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

Israel and Jordan through the sketches of a Belgian tourist

By Corinne Raes

Winters in Belgium are long. We’re always looking forward to the sun, so I found a cheap flight to Tel Aviv, not knowing well what to expect. We landed on March 23 and returned home on April 14. These are some of the sketches I made and the stories I encountered during our three-week journey through the region:


The old lighthouse Stella Maris on Mount Carmel was originally built on the site of a Carmelite convent in Haifa. The nuns now live in a monastery on the other side of the road.

The lighthouse in Akko, a crusaders town with a big history of conquests. Today it’s a lovely place to visit and enjoy the sun at the sea side.

The Nazareth skyline (above) and a print I made of a manhole cover (like we used to do
when we were children with a piece of paper and a pencil) while a car was honking.

The Saint Peter Church by the Sea of Galilee, also known as Lake Tiberias, was teeming with pilgrims. It looked as if they were all searching for the perfect beach pebble!


In Jerusalem, we rented an apartment that happened to be next door to the Prime Minister’s residence. Every day we saw the security guards at work, looking through the garbage every 30 minutes, scanning parked cars and poking through gardens. One morning, we heard a lot of noise and saw they had smacked a young man down and arrested him.

That's Jerusalem, beautiful, but full of contrasts, and a lot of security and guns. The old town has its own different neighborhoods and inhabitants. You can wander around for hours through time and cultures.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is one of the most important pilgrimage destinations for Christians, as the purported site of the resurrection of Jesus. It’s nice to sit there and have a talk with the pilgrims of so many different countries that pass by.

The Mosque of Caliph Omar is located opposite the southern courtyard of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It’s good to hear on one side the Islamic call for prayer and on the other side the church bells.

Via Dolorosa, or the Way of Suffering, is a street, in two parts, within the Old City of Jerusalem, held to be the path that Jesus walked, carrying his cross, on the way to his crucifixion. I sat sketching next to a school for Palestinian boys. When school was out I had a lot of success; at some point I couldn’t even see my subject anymore.


Tel Aviv is a vibrant, modern city with different, cozy neighborhoods.


At the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem we took the public bus to the Palestine cities of Ramallah, Jericho and Bethlehem. A very strange experience! You approach the city of Ramallah and Bethlehem and all you see is a checkpoint and these huge shameful wall, which is unbelievable to look at. It must feel like a prison for those who live within the fenced area. People can’t travel freely to other cities where they work or where their relatives live.

At the checkpoints, people have to get off the bus to show their documentation and have their belongings inspected. The wall cuts through Palestine territory. You can’t get from one Palestinian city to the other without checkpoints. It is inhumane!


The ancient city of Petra, where we spent three days, was the most impressive sight of our visit to the beautiful desert landscape of Jordan. The sketch above shows the treasury, famous for its appearance in the Indiana Jones movie, The Last Crusade. Sketching was a perfect way to make contact with the locals we met here. They didn’t want to sell us anything. On the contrary, they sat down to chat and took interest in my drawings. We even talked about Frida Kahlo!

The king’s tombs and a souvenir shop in front.

The means of transport to get in and out and around Petra are quite diverse. It takes 30 minutes to go from the entrance to the treasury through a gorge. Going in is also going down, but getting out is going uphill. You can take a horse and carriage; in the morning they are cheap but in the evening, when everybody is exhausted, they get quite expensive. I was brave and only used my feet as means of transportation. Inside the site you can get around by horse, donkey or camel. My husband tried out the camel!


We used different modes of transportation during our trip. Renting a car allowed us to drive along the border with Lebanon and Syria, where we could hear and see smoke from gunfire coming from the mountains. (It was surreal to be standing there as tourists. Behind us, on the mountaintop, we could also see Israeli soldiers on the Golan Heights.) I was so surprised and flabbergasted I even forgot to try to make a sketch of the situation.

We also took buses, which are ideal to get to many places. We took a bus to Eilat (above left) which is in the border with Jordan. We felt really safe during that trip: on one side we had two sleeping armed soldiers, on another side a Muslim woman reading her Koran, and in front of us a praying Jew with his tefillin on his head. In Jordan, we hired a driver, Husain. You can see him, and my husband, in the last sketch.


In all, the trip was a marvellous voyage through time and politics. Israel, Palestine and their neighboring countries are facing difficult times. I really hope that those who support the peace process will succeed, but it will be very, very difficult. Sketching is the ideal manner to interact with all the parties and hear their stories.

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