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

Finally I can show these sketches from Barcleona!

So, right after coming back from Barcelona last summer I happened to be talking to a writer at The Artist's Magazine.

Actually this is a funny story, so I will digress. Our group USK:MTL was sketching musicians at an event for historic re-creators, and there was this guy with a lute. I didn't actually recognize it as such, I'm just sketching away and I think to myself "I don't know what that instrument is - I could just make up some nonsense and nobody would care". But, I'm a well trained Urban Sketcher so I drew it exactly as I saw it. Soon after I get a message - "Wow, my friend is a lute player, and I never see drawings of lute players, can I purchase that sketch?".  So that is a little tale of why it's good to get out and draw the unexpected things life shows you.

Anyway one thing lead to another, and it turns out the lute fan is a writer for The Artist's Magazine. This leads to me doing a small interview about the Barcelona Symposium, and giving them two of my watercolors from the trip. So finally, the short article is out in the world. (Appearing right next to a short bio on Kansas correspondent Cathy Johnson, which is another small-world thing). Here's the issue if you happen to see it on the stands:


So that means, hurray! I can finally show you guys the paintings! It's always unexpected, what with the world of blogging, how long it takes to see things in print. Our expectations change so fast hey?

Barcelona_Casa de les Punxes
[Casa de Les Punxes, Barcelona, 12x16]

I didn't know what to expect out of BCN - but it certainly was not these 'witches hat' buildings. I had no idea this was a thing. But they're seemingly everywhere in the city, and they're always charming to see. Such a whimsical bit of architectural nonsense. Barcelona, of course, has the world crown for whimsical architecture.

Here's the drawing in progress on location.

Barcelona_ Gothic Bridge
[Bisbe Street Bridge, Gothic Quarter, 12x16]

This little bit of fun is in behind the cathedral in the Gothic quarter, and is probably the most photographed bit of the city. Because it's so cute! How could you not love a style of architecture called 'Flamboyant'. 

Wikipedia has an interesting side-thread on the authenticity of this area. I gather there was a strategic policy in the 1920's to insert some history into this neighborhood. A plan to improve the image of the city and attract visitors. I would bet that has been an excellent return on investment. Architects are divided as to if this sort of faux-history is valid. I personally like it - why not? It's an artistic response to the past. I'm ok with seeing reproductions, especially if the alternative is seeing functional modernism.

I drew this with Liz Steel on one of our post-workshop rambles. I always get the best stuff by hanging around with the architects. They scout the spots so well. For some reason I didn't get a good shot of her drawing. Next time, better reporting skills!


Just a side note for those interested in the process. This trip I was sketching multi-page drawings on location, (the trick shown here, and here) printing them onto watercolor paper back home, and painting in the studio.

There is an interesting discussion to be had as to how true to 'Urban Sketching' that process is :) We have a desire to draw on location, from observation, which has so many advantages I won't even get into it. Of course, we'd prefer to do the whole painting on the spot as well - it's easier, and the results are always better if this is possible - but it's a trade off isn't it? Do you spend three hours on location getting one painting, or do you get as many sketches as possible and color them later?

I've done it both ways. This trip I opted for sketching like mad and finishing later. There was so much to see in such a limited time, I'd kick myself if I came home with only eight paintings, instead of this stack.

The deciding factor was the high incidence of pickpocketing and theft in this area. Unfortunately we had a number of street-crime incidents during the workshop, so I decided on the-better-part-of-valor and carried everything on my person in a very small bag. I hope to do more painting in Brazil this upcoming 2014 symposium. I should think Paraty would be more laid back than downtown Barcelona.



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