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

Book Review: Gabriel Campanario's People and Motion

Guest post by Tina Koyama

The second book in Gabi Campanario’s Urban Sketching Handbook series has recently been released on People and Motion: Tips and Techniques for Drawing on Location (Quarry Books). Identical in format to the first in this series, Architecture and Cityscapes, the latest book is a succinct, compact volume that focuses this time on people in the urban landscape — how to capture their poses and moves accurately and expressively. It’s jam-packed with practical information and inspiring examples for both the beginner and the more seasoned urban sketcher.

Although we could study and practice drawing the human form by attending traditional life-drawing sessions, Gabi sees sketching people in their natural settings as having the additional benefit of teaching us about our community. “People are the life of a city. To draw them is to get to know the place,” he says. While acknowledging that drawing people can be challenging and frustrating, Gabi emphasizes the fun in sketching people around us and encourages interacting with subjects. “Learn their first and last names,” he suggests. “Ask the market vendor where his fruit comes from. Or compliment — and tip — the busker for the song he played while you drew him.” Including people in sketches “can introduce you to some very interesting folks with great stories about themselves.”

The meat of the book examines six keys as they relate to drawing people: proportion, contour, gesture, expression, context, and likeness. While including tips such as classic studio drawing lessons (an adult’s total height is about seven-and-a-half to eight times the head height), Gabi stresses ideas that can be practiced in the real world, such as while using public transportation or in a cafe.

Most interesting and useful to me was the section on capturing gesture. As I’ve seen week after week in the Seattle Sketcher’s column, Gabi is a master of this principle. How does he manage to “freeze the moment” in an often rapidly moving scene and put it on paper? “I like to take as much time as I can just watching until I can spot the move that I want to capture,” Gabi says. Showing an example of basketball players, he explains, “I watched several free throws at my son’s basketball game until I ‘saw’ the pose I wanted to sketch.”

Another useful section is about capturing body and facial expression to indicate a subject’s emotions. “Internalizing the emotions of your subjects will make your sketches of people livelier and full of expression. Is the person you’re drawing alert, relaxed, cheerful, or concentrating?”

Context, another of the book’s keys, is an important element of urban sketching. Three years ago when I first began taking my sketchbook out with me, I used to sketch a lot of people’s faces while riding the bus or in a coffee shop. Although I remembered exactly where I’d been when I made those sketches, the sketches themselves didn’t show any information about that. Where was this floating head sketched? It took me quite a while to understand that if I included a little of the context, the picture would tell more of a story. I could have figured this out much more quickly had I read Gabi’s succinct instruction:

“A hint of the environment is enough to turn an isolated portrait into a true scene that captures a moment of time. Even if you are focusing on the subway commuter sitting across from you or the musician playing on the street, adding elements such as windows, the city skyline, or a lamp post will make the sketch more complete.”

The final section of the book is a gallery of sketches by artists in the worldwide urban sketching community, including many of my favorites. An illuminating aspect of all the sketches featured in the book (as well as in the series’ first book) is that the artists have included the approximate length of time they took to make each sketch. Although I am a relatively fast sketcher myself, I am amazed and inspired by how much story can be told in a mere 10- or 20-minute sketch. If you have an hour or two to spare, it’s wonderful to be able to use that time to flesh out an entire urban scene. But what if you have only the length of a coffee break? You can still tell a story with a sketch – one that only you can tell. That’s what urban sketching is all about.

(Gabriel Campanario is the founder of Urban Sketchers. This review is also published on and on Tina's blog Fueled by Clouds and Coffee.)

Opinions expressed by our correspondents and guest contributors don't necessarily represent an official view of





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