Meet the Correspondent: Marina Grechanik > Tel-Aviv, Israel$show=/search/label/Marina%20Grechanik

"Sketching is one of my passions. I don't feel comfortable when I leave home without a sketchbook and some pens in my bag. I think that my way to put things in my memory is to draw them. And taking pictures isn't the same thing.

I live in a very dynamic surrounding — Israel is a warm country with warm weather and warm people. Of course, we have seashores, which calm us a little bit. I love to sit in a corner of some Tel-Aviv coffee shop and explore relationships: between people, their environment, between myself. All this unique local mix of cultures, languages and styles is always a great source for inspiration. You need to be fast, because, as I said, everything is very dynamic. But that's why I love it so much.

Sometimes, I look around, and I find some usual items like sugar bags or napkins. I use them in my drawings to show the atmosphere. Sometimes I draw directly on placemats."

• Marina's art on Flickr.
• Marina's website.

Meet the Correspondent: Tina Koyama > Seattle$show=/search/label/tina%20koyama

"The dictionary says that a hobby is “an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation.” Although urban sketching certainly provides both pleasure and relaxation, I don’t think of it as my hobby. I think of it more as a way of life – something that has become such a normal part of my everydayness that it shapes how I view the world.

For most of my life I had both the fear of drawing as well as the desire to draw. In 2011, inspired by Gabi Campanario’s Seattle Sketcher column, I finally decided to overcome the fear. His drawings of Seattle – my birthplace and lifelong home – were of sights that I had seen many times, yet had never truly seen. I wanted to learn to see, and therefore experience, those locations (and any new ones that I travel to) more completely. Part 8 of the Urban Sketchers Manifesto, to “show the world, one drawing at a time,” has a flip side: Sketching enables me to see my own world, one drawing at a time.

In the last four years, it is not an exaggeration to say that Urban Sketchers has changed my life. I have met and sketched with many wonderful people around the globe, either at symposiums or during other travel, because the USk network brought us together. I sketch almost weekly with my local group, sharing sketches, art supplies and friendship. Even when I stay home and enjoy sketches online, I am still a part of that rich network, learning with every sketch about other people’s lives.

In May, my husband Greg and I went to France for the first time, and I sketched the Eiffel Tower. Sketching one of the world’s most famous icons felt like a dream come true – the ultimate in urban sketching. But although I can’t resist sketching world-famous icons whenever I’m fortunate enough to see them, for me, urban sketching is much more than that.

Urban sketching is a tree with its middle chopped away to accommodate Seattle’s ubiquitous power lines. It’s about a couple of women chatting over coffee, or about workers roofing the house next door. It’s about an excavator filling a hole where a cherry tree once stood. Or the Tibetan monastery I drive by frequently that I couldn’t resist because it’s bright orange. Urban sketching is a string band performing at a local farmers’ market – or perhaps in Villefranche-sur-Mer.

Celebrating the mundane as well as the famous is what urban sketching is all about. My sketches are not necessarily about “special” moments; they are moments made special because I sketched them."

Tina has been editor of Drawing Attention since 2013 and now serves on the Urban Sketchers editorial board. See more of her sketches on her blog, on Flickr and on Instagram.

Meet the Correspondent: Pete Scully > Davis, Calif.$show=/search/label/Pete%20Scully

"I am from urban north London, but now live in urbane Davis California. I sketch, I write, sometimes do things and go places and my name is Pete.

When not Davis, I sketch Sacramento, San Francisco, London, or anywhere else I happen to be. I tend to erase people and cars from my cities, but I'm starting to get over this.

Davis: calm, old-fashioned, progressive, quirky, very very hot in the summer. I use micron and copic pens, with watercolour."

• Pete's blog.
• Pete's art on Flickr.

Meet the Correspondent: Suhita Shirodkar > San Jose, Calif.$show=/search/label/Suhita%20Shirodkar

"I was born in Mumbai (Bombay) and lived in different parts of India until I moved to San Jose, California, where I now live.

Travel inspires my art, but, traveling or not, I try to view the world around me as a traveller would; so whether I’m capturing a moment of calm on the banks of the Ganges in India, or sketching over coffee at my local coffee shop, I aim to look deeply, and with wonder, at both the everyday and the exotic, the old and the new.

I love color. My sketch kit consists of Extra Fine Sharpies (the fact that they bleed into the paper as soon as they touch it works really well for me—it forces me to work super-quick), a small set of Prismacolor pencils and a little watercolor travel set".

Meet the Correspondent: Omar Jaramillo > Berlin$show=/search/label/Omar%20Jaramillo

"I was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where I studied architecture. I moved to Kassel (Germany) in 1999 to accomplish a master degree. Although I have always drawn and paint, it was not until I started studying in the Uni-Kassel, that I started keeping a travel sketchbook. I had a teacher there who used to do a lot of sketches when he travelled on university excursions. When he retired, I helped to organize an exhibition of his sketches. He brought a huge box full of sketchbooks he had filled since he was an architecture student. I spent a whole day selecting the most interesting drawings. It was a wonderful experience that opened my eyes to a new world. In the last 10 years I have the feeling of being in a long journey. I like to discover the cities where I live, to understand why a place is the way it is and what makes it different and unique from others. Drawing is for me a way to learn to love a place, to become part of it. I like to draw architecture but I am more attracted to urban scenery, portraying how people live in the city. Since I’m a foreigner, everything that locals find normal and taken-for-granted, for me is exotic. I always carry a small watercolor travel set from Windsor and Newton and my sketchbook in my bag. I always thought that drawing was a solitary experience until I found Urban Sketchers. It was amazing to find so many people doing the same thing. It is a great place to share!" • Omar's blog. • Omar's art on flickr. • Omar's website.

Meet the Correspondent: Luis Ruiz > Malaga, Spain$show=/search/label/Luis%20Ruiz

Ami Plasse, sketching on the NYC subway

Flickr fave >> Ami Plasse sketching on the NYC subway
A shot from the upcoming documentary film “Ami Underground,” directed by D.W. Young. See more stills from the film with Ami sketching commuters here.

If there were Oscars for urban sketching, drawing in public transportation would be a category of its own. And Ami Plasse, flickr nickname amirocks, would be one of the contenders to beat. Born and raised in Manhattan, Ami works as an art and animation director and sketches nonstop during his commute, capturing with energetic strokes the universe of faces that populate New York's subway system. Fellow New York resident and subway sketcher Sharon Frost asked him a few questions.

Could you describe the attraction of drawing in transit (on the subway) and how you became involved with it?

2-24-09_31I started drawing from life in public places when I was in college. My sophomore year I had a drawing teacher named Warren Linn and part of the coursework was drawing what he called a “4-minute burn” every day — drawing a square on a page and filling it with a quick composition from wherever you were. I started off with still lives but quickly became bored with that and started taking my sketchbook along with me to public places and occasionally on the train.

In 1997 I had a freelance job in Queens for a few months. The ride was long and it inspired me to spend a little more time drawing on the train. The richness of the subject matter was unparalleled. On any given day you could find people of a multitude of race and nationality. Rich investment bankers and lawyers, homeless people, teenagers, college students, old folks, whacked-out bible screamers, street performers, little kids, and some regular old scary misfits, all forced to quietly (well, usually) coexist in very cramped quarters for the 15 minutes to an hour they spent on their commute. As someone who loves to draw characters, there was no greater source of inspiration than the New York City subway system — frequented by just about every character you can imagine.

Over the next few years I continued sporadic train drawing, depending on my commute. In early 2007, the company where I was working started buying Moleskine sketchbooks in bulk. After reading the Moleskine manifesto, I started to mock the books for being very pretentious, but soon found myself addicted to them. I used them for notes, doodling, ideas sketching and found them to be ideal for subway sketching. They were much smaller and less bulky than the other books I was used to and they fit perfectly in a back pocket. When I wanted to draw I could easily whip it out whether I was sitting or standing against a door or pole and start sketching away, without the need for space that my old sketchbooks required.

Around the same time my wife gave birth to our 2nd and 3rd kids (yes, twins), I was working full time in digital advertising and free time for doing what I love - drawing - was becoming increasingly scarce. The only time that I had that wasn’t dedicated to work, kids, and life’s other assorted responsibilities was the 20-40 minutes that I spent commuting each way to work and sometime miscellaneous weekend time on the train. These circumstances, along with my fascination with the people and situations that existed in the subway system, really inspired me to focus on my subway drawing until I got to the point where I would document just about every ride. It became even more of an obsession when in January 2008 I began nearly daily postings of my drawings online on my blog. In 2008 I probably posted between 700-800 drawings.


How did you develop as an artist? Were you one as a child? Was there someone in your life who encouraged you or inspired you?

I was always a doodler ever since I can remember. I grew up with some artistic people in my life. My grandmother painted and did a lot of crafts stuff with us when we were little. I had an uncle who had dabbled drawing cartoons and was also into comic books. My grandfather’s cousin also drew a strip for Mad Magazine for like 300 years. His name was Dave Berg, and he drew “The Lighter Side of…” When I was a kid he let my brother and me come into the Mad Magazine office (I was already a fan of Mad at the time). We made off with a stack of magazines and books, and got autographs from a bunch of the artists who were actually in house — it was very old school.

Growing up I was also into different things that inspired me. Star Wars trilogy/Battlestar Galactica as a small child. When I was in 4th grade I started listening to Iron Maiden and was obsessed with their album artwork, drawing their ghoulish Eddie character all over my schoolbooks. I was into comic books, too — mostly Marvel super hero stuff, Hanna Barbera cartoons (loved Thundarr the Barbarian), Looney Tunes, and I really liked the original Underdog cartoon (not to be confused with the recent live action remake).

As I got a little older I got into punk rock/hardcore music and loved some of the rawer artwork that I saw on album covers, inserts, t-shirts and flyers for bands like Black Flag, Agnostic Front, the Subhumans, Underdog, and Breakdown to name a few. I also got into graffiti and was inspired by both the legends and some of the really talented writers I hung out with.

I’ve also been inspired by many popular artists over the years: Picasso, Daumier, Egon Schiele, James Ensor, Goya, Stuart Davis, De Kooning, Keith Haring. I love 18th-19th century Japanese printmaking, West African Dogon sculptures and masks, Pre Columbian art from Central and South America and Northwest Indian Art. I think my favorite of all time is British illustrator Ralph Steadman.


What would you say to someone who is having trouble with making that jump from drawing in their head to drawing through their head and onto paper?

Just keep drawing all the time. You need to get to a point where the connection between observation, your mind filter, and your hand becomes effortless and automatic — or at least begins to approach it. Also, stop worrying about every drawing being a masterpiece. Accept the fact that sometimes a drawing comes out like shit, but that’s just part of the game and that you learn a lot from making mistakes. And if you can get rid of the fear of mistakes and creating a bad drawing, then you can get loose enough to start doing really honest, expressive work. I’m not sure that one’s evolution as an artist/draughtsman ever really ends, you never really get “there,” but I think that this is good way to ride that road.

• Ami's blog.
• Ami's art on Flickr.
• Ami's website.





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