Archive for the ‘Bicycle’ Category

The Brompton Sketchmobile: Harold’s Sketchblog Bike

Monday, December 7th, 2009

My Brompton folding bicycle is a mainstay of my experience as a sketchbook artist & photographer in New York.  I commute all over the city with my sketchbooks, pens, and camera in the shoulder bag that mounts onto the front of the frame.  My “other bicycle” is a Motobecane Nomade from the late 1970’s, which I purchased from a Goodwill store for $40 over 10 years ago.

Sketchblog artist Harold Graves with his Brompton T-6 folding bike on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Sketchblog artist Harold Graves with his Brompton T-6 folding bike on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Visit Harold’s Sketchbooks at

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Bastille Day Drawings

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

During a bicycle ride through TriBeCa today, I came across some Bastille Day festivities on West Broadway, where a large crowd had gathered to play petanque on a sand court set up for that purpose in the street.  There was a brass band playing music and a petanque tournament was in progress when I arrived, in front of the Cercle Rouge Brasserie, a French Bistro that is apparently named after the 1970 movie, Le Cercle Rouge.

Bastille Day 3This Petanque player’s energy was an amazing thing to behold; my drawing does not fully convey the intensity of his focus as he took his position to make his shots.  The other players were much younger than him, mostly college kids, jostling each other and laughing, their energy loose and scattered by comparison.  This man became completely rooted to the ground when he lined up to shoot:  his gaze penetrating and precise as he bent slightly at the waist, his right hand poised for a moment like a discus thrower in an olympiad.  I could almost feel the line of force radiating out from his face across the court.  He was good, too:  his boule frequently landed within an inch or two of the jack.  After finishing a round, he would take a drag off of a little cigarillo before casting the circle for the next shot, saying nothing the whole time.  Petanque, I recently discovered, actually means anchored feet.

Bastille Day 6On 10th Avenue and 20th Street, right on the edge of the Chelsea Art District, this accordionist was busking on the corner, his back turned towards the avenue, facing the parking garage that sits nearby.  I noticed him as much for his outfit as his music:  he wore a helmet modeled after a Star Wars character the entire time that he was playing.  He would not remove the helmet even to wipe his face (it was a bit warm outside), but instead would deftly lift the mask partially away and run his hand underneath:  I wondered if perhaps he was trying to conceal his identity.  At one point he began playing a Philip Glass theme that I recognized, then segued abruptly into La Marseillaise and the theme from Star Wars.  He was still there when I rode by again an hour later, groups of art tourists walking by tossing money into his open case.Bastille Day 4

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Nature in the City

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

During my regular visits to Prospect Park, I usually bring my sketchbook and inks in my bicycle bag.  Here are a few brush drawings I made of the trees there:




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After the Rain

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Here’s two pictures of my home-made rain gauge, which overflowed on my fire escape this last week; the first picture was taken about 3 or 4 weeks ago, the second one on Wednesday of this week:

Rain Gauge 2bRain Gauge b

The rain that New York has been experiencing for the past several weeks finally let up; I went out for a bicycle ride.  I made these 2 sketches while resting near the north end of the reservoir in Central Park:

Central Park Plants

Trees Central Park

Whenever I work on an ink drawing like this, especially directly from nature, I often think about artists like Robert Crumb who are so brilliant at using cross-hatching to create a sense of form, space and light.  I also think of Brian Kay, an artist who introduced me to etching and intaglio printing, when I was a student at the Yale Summer School of Art.  Brian had this masterful way of rendering trees that I really admired, and he talked a lot about Rembrandt in class.  Rembrandt is one of those towering figures of art who was able to attain such mastery of expression in more than one medium.  There’s such a psychological depth and complexity in both the etchings and paintings:  Rembrandt is someone else that I think about often when I draw.  Maybe one of these days I’ll be able to get a handle on cross-hatching.

It was so refreshing to be bicycling on the first sunny day we’ve had in weeks that I decided to ride all the way back home to Brooklyn instead of taking the subway.  On my way across the Brooklyn Bridge I noticed this young man holding a hand-lettered placard and wearing an unusual hat, standing perfectly still with a pleasant smile on his face.  His hat with it’s strange antenna-like plume, the urgent message written in several languages, and the little genie’s-bottle money-jar in front of him all struck such a mercurial image in my mind that I had to stop, and ended up making a quick pencil sketch of him, which I later inked in.  We spoke for a few minutes, and Aiden explained to me that he was giving a text-based art performance and invited me to check out his blog.  Take a look:

Aiden World Melody Project

From the Bridge one could also get a clear view of the Statue of Liberty:

Ellis Island

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