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

A week in Provence...but I long for a year

By Róisín Curé in Nice, France

Imagine this: you're in  a sketcher's paradise, surrounded by strong shapes and clear, intense colours. Every person who passes cries out to be captured in your sketchbook. The weather is sunny, without being scorching - perfect for a sketching session, long or short. You have all your kit with you. You're a kid in a candy shop...but you cannot indulge.

That was my sketching experience last week in Nice, on the Cote d'Azur. A classic first-world problem: I was with my family on a much-needed break, and so I experienced the conflict of wanting to draw everything I saw, while at the same time wanting to kick back with the family all the time, too. So I did what I could: I hoped there would be "cracks" in the day when I'd get a chance to sneak a sketch in, and so it turned out.

My husband and I stayed in a charming apartment tucked into the eaves of a building on Rue Dijon, near the market at Libération. I tried sitting on one of the sloping beams to draw the view from the window but that was too uncomfortable, so I balanced everything precariously on the windowsill of the other room and stood on a footstool...the early morning sunshine was too glorious to miss. I did this sketch over two mornings when the city, and my better half, were still asleep.

I was nervous about the orange of the roof nearest me, but I remembered Felix Scheinberger's wonderfully abandoned use of colour, and threw caution to the wind - the place it belongs, when you're sketching, in my opinion. So I just mixed the brightest orange I could come up with on my slovenly-kept palette and lashed it down.

Over the week, I made more false starts and abandoned more half-begun sketches than I have ever done, and my specially-reserved France sketchbook is (for the most part) a crashing disappointment.

One morning a flare-up in a minor knee problem provided the perfect excuse to stay at home for an extra hour...but instead of going back to the apartment I stopped by the fish market at Libération on the way back, and cast about for something that would inspire a sketch. Then I saw these -

and I knew I had found my subject. Luckily, there was a café just opposite it, and I sat down with a coffee. It was bliss: as soon as I sat down and started to draw, I felt that familiar blanket begin to envelope me, when the locals start to edge closer and engage; I'm like a cameraman in a wildlife documentary, when the meerkats start to get curious. The beautiful thing about being fluent in the local tongue as a sketcher is that the experience becomes infinitely richer. I began with those beautiful fish heads on the left. The younger fishmonger saw me drawing them and apologised when a customer bought one, but said he'd only take them from the back. I drew the older fishmonger, a quiet man, and when I finished the younger fellow said "Now for the young man!" and took up a Charles Atlas-type pose, all biceps and profiles.
"I'm sorry," I told him, "but I won't draw you like that."
He obliged and went back to serving customers. After a bit he came for a look.
"Em..." I said, "would you mind..."
"Go back to work, is what you're saying," he said. Luckily a lady customer came along and I caught him just as he held out the paper to take her order.
The owner of the bar where I was sitting came over to me.
"That's all very well," she said, "but you haven't drawn Lolotte." She bent down to kiss a black labrador-sheepdog cross with a gentle expression.
"She hasn't drawn you, has she, my darling, but she'll draw you now, won't she? Such a beautiful little Lolo, my beautiful Lolotte," she told the dog, amid many kisses on the dog's muzzle.
The fishmongers tried to get Lolotte to sit for me. But the pavement was wet, having been sluiced down by the fishmongers, and poor Lolotte sat there under duress so I did her as quickly as possible.

I apologised for not doing Lolotte justice but the café owner was very happy.
"That's her, alright," she said. "That's my beautiful Lolotte."

One day, everyone hopped on a train - kids, grandparents, the whole shebang - and tootled off down the coast to Italy. We were enchanted by the locals in the little town where we got off; a tall, large-bellied policeman, resplendent in navy uniform, dashing white cap and mirrored sunglasses, gave us directions in a thoroughly laid-back "nothing's a problem" manner, finished with that adorable "Prego," that sounds so calm. My parents had eaten in a place they loved a couple of years before, and insisted on traipsing for miles along the promenade - almost deserted in late October - to find it. Tempers were getting frayed, it was really late and I was pretty sure everything was going to be a disaster. Then we found it. I think it was called Chica Loca, and it's in Bordighera. Go there. It's heaven. The husband sat with his arm out of the window, with a sun beating down on us that would have been unbearable a month earlier, but was divine in late autumn. Waves crashed against the pebble beach just a few feet below us. I ate the most incredible homemade fusilli: afterwards I tried to say to the waiter in my extremely rudimentary Italian that I would try to make it myself when I got home, but I must have asked him for the recipe, as he said he couldn't give it to me because the chefs would slit his throat (which he illustrated with a gesture). This of course enhanced my experience of Italians, and of Italy. Afterwards the kids went for a swim and I sketched...

...the sun began to go down and I watched our waiter sweep up after us. That's him at the window where we were sitting.

Back in Nice, my husband and I had our morning coffee and croissants next to the market at Libération. The entire street is lined with vegetable sellers, all selling something more or less unique to them - that way they weren't really competing with each other, I guess. My favourite vegetables were the tiny pumpkins called Jack be Little (as in Jack be Quick, Jack jump over the Candlestick...!) and the fantastic slices of giant organic pumpkin that I bought; we loved the light greenish-yellow piles of curly lettuce leaves, nicely plucked from the stalks, so that you could buy as little or as much as you liked; the giant butternut squash, standing in rows, like a vegetable mugshot. We bought strawberries grown nearby, the vendor terribly excited that the unseasonably sunny weather meant they were still ripening in the fields. I took the opportunity to make a sketch one morning.

There remained one or two things that I really wanted to draw. The facade of my parents' place in the Russian Quarter is a truly impressive feat of Art Déco architecture. I love that all the buildings are signed by the architects. But I encountered a problem - this time I couldn't blame it on lack of time, or family commitments, or the cold...the problem was me. I found I simply wasn't up to the task of drawing all those details.
"I'm sketching in a genuinely urban environment for the first time in ages," I said to the husband, "and I fail miserably." I was deeply disappointed in my sketching skills when it came to the crunch: I obviously need to draw many more fabulous Art Déco buildings to get a better handle on them.

Ah well. I guess I shall just have to return. There are many more "tableaux" out there with my name on them.

More of my work here.





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