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

Drawn together in highly sketchable Statesville, North Carolina

Meeting fellow urban sketchers when you are away from home can be a very rewarding experience.

I recently met two of them during my spring break vacation in North Carolina: Jessie Chapman, an architect from Charlottesville I first met at the Santo Domingo Urban Sketching Symposium last summer; and Steven White, a web designer from Blacksburg, Virginia.

Though it was only the second time I met Jessie in person and the first time I ever shook hands with Steven, the connection was instantaneous. It felt like meeting dear cousins or old college friends.

Steven was just as funny and genuine as I expected — I've known him since the early days of the Urban Sketchers flickr group. "C'mon, give me a hug!" he said in the characteristic friendly style of his online persona, "SketchySteven," as soon as he saw me. And Jessie was just as excited as Steven and I about our little sketching meetup, which took place under beautiful sunny skies and pleasant spring temperatures.

The meeting location was Statesville, a small town about an hour north of Charlotte where my brother-in-law, Jeff Archer, opened his bike shop more than two decades ago.

Jeff's First Flight Bicycles business now occupies a historic building in the heart of the city and attracts customers from all over the region and beyond. Sketchers? Not so much. That's probably why he tipped off a local newspaper reporter who promptly showed up to interview us for this story.

After a quick lunch, we set out to sketch across the bike shop as Jeff was busy attending customers who pop up from everywhere. For instance, a New Yorker who took a detour on his trip back home from Florida just to visit the bike shop; and a father and son from Charlotte who spent three hours browsing the shop and Jeff's collection of vintage bicycles, also known as the Museum of Mountain Bike Art and Technology.

The bike shop and other impressive buildings in downtown Statesville kept us busy sketching all afternoon. Then we wrapped up the day in typical sketcher fashion, having a drink at a local bar, the Wine Maestro, that Jeff recommended.

If you ever find yourself near Statesville, make sure to stop by First Flight Bikes and get a sketch or two done along South Center Street. Like Jessie said, it's a town that ranks high in "sketchability."



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