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

Stefano Faravelli in Japan

Interview by Simo Capecchi
USK correspondent (Naples, Italy) [blog]

Italian artist Stefano Faravelli will be in Rome at the Oriental Art Museum Tucci tomorrow february 26 to present Giappone. Taccuini del mondo fluttuante, a book with sketches and paintings from his japanese trip, with a documentary by Stefano Folgaria. Trailer with english subtitles here, other short videos were uploaded from Japan:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Original sketchbooks will be exhibited since march 13.

Drawing on the spot. Why do you like to draw on location and, when you draw, what happens around you?
Gathering around me, children watch as I dip a brush into the salt water of a rock pool, where I have placed an octopus that I have just caught with my hands. I’m painting the octopus while, like Proteus, the old man of the sea recounted by Homer, it changes into rock, seaweed or a pool of shadow on the worn stone.
When I paint I am always surprised by how the hand, the eye and the brain can give a different form to this life, how drawing and painting can penetrate its changing unity and celebrate its amazing beauty.

Drawing on the spot is a necessary condition for grasping the substantial unity of the perceived world, as Pavel Florenskji used to teach, without any mediation. This is only possible when "the soul merges with the perceived phenomena".
Drawing makes this fusion possible, through an extremely complex back-and-forth relationship between the gaze, the hand and the signals that travel through the cerebral cortex, and which are one with the object that we are looking at, with the light that enables us to see it. When I draw, I become an octopus, a rock, a piece of seaweed or a shadow.
Then, there is that whole world of interactions that make drawing on the spot such a fascinating experience, that generate unexpected reactions in the spectator, setting in motion interesting situations. I have wonderful stories to tell, stories which have inspired many pages of my books.

Organizing the trip. How do you prepare for a new journey and how do you organize your work? When you return home, do you use other iconographic sources or photographs?
I have a personal notebook, which records my studies and direct approach to reality, as well as the books that combine my personal work with the demands of more complex communicative and narrative schemes.
In this case, the work that I do on the spot, which remains the backbone of the book, enters into dialogue with the work that I carry out in my studio using sketches or photographs, with inventions or interventions of graphical “philology” coming from the books. I always write the texts separately, in a special notebook, and then integrate them into the page later.
My sketchbooks are not intended as a spontaneous demonstration of technical skill, but rather as a narrative account of my spiritual experience of a country. I try to capture a whole world in these books, offering the reader the miracle of travelling without moving. The page must be able to bring about a shrinkage of time and space in order to unleash these later at a narrative and symbolic level. In this sense, the preparation for a journey is fundamental.
When going to Japan, I didn’t even look at a tourist guide, but I read everything that Mishima and Tanizaki wrote, as well as Zen philosophy, Murasaki, Harris and Fosco Maraini. Not to mention my strong relationship with the Japanese figurative tradition, which has inspired my work for years. Once I arrived, I felt like I had already been there an infinity of times, seeing through different eyes. Having said that, it is nevertheless true that the work that you do “on the spot” has a special energy which plays a crucial role in the finished book.

Writing and drawing. Your sketchbooks are filled with writing. Years ago I never used to write anything in my sketchbooks. In fact, it was you who encouraged me to take this step. Why is this so important?
I use writing not only in the form of mnemonic notation: for me, the text expresses a thought, which is at the very heart of what is visible. My texts are not only captions for my drawings, but become other images, images that are simply expressed in another way. Consider, for instance, the importance of calligraphy, one of the most important forms of art in the East (including China, Japan, the Islamic world). In a work of calligraphy, what is image and what is writing?
Perhaps the best example of what I have in mind are the medieval maps of the world: it’s amazing how writing and images are woven together in these maps to form a real support for meditation. They were not a tool to navigate the meridians and parallels, but rather "mystical machines", where words and drawings permitted mental and moral pilgrimages, real journeys for those who remained in one place.

Drawing reality.
What is your relationship to the things that you portray in your sketchbooks? Do you add, remove or distort reality, or do you try to be faithful to it? Why do you add fragments collected on location, like scraps of paper or small objects?
What does it mean to seek to be faithful? Our gaze is certainly always selective, because our way of being in the world is selective – we are always a “point of view”. I choose to recount certain things and not others, but the point is to "save one's soul" when we choose how to recount them. It is this sense that I reduce “subjective distortion” to a minimum. The insertion of objects like paper, leaves, monkey or camel hairs, creates a further connection with that substance, drawing the world into the sketchbook.

(thanks to J. Pratchke for translation).

• Stefano Faravelli web site.
• Visit Stefano's studio in a short documentary
• Three of his sketchbooks in video.
• Italian version and more here.





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