumor is that a pedestrian on Fifty-seventh Street, Manhattan, stopped the world famous violinist - Jascha Heifetz and inquired, "Could you tell me how to get to Carnegie Hall?" "Yes," said Heifetz. "Practice!"

B) 2:15 walk to Millionaires' Row - (a 45 minute sketch)
... Midtown has only one real strip of mansions evoking its days as a neighborhood of millionaires: 5 through 15 West 54th Street. These six houses all went up from 1896 to 1900.  13 and 15 West 54th Street are two identical 5-story mansions. Designed in the Beaux Arts Renaissance style by architect
Henry Hardenbergh, (of Plaza Hotel fame), in 1896, the Rockefeller Townhouses are known by the name of their most famous owner; John D. Rockefeller who called them home for nearly forty years. Constructed on a 50 foot wide parcel, the properties are a dominating presence with their twin limestone facades, ornamental engravings and curved sloops.

At 3:15 Walk to Dr. Sketchy's
a NUS Event (- Not Urban Sketching!)
For our next Dr. Sketchy session, we will be traveling back to New York's golden age - the time of hot jazz, cool moonshine and wild parties.

The venue we'll be invading for this session is Flûte Bar - a champagne lounge that occupies the site of what was once a speakeasy called Club Intime, founded and run by the notorious showgirl, actress, producer and entrepreneur Texas Guinan.

Don your Roaring '20s finest, grab your sketchbooks and join our models Kat MonDieu and Zelma Zelma for an afternoon of scintillating sketching, illicit cocktails and a bright young atmosphere!

Doors open at 3:30 PM. Seating is first come first serve, so it pays to come early  Session runs from 4-7 pm.   Flûte Bar, 205 West 54th St.   $12 in advance, $15 at the door, and a 2 drink minimum from Flûte Bar's delicious happy hour menu.


-  Sleeping Late?  Come anyway.  Join us when you can.

-  If you have one - bring a folding stool - we'll be sketching in the street until we get to Dr. Sketchy's  Sitting will add to your comfort.

-  Dr. Sketchy is not urban sketching, but if you never gone - it's a lot of fun and a unique sketching environment.  Reserve your spot online and save $3.  (In the past they've been relaxed about enforcing the 2 drink minimum.)

Click to Enlarge

Can't find us?
Call or Text Mark - 973-809-9128

There are no fees or attendance taken. All drawing skill levels are welcome