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

Patrick Vale: from sketchbook to grand scale

Interview with Patrick Vale by James Hobbs

Macy's, New York

Can you say a bit about yourself? You're an illustrator based in London and New York?
Yes, I’m an artist/illustrator based in London for now, but I have just come back from living in New York City for four months. I’m about halfway through the visa application, so all being well, I will move there at the end of the summer. I grew up in Bristol, which is a great city in the west of England, then moved to London, where I did a degree in graphic design at St Martins. These days I split my time between making my own work, which I sell, and taking on commercial and architectural briefs that interest me.

Where are people likely to have seen your work?
A lot of places! Most recently I have illustrated a book, This is Cézanne by Jorella Andrews (Lawrence King), where I got to imagine and draw Cézanne’s life in Provence and Paris. And before that I did a Christmas ad for BMW in Munich where I was filmed drawing with a pen that conducts electricity, so the scene I created ended up becoming a working electrical circuit that lit up lamps.

Junction of Allen Street and Rivington, New York City
So it seems as if drawing is fundamental to your illustration work.
My work is all about the drawn line. I want my drawings to have a life to them that makes them leap off the page. For certain jobs, the work may well end up on the computer, but the drawing part will always start on paper. Having said that, I have recently bought a Wacom Cintiq pen tablet and have been enjoying drawing on it. It's great for colouring and doing quick roughs.

Outside Tate Modern, London
Tell us about drawing in sketchbooks on location: how much do you do that?
This is something that I used to do all the time as a kid and a student and if I’m honest, it’s something that I stopped doing until my trip to NYC in November. I guess I thought I draw everyday anyway, so what's the point... Being there, however, and filling a few sketchbooks has made me realise how bloody important drawing on location is. When I do commercial jobs, it's great to draw on location, but the reality is that you often don’t have time and the client doesn’t have a budget to send you across the world.

C Train, New York subway
So what effect does working on location have on the way you work? 
I have noticed how drawing on the fly has made my drawing so much sharper. When you are on the tube or subway you might have seconds to capture the essence of someone's character. It's brilliant drawing practice. I now keep a small book in my pocket and a larger book in my bag and draw when I’m travelling. I’m also going to try to dedicate at least an afternoon a week to drawing on location. Most recently I have been revisiting places I used to draw as a student, which has been fun, such as the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Imperial War Museum.

Imperial War Museum, London
How does work you do on location feed into your work in the studio? Are you using particular drawings or do things come from other sources? 
When I’m making large-scale works for myself I always draw on location and make a series of sketches. I take photos and more recently I take a video of the scene. I have just finished this huge drawing in New York, which is the view from the Rockefeller looking back down towards the Financial District. It ended up being about five or six feet wide. When I went up there it was minus 15C (5F) so I could only manage a couple of hours, but I did lots of quick sketches and took high-res photos that I then stitched together. I shot a video as well.

Back in the studio: from the Rockefeller Center, New York: click the image for the video
Back in the studio I spent a month drawing the scene – a time-lapse film will be out soon [available now at]. The sketches and especially the video remind me of being there and I can see the city as a living, breathing entity and not a static image. I try to bring the spontaneity of the drawings on location back into the bigger, studio-based work. When I’m working on something this size it is exactly the same as on location, just with more detail I guess.

A detail from the view from the Rockefeller Center (above)

What do you use to draw with when you're working outdoors?
I use a Lamy EF and recently I have been using a Pilot Fineliner. I think I own a Moleskine in every size they do.

Your time-lapse Empire State of Pen drawing has been viewed more than 600,000 times - why do you think that is?
Hopefully because people thought it was a decent drawing. I guess I drew a view that everyone is familiar with and one that you can’t fail to be awestruck by. When I get to see cities like London and New York from these high vantage points my jaw always drops and I just stare and stare. There's so much to see, so much history and it's constantly changing, being knocked down and rebuilt, rediscovering ancient parts that were once lost. These cities are centuries old, therefore my drawings take a long time to do them justice. When this is sped up as a time-lapse perhaps you see the city being built from a blank sheet of paper, and it reminds people of the scale of it. My line is loose and expressive, which I hope gives the city a character of its own.

Patrick Vale
Is your work changing? Does success as an illustrator lock you in to a particular way of working?
I’m learning all the time. It’s true that you get known for a certain thing, which is good commercially, but I think it is up to you as an artist to be always thinking of other ways to work and experiment. I don’t want to be working this way in 20 years. I have been doing a lot of portrait work recently and am going to start to paint with oils, having never used them. I am getting to a point where I can work pretty hard for a month or two on jobs, and then take a month to do my own stuff, which is a nice balance.

You can follow Patrick Vale on Instagram and Facebook.





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