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

Reuven Dattner's Pattern-rich Israel

Interview by Marcia Milner-Brage

tree with yellowing leaves
Tree with Yellowing Leaves
I've followed your work on Flickr and Facebook, ever delighted by your densely patterned drawings of Israel's cities and countryside. Your work has a Naïve Art simplicity to it. Tell us about your path as an artist and how your unique style developed. What are your influences?

I do tend to simplify things and I think that is what can be seen in the sketches. I have been a Friday painter for 45 years—until about two years ago when I stopped my regular job and became a full time artist, something I dreamed about all my life. For 35 years I had my own business, manufacturing printed packages. I always sketched, but the last few years it has become a very important part of me. I couldn't say how my style - thanks for calling it unique - developed; it just did. I am sure I have been influenced by a lot of artists. I have always loved seeing art. But I can't pinpoint one in particular. When I started seeing Urban Sketchers on Flickr, I remember thinking: I want to sketch like x or y. But then I understood I should be myself and not somebody else.

Sprinklers, Kefar Ganim, Petach Tikva

Many of your cityscapes are of Petach Tikva where you live. Collectively, your drawings make me feel as though I've been there. Have you lived there all your life? How big a city is it? Do you draw all over town?

I have lived in Petach Tikva since I got married, 45 years ago. It is a small city of 210,000 people. I draw mainly in the area I live in. But I walk a lot so I sometimes draw other parts. Once I was afraid I would finish all there is to sketch here, but the more I look the more I see. I confess I make it much prettier than it really is  - but so what?

The Petach Tikva that you represent is packed with apartment buildings and structures found in many a large, modern city, yet nature - trees, fields of flowers, sky - often "steal the show". Can you speak to this?

עננים מעל כפר גנים 9.9.13 1
Clouds over Kefar Ganim
Petach Tikva was once an agriculture community. Modern buildings have been built in place of orchards, and this gives a chance to sketch old and new.

tree in winter apparel
Tree in Winter Apparel

Do you go to other places in Israel specifically to draw?

Our three sons and their families live in different parts of Israel. Every time we go to see them is a sketching opportunity. I am always with my sketchpad. My oldest son lives in a settlement on the way to the Dead Sea above Wadi Kelt. It is a beautiful place. Jerusalem can be seen from his window.
jerusalem above the green waddi
Jerusalem above the green wadi
On the way to see them we sometimes stop in Jerusalem and I sketch there.
beit tsefafa
Beit Tsefafa, Jerusalem

My second son lives in a moshav called Ein Ayala and it is under the Carmel near Haifa. 

entrance to the moshav with flag
Entrance to moshav
house behin a hedge
House behind hedge, Ein Ayala

My third son lives in Raanana and he used to live in Yad Eliyahu, which is part of Tel Aviv.
Flags, Yad Eliyahu
זחילת שרבוט 16.8.13 1
Tel Aviv Port
You have an ongoing series of drawings called Flowers for Shabbat. Every Friday you post a new one. A drawing theme, inspired by a cyclic cultural or religious ritual, appeals to me. The ones that are apropos to our Urban Sketchers context include the flowers with the city as part of the composition. Can you tell us how this series reflects your celebration of the Sabbath? As an aside, do you draw on the Sabbath?

flowers for shabat

I don't draw on Shabbat. I am what is called an observant Jew. Shabbat is a holiday. We meet with family and friends. No sketching and no smartphones. It is a rest from the week's rat race. A lot of people bring flowers home for Shabbat. Venders sell flowers on the roadsides on Fridays. My father would bring home flowers every Friday. Since I paint on Fridays, my wife brought the flowers home. I liked them very much. They brought colour and light into our home. They make Shabbat a different day. A few years ago, I started sketching them and posting them on Facebook. Suddenly, I found myself doing it every Friday, and looking forward to it. Recently, I started a Facebook page Flowers for Shabbat.

What tools do you use for these drawings? Tell us your process for executing them.

I sketch with colour markers. I sketch on site, but a lot of times I finish the little details at home. The colour is watercolours and that I always do in my small studio. I don't change the drawing but I am very free with choosing colours. I use my memory and my imagination. I work fast. A drawing can take from a few moments to one hour.

Thank you, Reuven! I've enjoyed this email conversation and getting to know you and your work better. And thanks for supplying this photo of you.

The photo was taken on a sketchcrawl with my friends in Urban Sketchers. We meet once a month, mostly in Tel Aviv. Our organizer is a wonderful artist, Marina Grechanik.

I don't remember writing so much since university days. I hope I didn't write too much. I am just a sketcher.



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