NYC Urban Sketchers Portrait Party

After a long hiatus, I’ve rejoined the NYC Urban Sketchers group.  I met Mark, the leader of the group, while I was sketching at the Balthus show at the Met a few years ago.  I attended a few of the outings and really enjoyed sketching as a group, talking about pencils, and convening over a meal or drinks afterwards.  I missed last year’s Portrait Party but saw the pictures and was intrigued.  I love drawing faces but I also find them to be very difficult.  I reassure my students all the time when they struggle with this as well.  Just the slightest miscalculation could lead to another face altogether.  Nevertheless, I was very excited to make it to this year’s party which was hosted at the Donnell Library in midtown, my old stomping ground (I was a frequenter of the Gothic Jazzmen concerts and borrowed many many movies from their audio visual collections as a high school student)

Here are the rules of the party:

1.  You have signed up.  You are agreeing to the following rules.  If they’re not acceptable please say so in advance.
2.  By signing up you are agreeing t o stay the entire time  (approx – 10 – 4 PM)
3.  All paper will be supplied. You cannot use your own paper.  The supplied paper is  individual sheets of 9 X12″ 140 pound watercolor stock.
You will receive a separate sheet for each portrait.
4.  You are asked to help defray that cost with an optional $5 contribution.
This is not mandatory but would be helpful.
5.  Each participant needs to bring their own pens, markers watercolor etc.
6.  You must work large and bold.  Your work needs to be clearly visible from 20 feet away.  On a 9 x 12″ sheet of watercolor paper you are working life size.  The face should fill up the whole page.  Think BIG.  A pencil drawing is not visible and isn’t acceptable.
We had about 4o-50 people in attendance so split up into three groups.  It was very well organized. Each person was given a number and we posed for each other in sequence. The number would be helpful in laying out the grid so that you could see each person’s group of drawings in a row and everyone’s portrait of the same person in a column.  Ingenious!
I have to say, the focus in that room was incredible.  We worked mainly in silence for the duration.  There were a few comments here and there but for the most part we just DREW.
What if my portraits are ugly?
If you give up on the idea of being insulted by everyone’s portrait of you I think they’ll forgive your portraits of them.  It’s great fun and you’ll see an absolute improvement between your first portraits and your last.


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