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

Review of Urban Sketchers show at the Ackland Museum store!

Nice coverage of our show by Blue Greenberg, longtime art critic at the Durham Herald-Sun!
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Submitted/ Courtesy of Ackland Museum Store “Tuscany II,” by Laura Frankstone, is on view at the Ackland Museum Store, part of the exhibit “Urban Sketchers.”
Submitted/ Courtesy of Ackland Museum Store “Tuscany II,” by Laura Frankstone, is on view at the Ackland Museum Store, part of the exhibit “Urban Sketchers.”
Submitted/ Courtesy of Ackland Museum Store “Union Square,” by Greg Betza,  is on view at the Ackland Museum Store, part of the exhibit “Urban Sketchers.”
Submitted/ Courtesy of Ackland Museum Store “Union Square,” by Greg Betza, is on view at the Ackland Museum Store, part of the exhibit “Urban Sketchers.”

“Seeing the World, One Drawing at a Time: Urban Sketchers,” Ackland Museum Store, corner of Columbia and Franklin streets, Chapel Hill, through Oct. 6. Store hours are Mondays through Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; and Sundays, noon to 5 p.m. 

On Franklin Street at the Ackland store, there is a lively exhibition of sketches made by professional artists on their trips around the world. They are an active group called Urban Sketchers and, through the magic of the Internet, they have come together to show the things they see in their own cities and places they visit. These are quick, made “in the moment” and the degree of finish varies. Some are carefully drawn, like Eduardo Bajzek’s “Bass Player,” and we feel the warm wood surface of the instrument. Others are like Greg Betza’s quick lines that crisscross into a city plaza, with people and buildings and streets intersecting in the background. Bajzek does architectural illustration and is from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Betza is an illustrator, artist and designer and lives in New Jersey.

And then there is Chapel Hill’s Laura Frankstone, who brought the Urban Sketchers project to the Ackland Store. Frankstone’s sketching love, however, is not for local scenes but places far away. Her two images in the show are of the Tuscany countryside, although she writes Paris is her favorite city and the months spent there recently by herself sketching was the “fulfillment of a long-held dream.”

It has to be such a joyful gift to be able to sit in a place, take a pen, pencil or brush and a piece of paper and put down what you see. It is a practice of patience, so much more satisfying than taking a photograph. Even if the time spent is minutes, the hand and eye bring the scene to the brain and it is there long after the moment has passed. “Drawing a city isn't just capturing it on paper, it's really about getting to know it, to feel it, to make it your own," writes Nina Johansson, a Stockholm correspondent.

Urban Sketchers are professional architects, graphic designers, illustrators, educators and traditional painters who live in and travel to cities such as London, Sao Paulo, New York, San Francisco, Chapel Hill, Singapore and Seoul. Their mission is to encourage the artistic and educational value of location drawing and to show others the world, one drawing at the time. The Chapel Hill exhibition showcases 90 art works by 38 of the group’s international contributors. Spanish-born Gabriel Campanario, who now lives in the United States, and is a staff artist for the Seattle Times, organized the group, first as flickr in 2007 and then as the nonprofit Urban Sketchers in 2009.

Blue Greenberg’s column appears each week in Entertainment and More. She can be reached at or by writing her in c/o The Herald-Sun, P.O. Box 2092, Durham, NC 27702.

Read more: The Herald-Sun - An abstract way of thinking 





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