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

Pura Vida! Sketchcrawl in Costa Rica

by Shari Blaukopf in Quepos, Costa Rica

I just returned from an amazing two weeks sketching around Quepos and Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. I left home with lots of paper and tubes of tropical coloured watercolours, knowing that while my family was swimming and surfing I would probably be sketching from a spot in the shade. A few days into the holiday, and after I had posted a few sketches on my blog, I received the following comment, "I can't believe you are here in Costa Rica! Let me know if you are interested in a sketch crawl. I will see if I can organize one." And so an impromptu Costa Rican  sketchcrawl happened!

Costa Rican sketchers Isabel, Julia and Eva made the long drive from San José to sketch with me for two half-day outings in Quepos. It was marvelous. We sketched the town, we sketched the marina, we made the customary stop for some Costa Rican coffee, and we even sat in the shade of a giant Christmas tree to sketch some storefronts. For me this experience was the true heart and soul of Urban Sketchers. We had never met before but for those few hours we connected and shared something we all love. And I know that if I return to Costa Rica, we will meet and sketch together again.

Apart from the sketchcrawl I spent most of my time drawing near the beach and Manuel Antoniao National Park. Sketching in the little touristy strip that leads to the park brought back many memories of the first Urban Sketchers Symposium I attended in Santo Domingo. I remember how nervous I was standing in the middle of a noisy street with honking cars and buses and taxis. It seemed unimaginable and thrilling and magical to me that I would be able to draw in that type of crowded place but I've lost those nervous jitters and now it's second nature to draw in busy places. 

On Christmas Day we went down to Playa Beisanz. It's one of those beaches that only the locals know, and to find it you walk through a cut in a barbed wire fence and down a path where you can see (and hear) the howler monkeys overhead and maybe a sloth if you are lucky. You know you are there when you smell the meat on the portable grills. After the feast everyone goes for a swim in the bay or else takes a nap under the trees. It looks like a scene from a Gauguin painting except there are more grandmas and babies. 

On the main beach there's a giant rock that I painted several times. It's so big that I had to put in some people to give it scale. At low tide kids are climbing all over it but when I sketched it the tide was coming in.

One of my first sketches was of the souvenir shop near the beach. The woman in the shop watched me sketch for about an hour before she came out, looked over my shoulder at my sketch, and then pointed up. Way up. All the way up to the coconuts above my head.

 One afternoon we had lunch about an hour south of Quepos at Playa Ballena. The sun sets quickly and early in Costa Rica but I tried to capture the sharp light on the distant trees.

I sketched at the pool a few times, thinking of David Hockney of course, and hoping I could capture some of the brightness of the tropical foliage and flowers, as well as the shadows cast by the walls by the palms. It's the image of that glittering pool and its surroundings that will get me through the long Montreal winter. 





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