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

In Mongolia with the Peace Corps

[Guest post by Cal Brackin in Choir, Mongolia] I arrived in Mongolia to start my two-year service as a Community and Youth Development Volunteer with the Peace Corps in 2013. The Peace Corps started in 1961 under Kennedy's presidency to help people in other countries meet their need for trained men and women, and help promote a better understanding between Americans and other peoples. I work at a secondary school (1st-12th grades) alongside the school social worker. I live in the regional capital of Choir (Чойр) on the northern fringe of the Gobi Desert in the province of Govisumber.

I like to draw the people and architecture that surrounds me, but the most compelling are those subjects that I can build a story from. I like drawing people in dramatic situations, sequences that tell “how-to”, and the picturesque images that I want to embed in my memories. Naadam, for instance, is an annual, summer-time festival where spectators watch archery, horse racing, and wrestling. At least 100 wrestlers compete at any one Naadam, and they wrestle each other in single-elimination bouts until there is one champion. A wrestler loses when his back touches the ground. It is a lot of leaning, grappling, and pushing until one can make a swift trip or throw to knock the other to the ground.

Here I tried to create the image of the crowd around me as we watched the wrestling. When I had finished with the ink and watercolor the man next to me asked if he could see it, and then he passed the Moleskine through the rest of the crowd. (Can you see me in the drawing?) Everyone had a good laugh at picking themselves out.

The people in Choir are hospitable and are mostly employed in the government, schools, railroad, police and fire departments, or local shops. The Google Images version of Mongolians depicted living in the countryside in gers (or yurts) and riding horses is not what my neighbors are like. They drive modern cars, live in Soviet-styled apartments, wear western-styled clothes made in China, watch TV, and carry smartphones.

This drawing, however, is of the interior of the ger in which I lived during my first three months in Mongolia. The dry-sink is where I would wash my hands and face, and the stove in the middle is where I would make fires to keep the ger warm. The stove is the essential item of any ger and is used for cooking, making tea, and heating the home. The landscape surrounding Choir is flat, semi-arid desert with little vegetation. During Mongolia's socialist era, Choir was used as an army base for the Soviet military and at one time boasted a huge base, with 11 apartment buildings and a population of about 20,000 Russians. After the Mongolian Democratic Revolution in 1990, the Soviets abandoned the base and it was razed by the Mongolians for building supplies, but the apartment buildings were left standing as a ghost town for nearly a decade. Today, they are occupied by Mongolians, and now I live in one of the flats.

I went to a shaman ceremony with a friend and I was given permission to draw during the ceremony. The shaman sang, dancers danced, we were given milk, candy, and 10 Mongolian tugriks (less than one cent), which is meant to bring good luck and prosperity. I drew the shaman and then near the end we were told to close our eyes to meditate. We did and the shaman told us we were good. If you go to a shaman, don’t forget to meditate!

For my sketching I use pocket Moleskines with Micron pens and a Sakura field watercolor set. Typically, I buy these products online and nowadays I have them shipped to Mongolia because they aren’t available in the country.

When I need a haircut, there is one fantastic place called Grace Salon where the barbers take 30 minutes or more per haircut. It is dramatically different from getting a haircut in the States, where the clock is ticking for people to get things done. In Mongolia there is no rush and the quality of the haircut is so much better. People wait a long time at the salon for their turn, which gives me time to sketch, but the quality of the haircut is well worth the wait.

The Mongolian countryside can be dramatic. A friend happened to find me perched on a cliff drawing the early evening and took this photo.

I live on the Trans-Siberia train line and use it to travel to the capital, Ulaanbaatar. The train departs at 1:40am so when I get on the 3rd class, most people are already sleeping. If I can, I’ll try to make a drawing before I settle in and sleep. I drew a resting train in Choir during a warm day in the summer. The train workers were curious about the strange, drawing foreigner in their community and would occasionally probe me with questions. I added the watercolors for this when I returned home.

My girlfriend Samantha traveled to visit me in Mongolia and she is a beautiful subject to draw, plus she entertains me by holding relatively still for as long as I ask her to. She enjoys crocheting so one night we busied ourselves with our hobbies and I was able to sketch her while she made a hat.

When I finish my Peace Corps service in July 2015, I will return to the United States where I will finish a graduate program in NGO Administration at the University of Wyoming. You can see more of my work at





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