My favorite restaurant is the Bridge Turkish & Mediterranean Grill (kosher) on Raritan Avenue in Highland Park, New Jersey. The staff makes me feel at home. The decor, inside and outside the restaurant, welcomes a painter — there is so much to paint! And I enjoy my food.
I asked a few friends: Have you eaten at the Bridge Restaurant in Highland Park? What is your favorite dish? Can you tell me what you like about the restaurant?
Here are the responses. I interspersed paintings of the restaurant:
“The food is always fresh and flavorful, the staff is very friendly and accommodating. Always a great experience. Favorite food: doner kebab. And the rice on the side is amazing.”
“Always consistently good! they allow you to enjoy your meal–you never feel pressured to rush. Friendly service and knowledgeable wait staff.”
“The food is always fresh, at the right temperature. The staff does not try to rush you and the decor is absolutely perfect…”
“I particularly enjoy the lentil soup, Mediterranean salad, tahini and their bread is amazing!”
“Love the stuffed roasted eggplant! Rice is amazing! Love the decor: all the vases, plates, etc. Love being greeted by Michael Garber!”
I hope you enjoy this series of paintings and sketches that I have done of the restaurant.
Outside the restaurant there is a little booth where one can be served and eat the delicious food. The hanging flowers are attractive and warm my heart.
Do you think you need to visit New York City or Philadelphia to do urban sketching? Think again. I have found inspiration within a short walk of my home. One could define urban sketching as visual storytelling with a notebook and pens, pencils, paints, or any other artistic media.
Highland Park has an area called The Triangle. It is mostly residential, but it does host a large elementary school. I live by the tip, which holds a small statue of a Doughboy. The Doughboy, a slang term for a U.S. infantryman, is a symbol of veterans who fought in wars. The initial name came from World War I. It was erected in 1921. A new version of the Doughboy statue went up in Spring 2022, after a car or a truck supposedly ran it over. There were theories that it actually was hidden by the good guys when the bad guys were taking down historic statues.
I did this painting of the Doughboy almost two years ago. It is not easy to paint a statue. There are no local hues other than off-whites. And there is a lot going on at the bottom: legs, a rifle, a big rock. After a few early attempts, the main thing I learned was to slow down while doing the drawing. Get the proportions right, and leave ample white space.
The incentive for doing Rainbow Cleaners is that the store got a new owner. The store is right down the block, so it is an easy “commute” to work on this subject. I like all the signs on the building. There are oranges courtesy of the Bargain Shop and a bright green parking sign. Our family lawyer has his office upstairs.
I haven’t done much with Lukoil yet. It has that lovely shade of red in its logo. I often fill my car with gas here. One day one of the gas attendants told me I dropped my gloves after I finished sketching. His kindness gives me a warm feeling about a gas station!
This is a sketch that I did as part of a class called Sketching Now Sketchbook. It has a map of the tip of the Triangle and the positions of the Doughboy statue, Rainbow Cleaners, and the Lukoil gas station. Each one is down the block from my home, so good spots for me to visit when I feel like doing some local urban sketching.
Visit the leoraw store
If you made it this far in reading this blog post, please check out my new store. You can purchase a Highland Park High School sketch on a clock, dinner at the Bridge Turkish restaurant on a mug, a t-shirt of peaches at the Farmers Market, and more.
Still in the planning stages: a database of my paintings and sketches, so it will be easier for potential clients to look up works of mine that they like. For example, if you type in ‘doughboy’ you will get a listing with images and links of my paintings or drawings of the Highland Park Doughboy.
Winter is here: most humans spend less time outside. As an artist, I like pour over spring, summer, and fall photos for painting inspiration. I miss the Highland Park Farmers Market, so it has become one of my favorite themes to paint. Also, I took an online course with Shari Blaukopf called Sketching Markets in Ink and Watercolor, so that was an added incentive to paint my local market.
I have two favorite stands at the Highland Park Farmers Market. The first one I go to is the organic stand: that stand is depicted in the paintings at the top and bottom of this post. I often look for kale. It tends to be greener in the spring or fall, as kale prefers cooler temperatures. Sometimes I buy arugula, corn, parsley, or squash. I enjoyed painting all the overflowing cabbages and cauliflower in the top painting.
My favorite item of all are the summer peaches. New Jersey peaches in July and August are amazing. I worked hard to apply rich, opaque paint to my peaches illustration.
In this painting I challenged myself to include a person, some signs, and a background. Farmers markets are lively places: much for the artist to capture.
One of the nicest parts of living in Highland Park, New Jersey is the way the little borough celebrates events such as Veterans Day and Memorial Day. This year I was fortunate to be able to attend the Veterans Day Parade in Highland Park, NJ. The parade begins at the dough boy at the corner of Raritan Avenue and Woodbridge Avenue and goes down Raritan Avenue into New Brunswick.
The whole avenue is closed for a few hours as the ceremony takes place at the dough boy, and then the marchers head down the avenue towards New Brunswick.
Rabbi Kaminetsky (chaplain of the police department and rabbi emeritus of Congregation Ohav Emeth) read something – I think it was called a convocation? at the beginning of the ceremony. A talented teenager my daughter knows sang the Star Spangled Banner.
Mayor of Highland Park Gayle Brill Mittler spoke – her speech was posted online on the Highland Park, NJ Facebook page. Here is one piece of her speech: “If you are an employer, hire a veteran. If you own property for rent, seek out a veteran who is looking for a new home. Welcome our veterans back home with more than words and parades.”
Congressman Frank Pallone mentioned in his speech electing politicians that support benefits for veterans.
Freeholder Jim Polos spoke as well.
I really enjoyed this dog who seemed to a spectator at the parade; he and his master were hanging out with the veterans before the parade began.
There were lots of children at the Veteran’s Day Parade. I think they had school, and they came with their teachers for the parade.
This group of cheerleaders seemed to be having a great time at the parade. The Highland Park mascot is an owl.
I know the Jewish War Veterans were there as well – they were mentioned. You can see a post about the Jewish War Veterans from several years ago, when my son was in eighth grade.
There was a variety of people gathered – next to these young drummers, you can see older men wearing jackets and stars-and-stripes ties.
Here is Gayle Brill Mittler walking down Raritan Avenue – she and many others were handing out those little U.S. flags. It made the whole atmosphere festive.
Groups from New Brunswick marched as well.
It was neat to watch all those fire engines all lined up.
Have you ever seen a Veterans Day Parade? Do they celebrate and honor veterans where you live?
It’s the time of year when people post cumulative posts. You know, usually the ones that say Favorites of 2014 or Best Posts of the Last Year or that sort of thing. I decided to post Highland Park backyard birds that I have seen since I started bird watching. Let’s see – I first bought a bird feeder in February 2010; I did find some of my bird photos from 2009. The birds below are listed in alphabetical order – enjoy.
Blue jays visit every now and then. When they do come, they are sure to make noise and hog the bird feeder.
I took this photo about two weeks ago – cardinals love to visit my backyard when I fill my feeder with black oil sunflower seeds. I see the red in my backyard, and it warms my heart.
Cardinal – Female
Mrs. Cardinal is usually nearby when I spot Mr. Cardinal (above) first. She indeed was there at the same time as the photo taken above.
I seem to get catbird visitors in summer months. Pleasant birds: I enjoy the “singing.”
I don’t often see a chickadee – the one above is from February 2012. But they are handsome birds – so I love seeing one!
I am more likely to hear a woodpecker than see one. The one above was sighted in February 2014.
This rare beauty (rare for my backyard) was sighted in December 2013. Maybe if I am more diligent this winter with my camera and my feeder, I will find more.
If you look very carefully, I believe that’s a goldfinch hidden in my echinacea. I saw a few goldfinch this past summer on other echinacea in my neighborhood. I suppose it’s the seeds they are after.
Mourning doves are birds I see a few times a year in my backyard.
When I looked up “robin” in my photo collection, I had quite a few choices. We do have robins as fairly frequent visitors in our area.
Sparrows are by far the most common bird in my backyard. I believe most of the ones that I see are house sparrows. I should study the different types of sparrows so I can appreciate them a little more. These three beauties were hanging out together in my backyard tree last week.
The few times I’ve seen starlings it’s been in a swarm like the one above. I still remember Michelle calling them “snarling starlings.”
I saw this tufted titmouse in my backyard last week. Tufted titmice aren’t frequent visitors, but when I do see them, they seem to pose and look at the camera. I find them quite cute.
What fun, a swooping wide-winged bird in one’s own backyard. Here is the turkey vulture that visited this past October.
If you want to see a full list of Highland Park birds, and not just the ones I’ve seen and not just Highland Park backyard birds go to Highland Park, New Jersey: Bird Sightings. We have been putting those online since 2001.
According to Wikipedia, there are many kinds of liatris. These purple flowers grow by the Raritan River at the edge of Donaldson Park, a large county park situated in Highland Park, New Jersey.
Three weeks ago, when my daughter was in camp and I had a little more time, I went to Donaldson Park and took some photos. I took several of the Raritan River, such as this one with the tall, bare tree at the river bend. I really enjoyed the Raritan River liatris, the purple spikes bursting out of the sandy banks by the river.
It was raining that day, but not enough to get me soaked, despite the fact that I had not brought a raincoat.
In this photo, you can see a little of New Brunswick, New Jersey – that’s where some of Rutgers University resides. New Brunswick is more urban than Highland Park, but it is still small, especially compared to Philadelphia or New York City. Or Newark or Trenton. Actually, all you see is a bit of the bridge of the route 18 highway.
In other nature news, I started filling my bird feeder again (it got neglected as I paid more attention to my garden, but as I explained to my kids, only in the winter am I really concerned that the birds in our area need food to eat). I’ve seen blue jays, a cardinal and mostly lots of sparrows. Maybe soon I’ll have more bird photos.
Thursday Challenge theme is WATER (Swimming, Boating, Fishing, Lake, Ocean, River,…)
The Raritan River surrounds Highland Park. The river winds around our little borough. In one area we have Johnson Park bordering the river. To the south of us we have Donaldson Park. Both are big county parks with ball fields, geese and playgrounds. Donaldson Park, which is next to where I took this photo, also has a dog park and a boat launch area.
Just for the fun of it, I added this wet photo of Donaldson Park:
You plan, you plan and God laughs. I had certain ideas about how to focus this blog once I renamed it Sketching Out, but my mind is not there. So I apologize for the potpourri of this post.
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I have some photos that are supposed to go with a post called Fermenting Daikons. What is a daikon? It is a strong and long white radish. I bought one for a dollar at the organic stand at the Highland Park Farmer’s Market. Here is one photo:
So you will have to come back to learn how to ferment a daikon. Hint: the only ingredients are water, sea salt and a daikon. Update: here is the post on how to ferment a daikon.
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Last night we walked down Raritan Avenue (was it hundreds? or thousands? Probably close to one thousand) in support of Israel. It was a peaceful march. Lots of smiles, some hugging, parents of IDF soldiers (yes, we have quite a few in this community) glad to receive support. In the short rally at the end, one of the topics mentioned was the appreciation that the U.S. Congress has given funding for the Iron Dome, and how local groups such as NORPAC have played an important role in meeting with senators and congressman to get funding for the Iron Dome.
The sign reads (in Hebrew, loosely translated by me) “Soldiers of the IDF, we hug you from a distance!”
Thank you to the owners of the old Y property who allowed us to use the space for a few speeches, including a moving one about a soldier (a family member of the speaker) who had just been killed while on duty.
When I posted some photos on Facebook, I had a few people in Israel thank me. But all I did was post a few pictures … I don’t have to go and dodge missiles every time a siren goes off. My friends and family in Beit Shemesh have been going to the shelter perhaps five times a day? But that is nothing compared to those who live in the south of Israel. People who are handicapped just have to stay in the shelter. Or pray the missile won’t hit them.
• • •
“What can I do?” seems to be on the mind of many. Here is a guest post on my friend’s A Mother in Israel blog with 21 Ways to Help Israel. Personally, I decided to give to the Lone Soldier organization because I know too many lone soldiers (a Lone Soldier is someone who serves in the IDF and whose immediate family does not live in Israel). And then because one of my friends in Israel recommended it, I also sent a donation to A Package From Home.
Excerpt from a note by a friend in Beit Shemesh (who grew up in Edison, NJ): “The situation here is very tense. Everyone knows someone who is down in Gaza fighting for us. Everyone has experienced a Tzeva Adom (Red Alert) at least once in the past few weeks. Everyone is on edge about possible kidnaps, airstrikes, and the war. Despite all this, life goes on here. People still go to work and sit in the same boring meetings, kids still go to the parks, people still go shopping, and see movies. Life must continue here or the Terrorists win.”
In continuation of a series of watercolors related to Raritan Avenue in Highland Park, here is my latest that I am calling: Umbrellas. I took at least ten photos of this watercolor painting in different light until I picked one that was closest to the image. It still had a little too much blue, so in Photoshop I slightly decreased the balance of blue. The idea of the painting was to emphasize the color of the umbrellas and the wetness of the day. The people are just busy.
The brighter less opaque colors in the watercolor on this page are done in gouache. I posted a detail of this painting last week on Google+. Go ahead and Plus One my watercolor Google+ posting, if you like.
I am continuing my work on house illustrations. Last week I showed you a sketch I had done of a Highland Park house. Above is my Illustrator version of an illustration of this home. I originally made all the windows black, and then I decided to switch the windows above to a blue gradient, so it looks like a sky reflection. The illustration is made of a collection of shapes placed in many layers in Illustrator.
One of the features of a good flat design illustration is eliminating details and only depicting what is most important to view. This process of what to include and what to leave out is not an easy one.
My long term plan is to depict at least three homes in this manner. Here is another house illustration – I sketched the above drawing by hand using pencil and then a ink pen (then I scanned it into the computer). If you know Highland Park, I welcome you to walk around and look at the homes to see if you can find these. But I won’t identify them directly.
I also plan to do some flat design bushes and trees as elements in between the homes. The lamppost in the top illustration makes a fine detail for this purpose as well. I’ve been collecting various illustrations in Pinterest so I can refer to those illustrations for ideas.
This morning I was playing around with the Live Trace tool in Illustrator, and I created the above line art drawing from the original sketch.
This process of creating a suburban street scene with houses and trees is taking longer than I anticipated.