Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Urban Sketching on Manhattan's Lower East Side

We started the day on Eldridge Street in the heart of Manhattan's historic Lower East Side, and sketched the Eldridge Street Synagogue, built in 1887 by Jewish immigrants.  I remember this place fifteen years ago - it looked like a bombed out shell.  Now it is completely restored and designated a National Historic Landmark.  It is a museum and cultural center dedicated to telling the story of the neighborhood's early inhabitants.  

I did this sketch in three sessions, finishing it up on Sunday morning with the Sketchers, some of whom I photographed below.

While everyone was concentrating on the Synagogue, I slipped into a Chinese Buddhist Temple next door and did a quick watercolor sketch of the prayer ceremony.

We had lunch in a very inexpensive Chinese restaurant nearby, and I sketched Pat, sketcher extraordinaire and author of the reclinerart blog.

After lunch I tried my hand at plein air watercolor at the produce market next to the Manhattan Bridge.

Then I noticed an intense group of men watching Chinese Chess and decided to give this a try with a sketch using a pre-soaked bamboo stick, Chinese ink, and watercolor.

Finally we met up at Union Square where there was a plein air art event, and I sketched one of my favorite Instagrammers, @susandrawss.  This one was in simple pen and ink using Micron pens.

Later over drinks I sketched another Instagrammer, @floodfish.  This was done with various pencils including water-soluble wash.

This was a long, productive, exhausting, and enjoyable day with the sketchers.  I wish everyone a Happy 4th of July, and hope to see you all again soon!  You can also follow me on Instagram @jlevinemd.


  1. Congratulations! It seems you had a fantastic day of outdoor work and friends. I envy you.

  2. So wonderful! I really love it. I switch to sketching from writing when I experience writer's block with my papers. And NYC is one of the best places to do so. Thank you for sharing these pieces!