New York (State and City) sketches

This past weekend I travelled down to New York City with my friends Laurel and Marc Holmes. Marc and I painted on Sunday at the plein air event at the New York Botanical Gardens, but we figured that since we were going all that way we should do a little sightseeing first.


Our first sketching stop was on Friday’s drive down. I’ll admit that I didn’t know much about  Storm King except what I had seen on Season 2 of Aziz Ansar’s Master of None, but those few shots made me want to go there to sketch. If you’ve never been, it’s worth the short detour off Interstate 87 to spend some time wandering the grounds among the huge sculptures. It was hard to convey a sense of the place in my sketchbook — rolling grassy hills and wooded areas interspersed with this and this and this. Definitely a place I will go back to many times, hopefully in different seasons.


On Saturday we did a walking tour of New York City, stopping at some of my favourite sketching spots, including Bryant Park. Turns out James Gurney was also there, but later in the day. Have a look at what he did.


Our second stop was in a small square next to Madison Square Park, facing the Flatiron Building. It’s a structure I have always wanted to sketch, and have always dreaded sketching at the same time. Such a difficult shape and so isolated in the skyline. Yikes. I did my best to convey the overall shape and the light and shadow pattern without too many details.


The last sketch of the day (after lots of wandering through the galleries in Chelsea) was a stop on Bowery Street for some refreshments at a cafe table that we strategically chose because of the good views across the street. The rapidly changing Lower East Side is another place I’ve always wanted to sketch, and judging by how quickly the neighbourhood is being gentrified, it was probably a good thing do it now. It may look completely different next time we visit.

41 Comments on “New York (State and City) sketches”

  1. Love all of your sketches 😊


  2. Nancy says:

    Beautiful sketches of NYC, etc. Storm King is one of my favorite places to visit! I can imagine it must feel a little overwhelming to sketch. It is an incredible place…definitely worth repeat visits.


    • It certainly was an overwhelming place to sketch but I can see why it is one of your favourite places. Repeat visits are definitely on the agenda. Thanks for writing Nancy!


  3. I love your sketches. They bring even more life to your post. Very beautiful!


  4. Bernadette says:

    Love the fresh direct strokes telling a story of where you’ve been. Simplicity is not easily achieved but you have mastered it! Thanks for sharing the images and the journey you took to paint them.


  5. loisajay says:

    You did great–especially with the Flatiron. Isn’t that the most amazing building?!


  6. Zoe says:

    Terrific sketches of NYC; makes me homesick.


  7. Wonderful NYC sketches! My feeling is we have to sketch the neighborhoods before they change too much. Looks like you had a great time. I’ve never been to Storm King but I think you did a great job showing the sculptures in that vast landscape.


  8. This is absolutely amazing!


  9. Omar says:

    good job……..I like it


  10. I’m particularly intrigued with your sketch of the neighborhood on the Lower East Side. So many writing prompts!


  11. Judy Sopher says:

    Just love these, Shari. As a teen and into my 20’s, I spent a lot of time in New York .Had an aunt and uncle to stay with. But its been about 50 years since I have been there and I do envy you. I think I enjoy your writing about your work as much as I do your paintings.


  12. I always love the freshness of your work. I’ve stared at these for some time, trying to understand how you see these scenes as you paint them. Are the lines a pencil or pen underdrawing? Also, you mentioned ‘your sketchbook.’ How big are these paintings? Inquiring minds…and all that 🙂


    • HI Larry. The lines in these are all pencil. I mostly sketch in the Handbook Watercolour Travelogue journal (with the beige linen cover) so these are all 8″ x 8″ except for Storm King which is a double page spread so 16″ x 8″. I love the square format of this book.


      • Thanks Shari. I knew that you used those but wondered if that was the format for these paintings (sketches?) I long for the day when I’m more adept with fuzzy sticks and you remain an inspiration towards that goal.


  13. Your undefined lines, soft running colors and handpicked details leave my imagination the freedom to fill in the rest: The Flatiron feels majestic because of the way the surrounding buildings seem to be looking up to it in awe, but not in jealousy: Its pale yellow takes away any arrogance it might feel standing there proudly above the others; the shadow at the top covering it like a crown, a faint reminder of its majesty.


  14. CRayArtMusic says:

    Very much like the architectual work, and those cherries are making me hungery.


  15. linder322 says:

    Shari, I love your NYC sketches! And Marc’s too. The last time I was there a few years ago I sat at those shady tables and attempted the Flatiron Blg. You did a fabulous job! I also love sketching in Bryant Park. Thanks for the memories! Cute hat!


    • Linda, we had a great time sketching together, and thank goodness for the hat. I started the day with a baseball cap on but that wasn’t big enough. Besides, if I didn’t stop at at least one store, what would be the purpose of being in New York?


  16. Monique says:

    All so you can make evergreens and flatirons..?:)There is nothing that does not fall into your expertise..(Is that an oxymoron? )


  17. Suzanne says:

    Cool! You conveyed it very well. I was excited to immediately remember what I had just days ago seen on Master of None. I didn’t know such a place exited beforehand. In awe.


  18. Neha Kundapur says:

    Wow! You’re so talented 😍😍 Great work!


  19. Robert Cox says:

    The Leaning Tower of Times Square. Luv it.


  20. Hey Shari, I’ve just started viewing your blog and posts today and was wondering if you’ve painted any beaches?


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