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".
Blog
Flickr

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

Messing About in Boats

By Róisín Curé in Baltimore, Co. Cork, Ireland


Baltimore is a tiny fishing village in Co. Cork, in the southwest of Ireland. It is literally the end of the country, on the tip of the southernmost of those fingers of rock that stick out into the Atlantic Ocean. It's the last stop, and it sure feels like that when you're trying to get there, especially if you are pulling a trailer with two boats on it (and if your navigator isn't paying attention to the GPS and you take the scenic route). My family and I arrived late on Saturday evening after a seven-hour trip, so that our kids could partake in a week's sailing camp. The village is very cute, but you can't help noticing that it's full of empty houses. "The houses are mostly occupied for just two months of the year," said Jim, our letting agent. There wouldn't be much in the way of work in Baltimore: any work, other than fishing, is based on the very short tourist season. Those empty houses seemed like a waste to me: if you were a hardy sort, and just happened to have an interest in urban sketching, it is an absolute paradise...

Two of my children have been trainee sailors for the last while. They sail Optimists, a beautiful little boat designed for children to sail on their own. They're sturdy and don't capsize easily, and the children can rig them themselves. My husband had told me that this week of sailing instruction does wonders for the kids' sailing ability, and that everyone says it's great, etc. etc. so in the end I said I'd come along for the ride. I wondered if I'd get any sketching done: I normally don't sketch outdoors in exposed conditions, but I arrived fully equipped nonetheless.

This was my first sketch: halting, hesitant, clearly the first after the winter's hibernation. It's just about recognisable as the slip where the Optimists launch.


There were some one hundred and sixty boats in Baltimore last week, and the organisation involved in keeping the young sailors safe was phenomenal. Launching was carefully executed; the kids entered the water calmly and in order, dropping like lemmings into the sea, one by one. Perhaps baby ducklings is a nicer analogy. A woman of supreme competence called Mandy stood in her bright yellow sou'wester and shepherded the children and their boats along the correct path, which was lined with striped orange bollards. I drew my daughter as she waited in line.


The kids have to wear warm hats when they're out on the waves, and my husband had asked me to buy her the brightest one I could find, so that he would be able to spot her at a distance. The pink one with the orange bobble did the job nicely.

I noticed the sky darkening a bit. "Looks like bad weather coming in," I said to my husband. "The weather is coming from the other direction," he said. He's the weather expert in our family so I took his word for it. We watched our daughter launch in bright sunshine and went to meet the landlord in the house we rented. He arrived ten minutes later. "Did you see the squall that blew up?" He asked. "Just now! It was carnage!" "No," I said, "it was lovely only a few minutes ago." "It blew up really suddenly," he said. "Carnage! Frightened children, waves rolling into the harbour, boats heading towards the rocks...it was carnage, I tell you!" "Can you please stop using that word?" I asked. "My daughter is out there." When we went back down, fortunately she hadn't capsized, but there were a few who refused to go back out once they'd been rescued. You couldn't blame them.

Next day, I was enchanted by the scene before me as I stood on the steps leading to the harbour. Scores of Optimists ("Oppies") were laid out in front of me...out came the sketching stuff. The kids would be grand without me - my husband was with them anyway.


This is my perch...



 ...and a couple of days later I sat directly across the harbour and drew the view from the opposite direction. Parents "volunteered" to stand in the freezing water and help launch the kids, and pull their trolleys up the slip as they came off.



Here are a couple of parents doing "slip duty". The man on the left is a friend of mine and he said he really enjoyed slip duty, but it was relentless - there was always a group of boats coming in or going out, from 9.30 or so until 4pm. He was exhausted by the day's end...but that's where things really got good, as all the parents would gather for a pint of Cork's finest in one of the pubs in the village. Clubs from all over the country were represented, but the Galway crowd are a fantastic bunch, warm and down-to-earth.


The sailing school in Baltimore is perfectly placed. The bay is sheltered, enclosed by Sherkin Island to the west. You can see it in some of the sketches. If you want to find a piece of the world that is still pretty perfect, go there. There are ferries that head over many times every day, and one rainy afternoon I drew them through the window of the clubhouse.


That day was the worst (for sketching): it rained all day. I had very much wanted to pay tribute to Mandy, the Shore Master, and her incredible work guiding the boats towards the water, but every time I tried to draw her it was either raining, or she left, or someone wanted me for something. So here's what I did in the rain:


There is only one Mandy, but I drew her three times so that I could always work on something when she changed position.

I never tired of watching the kids head off into the bay: they'd hurtle towards the quay wall at some speed, and then tack (or whatever it's called) and change direction, perfectly confident. Once or twice I felt a bit choked up, but I didn't let on. A thirteen-year-old boy isn't going to thank you if you do that in front of his mates (I wasn't even allowed to approach him as he prepared to launch).

Here he is...I was told NOT to draw him, but, as always, he was delighted when I'd done it. It's always the same - when is my family going to learn to just accept and enjoy? And stop trying to avoid being drawn? This is the last year my son will be sailing an Oppie - he'll be too big next year. So I for one am very happy to have this sketch. Other parents asked me to draw their kids with their boats, but unfortunately none of the kids hung around long enough for me to draw them. At least I can roar at my own kids to keep still and bribe or threaten them if necessary.


The last day was the day of the race. The weather was perfect - sunny, with just the right amount of wind. This time I was free to choke up all I wanted, as my kids couldn't see me. I painted furiously between showers (note rain splotches in the sea) and watched in awe as kids from seven to fourteen years old raced across the waves single-handedly. My husband commandeered the binoculars: I was allowed the briefest of glances through them, but he reasoned he follows the kids' racing progress closely, and anyway I hadn't a clue what was going on. During the prize-giving ceremony later, a lad got a prize for pulling a fellow sailor out of the water, who had become separated from his boat...another got a special award for being the youngest sailor there - he was only seven, and absolutely tiny.

During the race many young sailors lost their heads in a squall, but our boy kept his - there are advantages to living in Galway I suppose, in that he is very used to sailing in bad weather, and the cosseted South and East types maybe not so much! He didn't win - not by a long way - but he did much better than he has ever done in the past, and he was bursting with pride as he left the water. In the past he has been very downcast. Our daughter (who is ten) didn't win her race either, but it was her first. A little girl who sailed with her - she's only eight - capsized, and still managed to place well. These kids are learning self-reliance, independence and resilience and I think I've become a "sailing mom", or "mum", in my case.





One of the other parents and I were singing the praises of the sport one evening. "What I love about it," he said, "is that it is the perfect antidote for kids' lives today. You can't bring anything electronic out there - but it's more than that. They're completely active and have to be continually resourceful." I thought about one of the eleven-year-old girls during that first squall: she tied her boat to a mooring to keep her boat safe from the fast-approaching rocks. Another young lady of eleven, who had started the day with a very wobbly tooth, found herself with no free hands when it finally came out - so she was obliged to spit it into the sea, Rocky-style, with a mouthful of blood...then carried on sailing. Now that's a cool kid.

My husband gives another reason for enjoying sailing (apart from being obsessed anyway). "It's a way to make the most of living in Ireland," he said. "It's so small, you can get anywhere easily, and there is so much coastline. It's a great way to see some gorgeous places in Ireland, and you meet lovely people."


I'm sold. The next meet is in May: I'm looking forward to some fair weather sketching....and maybe I'll even do a bit of messing about in a boat myself.

More sketches for this story here.

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