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

Being Merrie in England: summer in Tenterden, Kent

I had the great fortune to spend a few days in Southeast England a couple of weeks ago. This is an illustrated account of my break and I hope it gives a flavour of a corner of England in the summer.

My extended family live in near Tenterden in Kent, so I've got to know it quite well. It is a very pretty town, full of red brick and cream-painted buildings in classical architecture from the Tudor period onwards, although I won't say more as I'm not an architect and I don't really know my periods. But I do know it is a town with an older-than-average age profile, an assumption I have made by looking around. You have to be careful not to be mown down by very frail flat-capped gentlemen in motorised scooters travelling quite speedily along the pavement. The first time we visited, my husband and I were enjoying an evening stroll on the outskirts of the village, making jokes about the demographic, having survived just such an encounter, and were finding ourselves hilarious. Then we passed two young ladies sharing a passionate embrace - that shut us up.

This time, my husband and I stayed in a sweet little bed and breakfast in the centre of Tenterden called Little Dane Court. Rod, the owner, is a lover of all things Japanese, and his guesthouse reflects that. The garden has an elegant Japanese garden and is generally a delight. I was inspired to sketch the bathroom of our bedroom, which is accessed via a few steep steps from the bedroom. Through the little doorway into the dressing room, two blue kimonos are ready for you, should you need one.

I started drawing the same scene in pen, as I am addicted to strong, indelible lines - but the latter came back to bite me, as I made so many mistakes with the sink that it was a total mess. Wrong lines can make a drawing lively - to a point. Too many, and you can kill it stone dead. So I turned to pencil, which always seems a bit feeble to me, but I enjoyed it all the same.

We were in England to celebrate my sister-in-law's birthday. The first night of our stay kicked off nicely. My sister-in-law's lovely house dates back to the eighteenth century and was extended upstairs using the oak beams from a dismantled ship following the Napoleonic Wars.

Here's her house: the windows look like they've been smashed, but that's just my attempt at dappled sunlight. This was done two summers ago when I was a brand-new sketcher, and I'd approach it very differently now.

I immortalised Bluebell the chicken strutting in front of the house, which is just as well as the fox got her later that day.

The weird thing about Tenterden is that although it's many miles from the sea now, it used to be right on the coast. Then a massive storm altered the entire south coast about five hundred years ago, and you can still find smuggler's dens and stuff in the town today.

The floors in my sister-in-law's house are all uneven and you take your life in your hands walking across the room, especially after a convivial night in our hosts' company. In fact lots of old buildings in Tenterden are like that, having settled unevenly over the centuries.

I did this sketch of my husband, my brother-in-law and my sister-in-law enjoying a glass or two after dinner on our first evening. No one looks particularly like themselves, but so what? It will always remind me of a pleasant night with the family.

Two days later, I drew the party as it was in progress.

Here's the same party close-up, in case you can't see the detail:

It's my idea of a classical English garden party: lots of fruit punch made with Pimm's, meringues with strawberries and cream, a fine side of beef barbequeued to perfection were served to about a hundred guests; leaves cast dappled shadows on white awnings and the sun got hotter, so children ran in and out of the spray from a hose. You can see a sweet little boy wrapped in a giant orange towel sitting on a bench after he'd had enough. I drew the figures on the right before the crowds arrived to block my view, so it looks a bit quieter than it was. As usual there were hordes of little girls watching me as I drew. One of them, my 9-year-old niece, remained silent, and surprised me with some very accomplished paintings of her own a few days later, done from life with the tiny sketch kit I had just given her for her birthday. It's so exciting when you come across a brand new sketcher, and she has the support of her mum, who is also keen to learn the secrets of sketching.

The generous hosts had hired a pair of sumo costumes, which you could slip over your head and "fat" your opponent to the ground. I'm sure there is a special Japanese verb for it that doesn't translate as "fatting". My two older children popped them on - the suits were made of a bizarre sandy-coloured PVC stuff, and came complete with man-boobs, black loincloth and topknot, and were highly padded. Almost immediately my son (12) turned a deep puce colour, as it was evidently very hot inside the suit. His older sister (14) sensed weakness - as she has since the day he was born - and although she is a sylph-like creature (unlike her sturdy brother) she had the psychological advantage, and time and again she knocked him to the mat.
This is why, when he took on his younger sister (9), my son couldn't wipe the smile off his face: his little sister was a pushover compared to his more brutal older sister, and weighs about half of what he does. Here they are. My son is the one who is smiling.

The afternoon shadows grew longer, and although the World Cup Final was due to begin at 8pm, the party showed no sign of slowing down. In the end my son and a few others turned on the match. I don't have any interest in football but - like lots of other sketchers - I've discovered that football matches provide an ideal opportunity to draw men keeping still. I did make a half-hearted attempt at watching the match, but my boy kept forgetting to keep his head to one side so that I could see (we were a bit tight for space) so I gave up and drew him instead. He looks about 17 in this but he's only a young fella of 12 - I got something badly wrong. That's his dad on the right. You'd swear my family was interested in football - but we're not, unless it's the World Cup.

There aren't many other sketches to record my visit to Kent. I had decided to leave the paints aside unless I could do it without notice, as the family does get a bit annoyed when I disappear into the sketchbook. So there are no sketches of Leeds Castle, which we visited the day after the party, and which was spectacular, and none of picturesque Tenterden or its little nineteenth-century steam train that trundles up and down ten miles of track every day. I'm sure to get a another chance some time.

But I did insist on whipping out the sketchbook on the flight home. I figured it would take my mind off the flight, and the mechanics of flying, which always make me tremendously nervous. My husband and son love all aspects of flying, and my eldest is nonchalant, but the youngest shouts things like, "Wow, it's so far down!"
I find that sketching works a lot better than reading when it comes to distracting me.

Any of you determined sketchers will know that a 100ml bottle of water is perfectly acceptable on a flight, as are paints and pens. So even as we were parked on the runway at Gatwick, I had my sketch kit out and was scribbling away.

As I started to paint, my husband was bemused. "Why are you doing the same painting as last time?" he said. "It's boring." "It's about the process, not the result," I said. Then a stunning white-blonde air steward started her safety routine. I realised far too late that she'd make a great subject, and I had just drawn her lifejacket when she packed up. You can still see the blow-up tube on the right of her chest, which I changed into the blue jacket of her dark-haired colleague.  I had to morph her into another girl, because Melissa (as the blonde girl turned out to be called)  had disappeared into the back of the plane. She was disappointed when I told her that she was nearly in my sketch, and said that she would have drawn out her safety procedure if she had known, which is a very Irish response.

Now that's service.





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