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

The art worlds of Dominican illustrator Nathalie Ramirez


[Interview by Melanie Reim
USK correspondent (NYC) blog]

In amongst the fast paced, high-energy and high-volume Latin metropolis of Santo Domingo, there works a soft-spoken illustrator with an easy smile. But don’t let this catch you off guard. This young woman is a powerhouse draftsman with a keen eye for composition and a written word that perfectly complements her beautiful linear observations of life around her. I've had the opportunity to meet her in person during trips to the Dominican Republic and look forward to her upcoming exhibit, which opens Tuesday at Alianza Francesa in Santo Domingo. Here's Nathalie Ramirez.


You are a young, vibrant, emerging artist and illustrator, on the verge of your first exhibition. Congratulations! Can you speak a little about how you came to shape the idea for your show?

Funnily enough, one of my biggest priorities in this particular show was to stay out of the creative process as much as possible, so to speak, and just let things flow out of me as they wished to. So in a way, the idea for the show shaped itself as I went along with it.

I'm not used to working in this particular way, since during my training as an illustrator I was taught to thumbnail and plan out my drawings beforehand. This time I decided to plunge into the opposite side of the spectrum and just let things come as they wanted, and when they wanted. This wasn't always easy since patience and a very open mind are needed for these exercises, but it has helped me be less judging and more allowing with myself as an artist. All in all it has been an intense and gratifying learning experience for me.



You live and work in two worlds, so to speak — a life in a bustling city, and access to a tropical paradise, where you also went to school. Please tell us how these worlds influence your work on location and what it is that attracts you to draw in the two different environments- and if you could, how do those that you draw react to you working from observation?

Actually, I mostly stay in the city and only visit Chavon (my old art school) a few times in the year. But I must say that each environment affects me in a totally different way. Santo Domingo is a loud, boisterous city, along with its loud, boisterous inhabitants, that as I had once mentioned in a paragraph for Urban Sketchers, aren't shy of coming up to you and giving you the ol' crit' at the top of their lungs. I've had to learn to deal with this, since drawing is such an intimate part of me, it's almost like learning how to stand naked in a street and not be fazed by the loud comments thrown your way! To be completely honest, I'm a little tired of drawing in this city, although there are characters galore, but I feel it's time to expand my horizons elsewhere for a bit.

As far as Chavon goes, when I do go there I always take in a deep, deep breath and marvel at the beauty of that place. When I'm there I feel a little dazed with the breeze, the trees, the bright blue sky. It gives me a chance to sit back, relax and take the place in as I draw. I guess there lies the biggest difference of the two places when I draw. In Chavon I can more easily relax and let go, while in the city I have to keep my guard up, to an extent.


How does drawing on location fit into how you create your art? Does it exist in its pure form, and/or does it function as a precursor for other work?

Drawing on location is the backbone of everything I do. There is a live energy that exists in work done on the spot that becomes a part of you as an artist and it shows up in everything else you might do, be it a collage, an animation, a made up character... anything! I'm really happy I got a chance to train in reportage drawing, since it has made my observation more keen, my hand faster and my confidence as a designer and draftsperson climb slowly but surely. Being a reportage artist is more than a training, it's a lifestyle that not only affects the visual arts part of my life, but everything else. It's a tool I treasure and plan to keep on honing for the rest of my life.

• Nathalie's blog.
• Nathalie'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 or tell the story of a memorable sketching trip. Contact us at urbansketchers at gmail dot com.





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