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

Portland Urban Sketchers Workshop

I'm just back from Portland Oregon, where Shari Blaukopf and I spent three days with 26 participants painting on location. We did a wide range of subjects, including heritage buildings, steel bridges, a Victorian house, and even sketching the color and activity of the Farmer's Market.

We had some record breaking weather - reaching the all time high of 102 Fahrenheit. That's challenging just walking around, never mind dealing with the watercolor drying instantly.

It felt a lot like working in Belém Portugal last year. Everyone was happy to be in the South Park Blocks for our final day sketching under the trees.

There’s more photos of the event up on our Montreal Urban Sketchers Facebook, or the USK Flickr stream.

On to the demos! I approached things in a similar manner to the recent Santo Domingo workshop. First demoing the drawing stage, then walking through the three passes Tea, Milk, Honey. Between washes, I'd make rounds helping people with their own pieces. So we had about three hours in each location, but more than half the time was running around looking at sketches and giving what tips came to mind.

My favorite of the demos was the Telegraph Building. A classic subject that gave good opportunity for lit shadows filled with reflected color.

As we approached the Burnside Bridge, it suddenly occurred to me "whoops, this is a terrifically difficult subject".

Besides the bridge itself, with all its ironwork, there's an entire city on the opposite bank. But we had a game group of artists, very much up to the challenge. Everyone handled it with panache. It was a great example of how to simplify on location. I've been saying lately,  "Drawing on location edits itself".

If you start with the most attractive part of the composition and work outwards until you run out of time - the stuff you didn't have time to include obviously wasn't very compelling to you, and therefore didn't really need to be in the picture in the first place:)

Locals will note the complete absence of the convention center and the office blocks behind the bridge. Also that the supporting girders aren't really drawn - only indicated. I got what interested me - those two concrete piers with their minarets and oddly castle-like bases. I managed to have time to sketch a barge that passed by in moments, but somehow never really got to drawing the freeway on the far bank.

That's what an artist can do, that a photographer cannot. We draw what we see, not simply everything that's there.

My personal favorite location was the Skidmore Fountain. It's exactly my kind of subject. The sculptures on the fountain, the colonnade. Great subject!

We hit this spot on a Friday, as it's the location of the hugely popular Saturday Market. The next morning, the square we're standing in will be completely packed with vendors booths and tourists.

What I didn't realize is, they start setting things up the day before. So we had the extra factor of workers building giant metal tent frames all around us. But, that's just part of what makes location drawing exciting!

So - Thanks to Linda Daily who invited us out, and everyone who came to the workshop! We had a great time putting this on, met a lot of awesome people. I'm sure we'll be doing more workshops next year. Like all of the events in the USK workshop program, we'll be donating 10% of the profits back to Urban as part of the educational program that brings local students to the annual Urban Sketchers symposium.

It's great to be able to give that bit back to the sketching community, at the same time as having all this fun!





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