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

Drawing with the Next Generation of Urban Sketchers at Atelier Communidée

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The other day I was talking to Julie Prescesky of Design, and she revealed something very cool. She's a mom and a home-schooler, and, as the resident artist in her co-op Atelier Communidée (French word-play on Community and Idea), she is making sure the kids have a great art program that includes Urban Sketching.
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I dropped by the school to meet the kids and do a couple of hours sketching down by Montreal's Lachine Canal. They seemed old-hands at field sketching. Some of them immediately found the best vantage point on top of a stone lion.

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I was impressed how well they did, even the younger ones were into drawing from observation. Trying to make a record of what they saw. I don't mean that's the limit of their imagination - at least one fellow was drawing a big turkey leg on a dinner plate. And it wasn't even that close to lunch time.

As a kid, I certainly didn't have the concept of location drawing introduced this early. It was all storybook drawings and comics at first. This has the potential to radically change up a kid's approach to learning to draw. Clearly I'm not a parent, or I'd have clued into this earlier. I wonder if anyone else out there is doing Urban Sketching with kids? Let us know about your program - it's always possible you have a USk correspondent in your area!
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Here's a short Q&A with Julie, and some pics from the day.

MTH: How would you describe your art program - just a few lines I can use to introduce you:

JP: Centre Communidée is a community run centre in St-Henri catering to homelearners in the Greater Montreal area, and beyond. We are a group of parents who collectively offer our children learning opportunities in areas we have skill (and/or interest) in.

Atelier Communidée is a workshop space we’ve recently added to our Centre that facilitates woodworking, pottery, sewing and more for us AND the greater public. More info on how to join [here] .

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MTH: Was it in fact USK (Montreal) that got you interested in taking the kids out and drawing on location - or were you doing it already?

JP: I seem to recall admiring the USK:MTL blog and Facebook posts long before I ever actually joined you guys for a Sunday Sketchcrawl. I started getting out and sketching urban environments on my own and really fell in love with it. I had been teaching a basic drawing class to the kids at the Centre at the time, and, with the weather changing for the better, I thought the kids might enjoy getting out there too.

That was when I met with USK:MTL for the Little Burgundy Sketchcrawl and that pretty much sealed the deal for me. I was in love. And I was excited to share it with the kids. So, yes, USK:MTL planted that seed, absolutely. (Ed. Note: *fist pump - yes!*)

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MTH: Do you notice any of the kids engaging with the world through drawing on their own, outside of 'official' drawing time?

JP: Indeed! One parent told me that after only one session with us, her daughter was out and about in their neighborhood sketching all of the time. My own daughter will sometimes draw herself to sleep. Sure not outdoors, but she’ll use drawing as a way to calm her mind and prepare for bed. My boys draw crazy contraptions all of the time, but they haven’t yet crossed the threshold of wanting to wander outside and draw on their own.

I think having the opportunity to go out and draw on a regular basis with their friends will help inspire them to do it also during their own time. I try to keep drawing time really low pressure. Nothing squashes interest like expectations. The goal is to have fun. I want to foster a positive connection to drawing for these kids.

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MTH: What do you think are the benefits to starting observational drawing so young?

JP: We have a wide array of ages in our little group, from toddler thru teenager, to mature adult, and we all mix and mingle together. I’ve seen that the younger ones, though still sometimes self-conscious, tend to have an easier time letting go of what something is “supposed” to look like. It seems like a much scarier thing for the adults to do.

Sketching and “learning to see” is a great tool for recognizing that things that once seemed unattainable, are absolutely within their grasp, and all it takes is an appropriate attitude (i.e., a willingness to try despite self-doubt, or a willingness to let go of the notion that they CAN’T do it).

We have also noticed that observational drawing helps you to connect with your environment in a very quiet, yet spectacular way. Things you’ve passed by hundreds of times suddenly become fresh and beautiful. You start to form a different kind of relationship with that place.

Just like music holds memory, and scent holds memory, I think these sketches will hold memory for our little urban sketchers. And, it could very possibly yield a sense of greater pride in our community.

You can see some of our urban sketching adventures in and around St-Henri on my blog.

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MTH: Thanks to Julie for inviting us to her kids sketching group, and I hope they keep at it, and one day we’ll see them sketching at a USk event!

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