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

Book review: Everyday Matters by Danny Gregory

By Róisín Curé

There are some books that stand out in our minds for all the right reasons.
Danny Gregory's "Everyday Matters" is just such a book for me - for the very good reason that it changed my life completely.

The book was a birthday gift from my mother a couple of years ago, who insisted that I put it into my suitcase, elaborately wrapped and festooned with ribbons as is her wont, and bring it six and a half thousand miles from my home in Ireland, to Mauritius, where I was to spend the next six months. I was only there three weeks when my birthday fell and I opened the book-shaped package.

I was hooked from the very first page. Danny describes how he and his wife Patti, a pair of New Yorkers, were getting on with life, with busy jobs and a lovely little boy of about ten months. One day, Patti had a terrible accident on her way to work, following which she was permanently confined to a wheelchair. Their lives were altered forever, and they had to learn to adjust to a whole new way of living, and to try to make sense of it all.

Danny doesn't really talk much about Patti's experience of her injury (perhaps he figured that was her story to tell), but more about how he had to develop ways to cope with the new situation. He tries lots of things to take his mind off his troubles, but the one thing that really becomes a habit is drawing. Drawing any old thing - from his bathroom cabinet and its contents to stuff scattered all over the kitchen table, to the remains of a sandwich. He falls in love with drawing and slowly becomes used to drawing in public. Soon, drawing starts to feature very large in his life.

Even before I was halfway through the book, I had a blinding revelation. Why wasn't I sketching? I had been an "artist" all my life - I'll never be comfortable with that word - and art of all kinds had always featured large for me. I painted landscapes when I was commissioned, and I ran a small illustration business, and I illustrated picture books for children...but I didn't sketch. So I started to sketch, like Danny, anything around me. I was blown away by how good it felt, how natural it was and of course I was immediately addicted. Like Danny, I ventured away from the house and into the streets of Mauritius, eventually daring to draw in places I would never have imagined, like the main mosque in Port Louis, or surrounded by Hindu devotees at a holy lake, or by a million small boys on a beach.

Here's what Danny Gregory says about drawing:

"My drawings began as a way to count my blessings. To study, capture, catalog the things that, despite it all, make my life rich. First my immediate surroundings. The sun that falls on my notepad. Jack's new paintings on the fridge. The slow tumble of a dust bunny under the dining table. I try to feel these blessings, to become part of them and their source, whatever that is. And that communion, not these drawings, is the reason why I draw."

Danny writes with great honesty and simplicity about a time of personal tragedy. There is something about reading another's words when written in this way that is profoundly touching, and you feel honoured to be invited to share the writer's journey. He's funny, too, and all in all a great teacher. His drawings are so fresh and real  - wobbly lines and all - and serve his argument that it's less about result and more about process, very well (although I genuinely adore his drawing style). I still read his blog occasionally, and he has a great knack for communication, which comes across in this book. I recommend it in every class I teach, although I've yet to meet someone who has had a Damascan conversion as powerful as mine as a result of reading the book. That can only be because they haven't read it yet!

It was only about ten months after reading this book, and drawing more than I had in my entire life up to that point, that I discovered the global community of sketchers through Gabi Campanario's The Art of Urban Sketching, and my new passion entered the stratosphere. Anyone who follows what I do will know that I sketch wherever and whenever I can, and my output is enormous - I went from nought to sixty in the space of just a year. I will never forget the heady year that I discovered this book, and Gabi's the following Christmas (my mother again). That year sparkles in my memory, just like the year I that I fell in love for the last time - both marked the start of ongoing happiness.

Here's the evangelical bit: I have had more than fun, adventure and richness through sketching: I've achieved the peace of mind that I had sought all my life. There'll be other great books in my life - in fact, there's one on its way to me right now, that I can barely wait to get my hands on. But Everyday Matters by Danny Gregory was, and always will be, the book that kicked off my life as a sketcher, and gave me the start in sketching that has led me to a life that's richer than I could have imagined in my wildest dreams.

More of my work here.





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