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

Saint Patrick Preserve Us!

By Marc Taro Holmes in Montreal, QC, CA

This past Sunday was Montreal’s St. Patrick’s day parade. Unfortunately for us, it was an inhospitable -8 C / 18 F. I heard someone say the wind chill rating was -17 /1. Not a great day for a parade.

But, somehow, St. Pat brings out the Fighting Irish in all of Montreal.

[I liked the Hat Sellers working the crowds]

Thousands of parade watchers were somehow willing to gather, muffled to the eyes in many cases, to tough out the cold in the pre-parade street party. I was surprised how early the crowds gathered, and what a great time everyone seemed to be having.

The parade marchers were even more heroic – the girls in Irish dancing costumes had to face the weather in skirts and tights. The marching bands had to be in uniform, no scarves for them. I imagine the people in giant padded mascot suits were the only ones warm enough that day.

These sketches are a testimony to the power of Urban Sketchers as a drawing club - as in, the great value it has for your own motivation. If I had not set a time to meet the other sketchers on the street I’d probably have given up. But I had made plans to get these drawings, so freezing wind be damned, I was going to draw.

It’s also evidence of another theory of mine – that the hardships of drawing on location actually make the drawings better. It was necessary to work at great speed. Not just because the marchers were moving at a clip, or that your portrait subjects were constantly vanishing in the crowd – but because as soon as you open your pen, a countdown begins.

[Red Hats invade the Green Hats!]

In moments, the ink begins to stiffen up, and your fingers begin to hurt. Soon the pains are sharp enough you can’t ignore. You have to tough it out to the end of the drawing, and then get your hands back into your coat. Great motivation to make the fastest drawing possible! (I was not wearing adequate gloves. I had read online to try latex gloves as liners for knitted mitts. Don't try this. It does not work in the slightest).

But either way, difficult conditions really help you make decisive drawings! You’ll find yourself making the swiftest observations. It’s amazing how it changes your work – towards the more aggressive, more spontaneous line.

Just look at this sketch of the fellow wrapped in the Irish flag – I think it’s one of my best drawings ever. You can’t make this kind of drawing at leisure. At home, in the studio, you just aren’t stressed enough to kick into ‘survival sketching mode’.

For people taking my Sketching People in Motion online class - these are done directly with the pen. No time for the pencil scribbles underneath that I demo in class. Not to say what I teach in the video is invalid, just that the Pencil > Pen > Brush method is a good way to learn, and when you're ready, you can go 'all in'. The color, by the way, was done afterwards in the cafe. You can't watercolor in a sketchbook in the cold. The paint simply won't dry, and you can't turn the page to carry on.

You might notice a bit of extra excitement in the line work – even beyond what came from the harsh drawing situation. This was my first test run with a Noodler's Creaper. Their so-called ‘Flex Nib’.

I have to say it’s not as flexible as a dip nib – but it’s closer than I’ve had in a conventional Lamy or Platinum pen.

I have one minor complaint about The Creaper – the built-in ink filling system. It’s an old fashioned design where you stick the whole pen nose down into the ink bottle and twist the back end to vacuum up ink.

It’s mechanically sound – fills just fine – but there is a flaw.

If you stick the cap on the back of the pen while drawing – trying to fidget it off later causes you to turn the filling mechanism and squirt ink out of the pen. I was lucky to avoid ruining a drawing. The other downside is, you can’t fill this pen if the ink level is your bottle is lower than the full length of the nib and feed. Whereas a cartridge-style ink filling gadget can get suction on the ink, even with only a few mils left in the bottle. Minor complaints – but there you go.

So far, the drawing feel of this pen is quite good, so I’m going to keep it for a while and report more as I go.






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