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".
Blog
Flickr

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

A Matter Of Conscience: Meeting Punters and Painters in Mary O'Donoghue's Pub, Kilcolgan

A week or two ago, I joined a group of artists in one of the pubs in my village, O'Donoghue's of Kilcolgan, Co. Galway, for an evening of sketching. I was delighted they were meeting there, just a minute or two from my house: I have only been in the group for a short while, and I looked forward to getting to know them better, and sketching a bit too.

There were about fifteen people there by the time I arrived, all sketching away quietly. All the tables were full, and because I didn't know most of them, I sat at a table on my own. I settled into a sketch immediately - I am very used to sketching in public, so I didn't feel in the least self-conscious.

I remembered my old maxim, "If it's mobile, draw it immediately, because it's going to move!" and so I drew the man sitting with his back to me, and quickly painted him in.

The owner of the bar is called Mary O'Donoghue. That's her in the white top, but she never stays still for long, and by the time I had finished drawing David - the gentleman on the right - I had missed my chance to capture Mary. The  man on the left is called Donal, I think.

I soon realised that sketching quietly at my little table, keeping a low profile, with Mary around was going to be impossible. 
"Do you mind if I see your book!" she said. "And do you mind if I show it to everyone!"(There were indeed exclamation marks, not question marks, after her requests.) 
"Look everyone! Look at these sketches!" she said, and proceeded to go around to every other sketcher with my sketchbook. You really can't be shy or retiring at these things, and I guess you could say the ice was certainly broken after that. Then she showed my sketchbook to everyone who came into the bar for a quiet drink, whether they were in the mood for a exhibition of sketches or not.
I was so touched at the simple pleasure she got from looking at a bunch of very ordinary sketches - things like a cloudy sky, or my boy having his hair cut, even a very wobbly sketch of my husband driving along the motorway - no "art" as such, no careful landscapes or portraits. 

After a while, David's wife came in, and pulled up a stool between her husband and Donal. 
"I'm sorry I didn't keep a space for you in my drawing," I said to David's wife, eyeing her white blouse with black polka dots wistfully - I adore painting spots and stripes. 
She was a most jolly woman.
"Never mind!" she laughed. "Would you not draw me hovering over his head, like his conscience?"
"What an excellent plan!" I said.
"Bleep off!" said David, using the vernacular.

Meanwhile, some of the other sketchers had gathered around me to ask about my various pens and paints, and in this way we began to chat and generally introduce ourselves. The topic turned to drawing classes: they asked me if I gave workshops, and if so, what was my approach. We spoke about drawing, and how they sometimes felt that it was not prioritised at art college.

It tied in with my own experience of art college: I met some amazing, inspirational tutors, but too many 
whose remit it was to open our eyes to the world of art, but who were so jaded that they sought to humiliate and belittle those who drew for the sheer joy of it. I remember one tutor who told me my work was (bad word) and made me cry. She gave me an E. My tears didn't stop her tirade...I was seventeen years old.

That's why the simple act of sketching, and the urban sketching movement, is such a gift to everyone who loves drawing. It doesn't come with any pretensions. The Irish word for drawing, tarraingt, translates as "pulling": you are pulling the pen across the paper. I think that is a simple way to describe a simple act. The students and I didn't agree on anything concrete for workshops, but if we do, it will be my duty and my honour to show them some of the not-rocket-science tricks I use to make drawing a bit easier.

At the end of the evening, we thanked Mary for her hospitality.
"You've made my day," she said. She had so much enjoyed watching everyone sketch in harmony, and was so hospitable, that I will certainly return...and who knows - maybe I'll get to draw Mary herself.

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