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

Crossing continents with Amer

Interview by James Hobbs

Singapore skyline
Amer grew up in Malaysia, and is now a London-based architect. He is a constant traveller, visiting more than 30 countries in the past eight years with his sketchbook and pens – "I stopped counting in 2012," he says.

Has travelling always interested you?
It started when I was at university back in Malaysia. It is close to Singapore so naturally the city state became my first country to visit. I've visited it more than 10 times in two years. Singapore was quite an eye-opener for me as it was very modern, efficient and clean.

You seem to like the big panoramas rather than zooming in. What was it you liked about this scene?
I'm fixated with skylines. I know it takes a lot of hard work and thousands of hours to design one building. This becomes more interesting when I see a collection of tall buildings congregated in one small area. It's like thousands of hours multiplied by many.

Berlin Cathedral, Germany
Which countries have you visited in the last 12 months?
Australia, Brazil, Argentina, United Arab Emirates (three times), Japan, Germany, Singapore and Malaysia (four times). I'm in a state of disbelief as I'm writing it out. I never thought I could travel that much within a year.

How do you work? Do you have a list of subjects you want to draw before you arrive in a city?
Coming from an architectural and urban design background, I like to draw interesting-looking buildings or the skyline of a city. Sometimes I draw interesting moments I see on my travels. I never have a list. As an artist, I draw according to my mood and the amount of time I have. A list would give me pressure to achieve things, and I don't really like that during my holidays.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
This skyline of Abu Dhabi is very different from the one in Singapore.
The newish Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the most beautiful mosque I've seen, except the Alhambra, which is technically not a mosque any more. The quality of materials and craftsmanship of every single part is incredible. I feel very privileged to be able to visit it, as with any great building, let alone draw it. There's always a sense of awe when drawing important landmarks.

Your drawing kit appears to be pretty minimal: just Moleskine sketchbooks and Staedtler pens?
Yes. But I usually bring four or five Staedtler pens, mostly 0.1 and at least a 0.3 or 0.5. Sometimes I bring other types of pen but I rarely use them. It helps that I stick to the same style wherever I go and that I don't use colour.

Senso-ji Temple, Tokyo, Japan
The Tokyo drawing: you seem high up. Where did you draw that from?
I drew it from the coffee shop on the terrace level of the Asakusa Center. The place was quiet but it had an amazing view of Tokyo's Senso-ji Temple, which was the subject of my drawing.

Which are the most memorable places you have visited, and why?
Egypt is memorable since it spurred my interest in global travel. Having said that, my two favourite countries to visit are India and Japan. They are two completely contrasting places. India is an assault on the senses and I loved the many train journeys I've undertaken there. India is like stepping into the past, but Japan is like going into the future. I loved the food, the culture and the architecture of the country. For such a large city, Tokyo is by far the safest city on the planet. Countless times I have seen people leave their bag or wallet on the table and nobody bothers to even look at it.

Sydney harbour, Australia
How differently are you treated as an artist around the world? Do people respond to you as you draw in the street differently in, say, Asia than Europe?
The more I travel, the more I realise how interested people are in urban sketchers – yes, we could be international celebrities! I normally get some sort of response if I draw out in the open. In Europe, people just look over my shoulder and acknowledge the sketch.
In Asia, however, you get treated more like a star – there's a chance someone will take photos of me or with me, or try to exchange email or Facebook contacts. It happened to me a few weeks ago in Penang, Malaysia. I've also been interviewed by a journalist and my work published while sketching the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, a few days before its official opening. Urban sketching is a great way to engage with locals during your travels.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Amer drawing in Bhaktapur, India
Where are the best places to draw in your opinion?
I'd like to say Bhaktapur, Nepal. The city is very photogenic with beautiful old buildings. It's like stepping back in time and not as busy as Kathmandu. Delhi can be amazing too, if not for the constant interrogation, meaning it is harder to sketch, and the very chaotic nature of the city. You have to be patient in Delhi, but not as much as in Bhaktapur.

Where are you going next?
I'm set to go to São Paulo this month and may add a side-trip somewhere in the Middle East – either Beirut, Amman, Tehran or Cyprus. I'll be in Paris for the marathon in April, then to São Paulo again in May, Malaysia in July and Berlin in September. Those are fixed plans. Between those dates I usually throw in a few more trips including at least one to Malaysia. Oh, I might visit my parents in Abu Dhabi for the weekend next week...

Follow Amer on his travels on Instagram @TendToTravel.





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