February 25, 2020

My Reading Winter

January and February have been reading months for me - first bronchitis with horrible coughing leading to a back problem which is slowly getting better.  But although I haven't been completely house bound, my flexibility is still reduced and I'm enjoying this reading break sooo much.  For more than a year I've been supplementing regular book purchases with $2 used books from a twice monthly Book Fair at one of the NYPL branches.  This was the perfect time to dig into my stash of unread books, fiction, non-fiction, and mysteries as a separate genre.  It was a perfect way to spend these winter months - resting on a heating pad and slowly allowing my back to heal.  Yesterday I decided to collect the books I've read so far, and take a photo (fiction and non-fiction left; mysteries right). 

Although I've been doing some drawing, I still need to paint sketchbook pages done in 2 museum exhibits.  Instead I'm giving into my desire to just read, and selecting books I may not have otherwise read (Anthony Trollope).  I'll try anything for $2 and can always redonate the book.


To artists who follow my blog, I'd recommend A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline  - which is about Christina Olson from the painting Christina's World and artist Andrew Wyeth.  I also enjoyed Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore, even though it was a little weird.  It is about the Impressionists and the setting is Montmartre.  There are gorgeous color images on the pages scattered throughout the book and an amazing cover. 

February 21, 2020

Artist Will Barnet at Alexandre Gallery

I first learned about artist Will Barnet in 2011 when The National Academy Museum in NYC had a 100 year retrospective for him.  He was able to attend the opening and visited it several more times, dying at 101 in Nov 2012.  I loved his stylistic, flat paintings and know his work through that exhibit, a second one in the same Museum in 2015, and two gallery shows at Alexandre Gallery at 724 5th Avenue (Current exhibit closing March 7th).  I sketched and painted only one corner of his painting called Three Generations to remember my visit to the exhibit. 



At one of the Museum shows I learned that he used vellum to sketch on, and used additional layers of vellum to further simplify the images in sequence. I always meant to try that, but forgot about it over the recent years.

In the gallery exhibit they had several examples of his vellum drawings, side-by-side with the finished painting.  I loved the way that his wife Elena became a painting in the painting, and his arm went around her and into the painting.   



February 19, 2020

Quick Sidewalk Sketches

Random people sketched in front of the Plaza Hotel:

I was waiting in front of the hotel and these two people stopped just long enough for me to do a quick sketch using an Albrecht Durer watercolor pencil.  Water was added later to spread the color.  I carry one of these pencils in my small purse with some blank index cards which makes it easier to not attract attention.


February 15, 2020

Subway Quick Sketch - Feb 11th

I've been out of commission for several weeks with a flareup of back pain, and not much of my planned Figuary Drawing was done.  Instead I've been catching up with reading while stretching out on a heating pad.  On my way to the Courthouse to appear for my Grand Jury summons, I sketched this wonderful looking subway passenger - who fell asleep right after I sketched him.  Hopefully next week I'll be back to my usual self.

I sketched him with an Albrecht Durer watercolor pencil and then spread the color a little with water after the original drawing was scanned. 


February 11, 2020

Juilliard Concert and Grand Jury Summons

Concert Evening:  My husband and I went to a wonderful Juilliard Concert last evening.  The Historical Presentation Graduate Students ( Juilliard 415) and the Juilliard Orchestra, performed on the same stage for the first time.  We love to go to the Classical and Jazz Concerts performed at Juilliard and the ticket prices are terrific.  I quickly sketched the conductor Nicholas McGegan, who was the most active conductor I've ever seen, and several musicians close to him. 



Grand Jury Summons : Two weeks ago I received a summons for the Manhattan Grand Jury.  If selected you meet either every day for 2 weeks or half days for one month.  I thought for sure that I was over the age limit, only to learn that they have no age limit, and in fact my year of birth was printed on the summons.  They were seating 2 Grand Juries (46 jurors total) and jurors are selected randomly by cards pulled from a drum.  For the second time in the last decade I was not one of the randomly selected jurors - making me especially happy because I currently have a flare of low back pain.  This young woman sitting next to me was selected after I sketched her.



February 7, 2020

More Paris Sketchbook Pages: October 24

I am very slow getting sketchbook pages posted from our Fall Paris Vacation.  I love Degas, and as my husband and friends were going through the D'Orsay, I stopped at the Degas sculptures - and sketched.  The patina on this wonderful sculpture was very unusual, and I'm not sure that I captured it in paint.  


I vividly remember loving his sculptures of dancers at the Metropolitan Museum of Art when I was a college student, in part because most of my life I have taken dance classes and in college was a member of the dance group 


After the D'Orsay we walked along the Blvd San Michel to Luxembourg Gardens and the Sorbonne.  A wonderful day! 


February 4, 2020

Figuary Feb 3. 2020

I am participating in Figuary again this February.  It is a combined daily figure drawing program at "Love Life Drawing" (You Tube) and Croquis Café (Vimeo).  Kenzo at Love Life Drawing gives a short lesson, 10 min or less, and Croquis Café has models doing short poses for you to draw.  I've included links at the end of this post.

Today Kenzo reviewed drawing methods of Richard Powell who specializes in 1 and 2 minute poses.  The poses were very short at Croquis Café 15 sec up to 5 min, and I just paused the clock and sketched as fast as I could (2 min or less for each) trying to use Powell's method.  Here are the 12 quick drawings - each was done on 1/4th sheet of used copy paper.

Group A



Group B



Group C


Links for February.  You need to sign up for Vimeo before you can open Croquis Café which has the model poses.

Day 1 Tutorial: https://youtu.be/OcS3927iLYw

Day 1 Croquis Cafe  practice session: https://vimeo.com/385683231


January 31, 2020

Master Drawing Week 2020

This past week was Master Drawing Week in NYC.  Galleries on the Upper East Side mount special exhibits of master drawings - from the 1600s through moderns like Matisse and Picasso.  They have a booklet you can pick up with a map and information in the participating galleries.  You can also download a map at this link:


The galleries will still be open today and tomorrow.  I go with my artist friends yearly and we rarely have time to draw anything in our sketchbooks to remember the day.  Yesterday I did two very quick sketches.


January 28, 2020

Paris 3: October 2019

I'm still working on drawings I did when we were on vacation in Paris.  This first sketchbook page was done quickly from our apartment window before we left for the day.  But most of the drawings I did in Paris were done in Museums.  Others have said that it is very hard to keep a travel sketchbook when you are traveling with non-sketchers, and I agree. 

Building across the street and up the block.  Drawn from our apartment window.



Chaim Soutine painted by Modigliani.  Painting seen in the Memorial de la Shoah in the Marais in Paris. 


Shirley Parker Levine
New York City

February 2020

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