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

Winter Hats on a Moscow Suburban Train

[Guest post by Masha Kirikova, on a train to Moscow]

We moved from Moscow to Korolyov in the suburbs a year ago. At first I was afraid I would never get used to a new harsh reality – second and third class trains packed tight with people. Russian trains are not as hard as Indian ones, but still winter clothes make us passengers unable not only to sit, but sometimes to stand freely. Daily train sketches helped me a lot, an hour in a train became fun and useful practice. My first drawings of passengers were pretty simple, more detailed portraits came over time.

This lady was one of the first victims of my hectic pencil. She was wearing a Renaissance beret that drew attention to her inspired face.

Train drawing sessions have only one defect - most of the models look down on a book or even sleep. It's rare to see someone looking at the window. This man did. More so, his eyes were not sleepy. He was not wearing fur as the rest of passengers. A man in modest knit cap seemed strong yet aged, an engineer maybe.

No one knows when exactly elderly ladies in Russia begin to wear a head shawl. She was about 65. Those glasses made her look extremely nostalgic. She was not a wicked lady (you might think so observing her tight lips), just tired, very tired.

What a face! What a beauty! A young girl, about 15-years-old She was a Muslim traveling with girlfriend. Such an innocent face, oh. It would be so nice to paint her. I wanted to draw them both, but got stuck drawing her eyes. Head shawls are becoming more and more popular. 

It was my usual trip back home with carriage full of people. It was so tight we say in Russia that we were seated on each other's heads. The lady sat in the middle of a bench squeezed from both sides. She had an unusual wrinkle on her forehead, I'd never seen something like it. Her face reminded me of my Ukrainian grandma, in spite of a fact passenger's features are very different. I had not seen Grandma for 14 years. I was waiting for this train lady to talk, who knows maybe she also has a slight Southern Ukrainian aсcent like mine!

A common image of typical Russian stays similar for decades – it's a man in a fur cap with earflaps. These kind of caps are really very popular, especially in the provinces. Monumental in tied version, cozy and warm with earflaps. These caps come in different furs. It was a question of prestige in Soviet Union to wear a fur cap made of mink, rabbit was a cheaper version. Modern young adults prefer synthetic and knit models. I have one too ;) It's a universal cap for both men and women, but ladies prefer wool head shawls with bright flowers. A good natural or faux fur cap with earflaps can protect it's owner from a chilblain. My granddad and I both had one – his ears turned magenta and my nose, too, when it's lower than -25C :)

The man in my drawing is wearing a mink cap with earflaps tied up.

I noticed a growing number of elderly ladies who choose to wear a hat. Most prefer a classical felt hat, but some wear playful solutions such as linen or denim. This lady had a light blue denim hat with bright decorative flowers on it.

No one smiles in suburban train in the evening rush hour. People come home exhausted and keep their warmth inside, hidden under fur coats and expressionless faces. The only lady in a train with an open face was the one with headphones. She was listening to an audio book with kid's eyes wide open and a giggling smile. What was is it? A novel? Who can guess?

Diffused winter light from a train window brightened the delicacy of a teen's skin. Still a kid, she was wearing a hat with pompom and rubber band with plastic balls. A quiet expression of her face made a girl look older, lost in thoughts behind rectangle spectacles. Pompons are the latest fashion. Soviet Union kids have pompons on their heads, but almost never adults. Nowadays I see this style became a playful addition even to a dress code gown.

Hoods are only becoming a signature teenager's piece here in Russia and we have no prejudice against young boys in black hoodies. This detail is useful in winter to warm a head near entrance door of suburban train.

Russian ladies often have an indifferent and tired face expression, especially if no one looks. This fact is a common observation of newcomers, who call it an 'angry look'. But in reality they are not angry at all! Women are the most important driving force of our country, but this fact leaves traces on beautiful faces. Lines, spots, dry skin, lifeless eyes – it's all the result of a 'peasant's' lifestyle they have to follow. Smiles are not an official part of our face expression, but a sign of appreciation and happiness.

There was a time, when only Mom could knit a cap for her boy or girl. Not the same now. Most knit caps are factory-made, looking all the same. Warm wool, of all sorts and colours, has been replaced with cold acrylic and even worse materials. Young girls buy an acrylic cap instead of a warm one. They add a second cap underneath!

Some hi-tech clothes with several layers of synthetic materials for tourists are used by suburban men. Trains are not always warm, so passengers wrap themselves in head shawls and parka hoods. Most of the male passengers use this time to read, watch films or work, most take a laptop for a half an hour train practice.
Fur is still the most popular material for winter clothes. If a lady has a chance to buy a fur coat she never resists. Our -30C and a necessity of using public transport with it's open bus and train stops leave no chance to ecological way of thinking. If no fur then geese down!

It takes 34 minutes to come to Moscow from Korolyov, so all the drawings were completed in half an hour or less. I mostly drew sitting, observed from three sides by fellow passengers, some of them became first commenters. My tool was a simple 4-5cm (about 2 inches) pencil bit 4B-6B and an eraser, sometimes a finger. Drawing in train gave me a perfect opportunity to interact with different people without any complications.

Masha Kirikova is a natural history illustrator, artist and tutor living in Korolyov, Russia. You can see more of her work on her website here and on flickr here.

Curated by Marcia Milner-Brage







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