right through the very heart of it

the empire strikes back

The final bit of urban sketching done in New York (I also took a lot of photos for reference drawing later, but you can’t beat being there on the streets tasting the air). Here I am just off Washington Square, looking up Fifth, indeniably NYC in November. I never went up the Empire State. Always thought it would be better to gostart spreading the news up the Rockefeller anyway, because at least from there you can see the Empire State – I love seeing that building. I also adore the Chrysler – it’s one of those buildings that when you first see, you cannot stop taking photos of it. It could be the most beautiful modern building in the world (and I say modern meaning in the past 100 years). I sketched it from the steps of the New York Public Library, itself a fantastic old building (but not one with baby changing facilities, I might add).

One of the things I love about New York is that you always feel a little like you’re on the set of Ghostbusters. Things are so familiar. And not just Ghostbusters, but any of the million or so other movies or shows that have been set here. Not a feeling you get strolling down Edgware High Street.

I still hadn’t eaten, which is not a good thing (and surely an impossibility in the big apple), and as I previously mentioned, I wanted something ‘New York’. But then I happened across a little Belgian place, the BXL Cafe in narrow 43rd Street, which called me in to taste some Maredsous beer and some absolutely amazing moules frites (better than I have had even in bxl cafeBelgium, I might add). I drew the place (right) in copic and faber-castell brush pens; trying something different for a change. Overheard some Scottish women talking about shopping for their kids, sounded like they had saved up a long while for this trip, and I felt sorry for them because the pound has absolutely plummeted this past couple of months. I overheard a lot of British people in New York – more than I did New Yorkers – the place is choc full of them. Probably why I felt at home.

Came back down again the next day, with my wife and baby, to go to Central Park and see the amazing fall colours. We ended up getting a little lost on the Subway, which is enormous fun with a stroller by the way, and sitting in a cafe off Sixth trying to feed the baby (while overhearing, of course, English people). And I finally had cannoli, something definitely New York, and it was good. New York is good. Can’t wait to go back.

8 thoughts on “right through the very heart of it

  1. Rob Carey says:

    I’ve really enjoyed your New York visit- I haven’t been there since we were first married and it makes me want to take my kids to show them this important piece of America. (Both of my kids are American, but have never really lived there!)

  2. petescully says:

    Thanks Rob! New York is such a great city, I really like it there. My own son (nine months old) loved it, seeing all the crowds of interesting people (though i think he loved my sister-in-law’s dog best of all).

  3. Gainor Roberts says:

    I have been reading your blog for months so I finally thought I had better tell you how much I admire your work, especially your New York drawings. It makes me miss the Big Apple so much, as I am “stuck” in the hinterlands of Florida where there is nothing at all exciting to see except the occasional armadillo or roseate spoonbill. I would so welcome watching Yellow Cabs nearly crashing into each other!!!

    I do not sketch well, so I am always intrigued by people who make such wonderful spontaneous drawings of the world around them. Your drawings really convey a mood as well as a “snapshot” of the way it looks. How much more the drawings tell than mere words about a place.

    My cousin, Pica, also of Davis, CA is so masterful in her ability to capture the essence of the birds she draws.

    Thanks for sharing your vision of the world around you….something a camera will never be able to do except in the hands of the most skilled artists! I continue to check your blog whenever you make a new post.


  4. E-J says:

    Pete, your New York drawings are a tour de force! What a great collection of sketches – they evoke the city so well. You have made me determined to take and USE my sketchbook the next time I find myself there … no matter what the challenges (hey, all that means is letting my husband shoulder the entire responsibility of entertaining hyperactive littl’un while I complete a sketch!)

  5. Jay Bernard says:

    I still hadn’t eaten, which is not a good thing (and surely an impossibility in the big apple)

    God, no. I was there during summer 2007 and nearly starved. There *is* food, but I was so overwhelmed by the choice that I spent much of my time sitting there sketching / drawing or going to the cinema on an empty stomach. Silly, right? Anyway, you came up when I was searching for ‘female illustrators in Strasbourg’ which is amusing, but you have a great blog all the same.

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