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: Urban Watercolor Sketching by Felix Scheinberger

By Róisín Curé

In the eighties, I attended a very prestigious art college for a year. On the instructions of our tutors, I learned how to scour rubbish dumps for objets trouvés, how to gather dead leaves and mossy branches for an installation and how to make a xylophone from scrap metal.

I certainly didn't learn anything at all about using watercolour. The very idea! Fast forward thirty years or so, and I used watercolour all the colour in my drawings. I was very conscious that I never used watercolour for any pretty effects, or to summon atmosphere in a painting. I knew how to make a sketch look "real", and to that end, sure, I knew what I was doing. Turns out I had no idea what I was missing.

I found Felix's book by chance, browsing for something else. Someone had posted one of those flick-throughs as part of a review, I was immediately excited and bought it without hesitation. I also bought one for my sister, who is an accomplished oil painter, but a relative beginner in watercolour.

I don't know when I've looked forward to a book as much.

I wasn't disappointed. The book is absolutely stunning, as vibrant as the best kids' book you've ever seen; the format is great, a double-page spread for each topic, peppered with madcap illustrations full of life.
I've chosen a few pages to show just how impressive and vibrant the illustrations are. The first is from the section near the beginning which gives a little history of the origin of colours. It's like the opening act of a symphony...

I apologise to Felix for cutting off the edges of the pages, I think I'd be most unimpressed if my carefully-designed page was unceremoniously chopped, but my scanner isn't big enough I'm afraid. But doesn't the page give you a rush? It's so loose, so fluid, so...dramatic.

As I read through Felix's book I realised I'd had another of those epiphanies. I wrote a review of another book not too long ago, and I had said in response to a comment that there would never be a book that would make such an impact on me again, because you can't die twice: a bit of a smart-alec remark, to be sure, but now I can top it. Having read Felix's book, I've died and gone to heaven.

It's not only a delight to look at, but is extremely practical and useful. There's lots of stuff on putting colours together harmoniously, and the theory behind this. There's a section on which colours to put in your travel sketchbox (which I have now followed slavishly). There's fascinating information on using complimentary colours, being bold, and interpreting a scene just how you want to, like leaving lots of areas unpainted, forgetting measuring or counting (something  of which I had always been a keen practioner). Then there's loads of really useful techniques on different ways to use watercolour, all of which were new to me, and I've had a great time playing around with them.

Felix generously opens his bag for us to poke around in -

...which is a lovely thing to do because people always think that if only they had the tools someone else had, they'd crack the secret (well, I did anyway, before I learned that it the answer lay elsewhere i.e. non-stop practice).

Since I have absorbed this wonderful book, my eyes have been opened to the myriad possibilities of watercolour. My natural control-freakery still wants to measure, count and weigh, but I'm trying.

Here's another page, included just because it's beautiful:

I just love Felix's style and while it will probably be many years before I can be loose and sketchy in the way that I want to be, I've definitely learned loads and my work is very much the better for it.

It's also reminded me of something that can sometimes be forgotten -  the sheer, naked joy to be had with a pen and box of watercolours.

More of my work here.





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