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Where have I been? asked no one. I haven’t posted since July.
Why? Two words.
Since I’ve previously only lived in NYC, which is decidedly democratic, the experience of living in a swing state with the non-stop barrage of political ads left me in a fetal position and under the covers. And now that the campaign is over I can share an experience or two with you.
As a result of a car accident, The Husband has symptoms of something called meniere’s disease which can cause temporary deafness in one ear. As I sat on the sofa watching TV one night and he at the dining room table listening to the TV, I noticed him shaking his head and rubbing his ear. He kept losing his hearing and couldn’t figue out why the meniere’s was so bad that night. Finally he realized that I was was muting the TV every time a political ad came on. He thought his meniere’s was really bad that night and he couldn’t figure out why his hearing kept coming and going!
My friend’s husband, John, has lived here for over 20 years but never became a citizen. He finally became one this year and was so exited to cast his vote for president for the first time. In an ironic turn of events, he got home that night to discover he got his first Jury Duty notice.
The top watercolor was done in a sketchbook for a class I’m taking called Nature’s Notebook. We hear lectures on plants and then draw and paint everything flora.
The building was done in a sketchbook with the NYC Urban Sketchers in Brooklyn, NY. They are a wonderful group and if you’re in NYC check them out. Anyone can meet up with them and all levels are welcome.
Finally I recently tried oil sticks. A little different than oil pastels. They are fun to work with and dry within a few days. They are made by an artist named Paul DeMarrais.\, http://www.pauldemarrais.com/westminster/index.html
Back to my fetal position for the next 4 years. Thanks for reading.
Beach scene from Paint My Photo – photo courtesy of Karina Robin
Winter. I’m tired of it. And what is the polar vortex? I thought it was just called winter? Since I was too tired and too cold to join the NYC Urban Sketchers today I decided to stay home, watch watercolor videos on you tube and play with my watercolors. Using a watercolor sketchbook given to me by my nephews, I did this beach scene using a limited palette, no more than 2 washes and no drawing first. I’d like to be there right now.
I moved on to this dog, again courtesy of Paint My Photo using ESP’s photo. No drawing first, only using a few colors and a few washes. He looks a little sad. Why do all my painted dogs look sad?
And finally I did every watercolorists’ favorite subject. Pears. I did sketch the shape of the pears, but again used a limited palette and not many washes.
I’m off to do some weight lifting. My friend Christine and I were talking about how we can’t remember things anymore and she told me about how weightlifting helps to stave off Alzheimer’s. And I hear curls keep you warm.
I met up with the NYC Urban Sketchers in Central Park at Belvedere Castle. Belvedere, meaning “beautiful view” in Italian was, according to the Central Park website, a “Victorian Folly” built by Calvert Vaux. Belvedere Castle has been equipped with meteorological equipment since 1919 and records rainfall, wind and other weather information. But for us it was the first stop of a beautiful day in a beautiful place.
I arrived at Belvedere Castle to discover that a high school art class from Memphis, Tennessee had joined us. They were adorable and fun and thrilled to be in NYC. They had seen Kinky Boots and Pippin on Broadway, thought Times Square was “awesome” and after leaving us were going to the Metropolitan Museum. They also saw that some of us were using water brushes to paint. Well, you would have thought we had just showed them electricity for the first time. Water brushes were awesome too. And they called me and Susan ma’am. Which is something I think NYC
brats kids should start. I never thought I would like it, but I really didn’t mind being called ma’am.
Some of us stayed at Belvedere Castle while others went to the next stop which was by the Delacorte Theater to sketch the statue of Romeo and Juliet. Then on the to lawn looking up at Belvedere Castle when a sketcher from Perth, Australia joined us. And then we all realized we were starving. Off to Carmine’s for lunch where unfortunately I had to take my leave, but the others stayed and ate and sketched. You can visit the NYC Urban Sketchers’ blog here. and visit some of the other sketchers sites, Joan Tavalott’s blog here. And Mia’s website here.
I started Saturday meeting the NYC Urban Sketchers at the Pulitzer Fountain which is in front of the Plaza Hotel and Central Park. We then moved to the entrance of the Central Park Zoo. We didn’t go in, but sat on some benches and sketched there. I left shortly after that to meet Jana Bouc, a fellow blogger who I only know from blogland. She was visiting NYC with her friend Micaela Marsden another artist and urban sketcher. We met by the Conservatory Water (which I erroneously told her was called Conservatory Pond.) Jana is as Northern Californian as I am a New Yorker. Tall, lithe and lovely we had a wonderful time.
After chatting, sketching, and wandering the park, Jana, Micaela and I got on the subway to go downtown. They wanted to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. We got on the Lexington Ave. express. It was packed, but Micaela and I were lucky enough to get a seat. Jana was standing. As the doors closed we heard the familiar sound of someone asking for money. The man standing next to Jana gave the guy a dollar.
And then the unthinkable happened…Jana talked to the dollar-giving guy.
I was astounded. Jana asked him if he always gives money to people begging on the subway or does he evaluate the story first and then give. The man told Jana he gives out of love and because he always gives money he gets money back. Now he has a lot of money. Jana then asked what he did? His reply? He sold da ganja.
Yep, He sold marijuana.
Weed, Mary Jane, Waccy tobaccy. Chronic. Grass. He has a daughter that’s with her mother now, but he may try and get her back. He also asked Jana what month she was born in. She told him and he said that she was part of the tribe of Joshua. What tribe is that? Where is that in the bible? Mr. Chronic said it was in the LOST BOOKS of the Bible. Oh. We finally got to the Brooklyn Bridge stop where Micaela, Jana and I got off and Jana’s new best friend hoped that God blessed her and continued on.
I CANNOT tell you how amused I was and Jana, I hope you don’t mind me telling that story. I had a great time with you and Micaela and hope you visit again soon.
Here’s an article about that New York accent: “In a really good New York conversation more than one person is talking a lot of the time”http://www.pbs.org/speak/seatosea/americanvarieties/newyorkcity/
Let’s face it, Brooklyn is Manhattan’s younger, hipper sister and everyone knows it. So what was the best way to spend the first night of summer? Go to Coney Island with the Husband and your nieces. Coney Island is back from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy and did not disappoint. A Brooklyn Cyclones baseball game, a ride for the nieces on the famous Cyclone roller coaster (The Husband and I stood on the sidewalk and waved) and dinner (hot dogs) at the original Nathan’s. Add in some fireworks and the lighting of the historic parachute jump with the full perigee super-moon shining over the ocean and you have a perfect evening!
Lucky for me, Joan Tavalott emailed me to see if I was going to the urban sketching meet-up the next day at Green-Wood Cemetery. Green-Wood Cemetery was founded in 1838. It was granted National Historic Landmark status in 2006. Of course I said YES!
I invited the Husband because he has always said that he would like to try drawing and we both had the beautiful sketchbooks that my sister made for us. She took a photo of the Husbands and a painting of mine, made the covers and used a Japanese technique to bind drawing paper into these very special sketchbooks.
So, armed with our handmade sketchbooks, off we went to Green-wood cemetery. We started sketching the amazing main gate where a number of green parrots now nest. Green parrots live in NYC? Yes, and this is one of their “spots”. The story goes that a bunch of them got away when a shipment arrived at JFK airport. They are beautiful but loud. Joan T. and her friend Susan came along with some other regulars. Joan got busy with sketching. I was busy with talking. But I did manage to get a few sketches in and so did the Husband. We left early since he is still recovering from his hip replacement.
Here are our sketches. Can you guess which ones are which?
And Here we are in Action! And as an FYI, some notable residents of Green-wood include Leonard Bernstein and Louis Comfort Tiffany.
On Saturday, October 27th the NYC Urban Sketchers met in midtown Manhattan. First stop was at the NY Public Library which was called the Main Branch and is now called the Stephen A. Schwarzman building. Who is he? I had no idea so I had to look it up. He is a zillionaire and CEO of a big financial firm. He is married to a Hearst. He is not even dead yet. Now this annoys me. Why? Because the Main Branch of the NY Public Library says something. It says what it is and if you’re a New Yorker you know where it is. What does the Stephen A. Schwarzman building say? It says some really, really, really rich guy who is not even dead yet can get his name on a building. So far the only name I had on a building was a bodega on 5th Ave. and 3rd Street in Brooklyn when Charlie and I were still doing the night dog walk before he upped and moved to Maine. It was the Carol C. King Bodega. Ok, not really. But it COULD HAVE been considering the amount of times Charlie and I stopped in there for a snack whilst walking dogs. (BTW, if you’re not British, using the word “whilst” sounds really pretentious, but I don’t care. I like that word.)
Now, my next question is why did they rename the Triborough Bridge the Robert F. Kennedy (RFK) bridge. The Triborough Bridge said something! You hear the name and YOU KNOW it goes to THREE boroughs. (Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx). What does the RFK bridge say? A really rich dead guy’s family got his name on something.
I could go on and on. In fact, I think I will.
The Interborough Parkway? YES! It goes between boroughs. The Jackie Robinson Parkway? I got nothing.
The Queensborough bridge? Goes to Queens! The Edward I. Koch bridge? No clue.
The Westside Highway? Gotcha! Runs up the West Side. The Joe DiMaggio highway? Stop it!
The biggest problem is that New Yorkers still call these places by their old names. If a tourist asked me where the Stephen A. Schwarzman building was all I would be able to do is stare.
Which brings me back to Urban Sketching. (Yes, I was getting there.) The group met between the two lions in front of the library. They are called Patience and Fortitude. Names given to them by Mayor LaGuardia during the Great Depression. He believed New Yorkers needed both of these attributes to survive. We drew Patience. (Or was it Fortitude), then moved to Bryant Park which is right behind the Library. There were already ice skaters gliding on the rink that’s there in the fall and winter. Then to the Bank of America building on 42nd and 6th Ave. That’s right. 6th Ave. NOT Avenue of the Americas. Tourists, take heed. If you ask anyone where Avenue of the Americas is we will tell you we don’t know. But SIXTH Avenue is conveniently located between 5th Ave. and 7th Ave.
Ok, I’m done with my rant. The Urban Sketching was fun, but I had to leave early since I was meeting some friends for a Lower East Side gallery crawl. Joan T. and her friend Susan can in from Long Island again, so that was fun. I was a little distracted by all the holiday stalls that spring up in Bryant Park for the holidays. (Yes, I’m also attracted to shiny objects.)
NYC is getting ready for Hurricane Sandy. They have shut down the subways and buses. The show must go on? Not on Broadway tonight and tomorrow night. The Husband is already working 12 hour shifts. Last year Irene had us running in circles and it turned out it wasn’t that bad for us in the City. I have a feeling this one may be different. Full moon, high tide, another storm coming from the West to meet Sandy. Yikes! Wish us luck.
Saturday, October 13th was the 37th World Wide Sketch Crawl. I don’t know where I was for the other 36, but I’m sure glad I made it to the 37th. I did it with the NYC Urban Sketcher group. We met at the new Barclay’s Center (Barbra Streisand would be singing there that night) and did some sketches, moved on to the Atlantic Center and then over to the Brooklyn Academy of Music area.
Not being a plein air anything it felt a little odd to be outside sketching, but the NYC Urban Sketchers group were a friendly, welcoming, TALENTED bunch and I felt right at home in no time although a bit intimidated at their sketching ability. I had a small 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 sketch book and every sketch I started was too big! Oh well, that’s why I only have part of a food truck or some of the windows of a building.
In the small world category, I met a “blog friend” who I had never met before. Joan T had come in from Long Island and I recognized her from some pictures she had posted of herself. Wow! It was wonderful to meet a blog friend. And BTW, She is a fabulous sketcher. Click on her name and it will bring you to her blog post about that day.
My sketches were simple compared to many who did amazing city scenes. But what fun. They do it each weekend and I have no doubt I’ll be joining them often.
A shout out to Alex Zonis who was the one who suggested I try the NYC Urban Sketcher group and who made the contacts for me. So thank you Alex! I will most certainly be going out sketching with them again.