Joined the NYC Urban Sketchers yesterday for a jaunt through New York literary haunts in Greenwich Village. We started at Washington Square North -- the world of Edith Wharton, Henry James and others. Was wishing I'd brought fingerless gloves by the time I finished this sketch, it was so cold. (What I did bring along was my new messenger-style bag from R.E.Load Bags in Philadelphia, as it allowed me to haul a lot of sketching stuff very comfortably with my hands free.)
Then we went in search of Louisa May Alcott's ghost, on MacDougal Street. When we spied a cozy-looking cafe across the street, we decided to pause our wandering and warm up over steaming mugs of tea. The minute we stepped in, we knew we'd want to spend a few hours -- it was exactly the sort of old-timey place you dream of stumbling upon as you stroll in the Village.
The host graciously let us take over a table in the front and guided us through the extensive selection of teas. For subjects, we had the shop's ever-changing clientele, some of whom ordered drinks to go and some of whom lingered to read or gossip or tap away at a keyboard.
We tried out one another's pens (we're always in search of the next one to add to our collection), and I was dismayed to learn that Art Brown (my go-to pen shop in NYC) closed a few months ago.
I kept a few of the tea-stained placemats to paste into my sketchbook (they were a bit too buckled to draw on).
After a light lunch, we continued on our book tour, crossing Seventh Avenue to walk down Grove Street, where O. Henry apparently wrote. I left the group at that point but tarried in a few shops along the way to Grand Central. Browsed the jewelry and John Derian-ware and Laura Zindel ceramics at Lori McLean and picked up a little brochure called "Charming and Unusual Shops, Galleries & Boutiques in Historic Greenwich Village" -- it's illustrated with fabulous ink drawings of the storefronts.
One of them is The Ink Pad, a tiny stamping and paper arts emporium crammed with all kinds of creative objets. Since it was on my way to the 14th Street subway station, I stopped in and picked up a Strathmore hardbound watercolor journal. After all, I'm just pages away from filling my Moleskine sketchbooks from the Lisbon and Santo Domingo Urban Sketching symposia....