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

A Vintage Airstream. A Hidden Arch. A Back-alley Jumble.

[By Marcia Milner-Brage in Cedar Falls, Iowa, USA]

Here are three vignettes about my neighborhood in Cedar Falls, Iowa

A Vintage Airstream
I coveted this diminutive trailer from the moment I walked by it, parked in a driveway on a back- alley. There it was: tended and loved, an artifact from a bygone era, waiting for its next journey, beckoning to embrace the open road. It’s shiny oval shape backdropped by dark tree trunks instantly compelled me to draw. The only realistic way for me to have this cutie was to draw it. 

Then and there, I stood and sketched in my pocket-size Moleskine. I had to be quick; it was barely warm enough to stand out-of-doors. A woman emerged from her backdoor, and from a distance called out worriedly, “Are you OK?”. Sketchers in back-alleys are not common in my town. “Oh, I’m just drawing.” I waved my sketchbook in her direction, an invitation to come and look. Instead, she nodded, a perturbed look on her face, went back inside, not bothering to turn in the direction that I was looking.

I came back the next day with my easel to do a more developed color drawing--the composition brushed in first with water soluble graphite stick, followed by wax pastel. It was warm, a glorious Spring day! New green and rose-colored buds in the tree canopy were starting to soften the winter drabness of the city. Two preteen girls walked down the alley, taking a quick peek over my shoulder. “We like the way you draw!, they giggled. A guy with impressive white muttonchops drove up in a huge, shiny red pickup, leaned out his cab window and yelled over the rumbling of his vehicle, “What ya doing?”

“I’m drawing that trailer over there.”

“Oh, yeah?,” he leaned out a little further, looked down at my drawing, looked over at the trailer, and then back again to the page. “Oh, yeah. That’s it, all right.”

A Hidden Arch

I don’t walk along First Street often. There’s just too much traffic. I’m not sure what prompted my husband and I to cross First at the McDonald's on our way to the cemetery that looks out over the Cedar River. On our daily walks, we tend to ramble. A railroad track intersects First Street there, taking coal cars to the power station. On the other side of First from the Golden Arches, there’s a scrappy woods and a small ravine. Exposed roots and felled trees hold up the crumbling embankment. A drain sewer goes under the street. A creek curves in to join the brackish water. The water shimmers with an oily scum. Chunks of concrete have been thrown in. Maybe it was because the trees hadn’t leafed out yet and the brush hadn’t gotten too thick, but we saw it for the first time: this hidden stone arch that until then we didn’t know existed. It channeled the water under the railroad track. Like so many stone railroad bridges found in Iowa, it was probably built in the mid-1800s from Anamosa Limestone. I knew then that I would come back on the next non-rainy, non-chilly day and draw it. I was thrilled to find this wild, hidden place in the city.

I had biked there  with my gear. My pant legs got covered with burs as I set up. Traffic whizzed behind me. I could hear orders being placed at the McDonald’s drive-up window. “Will that be jumbo fries with your Big Whopper?”

A Back-alley Jumble

A neighbor, one block over, is a hoarder. He has multiple garages and sheds crammed behind his house. He fills them with scavenged stuff—scraps of building materials, broken toilets, extracted radiators, oozing drums of used oil—who knows what! This does not go over well with adjoining homeowners. The City Code Enforcement Officer is called. Warrants are issued. Time passes. A new shed is added and filled. Nothing is cleaned up. Stuff spills out around the garages and sheds. Finally, the City sends out the Refuse Department with forklifts, flatbeds, and backhoes. They spend a morning hauling away the most offensive, reining in the mess for awhile.

I drew this a few days ago, after the last purge. I looked down the alley from the sidewalk along my yard towards this jumble of backyard structures. I guess I find a kind of beauty in it. The forms of all those buildings excites me. As did the tree trunk shadows -- unmistakable Spring shadows, before the leaves come out.

This same neighbor owns a vacant lot on this alley. There used to be a house on the lot. The City had to tear it down it got so derelict, so mold and vermin infested. The hoarder deposited old trucks, buses, cars and boats there. He filled the junked cars and trucks with junk. Feral cats and raccoons lived underneath. Periodically, the City is prompted to tow some of it away, thinning out the collection. I drew this from my bedroom window several winters ago. 

The bus and the truck are long gone. The above was drawn several autumns ago. All that’s there now is the boat.





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