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

Public Art is destroyed in Orlando.

By Thor

I first noticed the ancient light box as I drove to the Orlando International Fringe Festival this year. It was on Mills Avenue just north of the East West Expressway. I must have driven past it hundreds of times before but never noticed it since it blended into the desolate urban landscape on this barren stretch of road. The decades old abandoned light pole was something everyone ignored. But this day was different. It was exotic and beautiful, with porcelain birds perched all over it. Artist Brendan O'Connor had used social media to ask for donations of birds to be added to the sculpture. About 12 people plus the kids at misty forest donated birds. I felt a certain civic pride knowing this was such a community effort. I watched is blossom and grow each day I drove by.

The project titled "Put a Bird on It" was initiated by the Mills 50 District. The next day I spotted Brendan on site in the intense Florida sun with his large straw hat offering come protection as he was adding more tiles to the piece. I desperately wanted to stop and sketch but I had promised to sketch a Fringe show and was running late.

I did get back to the site, but unfortunately Brendan was gone. This sculpture is like a totem to creativity and freedom of expression. Many of the tiles still needed grouting and some pieces were taped in place waiting to be secured. After this sketch was done many colorful plastic flowers were also added to the sculpture. Brendan completed the piece on June 10th and the next day the city destroyed the sculpture under the pretext that it was too close to the street. It had been to close to the street for many decades. They claim to be looking for a new site for the sculpture, but many of the birds were shattered when the pole was felled. Mills 50 had an agreement with the City of Orlando and the Florida Department of Transportation to do whatever they wanted with the light. Some bureaucrat must have felt that the result was too playful and colorful to remain standing. Brendan invested $300 of his own money and volunteered 18 hours of his time over three weeks to create the sculpture that stood for one day before ending up as a pile of crumbs on the sidewalk. The FDOT removed the light box which was put into storage and the ceramic covered pole was left like a body on a battlefield where it fell. Roadside memorials featuring stuffed animals, and flowers ofter remain on Florida roadsides for years, yet this colorful explosion of creativity was considered a threat.

It is far easier to destroy art than to create it. Some people in power are threatened by creativity. As the Nazi party took power, artists, poets and academics were ushered to camps. Free thinking individuals can question policy. Thousands of paintings and sculptures were seized and destroyed because the party didn't understand them. Works of expressionism were considered deviant. Recently ISIS video taped themselves destroying art to prove that they were a force to be reckoned with. The war against art rages on, but now in our own backyard.

All too often I am documenting art in Orlando that is painted over or destroyed. Murals going up all around Orlando seem to be making city officials uncomfortable. They want to edit and veto creativity. A committee was formed to address the problem allowing officials to take down and remove whatever they don't like. The first amendment grants us freedom of speech and we all should be upset when creativity is crushed. I'm beginning to think I need to find a more progressive city to sketch and report about. Orlando seems intent on going back to the dark ages.

-Analog Artist Digital World





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