New York

I recently took a very quick trip to New York City to see art & sketch. I attended the John Singer Sargent show at the Brooklyn Museum, and learned a thing or two about value and color from his examples. While I didn't try to sketch his pieces, I did sketch from other objects at the museum... Brooklyn Museum Brooklyn Museum Brooklyn Museum

The following day I met up with the New York urban sketchers, which turns out to include more familiar faces than I'd realized; that was a real joy. We started in Four Freedoms Park (Roosevelt Island) for a great view of Manhattan, then found our way to Union Square.

Views from Four Freedoms Park, Roosevelt Island, New York City

Union Square, New York City

I met up with a friend at Tom's Restaurant, and stopped in at the World Science Fair.

Brooklyn Bridge Park, World Science Fair

I visited the Metropolitan Museum and wished for many more hours than I had, and ended up sketching a few more street scenes that day before finding my way home.

The Met

The Met

The Met

The Met

The Met

The Met

Union Square, New York City

I walked the High Line.

High Line, New York City

I'm really hoping for another opportunity to meet up with the New York urban sketchers, and highly recommend any visiting sketchers check their website for their regular Saturday crawl.

Sketching the Lady



While planning a trip to the Bay Area recently, I noticed the Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain would be in town the exact weekend of my visit.  Ever since experiencing a 3-hour "battle sail" on board the Lady Washington almost six years ago (some photos here), I'd been wanting to sketch under sail - this was finally my chance!  I booked a short passage from San Francisco to Oakland. (A few days later I also signed on for a battle sail, so the photos in this post come from both excursions.)

I stayed the night at my friend's house just 20 minutes' walk from the Embarcadero, so it was a brief and pleasant morning walk to the ships. It's always a wonderful moment, when you first spy the masts camouflaged among the other various masts and poles and lights of an urban dock.


Only a few other passengers had signed on for this passage, so there was a lot of space to move around and the crew sometimes had time to chat. The captain used the opportunity to perform a series of safety drills, so I got to see a lot of examples of what it takes to run this complex machine. The weather was blessedly cooperative.




Sketching was a real challenge, as you might imagine, since not only were the crew in nearly constant motion (as you'd expect), everything that isn't nailed down is likely to move or change shape in some manner, and the shadows were coming from different directions from moment to moment!

On Board the Lady Washington On Board the Lady Washington On Board the Lady Washington On Board the Lady Washington On Board the Lady WashingtonOn Board the Lady Washington


Puerto Rico, First Few Days

My flight started off with a bang - well, hundreds of inaudible bangs. As we took off, a huge full moon lit the sky (that's it over the plane wing) and early Independence Day fireworks bubbled up from so many backyards below, in such an even spread across all of Portland and Vancouver, it looked orchestrated. Magic. Flying PDX-SJU, July 3

Not much airplane/airport sketching this time, due to attempts at getting some kind of "night" of "sleep".

Airports and plane window views

I stayed in the dorm portion of a hotel in Old San Juan, Posada San Francisco. It was central, way cheaper than anything else, and quite decent - with a wonderful balcony view.

View from Posada San Francisco (my hostel)

Despite the other hostel residents being quite nice, I had a rough first night - I was paranoid that I would snore, and had stress dreams about snoring as the result of bad programming. A lovely cappuccino with a flower in the foam at Cafecultura (conveniently located next door to the hostel) made me feel better, and I started to loosen up the drawing hand.

Stress dreams, then coffee at Cafecultura

Literally half a block from the hotel was the base of Fuerte San Cristobal, a very dramatic fortification built towards the end of the 18th century to protect against other European powers attacking by land. As I first walked to it to sketch, I got distracted by these metal plates in the sidewalk.

The sidewalks of Old San Juan

Fuerte San Cristobal was a good place to shelter as the tropical storm rains came and went.

Fuerte San Cristobal, San Juan, Puerto Rico Fuerte San Cristobal, San Juan, Puerto Rico

While working on that last sketch, Puerto Rican sketcher Luis E. Aparicio joined me! He was enthusiastic about sketching, an instant friend, and an exceedingly gracious host for his city. We sketched in San Cristobal for a while and then took a walk around the city, stopping to sketch along the way, while Luis gave me some insights into different areas, buildings, and food options.

Fuerte San Cristobal, San Juan, Puerto Rico Fuerte San Cristobal El Morro, San Juan, Puerto Rico El Morro, San Juan, Puerto Rico

At the end of the afternoon, we retreated to a bar of Luis' choosing: El Batey, a favorite of his with graffiti-covered walls.

Sketching inside El Batey Sketching with Luis Aparicio at El Batey

I ended that day hanging out with people from the hostel - folks from the US and Canada for the most part, with the occasional European. Most of them - in about three different rental car expeditions - had spent the day being lost on the roads of Puerto Rico attempting to reach some tourist destination or another, endlessly taking the wrong turn and ending up back on the same bridge they'd just come over. But they all seemed in good spirits about it. Good travelers are fine with spending some time being lost.

There will be one more post about Puerto Rico, and then on to Santo Domingo and the Urban Sketching Symposium!