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

National Cattle Congress: "Good set of teats"

By Marcia Milner-Brage in Waterloo, Iowa, USA

In Waterloo, Iowa, for four days in early September, dairy cows take center stage at the National Cattle Congress. It began in 1910 when cows were brought from across the US in boxcars to the sprawling fairgrounds close to downtown, to be judged and lauded, promoting the dairy industryNow, it's a regional agricultural, funfair for Northeast Iowa.

This year, I went to the Cattle Congress for several hours on two consecutive days to sketch. A couple years ago, I did the same.

For one judging, contestants were led into the arena with their udders bulging to full capacity to be perused by an expert who announced each cow's assets over the loudspeaker before awarding the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place ribbons. The Dairy Queen, a young woman wearing an evening gown, a sash, a tiara and cowboy boots, handed out the awards.

A lot of primping goes on leading up to bringing a cow into the ring. Below, 17-year-old Joe (wearing the hat) brought his 15-month-old cow Candy from an outlying community. Hosing down and brushing was just the start of the beautification. Then an array of hair products--sprays and gels--are applied. Candy mooed throughout. Paul, a dairy farmer, is the white haired man helping out. He came over to see what I was doing and told me, "These kids start showing cows when they're 5. They come every year. It keeps them out of trouble." Later, I heard that Joe's Candy won best in her breed!

There are competitions, not to judge the animal, but rather to judge the handling of the animal. It's called showmanship. Below right, an 8-year-old in a youth division wrangles his calf, following instructions from the judge.
I ran into my friend, Jean Casper-Simmet, the camera toting adult above left, who is a reporter for AgriNews, a farm journal for the Upper Midwest. I'd drawn her without her knowing. Later, she snapped this photo of me.

The National Cattle Congress isn't just about cows. 

There are horse competitions. Below, women saddled up for barrel racing.

 A cowboy looks into an empty arena, awaiting the rodeo performers.

3 years ago, I drew the rodeo. 

City people, like me, come to see other animals, too. 

Americana Rooster
The Cattle Congress grounds are a beloved landmark for northeastern Iowans. The rows of brick, metal-roofed barns were constructed in 1925 to replace the original wooden ones that blew down in a windstorm. 

As I sat painting this on my folding stool, with dried cow pies at my feet,  a whirlwind of drama unfolded around me. An Angus heifer, on the loose, galloped past, yelling men in hot pursuit! Then, a man, apparently kicked by his cow, sat stunned in a plastic chair close by, his face and shirt bloody, awaiting medical attention. There's nothing like sketching to become engulfed  in the realities of a place and an event!

I was determined to include this sign in a drawing before I called it quits on the last day of the National Cattle Congress 2014. Not a sketcher that does crowds often, I was game to try my hand on the stream of people walking from the parking lot.

Farm animals and their people captivated me the most this year at the National Cattle Congress. There's so much more that I didn't have time to draw: the amusement rides, the food stands, the musical entertainers, the beer hall, the hog competitions, the Dairy Queen,  Oh well, until next year......





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