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

Lorna McMahon's Garden: An Oasis of Serenity in Galway City

In early summer every year, you can leave Galway City and head west for a few minutes, and find yourself in heaven. Lorna McMahon opens her garden, Ard Carraig, to the public for three consecutive Sundays each May to support Mental Health Ireland. Lorna pots up literally thousands of plants to sell at the open days, and it raises lots of badly-needed funds for the organisation. But at 75, she's beginning to find the work involved in that a bit much, and next year will be the last year that she opens Ard Carraig to the public.

I first visited Lorna's garden about sixteen years ago. That time, I was on my own, and tears came to my eyes as I walked through the woodland area. Dappled sunlight filtered through birches, making bluebells, wild garlic and ferns glow in the greenish gloom, and I was transported to another woodland on the side of a mountain in Co. Wicklow, where I grew up.
Two years later, I carried my baby on my back through Lorna's garden, and later again, my toddlers hopped over the rocks and played in the streams that twist and turn through the garden. And then a few weeks ago, my eldest - the baby in the back carrier - had to be bribed to come with us, and sulked from start to finish, but I saw her running her hand over the bark of a silver birch, and feeling the fronds of a fern through her fingers.

"Lorna must have lots of help with the garden," said my husband, as we walked through five acres of immaculate, weed-free beauty.
"No, she does it all on her own," I answered. "In fact if her family want to contact her, they have to write or call in - she rarely hears the phone."

The day we visited, I asked Lorna if I could come back and paint in the garden: I thought between us, we might be able to do something with the paintings, to raise money for the charity she supports. She was delighted.
"Thirty years ago, I held a dance to raise money for Mental Health Ireland," she said. "People didn't want to buy tickets. If they did, they did so anonymously, because they didn't want to be associated with the stigma of mental health issues. It's much better now, but it's still there."
I told her that I had had my troubles in the past, and that I wanted to play my part to help, if I could.

This is the herb garden. "It used to be a tennis court," Lorna told me. "but none of the children played anymore. So I made these raised beds, and when I had to move a bed for some reason a while back, the white lines were still visible. It could all be moved away again in three days, if necessary."
I marvelled at the variety of herbs I saw.
"There's a section of herbs that appear in Shakespeare, and another with herbs that appear in the Bible...but on the whole, the herbs have been chosen for their medicinal, ornamental or culinary value."
Then I was left on my own to draw. Suddenly I heard a terrible squeaking, as if a rat was being attacked by a flock (a murder?) of crows. Any sketcher will tell you that nothing short of an apocalypse will get you to move, but I had to see what the noise was about. A huge frog squatted near the hedge on the right. I wondered if it had been injured, so I poked it lightly with the edge of my paper. It squeaked loudly and hopped now I know that frogs squeak.

This drawing is from the primula and azalea garden, chosen because they were at their best when I was there a couple of weeks ago. Sadly, I didn't do the beautiful primulas justice, which are more like a troupe of pretty ballerinas that the measly stalks I produced. But I have an idea up my sleeve that will fix that when the time comes.
There are also lots of luscious hostas alongside the primulas, and as they aren't in any way fiddly to draw, I have no excuse. I'd love to go back and do them again.
Lorna has made all these little private areas within the garden, each with its own focal point, like the Japanese temple (if that's what it is) in this sketch. It was heaven to draw - all those strong, simple shapes - but I can't say the same for the blossoms everywhere. Ah well, it's all a learning curve and it'll be fun getting there, and I'll have plenty of opportunities over the year as I return to paint the garden some more.

As usual, time went far too fast. In stark contrast to the crowds that were there on the Open Days, I had the entire place to myself, with nothing but the sounds of very relaxed birds singing around me, and no more alarming squeaks. I had plenty of time to reflect on the great good fortune that was the discovery of sketching, how it's been therapeutic beyond words for me...and how I might be able to help others in some way through this practice.

Tip: Lorna's hostas were magnificent, and didn't have a single slug bite. Lorna says if you go out on a nice day in January and kill the slugs, before they get a chance to breed, you won't be troubled by them for the rest of the year.

More of my work here.





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