Monday, December 15, 2014

The Other Tree

I spend a lot of time giving love to my neighbor's tree, but we have a small, interesting tree of our own.  Here is a very quick sketch of the tree. I liked how the lights from the other neighbor's backyard highlighted the tree.

                                        Watercolor, Pen & Ink on paper

And here is an earlier sketch from a different angle, before the weird weeds grew around it.

                               Watercolor, Pen & Ink on 140 lbs paper

Thursday, December 11, 2014

sketch nature

North Jersey Outdoor Artists are meeting this Saturday the 13th at 11am. at the Lord Sterling Outdoor Nature Center in Basking Ridge, NJ.
You don't have to be a member, just come and sketch.
For more info, go to and search North Jersey Outdoor Artists or call Jared at 973-229-5924

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Happy anniversary to us!

Urban Sketchers

Dec. 6, 2014



Seattle, WA, 05 December 2014 – Urban, a non-profit organization, is celebrating its fifth anniversary since incorporating on December 6, 2009. Its mission is to promote on-location sketching and to connect people around the world who enjoy urban sketching. Wildly successful, the international community of urban sketchers is estimated at 50,000+ and almost 14 million page views on the Urban Sketchers (USk) blog.

Seattle-based journalist and illustrator Gabriel Campanario launched the group in 2007 by creating an online community of urban sketches on Sketchers scan their drawings and share them on the group’s Flickr site, Facebook page or blog. The idea went viral. So far communities of sketchers have formed 60 regional chapters in 29 countries. 

"Urban Sketchers is growing because sketchers are finding each other where they live and travel.” says Membership Director, Jessie Chapman. “Members are building relationships and communities with people who share the same interests, both online and at our events." 

USk raises the artistic, storytelling and educational value of location drawing with workshops and events held all around the world. USk has organized five international symposiums in Portland, USA; Lisbon, Portugal; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Barcelona, Spain and Paraty, Brazil. 

The 2015 Symposium will be held in Singapore July 22-25. Organizers expect 250+ attendees from around the world.

“Artists of all ages and skill levels have stories to tell,” says founder Gabi Campanario. “Urban Sketchers is a free group that provides a platform for them to renew their love of drawing and to learn more about storytelling.”

To find out more about Urban Sketchers or to locate a regional chapter near you, visit 

USk is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Donations are used to foster educational opportunities for sketching enthusiasts with workshops, events and symposiums. Donations made in the United States may be tax deductible.

Press Contact:
Brenda Murray
Communications Director
Urban Sketchers

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Neighbor's Tree

I have not had the opportunity to get out and sketch, so I have returned to a favorite subject, my neighbor's backyard tree. Even without the lush greenery of Spring/Summer it is still a majestic subject.

                                     Watercolor on 140 lbs paper 7x10

Monday, November 17, 2014

Nakashima Studio and Workshop

An overdue post: couple of weeks ago i did an open house tour of the George Nakashima Arts Building at his studio in New Hope PA. It's a gorgeous property and a hidden gem but the Arts Buiding is usually not open for public so it was a rare opportunity to look inside.

I didn't sketch there but made a couple of drawings around the property.
Arts Building:

View of the property:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day 2014

Veterans Day 2014 I stopped into the coffee spot in Hamilton, NJ frequented by many of our seniors. I saw a scene unfolding that I imagine was happening today all around the US. The Veterans were swapping stories of their wartime experiences and memories of those comrades in arms who passed on.

I took the opportunity to do a quick digital ink sketch on my Galaxy 2014 Note 10.1 inch device, using SketchBook Pro 2.9 by AutoDesk. Digital drawing is totally new to me and I'm just getting acquainted with the hardware and software. The most important feature for me is that I can use a stylus, like a pencil or brush, directly on the screen surface.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Chanticleer Garden: Season Finale

I spent last weekend sketching in the neighboring state of PA. First stop was the bewitching Chanticleer Garden. The day is not enough to absorb and reflect on its splendor so i limited myself to capture couple of my favorite places. The stone library:
The japanese garden scene:
The courtyard:

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fall in Central NJ

There are several little parks where the Bound Brook meanders that I have been wanting to paint.  I really enjoy the granulating properties of the hematite genuine that I used in the shadows.  This is the first sketch where I used both M Graham and Daniel Smith watercolors.  No reason why I have not done this sooner other than I keep them in two separate kits.

                             Watercolor on paper 11.0x5.5

Connecting to the Bound Brook via the East Branch Reservoir is the Middle Brook in
Washington Valley Park.  The leaves are just beginning to change color.

                               Watercolor on 140 lbs block 9x12

Below is the view from the spot I painted, along with my portable easel set up.  It is a simple hike to reach.  Directly behind me would be the Buttermilk Falls.

The tree in my neighbor's backyard is the favorite haunt of some beautiful Red-bellied Woodpeckers and cardinals who have thus far eluded my attempts to photograph them.  I just love this tree and have drawn and painted it several times (and will paint it again I am sure).  I tried something different with this one and did not do any kind of under drawing, just free form painting.

                              Watercolor on 140 lbs paper 9x12

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Sketches from Duke Farms

Greetings Urban Sketchers.  This is Charles from Central New Jersey and I am really excited to be a part of the new NJ USK group.

One of my favorite places to walk and sketch in Central NJ is Duke Farms.  Aside from its great ecological stewardship, the farms offers lots of interesting topography and subject matter.  It is wonderful place to spend a weekend day.  I have returned to it often for inspiration.

 Stone Bridge, South Gate Entrance

 Little waterfall, Dukes Brook

Great Falls at Duke Farms

Coach Barn

Announcing New Jersey Urban Sketchers

An email went out yesterday to all the Administrators of the Urban Sketching locations around the world announcing the newest member of the Urban Sketching family - us!

Here are some of the congratulatory emails we received:

Kumi Matsukawa

9:38 PM (12 hours ago)
to usk-regional-a.
Congratulations for New Jersey sketchers. I included your group on the sidebar on USk Japan blog.



Yoo Byung Hwa vivong

5:03 AM (4 hours ago)
to usk-regional-a.
Congratulations! I added your group in the side bar of Seoul blog.
Looking forward to seeing lots of sketches from your members,


bh yoo

Björn Fundberg bjorn

5:09 AM (4 hours ago)
to usk-regional-a.HelenaJames

I will add your link as soon as possible!

Best regards,

Eskilstuna Urban Sketchers (Sweden)


5:36 AM (4 hours ago)
to usk-regional-a.HelenaJames
Congrats and will add later. Welcome New Jersey group to the USK big family!

Peggy Wong

5:40 AM (4 hours ago)
to usk-regional-a.HelenaJames
Welcome, New Jersey USk, to the ever expanding USk global family!!! 

Liz Steel

5:42 AM (4 hours ago)
to usk-regional-a.
Yay! Welcome New Jersey - so great to have you join the network. Have added to the USK AUstralia blog roll!
Happy Sketching!


Liz Steel

Jim Richards via 

6:02 AM (3 hours ago)
to usk-regional-a.HelenaJames
Welcome and congratulations!

Alvin Wong

6:24 AM (3 hours ago)
to usk-regional-a.JamesHelena
Dear Mark,
Now I know who to look for when I am in NJ!  Welcome and Congratulations!
Best Regards
Alvin Wong
USk Hong Kong
- email sent by my android mobile