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

Eight Urban Sketchers, One mountain, Endless possibilities

On a clear, sunny day in early September, eight urban sketchers spent a day together on Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

By sharing our sketches and notes as a single post, we hope to share what we experienced: the excitement and the magic that comes from exchanging ideas, trying new things, being influenced by each other or just simply sketching on location together. Here they are, the sketchers, their sketches and their thoughts, in their own words.



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OMAR JARAMILLO : Germany, Berlin
This was my first watercolor. The sky, clouds, mountains and water were fantastic and I wanted to get an atmospheric watercolor sketch. First blue wash, when still wet clear water to create clouds and the end a grey rose mix under that...



On this next one, I started by creating three different glazes for the sky. Liz and I were discussing mixing more pigment in the palette with little water to get intensive mix of colors. I was very interested in Suhita's drawing, trying to get rich darks. So I was trying to apply it in this piece. I am very proud of my little guy on the platform (bottom right). It shows the scale.



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SHIHO NAKAZA : USA, Los  Angeles
This trip was all about trying new approaches and capturing the sense of place. I was inspired to take on new approaches - using a Moleskine watercolor book (which I usually don't like), working across the spread (which I normally don't do), and painting directly with watercolors (which I should do more of!)

The view of the city from Pão de Açucar is spectacular - Corcovado with Christ the Redeemer statue can be seen in the distance, overlooking the highrises by the bay with sailboats dotted throughout the sea. Turkey vultures were soaring in the wind, and the occasional helicopter and planes passed through. I tried to capture them all.



And this one is a sketch of Sugarloaf itself, before we take one more cable car to go to the very very top...



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ESTHER SEMMENS : UK, Scotland
In this first sketch, I was trying to capture the depth in the mountains and the interesting relationship between the thick green growth of the trees and the flow of Favelas running down the hillside. I remember wondering where to start or what information to use and taking it slowly trying to choose what details were important for me (I love detail). For me it was the dark foliage which framed the white / bright buildings. I added in some shadows to represent the multitude of buildings but didn't want to overdo it.



The other two sketches of Sugarloaf were simple studies. With the one on the left, I may have layered up too many colours losing the spontaneity I was trying to capture. The second attempt was when we were enjoying lunch and it was more of a relaxed line study with a little bit of paint added to the sky and the foliage to frame Sugarloaf.








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LIZ STEEL : Australia, Syndey
The view from the first level of Sugarloaf was breathtaking… but my eye was drawn to the dramatic cliff of Corcovado (I don't care too much for the statue on the top - it is all about the sheer cliff face for me). I ended up doing two quick panoramic sketches from our first sketching spot - using different media and with a slightly different emphasis each time.

The first sketch which started with Corcovado as my focus was done using a watercolour pencil outline and some quick watercolour washes. It was all about the geography of the city - how the smaller hills relate to the sheer vertical faces of Corcovado. I loved the soft calligraphic line of my pencil which because it was a little damp was giving me a hit and miss line. I was afraid to do too much to this sketch - so I stopped early and turned the page and started a second one. (one of my mottos is 'if in doubt…. stop and do another one')


The second sketch once again started with Corcovado as the focus but this time I was more interested in how the built form of the city interacted with the topography - the high rise in the plain and the favelas rising up the hillsides. My colour was a lot stronger and I got out my favourite sailor ink pen for the main edges.


Both of these sketches were worked very fast and spontaneously - I just started and went where the sketch took me. I don't do a lot of landscapes (wish I did more!) and vast panoramas like this one (how many panoramas are there like this in the world anyway?) but I was thinking about how to create depth by varying colour hue and temperature. I love the way that the two sketches tell such a different story.

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LYNNE CHAPMAN UK, Yorkshire
I found it really hard at first, working out how on earth to paint so much information: how to squeeze all those mountains into a tiny Moleskine, and then the even trickier issue of how you ‘code’ so many shoulder-to-shoulder high-rises and the sprawling mass of favelas, trailing towards infinity along every valley. Someone in the group summed it up: ‘It’s like someone spilled their Lego out over everything’. I painted first, capturing an impression of the scene, then used ink to try and get a sense of the ‘clutter’ of the buildings. Spot the plane far right – we were above it!



There was so much drama in the setting, both vertical and horizontal, but the Moleskine flattened things out, so I began experimenting with different angles, to better capture the feel of the setting.



Working so closely alongside one another, all of us focused on this one task, created a dynamism, a kind of urgency to get it all down, again and again. It was a very special day: the peculiarly difficult but exciting challenge really bonded the group, until we felt like a team, a ‘band of sketchers’! 

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CLAUDIA JARJOURA, Australia, Syndey 
Here are two sketches from Claudia, who is still enjoying her time in Brazil.


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MARC HOLMES : Canada, Montreal
Looking to the west at Corcovado behind the city, my biggest concern was simplification of the amazing view. When you’re sketching in a group, I find myself wanting to adapt to the touring style of the people I’m with - in the sense that we’re trying to all take the same amount of time for each sitting, so nobody’s holding the others up. It’s common for someone to call out ‘how much time does everyone need?’ and there’s a little bargaining - "10 more minutes? no I need at least 15”. For this double page spread, I wanted to make myself see the simplest possible forms underneath all the detail. Just making it three shapes: land, sea and city.


This view of the headlands to the east, is my favorite sketch of the entire trip. The emerald hills, the turquoise sea, and the glittering city seem impossibly exotic. This is the one sketch that sums up our whole experience of Rio.


And lastly, some proof of how great it is to sketch with a group of talented friends. I’d been watching Omar work next to me, and really enjoying how he could reduce a scene to its essence. I had just finished a double page spread of the Sugarloaf dome, and I wasn't particularly happy with the results.

I was comfortably sitting at a table with a drink - apparently that's too comfortable! Things get overworked :)  His sketch was showing me how I'd lost my way. So I started again, and banged this one out in, I swear, about a minute.

It’s a perfect example of how one should do 10 sketches and throw away 9, in order to get a perfect impression. A watercolor sketch is only alive while the water is flowing. If it becomes too deliberate, too ‘finicky’, all is lost.


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SUHITA SHIRODKAR : USA, San Jose
To me, working alongside other sketchers (something I very rarely ever do) is a chance to be open to ideas and influences and to try new things. This first sketch was especially challenging: not only was I trying to capture a truly overwhelming and spectacular view, but I was also trying a new approach of not putting all my line down first, something Liz and I had been discussing through the week. I really enjoyed the more abstract and pared-down shapes and forms I could see by working in this fashion. It's an approach I plan to play with a lot more.



By the time I was working on this sketch, I had sketched for a couple of hours and was finally wrapping my head around my "paint-first, less-line" approach.

The sketch on the right? Another rarity for me, working in monotones. This one was not inspired by a fellow sketcher up on Sugarloaf that day but by something Fred Lynch said to me the week before in Paraty: try working in just one or two colors.


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