Saturday, October 17, 2015

Only the little sunflower adorning my table at breakfast was a little beat up and missing some petals on the left side.  That gave it character and made it interesting to paint.

                               watercolor pen & ink on paper 5.5X8.5 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

SATURDAY: Sketch the Garden Conservancy

Saturday, October 10, 2015
This event was suggested by NJ Urban Sketcher - Helena Sarin


The Garden Conservancy is a national organization dedicated to saving and sharing America's outstanding gardens for the education and inspiration of the public.  Spectacular gardens all over the US are open to the public for brief periods.  

The Garden at Federal Twist will be open this Saturday and should not be missed.  The garden is only available for viewing two times each year!

"The garden is hidden. You enter through the house, where you first glimpse the landscape, a sunny glade in the woods, through a wall of large windows. Featuring many large perennials and grasses that evoke an "Alice in Wonderland" feeling (many plants are taller than you), the garden is in the tradition of such “new perennial” designers as Piet Oudolf. Visitors have described it as a highly emotional garden. Plantings emphasize structure, shape, and form as much as flower."

 "Begun as an experiment to explore the potential for working in unimproved, heavy clay, the garden is ecologically like a wet prairie, and is maintained by cutting and burning in late winter. Flowers and butterflies peak in mid-July, then a second peak occurs in October when low sunlight strikes fire in the blousy russets and golds of the grasses. Two small ponds attract hundreds of frogs, insects and wildlife."

The garden was recently featured in the New York Times,  Horticulture magazine, and the book, Gardens of the Garden State.


Where:  208 Federal Twist Road, Stockton, NJ

When:  Starting time:  10 a.m. Delayed or sleeping late?  Come anyway you'll easily find us.

Lunch:  Bring your own - we'll eat picnic style.  Bring a stool - it makes sketching easier and gives you options.

Show and Tell:   3:15 Leave for Apple-Jack (4935 River Rd, Point Pleasant, PA an 11 mile drive) to share drawings, good stories and a beer or wine if you're so inclined.

1)  Admission to this garden is $7.
2)  Bring a stool or a folding chair - it makes sketching easier and gives you options.


Directions: From the New York City area, take I-78. Take Exit 29 for I-287 toward Route 206/Route 202/Morristown/Somerville. Keep left at the fork and continue onto I-287 South for about 4 miles. Take Exit 17 onto Route 202 and continue to Flemington (about 19 miles). At the traffic circle, continue to the opposite side, and continue on Route 202 (about 10.8 miles) to the last exit in New Jersey, to Lambertville and Route29. At the foot of the exit, turn left, then at the bottom of the exit, turn right onto Route 29/River Road/Daniel Bray Highway. Continue north, passing through the village of Stockton, for a total of 5.1 miles from Lambertville. On the right is a large sign for Hidden Valley Nursery. Federal Twist Road is immediately past the sign. Turn right and drive up Federal Twist Road 2.9 miles to #208. Park on the right side of the road (the house side), taking care to leave the left lane open.

From western Philadelphia suburbs, take the I-276 East/Pennsylvania Turnpike east to Exit 343. Exit on Route 611 North toward Doylestown. In about 10 miles, exit onto Route 202N/New Hope. In about 10 miles, continue on Route 202 past New Hope, and cross toll bridge over Delaware River, exiting immediately on the New Jersey side toward Lambertville. At the foot of the exit, turn left onto Route 29 N/River Road/Daniel Bray Highway. Proceed as directed above.

From northern New Jersey or the Hudson River Valley, take I-287 south, take Exit 17 onto Route 202 and continue to Flemington (about 19 miles), at the traffic circle continue to the opposite side, and continue on Route 202 (about 10.8 miles) to the last exit in New Jersey, to Lambertville and Route 29. At the foot of the exit, turn left, then at the bottom of the exit, turn right onto Route 29/River Road/Daniel Bray Highway. Proceed as directed above.

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

Monday, October 5, 2015

Stormy Tree

It is a cold and blustery day on Friday and I was thinking about Hurricane/Tropical Storm Joaquin, whether it would hit us or not (at that moment we did not know if it was going to hit NJ).  I have not painted in a while and this was done without photo reference, visual reference or under drawing.  I just. . .painted, thinking about the storm.  I love using Daniel Smith deep apatite blue for dark stormy skies.  It is such a neat and powerful color.

                                      Watercolor on 200lbs paper 14x10

Monday, September 7, 2015

Labor Day - Washington Rock

Sitting at the base of Washington Rock, NJ.  In 1777, This is where General George Washington watched the troop movement of General William Howe in New Brunswick.  The high ground of this natural rock outcropping provides an unobstructed view of over 30 miles.  You can still see NY City today.  I thought about painting the vista, but looking up at the stone wall was more interesting.

                                        Watercolor, pen & ink 5.5 X 16.0

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

SUNDAY: Sketching Princeton

August 30, 2015

On Sunday New Jersey Urban Sketchers will be exploring the town of Princeton.  The day will be divided between sketching the University in the morning and in the afternoon we'll be in the streets capturing the atmosphere of one of our state's most beautiful towns.


Morning:   10:00a  Meet at Princeton University main gate in front of historic Nassau Hall (Nassau and Witherspoon Streets.)  Metered parking along city streets or easy access parking garage on Chambers Street about half block north of Nassau Street.

We will focus on the traditional architecture and spaces of the central core of the university but you modernists will also have the opportunity to sketch the more contemporary architecture on the east/southeast side of campus.

Lunch:  12:30p  We'll agree on a shady spot for our Picnic Style lunch. Bring your own or enjoy variety of local and ethnic eateries on Witherspoon Street and Palmer Square (just north of Nassau between Witherspoon and Chambers.)

Afternoon:  1:30-3:30p  Town sketching.  Palmer Square and the public square next to the Princeton Public Library (on Witherspoon) are great places for people watching with interesting buildings to draw.

Show and Tell:  3:30p  We'll go to the Triumph Brewery at 138 Nassau Street to share drawings, good stories and a beer or wine if you're so inclined.


-  Sleeping late?  Come anyway, no one is taking attendance.  We'll be happy you came.

-  You might want to bring a hat and a sketching stool for your personal 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 11, 2015

Keep the date in mind.  Further information as the date approaches.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

SATURDAY: The View from Hoboken

 August 8, 2015

The Manhattan Skyline is incredible viewed from Hoboken.
With it's majestic sweep of the Hudson River, train terminals, piers, historic streets and architecture you will love sketching Hoboken's many views.


When:   We start at 10 AM at Pier A.  Sleeping late? Driving slowly?  No worries - come anyway

Where:   See map for meeting site

How:   Click for Directions

Lunch:  12 - Noon:  Picnic Style, bring your own or pickup a bite in the numerous shops and stores.

Afternoon:   1:15 - Back to Sketching.  We'll move along the path of the map - across Sinatra Drive, up 4th Street then back using Washington Street.  Sketch at will as you go.

Show and Tell:  We'll finish up at the  The Dubliner, 96 River St at the corner of 1st Street to share drawings, good stories and a beer or wine if you're so inclined.

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

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sketching in Lambertville and Stockton, July 19

About 10 of us came out for some sketching in Lambertville today (Sunday 7-19-15) despite the heat.  Lots of great opportunities and settings for sketching-the river, the canal, cafe, historic buildings, and people visiting and walking by.  Some of us then went on to check out the Artsbridge and Watercolor shows at Prallsville Mill in Stockton. 

Thanks Jeff for organizing and the leading the charge! I am posting some images of our sketches-these are just some of the creations. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

SKETCH DAY, Sunday, July 19, Lambertville, New Jersey

See you Sunday, 10am in Lambertville, New Jersey
At the sw corner of Union and Bridge Streets
Weather forecast:  Warm and sunny.

Don't forget a good sun hat and folding stool.
Lambertville:  town center.

We can stay in the vicinity of the town center.  Plenty to draw within a five-minute walk:  commercial streets, outdoor restaurants, old canal, views across the Delaware River to New Hope, Pennsylvania. 

We will drive a couple miles north for lunch at Prallsville Mills and continue sketching for the afternoon:  preserved grain mill buildings, art galleries, railroad trail, canal and views of the Delaware River.

See the previous note for schedule and details.  Contact information for me is below.  Call to find us if you're running late. Look forward to seeing you.

Thursday, July 2, 2015





SUNDAY, JULY 19, 2016.  10AM-3PM

One of Forbes “15 Prettiest Towns in America.”
Come for a morning of sketching picturesque streets, historic buildings, canals, art galleries, and views along the banks of the Delaware River.

10:00 AM  - 12:30PM  LAMBERTVILLE

Meet in the center of town at the corner of Bridge and Union Streets in the bank parking lot.  We’ll chose our sketching spots for the morning.


Depart Lambertville and gather for lunch in Stockton.  Bring your own lunch or find something along the way. Stockton lies approximately 4 miles directly north on   Route 29 (Main Street out of Lambertville.)  Arrive at Prallsville Mills at north end of Stockton for a picnic lunch.
We continue sketching at the historical mill complex that sits at the confluence of the Wickecheoke Creek, Delaware and  Raritan    Canal, and the Delaware River.  Mill buildings now make up a unique arts community.
3:00—3:30PM  SHOW AND TELL.  Share your sketches and observations with your  colleagues outdoors or in one of Prallsville gallery spaces.
Optional: continue drawing or adjourn to the Stockton Inn just down the road from the mill for refreshments and conversation.
LAMBERTVILLE:  Metered parking is available along town streets.  Flat rate parking is available in a lot off Bridge Street in the block east of Union Street or at the Lambertville Station Restaurant at Bridge Street and the river.  Abundant coffee shops and sandwich places.
Travel from Lambertville to Stockton along Route 29 (Main Street, travelling north from Lambertville.)
Lunch suggestions:  City Market CafĂ©, 74 North Main Street, Lambertville on the way to Stockton.  Cravings on Route 29 in Stockton.  Or bring your own.
Prallsville Mills: 33 Risler Street (Route 29), Stockton, NJ   (Public restrooms available!)

Bring along folding stools or chairs to make yourself comfortable.  Bring your favorite sketching tools (pencil, color pencil, watercolors, and sketchbook.
Rain date:  Sunday, July 26.
Questions?  Or to confirm, contact Jeff Charlesworth at or phone/text 908.255.5051. 
More information about NJ Urban Sketchers at
All drawing levels welcomed and encouraged!  Tell your friends.
Bring a folding stool and attractive sun hat! 





Monday, June 22, 2015

Hi, I'm new to the NJ Urban Sketchers and look forward to sharing some of my sketches with the group. I am an art educator and artist. Here is a sketch I did over the weekend at Rockn Joe Coffeehouse in Millburn. It's a great place to sit and draw. They never rush you and the coffee is great!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Pictures of Pictures

This is a re-post from Fred Lynch that I thought was really good and worth sharing.  Fred is an Urban Sketcher from the Boston area and will be teaching a workshop during the International Symposium in Singapore this summer:

Pictures of Pictures

By Fred Lynch near Boston, Massachusetts

Twin Staircases in Vitorchiano

Why do we draw what we draw?  Does it matter?
When you set out to draw, where do you go? Do you have a destination in mind already? Do you wander to find inspiration? Do you prefer to go to famous places - well known for their scenery?

A short time ago, I brought a large batch of my Italy drawings into my class for a critique (I'm a college professor of illustration). It was a good role reversal for everyone. I covered a long wall with drawings. Like most critique recipients, I was anxious. But, I encouraged honesty from my students and they delivered. We talked about the good, the bad, and the ugly before them.

What was most interesting to me, was the clear lack of enthusiasm for drawings that I had made of the most famous sites (like, "Piazza Plebiscito")*. These beautiful, historic places were of less interest to viewers, not more! Using the same skills, materials and time, I was unable to generate enthusiasm in my viewers. They admired the drawings of famous things less. Why?

One student stated in a matter of fact way,  "because they are two kinds of drawings, altogether". She explained that one kind of drawing was of what I, the artist had found to be interesting. The other kind were drawings of subjects that others have found interesting. She was right. I had decided differently why to draw these subjects. 

Artists can either follow their muse, or they can follow the crowd. 

It reminded me of a passage from Don DeLillo's classic novel, White Noise:

"Several days later Murray asked me about a tourist attraction known as the most photographed barn in America.  We drove 22 miles into the country around Farmington.  There were meadows and apple orchards.  White fences trailed through the rolling fields.  Soon the sign started appearing.  THE MOST PHOTOGRAPHED BARN IN AMERICA.  We counted five signs before we reached the site.  There were 40 cars and a tour bus in the makeshift lot.  We walked along a cowpath to the slightly elevated spot set aside for viewing and photographing.  All the people had cameras; some had tripods, telephoto lenses, filter kits.  A man in a booth sold postcards and slides -- pictures of the barn taken from the elevated spot.  We stood near a grove of trees and watched the photographers.  Murray maintained a prolonged silence, occasionally scrawling some notes in a little book. 

"No one sees the barn," he said finally.

A long silence followed.

"Once you've seen the signs about the barn, it becomes impossible to see the barn."

He fell silent once more.  People with cameras left the elevated site, replaced by others.

We're not here to capture an image, we're here to maintain one. Every photograph reinforces the aura.  Can you feel it, Jack? An accumulation of nameless energies."

There was an extended silence.  The man in the booth sold postcards and slides.

"Being here is a kind of spiritual surrender.  We see only what the others see.  The thousands who were here in the past, those who will come in the future.  We've agreed to be part of a collective perception.  It literally colors our vision.  A religious experience in a way, like all tourism."

Another silence ensued.

"They are taking pictures of taking pictures," he said.

He did not speak for a while.  We listened to the incessant clicking of shutter release buttons, the rustling crank of levers that advanced the film.

"What was the barn like before it was photographed?" he said.  "What did it look like, how was it different from the other barns, how was it similar to other barns?" "

 -from White Noise by Don DeLillo

Piazza Plebiscito
When we draw famous places, we are consciously or unconsciously burdened by others' perceptions of the place. We see the place in a shared way. We look through our own eyes at the subject, but also through the eyes of all the other viewers of this subject. Many of us are also looking through the eyes of other artists who have drawn this subject, or subjects like it.

In other words, we may compromise our enthusiasms to serve the expected - a pre-pictured image.

In the case of my work, the drawings of famous sites were serving as a "substitute image" of the thing - a symbol - a postcard. I made decisions of how to show the subjects clearly and recognizably and perhaps, too typically. They looked like what drawings of that place usually look like. The other drawings (like, "Twin Staircases in Vitorchiano") were more personal, and thus, more new and interesting.

If we don't follow our own interests, but rather, do what's expected, or familiar,  we end up creating drawings of drawings or pictures of pictures.*

That's why we see so much similarity in artists' styles, or more commonly, so much similarity of subjects. We sometimes draw what other artists draw, rather than what we individually would like to draw. I see it in my students all the time, and try to push them out of it. I push them to create something more personal.

Bringing it back to my work - my students could feel the enthusiasm for my personal interests. They could also feel the compromise of my postcard-like works of famous places. Despite my skills of hand, my lack of heart tripped me up and dampening my enthusiasms. I compromised my muse. I need to watch out for that, because enthusiasm is the difference between a competent drawing and an interesting one. Sure, we can draw famous things - they're famous for a reason- but we should try to add something new to what is said about it - something personal, and thus, memorable. We can't just show things, we have to say things.

Try to stand apart from the crowd.

*I did get credit, and interest for the water-bottle in the drawing.

**Postmodern thinkers are very cognizant of this stuff, but I'll not delve into those deep waters today, I'll soon be over my head.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Middle Brook

A short hike off the beaten path for a different view of the Middle Brook.  Forgot to bring water, so it was fortunate I brought waterbrushes (pre-filled with water).  Used pen and ink, watercolor and crayon for this piece. 

               Watercolor, pen & ink and watersoluble crayon on paper 5.5 x 16.0

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Capital Morning: Trenton, NJ

"Capital Morning" view from W. Hanover Street, Trenton, NJ

Bridge over the Middle Brook

Another beautiful Sunday and another opportunity to paint.  I am enjoying the surreal effect and look of watercolor on top of "activated" ink from the elegant writer.

              "activated" elegant writer marker and watercolor on 140lbs block 9X12

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Veteran's Park on a School Day

Veterans Park on a School Day - Klockner Road, Hamilton, NJ

Veterans Park on Klockner Road in Hamilton NJ is right across the street from Steinert High School. School buses of every size were wizzing by, making their morning rounds. 

I used Copic Multiliner Brush pen for the large black lines and various other Copic ink pens for for the fine lines. The sky was clear, a little cool, and cast a great shadow of the F-4 Fighter jet on the spring grasses. Many of the trees in the background hadn't quite leafed out yet and were in shades that hinted at their fall colors. 

I set aside the usual waterbrushes and only used two large watercolor brushes, a 5/8 inch (16 mm) mop brush and a number 9 round brush. It was great fun to to use these large brushes. The 9 brush comes to such a nice point I was able to control the fine red stripe in in the US Air Force symbol as I wanted. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

I wanted to try out my new Caran D'Ache watersoluble wax pastel crayons, and what better subject that my favorite tree?  Exactly.  And to complete the sketch, I found this quote from Hal Borland.  The quote was a perfect compliment, especially using Pilot Isoshizuku chiku-rin ("Bamboo Forest" yellow green) ink (written with Brause 361 "Blue Pumkin" nib). 

                     Watersoluble crayons and chiku-rin (Isoshizuku) ink on 180lbs paper

The Brause No. 361 "Blue Pumpkin" nib with Brause Bandzug italic nib reservoir attached.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Lines Down at Miry Run

Lines Down at Miry Run

The lines were down at Miry Run and the street was partly blocked for crews to chainsaw the trees. Morning sketch plans changed instantly to capture the scene of trees vs. lines for phone, cable tv, and power. Before their death sentence was carried out by the chainsaw crews.

I pulled  quick U-turn. It was sunny, air was damp and cool, winds were starting to whip up. I took refuge down the street in the rolling studio (car). 

Today's sketch was done on 9 in x 12 140 lb (300 g) Canson Watercolor Aquarelle Paper. Copic brush pen for trees and roadside barriers and Copic 0.30, and 0.70 for lines that were down. I started with Daler and Rowney Travel 12 watercolors in the rolling studio and shifted to the local cafe for the large washes. 

I was splashing on so many washes the paper soon hit its limits and buckled. (me having too much fun and being impatient.) I had to control the rockin' and rollin' puddling of colors and blooms as best I could by tipping the paper pad as it slowly dried. Who ever said watercolors are easy, just didn't do enough watercolors. I was pleased with catching the moment. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

SATURDAY: World Wide Sketchcrawl #47

Come Sketch in New Brunswick, New Jersey 
for  Rutgers Day 
World Wide Sketch Crawl.

Saturday April 25, 2015

There will be 2 events that day, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Event 1- Sketch Cook Campus10:00am to 4:00 pm
Start at Blake Hall on Cook Campus.
Come and draw around Cook Campus and Passion Puddle. Guided 30-45 sketch walks will get you started and you can spend the day sketching around campus. Guided walks at 11:00 and 2:00
Sketchbook and pencils provided!

Event 2 - Sketch New Brunswick
10:00am to 4:00 pm
Start at Blake Hall on Cook Campus.
A student led sketch walk will go from Cook campus to downtown New Brunswick and back, sketching landscapes and landmarks. This activity is co-coordinated with SKO/L and SKO/L Santurce Art

For more information or questions contact Richard Alomar,