World's largest sketching group takes to the walls of NYC

ny sketch main

You’ll find Draftsmen’s Congress on the fourth floor of New York’s New Museum. Conceived by experimental Polish artist Paweł Althamer, the collaborative exhibit was a white space that visitors have slowly but surely covered with drawings and paintings.

Local art group Central Park Sketching was recently asked to leave its mark on the installation, and duly obliged.

draftsman ny sketchers

Incredibly, Draftsmen’s Congress was once entirely white space – until visitors and art groups were invited in to decorate

Tom Kovalski, with Jesse Richards assisting, founded the group in 2007. Jesse has since taken over organising duties, but its original ethos remains: to provide artists – whether absolute beginner or distinguished pro – a place to draw regularly, inexpensively and without pressure.

There are no formal critiques. Just an informal "atmosphere of mutual appreciation," Jesse says. "People talk. Share ideas. Make friends. Feel like they’re part of something.

draftsman 1

Draftsmen’s Congress: an installation by Polish artist Paweł Althamer, at New York’s New Museum.

"I find artists are extremely shy and nervous and embarrassed about the quality of their work," the organiser explains. "It's irrational, and its causes are fascinating to ruminate on. But, on a practical level, it prevents many people from attending anything.

"A lot of my time is spent reassuring people that we are a non-judgemental community, and that no one minds if they are the worst artists in the world – and that the concept of best or worst in expressive art doesn't even make any sense."

congress painting ny

The members of Central Park Sketching jumped at the chance to pay a visit to Draftsmen’s Congress.

Jesse is passionate about New York City and what he likes to describe as its innumerable "nooks and secrets, surprising history, stunning architecture and beautiful parks". But before Central Park Sketching there were hardly any groups dedicated solely to drawing the city's landscape. The get-together was a direct response to this.

ny sketching

Whether pro artist or fledgling doodler, all are welcome to make their mark on this unique installation.

However, the group has gradually become a victim of its own success. Once it could sneak into parks and museums unnoticed. Now it turns up in such numbers that arrangements must be made well in advance. But Jesse isn't complaining. "We're now the largest art meet-up in the world, and every day more and more people join the group, so I only see it continuing to grow and expand."

Next page: Check out Central Park Sketching's all-out assault on Draftsmen's Congress...

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

The Creative Bloq team is made up of a group of design fans, and has changed and evolved since Creative Bloq began back in 2012. The current website team consists of eight full-time members of staff: Editor Georgia Coggan, Deputy Editor Rosie Hilder, Deals Editor Beren Neale, Senior News Editor Daniel Piper, Digital Arts and Design Editor Ian Dean, Tech Reviews Editor Erlingur Einarsson and Ecommerce Writer Beth Nicholls and Staff Writer Natalie Fear, as well as a roster of freelancers from around the world. The 3D World and ImagineFX magazine teams also pitch in, ensuring that content from 3D World and ImagineFX is represented on Creative Bloq.