Pablo Picasso once famously said, “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” While we can’t all be Picasso, or Matisse, or Renoir, or even Bob Ross, artistic expression is cathartic, regardless of skill level. And sketching is a great way to switch up your routine and indulge in your creative impulses. For those days when you’re searching for something a bit different, a bit more vibrant and interactive perhaps, head down to the Society of Illustrators, just a 15-minute walk (and a much shorter bike or taxi ride) from the Upper East Side residences at The Kent.
The Society was founded in 1901, and it’s the oldest illustration-centered nonprofit in the country. Norman Rockwell was a member; there’s some serious history here, and you can feel it when you’re in the building perusing the work. Its museum opened 37 years ago and has been attracting hordes of New Yorkers every Tuesday through Saturday ever since.
With a permanent collection of 2,500 pieces and top-notch exhibits and exhibitions, the museum itself is wonderful and absolutely worth a visit on its own, but for this piece, we’re focusing on their famous sketch nights. Every Tuesday night, and many Thursdays as well, they welcome artists of all skill levels to try their hand at figure drawing.
The Tuesday night classes always have live models, live jazz, a complimentary small plate buffet, a cash bar, and a one-of-a-kind atmosphere. The musicians are constantly changing, as are the models, so each experience is different from the last.
The Thursday night classes also feature live music and models, but they differ more dramatically, with various artists and creators visiting and participating in costumed sessions. And Thursdays have a theme, often centered around cultural touchstones like Alice in Wonderland, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Arabian Nights. A list of upcoming sketch nights, as well as additional events, including courses, interviews, and presentations, is available here.
Whichever night you choose to attend, you’ll get to explore your creative side for a while and wash off some of that daily life dust Picasso was talking about. The energy of New York City is sometimes challenging, and it helps to get out of the daily pattern every once in a while and experience something direct and tactile.
So, pick a Tuesday or Thursday and go sketch!