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

Incident at Lady Meredith - Workshops on my mind!

The last couple days I've been out painting Lady Meredith House, at the corner of Pins and Peel, in the heart of the Golden Mile. I pass this house frequently, and have always wanted to paint it. It's well situated on a steep corner and has a fantastic roof line, studded with witches hats, tall slender chimneys and decorative brick work. This is actually my third sketch at this location.

By that I mean, I just did three days in a row in the same spot. Why? A little bit crazy I guess.

I'm having some sort of perfectionist fit this week. Normally I'm quite free about sketching - whatever I get is fine. Some turn out, some don't. It's all part of the process.

But these days I'm feeling I have to up my game, as I'll be painting live at the Urban Sketchers workshop in Santo Domingo this July, and at my own 3 day sketching event in Portland this August, (in partnership with fellow Montrealer Shari Blaukopf).

Normally I might have been happy with my first sketch. But this time, I couldn't live with it. There are numerous flaws. First among them is dead, monochromatic color.

I used a single color (burnt sienna for the brick, and paynes grey for the roof - and pretty much just layered them darker and darker each pass. Yes, this is a dark building, so it doesn't take reflected color the way a light colored structure will. But, still no excuse for drab earthy tints. So my take aways are: try to use clean, pure colors and let them mix on the page. It's watercolor! Let the water flow. Never just add grey to make shadows - use a complimentary color to make a complex dark mix. And whatever you do - don't be boring! Unified shadow shapes does not have to mean monochromatic passages.

Second major problem - the house is just plonked there, like it's in the middle of a farmer's field. I like a strong focus of interest, but simply leaving out the environment doesn't work. The house just sits there like a lump. It's too big on the page, there's no sense of space. It's such a static, dull, leaden composition. It's almost not a composition at all. I'm not too happy with all the fiddly (also monochromatic) bits of foliage either. It looks like a bed of lettuce under that turkey.

This is my second attempt. I addressed the boring composition - climbing up behind the wall of the Irving Ludmer Research facility (which I painted last year). This gives me an interesting design element in the foreground. I also better planned the shapes of the surrounding trees, and included a bit of environment (the lamp post, the house behind). Unfortunately however, I was so excited about this foreground I ended up jamming the house up against the top of the page. As well, the bricks are still too monochromatic. It's better, but still just variations of burnt sienna. I realize now this is the first time I've painted bricks - so this might be a natural learning curve :)

I could have said, okay,okay, I'm getting somewhere, onto the next thing. But - what can I say. The good weather lasted, so there I was on day three, doing it again.  In my third version I have the more dynamic composition, the more lively color - and I addressed two other things that were bugging me. I paid more attention to the rule "Contrast of Shape" inside my brushstrokes - so there are some big sweeping marks in the trees and sky to contrast with the small details in the house - avoiding a tendency to make a lot of similar shaped strokes, and helping to focus the eye toward the detail at the center of interest.

I also realized I want to have a strong design in the drawing. Big shapes. What I call the rule of 5 and 3 - a few big blocks, fit together nicely (but it has to be three or five, not four or six - those are static numbers - just look at dice:) So I have Sky, Roof, House, Trees, Street. But I don't want the color to be as simplistic as version two. There I have Blue Sky, Orange House, Green Trees. Each block is its own color. This is basically correct, but the execution isn't exactly nuanced. I really want each color block relating to the others within a harmony.

One more color thing - I wanted to think about each plane of the house as having a slightly different color temperature. To break up those damnable bricks, and better describe the complex structure. Every time a surface changes direction, it should change temperature.

You've probably also guessed - the version I like the best is the least accurate drawing.  What can I say? I find this an elegant fanciful building, so when I finally let go and drew it expressively (in this case, elongated and with pushed perspective) it really started to speak to me.

Sorry for the long post, I hope it's helpful to some. I'll leave you with a classic USK  "Trophy Shot" - (the - yes I really painted this on location shot).





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