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: The Urban Sketcher by Marc Taro Holmes

By Róisín Curé in Galway, Ireland

I recently read Marc Taro Holmes' new book, The Urban Sketcher: Techniques for Seeing and Drawing on Location, and decided to post a review of it. While Marc and I have not known each other personally for very long, I have admired his beautiful, loose technique since I first came across it on Urban Sketchers.

This is the kind of stunning work that Marc creates, and I was intrigued to discover his secrets...which, as it turns out, he shares with candour.

The book is divided into just three chapters, which lends the book an air of accessibility from the beginning - it demystifies the whole business of sketching, which is a big step for anyone who has in the past been daunted by the process.

Chapter 1 takes the reader by the hand, and leads him or her into the world of creating shapes from observation. Marc is a passionate urban sketcher, and he describes in his book some of the many places he enjoys sketching in his home city of Montreal. He shows us how opportunities for sketching are all around us, all the time, and offers many suggestions for uncovering chances to sketch of our own. He makes it very clear that no matter how self-critical you might be, if you concentrate on quantity, then quality will take care of itself, and follow naturally. This first section is a clear guide to becoming a habitual and competent sketcher, starting with offering encouragement and tips for developing a sketching habit, and continuing into the nitty-gritty of gaining confidence as a drawer. There's plenty of advice on how a strong composition works, and Marc explains his technique of drawing "from the outside in" - starting with an accurate silhouette and filling in the shape within. He also offers easy-to-follow techniques for using shadow to bring your drawing to life, and refers to common pitfalls.

Chapter 2 leads you from pencil into ink, suggesting that you can achieve a lot of drama very quickly this way. He understands that this can be daunting for the uninitiated, but offers lots of clever tips for getting past this.
Marc uses a simple but effective technique he calls "three-pass sketching", whereby you make a quick sketch in pencil and follow it with a very loose ink line, and finally lay shadow shapes on top. He suggests ways to develop this technique, using things that you'll find anywhere (like cemeteries, as illustrated here: he calls them "public sculpture gardens").

After this, Marc suggests to the reader that they might try jumping straight into ink, and reminds us that mistakes are not something to be worried about. There are lots of suggestions for dealing with moving people, from those who are making the same action repeatedly - workers for example - to those who are only moving their hands, to those who move in and out of your view in a flash. The tips are very sensible, but I would say that, as they are the same techniques I use for drawing people in motion (like using bits of lots of swiftly-moving people to make up one person). Now that I think of it, we are not a million miles apart in our approach to drawing, so from that point of view reading this section was like agreeing vigourously with someone as to how best to approach a drawing.

Here is one of Marc's beautiful figure drawings, using a live but "captive" subject - a tattoo artist at work:

You can clearly see the three-pass sketching technique at work here, resulting in a loose and expressive, but still accurate, drawing.

Chapter 3 is a different story altogether. This is the section on using watercolour to bring life and magic to your sketches, and (if the final result is anything to go by) Marc and I differ entirely in our respective approaches to the use of watercolour. For this reason I was very curious to learn about his method.
Marc's technique is a "painterly" way to paint. He appears to love the interaction of pigment and water, and is very happy to allow the paint to be in control much of the time. I could learn something from this: I have a very tightly-controlled, straightforward approach, and I think it would be great to loosen up somewhat (or a lot). I was fascinated to learn how he uses values to achieve the desired effect, and he describes clearly his very own Tea, Milk and Honey technique, namely a transparent wash followed by a more opaque one, with details picked out at the end. The techniques are very clearly laid down, and I imagine anyone would get a lot out of it, no matter what their skill level. The results speak for themselves: Marc's paintings are expressive and sensitive, so he's doing something right.

I liked his use of spot colour when approaching figures. This illustration demonstrates it well: the author tells us that as long as your shadow shapes are right, and your overall values are true, you can be quite free with your colour.

I put a couple of Marc's techniques to the test. The first one I tried was drawing from the outside in. I was intrigued with the new way to draw, and I found it pretty good. The other technique I used was the three-pass sketching: drawing a pencil line and inking over it. It resulted in a very accurate result of which my teenage daughter approved. As a rule I prefer to jump in with an ink line and no pencil preparation, but that's because I am very happy to live with indelible mistakes. It's no coincidence that when I'm doing a commission I usually use Marc's three-pass technique. So if you want your drawing to be correct, it's a great approach.

For any urban sketcher it's a great book, full of useful tips, regardless of your level.

More of my reviews can be read here.

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





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