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

Sketching in Tokyo, the fluid lines of illustrator Lok Jansen


Interview by Zhenia Vasiliev
USk Moscow correspondent [flickr]

Lok Jansen is a Dutch illustrator and architect living in Tokyo, where he first moved in 1999 with a scholarship to get his masters degree. He worked in Amsterdam for three years before returning to the Japanese metropolis in 2004. Lok joined USk as correspondent when the blog launched in November of 2008.

What is it like for to sketch in Tokyo compared to the Netherlands?

In Tokyo I love walking around the small back streets or getting up on rooftops, to see and draw the random accumulation of buildings, objects and people that surround you. There’s all these unimaginable combinations of building types, styles and ages that go beyond what people would come up with or design. This undesigned quality adds a lot of character and surprise to the place and it never seems to bore me. Holland has a lot of beautiful places of itself but can be a bit monotonous and it just doesn’t hit me as hard I guess.

I love to do quick one or two minute people sketches on the train though and that is possible almost anywhere. What I like about Holland when drawing people is that there’s more variety in race and so you get to draw some more different facial structures.


You use many different tools and techniques in your sketches. What are your favourites?

I like using different tools or techniques because sometimes a certain medium goes better with what you are seeing at the time, and because experimenting helps to keep you on your toes and not get too comfortable. Sometimes just simply grabbing a huge piece of oil bar or a giant brush forces you to think differently. What do you leave out, what do you keep, etc. So it’s not just the feeling of putting marks on paper, but also affects how you abstract and edit the visual information in front of you.

I do have a method/habit of course, and I use felt tip pens very often because I like the boldness and immediacy you get from them. I mostly draw directly in pen, making it about that moment of seeing and about responding to the subject and what comes out on paper.

I love how the immediacy of drawing in ink shows the authors mood regardless of if he wants it or not. If you were relaxed, hyper, too hesitant or too bold — it will all show in the drawing, and thereʼs no way to correct for it.


Sketching is also part of your work as an architect and illustrator. How do you manage both? Do you think sketches can be self-contained illustrations?

Partly the two overlap — it both requires visual thinking on paper, generating a lot of (stupid) ideas by drawing thumbnails and diagrams, and then combining them to find see if you can find something you wouldn’t have thought off. Drawing is also useful for architectural visualization of course, but luckily the last three years almost all of my income comes from illustration work.

I definitely think sketches can be self-contained illustrations. When done right they can convey a great energy and liveliness and a sense of being there that you might not find with more elaborately drawn illustrations.

Lok Omae book3

What are the sources of inspiration of your grotesque-style sketches? What are other artists that inspire you?

I never really thought of them as grotesque-style, but now that you say so it’s fun to compare them and see what you mean. I think it’s about trying to get to the essence of a subject — city, object or person — in a way that I feel sums up their major qualities or character. Exaggerating certain aspects, downplaying others.

Apart from life, love, nature, music and walking around the city at night I get excited by a lot of contemporary art. I love the videos by Saskia Olde Wolbers for example.

Euan Uglow is an inspiration for the incredible sense of volume in his figure paintings. They are a beautiful balance of being graphic and at the same time very painterly. Even if his figures can sometimes look like objects or statues, they still convey this great sense of life.

For old masters I would have to choose Rembrandt (as a drawer), Nagasawa Rosetsu and Ito Jakuchu, because of their apparent looseness, and how little they needed while expressing so much. Jakuchu especially was an incredible innovator and seeing those works you can’t help but feel inspired and wanting to go out and draw.

• Lok's art on Flickr.

Would you like to contribute an interview or article to the blog? We want to hear from you. Interview a favorite artist you admire, review a book about sketching with watercolors or tell the story of a memorable sketching trip. Contact us at urbansketchers at gmail dot com.





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