a look at one artist's experience in NYC


Looking for a Studio in Brooklyn, NY

Some major rumblings in my house are going on right now.  I’m actually talking with my wife about getting a studio again.  Ever since we bought our house in Brooklyn five years ago, I haven’t had a studio.  The decision back then was that it was going to be tough to make both the mortgage and the studio payment, so something had to give.  The studio lost out.  That decision subsequently set me on a path of putting my brushes down entirely and thinking that “the painting thing” was over.  More than ever though I’m feeling that I need to paint again and our house just isn’t big enough to dedicate space for a studio.  The great thing is that my wife Suzi is totally supportive and believes I need to do it for my overall sanity (I think it may be more for hers).   The challenge will be to find something in Brooklyn that is reasonably priced and close to home.  Since I live in one of the highest priced real estate markets in the country (Park Slope)- this is going to be one tough task.

Let the search begin.


Trying a Water Soluble Pencil Again

Last night I thought I’d pull out my water soluble pencils and try a quick sketch of my son Sebastian.  I don’t have much experience with these type of pencils but every time I try them I really enjoy the experience.  The graphite is water soluble and therefore the pencils can be used for line or washes. I only used a HB pencil on this particular drawing so the value range was pretty limited.   If you’ve never used them I strongly suggest giving them a try- especially if you have a difficult time building a drawing through the use of tone.  These allow you to put down large sections of tone with a simple pass of your brush.  I also find that they free me up a bit with my initial pencil marks because I know they’ll ultimately be used in a wash.   Also, if you find that you have a hard time building a drawing strictly by using line, these I feel allow you to bridge the gap between drawing and painting.

More to come.


Portrait at The Brooklyn Arts Gym

Today I decided to go to the noon open figure drawing session at The Brooklyn Arts Gym.    Unlike the Tuesday  class, the model on Saturdays takes a single pose for the entire 3 hour session.  I started off with a few gesture drawings to loosen up and then thought I’d try to develop more of a portrait.

Here it is.  Comments?


Another Quick Sketch on the NYC Subway

Sketch of Asian woman on subway

One of the best things about drawing on the New York subway is the diversity of “models” to choose from.  Every nationality is represented and you never know who will sit across from you and where they’ll be from.  Yesterday this Asian woman sat down and quickly closed her eyes.  I knew I had to pull out my sketchbook and quickly try to draw her since I had to get off in only 4 stops.


Painting of Suzi

As I again try to get back into drawing and painting, I thought I’d occasionally post an older piece of mine.  If nothing else, maybe just as some kind of self motivation.  Here is a portrait I did, a few years back, of my wife Suzi.  Looking at this painting again, I remember how difficult it was to try and capture even the slightest resemblance.  Overall I felt pretty good about it.  Mainly because she was pleased.


Two Quick Subway Sketches

I’m absolutely ashamed at how long it’s been since I last posted something.  I have no excuse other than I’m pitiful.  With that said, here are two quick sketches I did on the subway while in Manhattan.


Man on subway

Man reading on subway

Sketching Two Women on the Subway

Yesterday I rode the subway because I had to go into the city to do some work at the New York Historical Society.  Even though the trains were jam packed I was still able to do two quick sketches of two separate women sitting across from me.  The first was of an asian women who had fallen asleep in a rather uncomfortable position.  She didn’t move a muscle for at least 5 stops.  The biggest challenge was just trying to see through the crowd of people standing in my way.  The second sketch I did was of a women who had the hood of her rain coat pulled up over her head.  She too was asleep.  I wish I had a little more time to work on this sketch because I really liked how the coat framed her face.

Overall I felt pretty good about both sketches and I look forward to drawing New Yorkers as the temperature keeps dropping and their clothing choices keep changing.  You never know what you’ll see.


Painting a Portrait of Shlomo

Something that I’ve always enjoyed doing is painting portraits.  I find it to be the most challenging type of painting.  It’s a constant back and forth with trying to find a likeness of the person.  Sometimes it can evolve rather quickly and without much struggle, but usually it is a battle to see if one can push through self doubt, frustration and the push and pull of finding that sweet spot that ultimately resembles the sitter.  When I feel I’ve really nailed it though is when I also capture a bit of the personality of the person and not just a painting of their face.  This small portrait of  Shlomo, a family friend, is an example of where I feel I did just that.

Comments are welcome.


Shlomo (12″ x 16″)

Figure Drawing with Rust

I went to the Brooklyn Arts Gym again yesterday for figure drawing and thought I’d try shaking off a bit more of the rust.  Drawing the figure is still the most humbling experience for me.  There are so many things to think about when drawing the human form and in the end you don’t want to be thinking that much at all.  You really just want your arm and hand to move in unison while your eyes scan the figure.

Unfortunately I didn’t feel that way last night.  Again, I felt my marks were a bit apprehensive and I could never get in the flow of things.  Especially during the gestures I just felt that everything was a bit labored.  I definitely caught myself thinking way too much which only enhanced how stiff I felt.

I know the rust still needs to come off  and the feeling I once had when drawing the figure will slowly come back.  For now I’ll be happy with the slow progress.

Going to Life Drawing Once Again

Well, it didn’t take long if you read my last post.  Last night I decided to do something I haven’t done in a really long time.  I went to a life drawing session.  A place here in Brooklyn, called The Brooklyn Arts Gym, has life drawing 3 times a week for just $10 for a 3 hour session.   It’s the first time I’ve drawn the figure in that type of setting for nearly 7 years.  Pretty pathetic to think that- especially when I live in New York City.  The class only had 5 other people in it but the space was very open and the model was great.  Figure drawing has always been  something that I’ve enjoyed and by the sketches on my blog, it’s pretty apparent that I’m still pulled in that direction.  When I went to art school I took any class that had something to do with the figure.  Life drawing, life painting, life sculpture and anatomy were all classes that had my total attention and dedication.  My wife is still amazed at the fact that I went 2 years without ever missing one of those classes.  So to think that it’s been so long since I’ve drawn the nude model is almost inexcusable.  And even though I felt incredibly rusty last night it was great just to try my hand at it once again.  It’s amazing how I could see what I wanted to draw but my hand almost seemed delayed in it’s response.  I’m sure plenty of people who have tried to draw the figure know exactly what I’m talking about.   I know though with time and patience I’ll get back to that place where your hand seems to move effortlessly around the page and each mark has a purpose.  For now though I’ll be satisfied with just putting the pencil to the paper.

It’s one more step in the right direction.

Here are a couple of the sketches from last night.  The one is a continuous line drawing and the other a portrait.

Comments are always welcome.

Thanks, Dave