"New York City"

A Writerly Walk Through the West Village

Sunday, November 10, 2013

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.)

Washington Square North, New York, NY

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.

Tea Spot, New York, NY

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.

At the Tea Spot, New York, NY

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.

A reader at the Tea Spot, New York, NY

I kept a few of the tea-stained placemats to paste into my sketchbook (they were a bit too buckled to draw on).

Tea Spot, New York, NY with pasted part of placemat

Tea Spot, New York, NY, with address from placemat

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....

"Old Town"

A Weekend in Northern Virginia

Monday, November 04, 2013

Took advantage of a crisp fall weekend to drive down to Virginia. Stopped at Ellicott City and Frederick in Maryland, then Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, on the way. Visted a friend from high school in Winchester, then proceeded south on Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park before exiting at the tiny town of Sperryville to have lunch and sketch with Jessie while M. biked.

On the hill, Sperryville, VA

Then it was onward to Old Town Alexandria, where I spent a leisurely Sunday morning with a block of Hahnemuhle Quattro watercolor paper. I strolled down King Street from the Lorien Hotel & Spa to the waterfront, stopping to sketch along the way.

Old Town, Alexandria, VA

The town takes a while to wake up on a Sunday morning, so I had the streets mostly to myself.

Old Town theater, Alexandria, VA

Prince Street, Alexandria, VA

Union and Prince Sts, Alexandria, VA

A highlight of our trip was Wisconsin-style pumpkin frozen custard at Dairy Godmother in Alexandria's Del Ray section. So decadent! On a future visit, will have to stay longer and sketch that neighborhood, too!