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".
Blog
Flickr

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

Oxford Workshop - Pushing your Sketching Boundaries - July 2014

It was great to see the long planning coming to fruition and we were getting more excited about the Oxford Workshop as the day approached. On Saturday morning I hear that Swasky has started his journey on a Mini Countryman and it is heading for Calais - Dover - Oxford where he would arrive on Sunday night. You can see some of the sketches of that journey here. Meanwhile I (Isabel) was finishing off preparing all the handouts for my colour workshop and the prints for the exhibition initial set up. On Monday, Swasky and I met at the Arts at the Old Fire Station to set up the boards for the exhibition and that initial setup was finalised on Tuesday morning.


In the afternoon we prepared the timetables, information and their for the workshop attendees who started arriving (eager and early) at 4pm for a quick welcome, introduction gathering and we gave to them their goodies bags (Stillman & Birn Watercolor sketchbooksRosemary and Co. pocket brushes and Canson sketchbooks and some more little presents), followed by drinks at the nearest pub:)), where we started to get to know them.

            
Preparing goodies bags (Stillman & Birn, Rosemary and Canson presents)

Delays on traffic and flights made it impossible for all to arrive on that earlier date including Miguel who suffered some overbooking on his flight and managed to get to Oxford late on the Tuesday night (nerves!!).
Work proper started on Wednesday morning with the workshops on colour (Isabel), people (Swasky) and line (Miguel).
Each day we took a group each in the morning and one in the afternoon and took them to one of six locations to explore our themes. At the end of each session, we gathered the sketchbooks and each person put forward one sketch for the exhibition for each workshop, that we copied and we pinned up on the walls of the exhibition. The result a “work in progress” exhibition for all to see and that got attention from the visitors to the venue and the local press albeit the article was published after the event. The group photo by freelance photographer David Fleming for the Oxford mail captures the nice feel of the group at the gallery space at Arts at the Old Fire Station.


Isabel says:

Colour and Texture is what I love the most and I wanted to get the participants excited about. I got them to try watercolour even if some were not confident at first, I hope they all felt they can now try without fear. Most of them normally sketch neatly something and colour it afterwards, whereas I got them to work in colour first and primarily, without drawing first, and in blocks of colour and tone, in layers to approximate the sketch that only at the end could be drawn over if desired. I think that most were out of their comfort zone but they were all very receptive to new ideas and experimented in ways they had not done before and pushed themselves, in their own styles, to use more colour and lose the fear of not doing it “right”.


The morning session was outdoors (except when we had to use a cafe in the vaults of St Mary’s as the rain was pouring down), and watercolour run freely and colorful.

The afternoon session, at the Oxford’s University Natural History and Pitt Rivers Museums, was more challenging as we could not use media inside that involved water. Also the two museums have a multitude of potential subjects that i find fascinating (loads of animal skeletons in one and loads of ethnographic artifacts in the other) and hoped others did too. To overcome the “rules of the museum”, I thought we can use a multi visit approach, choose the subject and sketch it in colour first (with watercolour pencils for example), looking for tone; then come out and do a watercolour sketch based on that first sketch whilst seating out in the green in front of the museum, and finally go back in and finish it with further colour touches in watercolour pencils and or pen indoors.


The afternoons were hot and we did suffer a bit on that front, luckily we had an ice cream vendor on the green! I also got them to do a couple of “games” which involved using candle wax to do an invisible sketch only revealed after they applied watercolour over it, and using an ink pad to create colour blocks over which sketch inside. I was very interested in seeing the different responses from the students to this challenge. Some did a single very detailed sketch based on multiple additions in colour inside and outside whereas others did various drawings using the different techniques. All in all these afternoon sessions were exhausting but loads of fun and with good results.


Swasky says:


Preparing this workshop was an idea I got two years ago. I was staying in London and I met Isabel, we went drawing to the Tate Modern and also Saint Paul’s Cathedral. It was a great time and we enjoyed it a lot. From the first time I realized that Isabel is an energetic woman who doesn’t stop working and she was the person who I wanted to organise a workshop with and I love her work with watercolour. Nevertheless, at that time, I was busy with the Barcelona Symposium so we had to wait. After summer 2013 and a great symposium in Barcelona, I got some free time in my life and my desire to organise a workshop was even bigger so I sent a-email to Isabel. She was busy (as usual) but we agreed to start organising the workshop. One last thing I suggested, before we started is that there should be three instructors, three points of view, three styles, three are the minimum number of supports to have a chair, a stool …so, I suggested Miguel Herranz a great sketcher and great teacher. She didn’t doubt and said yes.

My workshop was about drawing people and my two sessions were focused in getting to draw people without fear. I know that sometimes we sound like coaches, even some people called me “Yoda”, but in someway we are I also recognize that sometimes we may sound “weird” because we say obvious statements, but we have forgotten most of them and we need reminding.


Once we started I really enjoyed working with a small group, they were 10 people. For me it was a need to work a maximum of 10 people, I suggested it when we were talking about organisation issues and we all agreed that it is the best number for working individually and as a group.
Oxford is a nice city with a bustling city center. I was lucky and in two sessions we had the chance of drawing in a open-air market, and in another one, due to the rain, in the covered market. Open-air markets are quite similar to the mediterranean markets, relatively speaking, but the most important thing was that we found what we needed: people.


On the other hand, the covered market was different, nice as a venue but sometimes quiet. Luckily there was a nice bakery where bakers worked behind a big display window so we took advantage of this and drew people doing things.


Before going to the venue I started with a series of warm up exercises, plenty of exercises and then relax... It is like when you go to the gym and do a quick series of exercises and then relax, it stretches you.


I have to say thank you to Isabel because I know how difficult is to organise something and you have been in charge on place, thank you so much!


Miguel says: 

I must say I was the last one who arrived at this project. I knew that Victor was working on some workshop with Isabel but at some point (it was february or so) he asked me whether I was interested in joining the project and it was some kind of unexpected gift. Teaching for 3 days in a row, 6 hours each and in english was a big challenge, but of course I was interested, actually I looked forward to it!

I have worked now for 3 years with Swasky, teaching together and at the organisation of the USk Symposium that took place in Barcelona in 2013. I knew he’s a great partner. The great surprise was Isabel, a true force of nature, it’s been a pleasure to work with them, or should I say to give them my little help. I feel so grateful to both of you.

My workshop was about line and my aim was to give the attendees new tools to face drawing on location as some kind of personal writing, to get a “hand” as one used to be say in calligraphy. I tried to give some tips to take memory references that allow to translate what we see on the paper, but the hidden idea is to acquire a way to approach what we see and what we draw as a life moment to be captured in the sketchbook.


I saw some perplexity on the attendees about a way of teaching that does not give instructions but tools. I must say that it all disappeared when they perceived and felt that it’s not so important if the drawing is right or wrong but only whether it is or is not what you want to tell, and it allows you to express yourself as you want.


It’s been a great experience to collaborate with Swasky and Isabel, meeting some old and new friends and having again the opportunity of sharing the joy of drawing together.

Party and Sketchcrawl finale:

After all the work we wanted a small party to finish off and to show off the exhibition to the participants that they had put together so we had brought a little surprise Cava! to say thank you to all participants!

Thanks to Isabelle, Judith, Francesca, Jane, Jon, Len, Robin,Rebecca, Martine, Guylaine, Zahra, Andre, Chris, Jeanette, Bridget, Enuma, Helen,Rachel, Simon, Claudia, Zofia, Cristiano, Barbara, Natalia, Caroline, Lawrence, Martin, Livia, Nicola and Catherine for all the hard work and for making it possible! Thank you Emily for your help along the three workshop days.

And I want to thank also Swasky and Miguel for coming such a long way to help me with the workshop, it has been a great project! This is the beginning of loads more sketches, adventures and projects! I look forward to seeing you all soon.

The final act of the workshop, albeit in free format, as the 44th Sketchcrawl with the Urban Sketchers London held at Portobello Rd Market on a swelteringly hot day. Thank you to all of them and specially to James Hobbs. A very fun day FULL of people and we made an impression as Isabel got a request for helping the market celebrate their 150th anniversary next year!


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