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

The Weather Outside is Frightful...

I had been looking forward very much to Christmas. My family is scattered all over the world, and no one has a house big enough to accommodate even a few extra, so it's decades since we've all been together. I have seven siblings - and not alone do they live far away, but they have children and spouses in those far-off place too, so it's not that surprising. That's why I was so grateful that my parents were coming to join us in Galway this year. My father can always be relied upon to do something outrageous, and usually outrageously funny, and my mum is great for bigging up the whole festive vibe. But in early December my mum slipped on the kitchen floor and broke one of her vertebrae, so that put paid to the family get-together. We couldn't go to them, either, as there is even less room for us all than usual, with the new sleeping configuration while my mother recuperates. So Christmas would be the five of us.

In the end, we had a fabulous day. The sun shone, we went for a lovely walk to Tyrone House up the road and tried to hit a target with the bow and arrow set that we gave our younger daughter. Husband threatened severe recriminations on anyone who hit the polytunnel, then fired an arrow through it himself, where it came to a halt under a leafless peach tree.
"Are you going to punish yourself?" asked our thirteen-year-old son.
But the day went great. There were no rows, the meal was delicious (I highly recommend Jamie Oliver's spice mix for roast goose) and my mum is doing well.  I've spoken to her every day and she's on the mend, if very cabin-feverish.

I wanted to make a drawing of my living room because I'd made a drawing of our tree last year in monochrome, or nearly so. I had used sand-coloured tinted paper and painted in white gouache, chickening out of all those coloured babubles. Pathetic! This year I felt up to the task of recording them in colour. I thought the tree was very pretty, and I thought the cushions looked gorgeous. Sadly, having drawn them, I'm a bit sick of them now, so I'll have to change them around a bit. I also felt that I would metaphorically like to have all my sketching friends in for a nice cup of tea, and failing that I could welcome you all with a sketch of my home...even though none of my visitors ever make it further than the kitchen table.

I started the drawing (can't really call it a sketch) the day before Christmas Eve, then the festive fun kicked in: cooking and wrapping, then visiting my parents in Co. Wicklow, where my husband and my father "relaxed" rather a lot over champagne and Bordeaux. This time my husband was the outrageous one, causing my mother (from her sickbed) to cast her warm motherly eyes over me, torn between sympathy and laughter.

So I didn't get to finish it until yesterday, nearly a week later. The presents were all opened and the wrapping paper crumpled up and put away by then, so they will remain uncoloured. But I was lucky in one respect - the frost outside lasted just one day and I thought it looked beautiful through the window. My mum gave me some amazing sable brushes - a whole set - for Christmas. As I painted I sat next to the Russian stove with a fire crackling away quietly within, and with the kids lazing about in their rooms somewhere, all was silent, and I was very happy.

I told the husband I might frame this and put it up in the dining "room" (the entire downstairs is all one) next year as a kind of unusual Christmas decoration. "In case we forget what the living room looks like?" he said. But my two younger kids put the decorations on the tree together - the eldest is too cool for that now. Time marches on, kids grow up and this will always remind me of the two younger ones wittering away to each other and happily anticipating the big day.

Tomorrow is New Year's Eve. My sister has just flown all the way from Jamaica to look after our mother for a bit, but she's back to her old feisty self and she'll be on her feet, please God, in a couple of months' time. We're making plans to do cool stuff when she's better.

I wish you all a peaceful, prosperous and very happy New Year.





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