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,

Hamilton, NJ: Sayen Gardens Continuous Line Drawing (Part 1)

Hamilton NJ Sayen House and Gardens Continuous Line Drawing

Sayen House and Gardens in Hamilton NJ is in full bloom and bursting with beautiful flowers, shrubs, trees, grounds, house and features. I followed up on Joy Hecht's suggestion for taking a line for a walk through a park or gardens visit. 

Today I drew the highlights my walk through Sayen Gardens as each scene appeared in front of me in one continuous line for the whole walk.  I was able complete this series of five scenes in about an hour and ten minutes, including Sketching, walking walking, and taking photos,

 I didn't have a single piece of paper large enough for the full walk (in my rolling studio), so I used five sheets of Canson XL 140 lb (300g) 9 inch x 12 inch (22,9cm x 30,5cm) Aquarelle Watercolor Paper. 

I made sure to mark the starting and ending point of my line with a drawn arrow, and made sure to align start and end points of the line between each drawing. I can join the finished pieces when I get back to my full studio.

Gate to Gardens - Sayen House and Gardens in Hamilton NJ

Sayen Gardens Path - Example of Continuous Line Connections

Sayen House and Gardens - Continuous line Drawing

Sayen House and Garden Hamilton NJ Continuous Line Drawing

Go to Part two to see more "Taking a line for a walk" in Sayen Gardens.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Hamilton Marketplace, Hamilton, NJ: Morning Paper

Morning Paper

This morning the pouring rain and dramatic grey clouds kept me indoors at the coffee shop. Raylie Dunkel organizes the Thursday, NYC Urban Sketchers. This week the idea is to start with continuous line drawings. I decided I'd take the cue from her notice and try a continuous line drawing. It was a first for me. I enjoyed the challenge. I backtracked in a few places (I hope that's OK). Results were quick and satisfying for a first try.

I was given a pack of pens and they resurfaced recently. Today I used the Pilot Varsity MultiPack disposable fountain pens. They make a good steady medium width line in colorful inks. They are a good choice for continuous line drawing in various hues. If you need deep colors, you may want to use something else. The ink is water soluble. The MultiPack has 7 pens in a range of lively colors (pink, purple, green, blue, light blue, and black).

If there are conventions or "rules" for continuous line drawing feel free to let me know and share your art too.

Urban Sketchers Manifesto Monday: 1

1. We draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what we see from direct observation.

This simple premise is the foundation of all "Urban Sketching". It changes everything. 

I've been in landscape painting workshops where very early on the instructor suggests eliminating the graveyard in front of the barn, and moving the mighty oak tree from one side of the painting to the other. This is all under the banner of "composition" or "artist license". Both of those concepts have their time and place. But, so does working on location AND capturing what we see from direct observation. 

Most art movements have a manifesto so they can define their intentions and even set themselves apart from some other art movements. I believe this first principle is the key one that distinguishes "Urban Sketching" from its close cousin- modern day plein air painting (where shifting the world around in time and space is often acceptable).

Urban sketching grew out of artist as reporter. Reporting the world around them and day to day drama as it unfolds, through their art. Some have gone on to make this a lively career choice. It informs our choices to select locations and themes. It infuses our art with stories and urgency that draws people and artists in.

One of my favorite urban sketching opportunities was the juxtaposition of headstones from the 1700's in the foreground of new construction behind St. Paul's Churchyard (209 Broadway, NYC, NY, facing Church Street/ WTC-Ground Zero). I was able to capture a sense of solemnity and remembrance that framed dynamic construction efforts leading to recovery and growth. I know that in a year or so the scene will be totally different with the buildings finished and the transportation center open. The headstones will continue as witness and touching memorials. My Urban Sketching captured a specific moment in time in the real world from direct observation.

Some people have asked if it's called "urban sketching" can you sketch in other places? The founders of Urban Sketchers have addressed this directly. They consciously chose not to limit the locations to urban ones only. In fact, they encourage it. It's fun to plan our art in terms of places, events, and opportunities through this artistic lens.

So, pick up your art supplies and jump right in. Stayed tuned for Urban Sketching principle 2. Share any comments reactions or your art in the comments section.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Hamilton, NJ: Grounds for Sculpture

Autin & Shatz Spaceship II
A View from the Members Lounge
View from Members Lounge at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ. It's a cloudy and variable afternoon at Hamilton's world class sculpture gardens. Home of numerous works by J. Seward Johnson and an outstanding sculpture collection that is open to the public for an admission fee. The Grounds for Sculpture is a personal passion of the Johnson & Johnson heir. It is relatively close to the Northeast Corridor train line between NYC and DC, which stops at Hamilton, NJ. (Note: the Grounds are about 1 mile from the train Station and a connection will need to arranged if arriving by train.)

This afternoon's sketch features the lifelike sculpture of Autin (dressed as a businessman) and another sculpture (red and silver) Shatz Spaceship II. The Grounds is home to many peacocks. This is Spring and the docile peacocks are strutting their fine feathers to attract the opposite sex. They pose and sun themselves among the hundreds of sculptures and designed landscapes throughout the year.

The model for J. Seward Johnson's Autin statue is a living artist named "Autin" and resident patina specialist for the last 30 years at Grounds for Sculpture. Patina specialist is a sculptors much needed surface finishing collaborator. These skills are in such demand that Autin and the patina crew at the Johnson Atelier are busy with resident sculptor's and outside sculptors work from around the world. Because they specialize in monumental sculptures they use ovens as large as 60 feet in height to cure the finishes.

I couldn't pass by the opportunity to grab a quick photo of this peacock strutting in full display, along side of my just finished painting for today.

You can plan visits, find schedules of exhibitions, and more details at the Official Grounds for Sculpture website.

Lake Creighton

I saw this awesome instructional video by Karlyn Holman on the Cheap Joe's youtube channel on how to make incredible and unique washes using the Speedball Elegant Writer calligraphy pens.  I never would have thought to try this, but it is so cool. This past Sunday was a beautiful day.  The perfect day for a hike and a painting. So I tried out this technique of dropping watercolor washes on top of the activated pen ink.  Quite surreal and different than anything else I have ever done before.

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

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Wildwood Crest, NJ: Two Mile Beach

Wildwood Crest NJ Two Mile Beach (Burnt Umber & Ultramarine Blue limited Palette)

Standing near the dunes at Two Mile Beach National Wildlife Refuge at Wildwood Crest, NJ on a wonderful sunny day. We walked down the board walkway to a deck in the dunes. Our challenge was Plein Air watercolor painting with a two color palette of Burnt Umber and Ultramarine Blue. The sky was remarkably pale against an ocean that was deep blue. The light sandy dunes and dark brown dried plants and yellow grasses provided a shining contrast. The whole exercise was a worthwhile challenge, and a good reminder that simplifying is possible. Give it a try and let's see what you come up with.

Beyond the Turnpike, Parkway and refineries, New Jersey is home to endangered and threatened species of all kinds in wonderful natural areas. Two mile Beach (the Beach part) is closed to humans from April through September so that birds and other creatures on the edge of extinction can continue to live and have babies and possibly make it to the next generation. Visitors can still walk many trails and paint in other areas. There are also plenty of other beaches nearby for the summer fun that humans crave. This arrangement is wonderful because we were closely surrounded by the most amazing array of birds and plants. I was immersed in nature. It was a great day to be an artist in New Jersey.

If you'd like to visit FREE Two Mile Beach you can find directions, parking and details at:

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Creative Placemaking Forum Newark NJ

Bleeker St., Newark, NJ

NJIT hosted the Creative Placemaking Forum. Artists were called together to discuss the role they can play in community planning and development representing the arts. Valuing artists and thinking of community as a new medium where artists can actively create places that enhance everyone's lives and community.

I was able to take a few minutes before the Forum to capture the scene on Bleeker Street in the spring afternoon sun. The different colors of brick were aglow with late afternoon sun. A strange stuccoed wall of lime green created an interesting foothold for the city skyline. The red banners mark where Rutgers Newark turf is situated in an area of the City filled with various colleges and Universities.

I used 0.30 Copic ink pen, Sakura waterbrush and Daler and Rowney 12 color travel watercolors.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Manifesto Monday: International Urban Sketchers Manifesto

Overview: Manifesto Monday Series
One of the features of Urban Sketchers art movement is it has a Manifesto. Each Monday I will post an article taking one of the 8 items in the International Urban Sketchers Manifesto and bring out some positive experiences and personal musings as to how the Manifesto has added to my experiences with the Urban Sketchers.

To get things started I am posting the whole Urban Sketchers Manifesto. All the elements work together at the same time. I'll discuss them one by one to keep each posting brief and to the point. Unlike most rules and restrictions elsewhere, I've found that they have guided and enriched my Urban Sketcher art experiences. It's been fun. I'm glad we have them.

Please add your own comments, reactions, and art in comments below. Let's get the conversation started.

Our Manifesto

  1. We draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what we see from direct observation.
  2. Our drawings tell the story of our surroundings, the places we live and where we travel.
  3. Our drawings are a record of time and place.
  4. We are truthful to the scenes we witness.
  5. We use any kind of media and cherish our individual styles.
  6. We support each other and draw together.
  7. We share our drawings online.
  8. We show the world, one drawing at a time.

Gotta Make the Doughnut Shop

A brilliant sunny morning and the carpenters are hard at work building the new doughnut shop. The crew crawled across the massive tangle of fresh lumber. It appeared as shiny mass surrounded by dark rich soil. I can only imagine the 1800s family next door planting the fields that will soon sprout doughnuts.

I'm always trying new things. Today I used a Lukas Aquarell Studio travel watercolors kit. I also used round medium (pink cap) Kuretake water brush.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Papers in the Rain

City of Trenton New Jersey is foggy, rainy and cold today. Yet life in the State Capitol goes on.

Today's sketch is a vendor standing in the street selling newspapers to passing cars and trucks. A clear plastic bag keeps the papers dry. This painting has a lot of challenges like fog, rain slick streets and constantly moving vendor and traffic. Repeating motions were my friend. My paper curled after a while and I had to move to nearby fast food shop.

I was approached for some money. He offered to do a drawing of Popeye and did 3 characters from memory in a few minutes.  I've included one of Kevin Horne, Jr's characters as part of today's post. As an interesting slice of what happens when Urban Sketching.

I also recommended if he liked doing art he could get supplies and exhibition of work towards sales at a local charity Trenton Area Soup Kitchen. The program is so successful the City is arranging for the art program to get its own building later this year. He was very happy he could get paid for doing something he liked to do. He knew the food program and both of us knew several of the volunteers and staff there. He finished off with "Maybe he'd see me there".

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Coming Soon ... Doughnuts

I miss the precious few warm and sunny days we had last week. Bright highlights, rich shadows, and delightfully warm dry air for Urban Sketching. Unfortunately, it was only a brief preview. Today is just above freezing, flat grey skies, and drizzling rain on and off. Not so nice for artists, but perfect for pouring concrete footings. 

Today's sketch captures the early stages of the forthcoming Doughnut shop. Yes, right next door to an 1800's gem of a house. (One of the downsides to being near a major intersection.)

My vantage was from across the major highway sitting in a fast food restaurant. I used waterbrushes. My sketch is in Sakura Koi watercolors with touches and outlines from black Copic Multiliner pens with waterproof ink. The paper was so thirsty I struggled to get loose washes for the large masses.

The Copic Multiliner pens are a dream to use if you want a consistent width line that is truly and instantly waterproof. I'm told they are refillable with the Copic waterproof pigment and separate parts are available if you should damage or wear out one of the tips.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Catching up with the news

It's a chilly and rainy day in Hamilton NJ has driven most everyone inside today. The local coffee shop is filled with people warming up for a few minutes and checking the news. This fella was doing that and was quickly captured in a sketch. Sakura Koi watercolors were added on site. Shading and setting was filled in after he dashed.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Not Quite Spring

That calender may say it is Spring, but the weather is not quite Spring.  This past Sunday I returned to Duke Farm to paint in the freezing cold (literally; more on that later) as it seemed like a good idea.  I have not painted much of late and needed to be outside, so off to Duke Farms I went.  It was supposed to be in the 40's that morning but was actually 25 degrees when I stepped into the park (the iPhone weather app, apparently, does not always tell the truth).   As I set down to paint and started mixing the colors, ice crystals began precipitating out of the wash as the water, literally froze on the pallet. It would have been cool if it was not so cold.  Ice crystals clung to the brushes and glomped on the painting, making the process somewhat strange.  I completed 90% of the painting on site and added finishing details in the cafe.  All in all, it turned out well, but I truly wish for Spring to really begin. 

                                         Watercolor, Pen & Ink on 140 lbs block 9X12