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

i could see you were a man of distinction, a real big spender

the venetian from the mirage

Las Vegas is an unusual place. On Saturday evening, the city is full of thin, short-skirted perfectly formed young ladies with cocktail glasses and shiny-shoed hairbrush friendly suitors coolly beside them in lounges and around poker tables, but by Sunday afternoon they have all morphed into plump t-shirt wearing middle-aged midwesterners in ill-fitting shorts and flip-flops, dragging their feet through glitzy bars looking for the buffet, and emptying their wallets into the slot machines. I'm starting to fall into category B, I realise (I would come under 'football-shirt wearing Londoners with hangovers' but I didn't have a hangover, and I'd left my football shirt at home). It's where America mixes which each other, Vegas, and it's a funny old place. I've been there many times now, and last weekend we visited Sin City for my wife's birthday, taking in the amazing Cirque du Soleil show 'Love' (the one with all the Beatles songs) and having quite amazing food at the Venetian. We stayed at the Mirage; that's the view from our window, sketched above.

the las vegas strip

This is the view down the Las Vegas Strip, the ever changing skyline and parade of glowing lights stretching off into the distance. Beyond, the usually dusty mountains were awash with snow, an unusual sight for us, and while it was cold, it remained sunny. Inside the casinos, day and night are pretty indistinguishable.

wheel of (mis)fortunecravings buffet

And here's Las Vegas for you in a nutshell - a slot machine, and a buffet. The dreaded Wheel of Fortune machine - you win on it once, on a different trip, and then that's almost all you play when you come back, and it starts hoovering up your money. I think I was hoping to win big to start a 'Lisbon' fund but it didn't quite work out. Wheel of Misfortune more like. I did win $10 in one of those Star Wars machines though - the Force is with me, for sure. And of course, the Buffet, you have to do a Buffet. This was breakfast and there was a LOT to eat, and I tried to eat it as well. I don't normally sketch my food, but I needed a break between bites of chocolate mousse. I didn't eat that donut, if you're wondering, and the croissant I saved for later and then forgot about. Viva Las Vegas!

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