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

Costa Rica, Part 1 of 4

Of all my recent travels, Costa Rica has been the hardest place to capture in sketches. For one, we visited in the rainy season. It rarely ever stopped pouring for more than a few minutes. And, we hiked, river rafted, ziplined and were generally on the move. Add that to the rain and it’s hard to whip out a book and sketch. And then there was the extra challenge of being bitten by bugs. No amount of bug spray and long pants kept the bugs and mosquitoes from eating me alive if I stood still for more than a few seconds.

So did I sketch? Yes, but there’s not one sketch of the incredible cloud forests or of the layer upon layer of vegetation of the tropical rainforests. Instead, I drew the little stuff. The plants, the ducks, a single tree, things that captured my eye, things I could sketch between cloudbursts.

Like these strange looking Muscovy ducks that inhabit every pond in Costa Rica. With their red, bubbly, plastic-looking face markings, they are quite a sight. And like many creatures that live too close to humans, they are pretty aggressive in their demand for food.

All those ornamental plants you might struggle to grow in your home? They grow and thrive all around the place in Costa Rica. I guess anything can grow in a place where the average annual rainfall is 250 inches!

Tortuguero is a long, thin strip of land off the North-East Coast of Costa Rica, surrounded by the Caribbean Sea. We reached it after a few hours of a very bumpy bus ride (all rides in Costa Rica are bumpy!) followed by an hour long boatride through narrow waterways surrounded by the jungle. We spotted sloths, caiman, black vultures (about as common in Costa Rica as crows are in India) and countless other birds and animals. My favorite? A tiny lizard called the Jesus Lizard. Why? Because it walks on water.

These coconut sellers in the village of Tortuguero wore strangely shaped hats made of coir. I was drawing the guy on the right at his cart, but this other guy really wanted to be in my sketch. He made his way into my ‘frame’ and stood and smiled. How could I not draw him?

Costa Rican forests are full of ficus, some with giant roots. If you look carefully, you’ll spy my son sitting among the roots of this tree, reading a book. He didn’t sit there long, though. A couple of minutes in one spot, and an army of leaf-cutting ants marched right over his feet.

More sketches and stories from my time in Tortuguero here on my blog.
And more sketches from Costa Rica coming soon!



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