Tonight was the New York City Sketchcrawl. I'd spent a good portion of the morning at my desk at home doing a hyper-detailed line drawing of a circus tent for the new job, followed by a few hours of sewing a Colonial style frock coat for a dragon, (don't I have the coolest jobs EVAR?!).

After all that I wasn't really feeling the urge to get out and sketch, but I had had a great time at the last Sketchcrawl so I overrode my innate laziness and got onto the train. Danny had chosen the Rubin Museum of Art, a new museum in Chelsea devoted to Himalayan art and sculpture. The museum is a small but attractive place. Six floors of art arranged around a central spiral staircase, though only four floors are currently open while they install their next exhibit on the upper floors.

Himalayan art is something that I know very little about. One of the great travesties of the Western educational system is that in art history courses Eastern art is relegated to a chapter, or maybe two, in the middle of exhaustively huge books of Western art. And quite frankly in every art history course I've taken the professor has skipped that chapter. So sadly even those who are interested in art history are likely to miss out on 8,000 years of art from our neighbors on the other side of the world. When I visited Japan, and in the few museum exhibitions I've seen devoted to art from this region, I've been treated to a majestic array of devotional sculpture, tiny hyper-detailed paintings and scrolls, delicate watercolors and ink drawings, and architecture unlike anything else in the world. More people should make the effort to make themselves aware of Eastern art to get them selves acquainted with it.

Back to the Sketchcrawl.

I arrived a bit before 7, the prearranged time. The kindly desk clerk informed me that if I were to wait to the side for a few minutes, until 7 o'clock, then there would be no admissions charge to the museum. The lobby was already filling up with erstwhile sketchcrawlers. Jason, and Rick and family I had already met at the previous crawl, but I was also introduced to Edwin, Tom, Nancy, Rob, Christie and others. It was a good crowd of people, I'd estimate about 25, possibly 30 sketchers in all. Certainly enough to take over this small museum. After 7 came and went we scattered over the museum and started sketching in earnest.

Aside from the gorgeous art, the museum itself was quite interesting. On the ground floor is a very posh looking restaurant and bar, and the patrons of the bar can be seen meandering throughout the museum carrying along their beers and glasses of wine. The music from the bar, which included quite a few dance remixes of Nina Simone I noticed, wafted through the museum, and created an interesting counterpoint to the artwork. The docents were also very helpful, leading small groups of diners through the exhibition halls, giving very detailed talks about their favorite pieces. Each of the conversations I listened in on was about a different piece of work, and over the course of the night I got a brief education about the symbolism and iconography of this art, which was quite nice. Edwin, who had joined us on the crawl also worked for the museum and he and I talked extensively about the similarities between these paintings and Eastern icon paintings, as well as the history of some of my favorite pieces.

As a destination for a sketchcrawl I have mixed reviews of the museum. It was a nice size, intimate enough that we all felt connected to the other sketchers, but large enough that we could scatter around and find something interesting to draw without tripping on each other. Better in that regard than the Natural History Museum had been, where we all got scattered through the museum, and missed the chance to interact.

On the downside some of the exhibit rooms were quite dark and hard to draw in. A majority of the sculptures were also on the small side 12 inches tall or less, and in a few cases very tiny indeed, coming in at less than 3 inches. There was also a shortage of seating, which was tough on the back, trying to stand and sketch for four hours. Though, if there had been benches or chairs I probably would have been to far from the sculptures to see them clearly enough to draw anyway!

As I experienced on the previous crawl I had a very hard time choosing an appropriate drawing tool. I started out with an 08 Micron and after a few false starts got some satisfactory results out of a modified contour style of drawing. After that I decided to have a try with my trusty blue ballpoint. I did discover that I like the ballpoint much better on Moleskine paper than on the toothy sketchbook paper that I was using tonight. Finally, following Jason's lead, I tried my hand at a chisel point marker, designed for calligraphy writing. The marker that I had with me was just beginning to go dry though. Surprisingly I found that the shape of the marker, along with the slightly dry ink allowed for some very nice brushy lines that in the end look a bit like lithograph pencils. I was pretty happy with the drawings I did with it.

All in all a great night of sketching and socializing, and I can't wait to do it again!

13 Response to "Sketchcrawl!"

  • Lin Says:

    WONDERFUL review, Cully -- thank you for that -- could almost feel as though I were there! Your sketches, as all your work -- FABULOUS!!!

  • Eefje Says:

    Excellent drawings Cully! And I agree with you on the calligraphy marker with the slightly dry ink. Those drawings have a very nice character. From all the sketchcrawl sketches, they're my favorite.

  • Clare Says:

    Oh Wow! Cully, thanks for your detailed review of the latest Sketchcrawl. I see you write as well as you draw. I felt I was part of the whole experience by reading it. Drawings are SUPERB.

  • MD Says:

    Lovely drawings you have done on this sketch crawl. You seemed to be very busy. Great stuff. I would so like to have been there.

  • Lindsay Says:

    Really nice job Cully. So glad you had a good turn out and had a good time. I'm feeling a little down. No one showed up to the crawl I orgainized today in Chicago. But it was hard to feel sorry for my self for long because there was such great stuff to draw.

  • Cully Says:

    Thanks guys!

    Lindsay, sorry about your Sketchcrawl. Maybe next time!

    Eefje, I'm definitely adding the calligraphy pen to the standard collection of tools in my bag. I just have to learn how to cultivate that "almost dry" quality!

  • Linda Says:

    Cully - what great drawings and descriptions you have given us of the NYC sketchcrawl!

  • FoodChiCa Says:

    San Francisco Sketchcrawl seems to have been great as well! These are reat sketches! ^_^

  • Anonymous Says:

    Beautiful drawings Cully !!!


  • Terri Says:

    Cully, Thanks for letting me share the experience by posting all the details so well here on your blog. I think the drawings you did are great. Sounds like a really interesting place to visit.

  • wolfwoman Says:

    Cully - I really enjoyed meeting you at the Sketchcrawl and felt it was a super evening. Your description of the event and the museum were right on. Great job on your sketches! and I love your subway portraits. Maybe you'll get a chance to ride that K train sometime and do some of the regulars........

  • Miyuki Mouse Says:

    Ah, you New Yorkers have all the fun... ;)

    Hi Cully. Dropping by via Danny Gregory's blog. I should come here more often instead of Flickr. I didn't realize you made commentary about your sketches on your blog.

    These sketches are great! I'm accustomed to seeing your ballpoint pen drawings so the change of drawing tools is interesting. Hope to see more of these other styles.

    A belated congratulations on your 100th subway sketch, by the way. I still have a ways to go, due to the fact that I have been a major slacker recently ;)

  • Unknown Says:

    For those of us who couldn't make it to the crawl, you're description and drawings make up for it!
    I wanted to tell you that I teach a drawing class at the community college and we are just now working on drawing heads and people. I will definately be telling/showing my students what you've accomplished. I think you are very talented. (We don't have a subways in Houston. We all drive around in our own gas gussling land yachts!) ~Sharon