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

Look Back at 2012

2012 was another year of growth in interest and activity in urban sketching all across the world.  We're pleased to bring you this recap of Urban Sketchers' year of activity.

International Symposium and USK Workshops

Nearly 100 urban sketchers from 15 countries converged in Santo Domingo for the 3rd International Urban Sketching Symposium.  

2012 also saw the debut of our Workshops Program. We promoted USK workshops in Lisbon, Portugal; Volterra and Naples in Italy, and Portland, Oregon in the U.S. These USK workshops were attended by about 80 sketchers combined. We hope more urban sketchers will apply to teach USK workshops in their cities this year. To learn about the program, visit our website here.

In the Media

In 2012, media outlets around the world continued to draw attention to the art of urban sketching and its practitioners. Our blog correspondents and members were featured on TV and radio broadcasts, in newspapers and magazines, including the following as well as numerous arts-related blogs:

Magazines: 92064 Magazine (USA), l’Art de l’Aquarelle (France) /The Art of Watercolor (USA) Artists and Illustrators Magazine (United Kingdom), BluPrint (Philipines), Peyzaj (Turkey), Vivre Paris (France).

Newspapers:  The Aucklander (New Zealand), The Commercial Appeal (USA), Montreal Gazette (Canada), Press Democrat (USA), Revista Paula (Chile), The Tribeca Citizen (USA), and USA Today (USA).

TV: canalSDI (Santa Domingo), King 5 TV (USA), RHTV (Philippines).

By the Numbers

Since our launch in November of 2008, volunteer correspondents have published 9,267 entries to date on the Urban Sketchers blog. More than 6,000 followers subscribe to our blog feed. The urban sketching community has grown to 6,080 Urban Sketchers flickr group members and 23,722 Urban Sketchers Facebook fans.

Regional Blogs

Drawing together is part of our USK manifesto, and our regional blogs grew tremendously in 2012, thanks to the initiative of many urban sketchers who have started sketching groups where they live. These new USK blogs were added in 2012:  Urban Sketchers Japan, Urban Sketchers Kuching, Urban Sketchers London, Urban Sketchers Midwest, Urban Sketchers Switzerland (the reincarnation of the original Basel Urban Sketchers blog), and Urban Sketchers Tri-Cities.

These new groups join 47 other country, city, state, and regional USK blogs that are already active. A full list of USK blogs can be found on the sidebar of our Urban Sketchers website.

Several USK groups have their own Facebook pages or flickr groups as well.

Group Exhibits

The work of Urban Sketchers correspondents, groups and members has been featured in group exhibits featuring urban sketching around the world this year, including:


Several Urban Sketchers blog correspondents, members and groups published books this year, including:

Board of Directors

In 2012, two board members, - Cristina Urdiales, of Málaga, Spain, and Steven White, of Blacksburg, Virginia (USA) - stepped down from the Urban Sketchers nonprofit board of directors. We want to take this opportunity to thank them for their invaluable service.

We also had two new members join the board, including:  Steven Reddy of Seattle, WA (USA) and Shari Blaukopf of Montreal (Canada). Steven is an elementary school teacher in Seattle. He has sketched his extended stays in China, Bangkok, Singapore, Mexico and places throughout the western USA. His travel sketches are included in An Illustrated Journey: Inspiration From the Private Art Journals of Traveling Artists, Illustrators and Designers, published 2013.  Shari  is a Canadian graphic designer, teacher, illustrator and daily sketch blogger. She grew up and still lives in Montreal, where she continues to discover new neighborhoods in her never-ending quest to find the best streets and back alleys to sketch.

The full list of the USK Board of Directors can be found here on our website.

Financial Report

Here's a breakdown of our nonprofit's 2012 finances:

Web advertising: $2,260
Amazon affiliate program: $708
International Symposium (registrations, auction, sales): $28,445
Donations from individuals and fundraising events: $4,657
Donations from sponsors: $4,500
USK Regional Workshops: $374
Total: $40,944

International Symposium scholarships: $2,950
International Symposium: $29,416
Miscellaneous expenses: $1,205
Total: $33,571

(information compiled by Gabi Campanario, Lisbeth Cort and Victoria Lawlor)

(photos from Drawing Attention posts in 2012 and USK blog banners)





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