Song of Myself, on a barge in Red Hook

Saturday evening there was a fundraising event on the historic museum barge in Red Hook; the reading of every last canto of Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself, as read by a number of local luminaries. It began before and ended just after sunset over Brooklyn’s Buttermilk Channel and Erie Basin, the once-Dutch, fierce little neighborhood called Red Hook.

I’ve long had emotional ties to ol’ Walt on account of my father having been a fan; he passed it on to me. So when I read him in high school (the same all girls Catholic school with fierce teachers that managed to get A Handmaid’s Tale on our reading list), I was all in.

Walt Whitman reading on Red Hook barge
Interior of the barge from where I stood
Walt Whitman reading on Red Hook barge
My dear friend, Tara Lynne, reading Canto 23
Walt Whitman reading on Red Hook barge
The program
The drawing as it looked when we left, in pencil.
Walt Whitman reading on Red Hook barge
The plants in boots nearby the gangway

A pleasant surprise (in addition to some celebrity personages) was that one of my classmates from aforementioned high school was among the readers. I ought to’ve stayed to say hello, but it was crowded and felt like it may have been complicated after so long. Her name is Alison Smith; I read her book Name All the Animals a few of years back. It was really well written; poignant and heartbreaking. It was the first time I’d seen her since high school, and brought some memories to mind.

Proceeds went to the ACLU, PEN America, NEA, Sunny’s Bar (Red Hook), and to the Waterfront Museum (the host of the event). It was a fine reward after a seven mile wander, followed by a feast at Ice House.

Indoors, outdoors, and the wrong number


Some sketches from last weekend. For some reason last week I kept using the number 4 instead of 5 on the dates of things, despite it being May.

Below is a pencil drawing I did in a backyard (the words are from an earlier day, unrelated to the sketch). I;d like to bring a pencil more often. It was nice to go slow; not have to commit to every line. I initially intended to paint it as well, but it was getting late by the time I finished drawing. 

An afternoon in the Big Town followed by miles of walking

observations of people out on a warm eveningHere’s a sketch from Friday evening. I’d only just started when its subjects vacated the backyard, so I had to improvise. I re-cast them indoors, among the lamps, after the fact.

Had an afternoon meeting followed by a stroll through lower Manhattan on Friday. I walked from Madison Square Park to City Hall, with some decent photographic moments while across the river on a fine Spring day.

Had I worn better shoes for it, I’d have walked across Brooklyn Bridge, as is my inclination on a first fine day in Manhattan in Springtime. Next time.

New York Life
The gold-tipped New York Life building, nearby Madison Square Park
Washington Mews garden
Secret garden at the Washington Mews
The Secret Garden, NYC, the Village
Exterior windows of the mews, facing Fifth Avenue

Fifth Avenue, NYC, Secret

Flatiron building
Flatiron building


Lamps and locals down at the local

sketch of people in a bar
I painted these after I got home, as I’d not brought the watercolors with me. I rather like these more ambitious studies, incorporating the whole scene. It requires me to pay more attention.

As I work directly in ink (no erasing), it requires me to slow down and really observe. Be aware. It’s a funny thing, though; when you get really intent on seeing things, you become really unaware of anything not crucial to the drawing, so it’s kind of a dual state— hyper awareness and obliviousness.

I become one of those “artist” types, holding up my pen to check the angles of things (it really does help, it’s not just some made-up hollywood affectation!).sketch of people in a barsketch of people in a bar

This morning broke sunny and slid into grey


Here’s a little sketch I did, sort of thinking out a vibe or mood for an illustration. It’s soft, whimsical; feelings that are a little out of reach for me at the moment, despite that Spring is trying to emerge, bit by bit. The gloom of winter is still upon me. I’m feeling stuck, creatively. Distracted and disjointed.

Observationals near the end of March

How quickly the year moves forward! Already a quarter of 2017 has blurred by out the passenger window.