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

Sketch artist Mike Sheehan brings new perspectives to Southern California Public Radio

Editor's note: Sketch artist Mike Sheehan is a regular contributor in Off Ramp, a radio show that broadcasts on 89.3 KPCC Southern California Public Radio. In this guest post, he shares some of his work and talks about his sketching process. The sketches are excerpted from his recent story: Immigration news: Sketches of Murrieta and the undocumented migrants debate.

By Mike Sheehan

When I go to cover one of these events I bring a big toolbag with wheels, like luggage, a small bag of acrylics and my everyday sketch bag that has a small watercolor set. I never know what the conditions will be and what I'll need. The immigration protests were a good example. The first sketch of the people on the corner is basically right when I got out of the car. It was a good opportunity to sit and warm up my hands and eyes. Sitting there I realized this would call for one of my smallest set-ups: a Moleskine folio sized sketchbook with an elastic caddy that fits over it. I would not get a chance to sit down the rest of the day.

I sketched the dancer when I got to the crowd. I had to balance my pen, sketchbook and waterbrush in the middle of a loud angry crowd while standing up. No shade anywhere so the pages really blind you. But I like this kind of dynamic situation. You get people unvarnished and I love sketching so it's a blast for me. The drawing on the opposite page is one of the corner protesters. He kept hitting these great poses with his flag, waiting to engage someone in debate.

The two with police tape in them are a good example of when you get a lucky gift, something that helps tell your story. In this case literally a dividing line between two schools of thought. I sketched it from one side, crossed over and sketched it from the other. Also got to overhear a lot of conversations that way.

The rest are of various people I saw throughout the day. The little notes next to them are what I heard or just observations.

A sneak peek inside Mike's sketching bag.

I use a lot of different techniques to speed up the process depending on where I am. In this case I used a water soluble pen and a waterbrush. I can get tone quickly and not have to waste a lot of time with as much line. Speed is so important doing this type of work. No one is posing. That man yelling and holding up the sign behind police tape only did that for maybe a minute. I want that moment, in the moment.

The last part of my process is scanning and putting the sketches together in a clean format. I have a blank image of all the sketchbooks I use so the final presentation is clear and uniform. Most of the time I just transfer the page as is onto a scan of the blank pages to show it as it looks in my sketchbook. It's much easier than color correcting and fixing every scan. It would be hard to keep the presentation consistent that way. When I'm in the middle of sketching a story I'm constantly moving between images. I'm never precious about a drawing. If it doesn't feel right I abandon it and start a new one. Also I never know what the story is going to be until I get there. I like the story to "present" itself. But as soon as it does I'm also starting to think about design.

Sheehan sketching the Los Angeles Opera rehearsing "Tosca" at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
The actors were rehearsing on the scaffold.

When you sketch a lot you develop a sixth sense about what people are going to do. I know when someone is probably going to return to certain poses. I'll capture a flash of it, then move on to another person or part of the scene. I'll keep the first person in my peripheral vision and jump back and forth to capture things as they are moving. Sometimes I juggle three or four at a time.

At the end I'm editing the images out that didn't work, don't serve the story etc. That's what I keep my sketchbook templates for, editing. The sketches that take a whole page are designed on the spot and don't need anything but color correction. I don't edit the drawings themselves.

At the immigration protests it was hot so there are a lot of ink smudges. I like those, they are an artifact of the process. Something that digital images don't have. I miss the artifacts in film photography. I like that mark of the hand.

I don't use photo reference. If I don't get it there I don't get it. It always feels like a tightrope walk. I think I'm not going to get anything and I'm going to blow it. Then something catches my eye and leads me in and I'm off and running. It feels like a dance. If you can catch the rhythm of the place, you've got it.

I usually stop to eat on my way home and hit lines or add a splash of color here and there while it's still in my memory. I can never sleep after all this. I get too revved up.

Then I start the writing.

Listen to a radio interview with Mike Sheehan: Off-Ramp, the only radio show with a sketch artist: Mike Sheehan

Visit Sheehan's website at





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