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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