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

Sketching My Way Through First Trip to France

By Tina Koyama in Paris

Long before my husband Greg and I began planning our first trip to France, perhaps even before I had started sketching four years ago, I had looked at paintings and sketches of the Eiffel Tower with complete awe of whomever had attempted its image. How intimidating it must be for any artist to stand before such a classically elegant structure, one that has been so overly depicted by the media in the past couple of centuries that it may be one of the most easily recognized icons in the world. Its proportions and shape are well-known even by people who have never been anywhere near Paris. What reckless chutzpah must be required to pull out a sketchbook in its shadow!

On a cold, drizzly day in May, I stood in that very shadow of La Tour Eiffel. Reckless chutzpah? Perhaps. Or maybe it was just that there was no way I was leaving Paris without it! The drizzle was threatening to turn to solid rain; I had no time to dawdle. Whew! With that out of the way, I could proceed to sketch as much of the rest of Paris as I could in four days!

Eiffel Tower, Paris

Pont Alexandre III, Paris

By far the highlight of my short stay in Paris was getting together with Urban Sketchers Paris at Les Berges on the Seine River. The event turned out to be an international one: Participants included Sigrid Albert from Vancouver, B.C. (whom I had met when she visited Seattle a couple years ago), and Brinda from India, both of whom happened to be in Paris, too. (One thing I love most about being part of Urban Sketchers is the international network you automatically join and can connect with anywhere in the world!) Under a clear blue sky and temperatures warm enough to take off a layer or two, I sketched Pont Alexandre III, the wildly ornate bridge that spans the Seine.

Some of the Paris urban sketchers who joined Tina to sketch the Seine
(from left, Tina, Martine, Valie and Eriko)


Our next stop was Sarlat-la-Canéda in the Dordogne River valley. As far as sketching subject matter goes, architecture really isn’t “my thing.” But old Sarlat-la-Canéda is filled with an architectural style that even I adored sketching. The relatively simple lines, steep roofs and just enough run-down crookedness made the buildings less intimidating to capture. The rain and cold (45 F in the mornings) made it hard to sketch much outdoors, but our hotel room window looked out on a charming street that I sketched happily and comfortably indoors. From Sarlat, we took a day trip to picturesque La Roque Gageac right on the Dordogne River. Again, I was smitten by the storybook architecture in this small village.

La Roque Gageac

Famous for being the home of Van Gogh, Arles wasn’t even on our initial trip-planning radar; our intention was to go directly from the Dordogne region to the south of France. Getting there by a series of non-high-speed trains, however, would have meant a very long, grueling day of travel, so we started looking at stops along the way. Small yet full of ancient Roman history, Arles on the Rhône River struck our fancy.

Amphitheatre Arenes, Arles

Van Gogh knick-knacks aside (I decided to forego the plastic placemat reproduction of “Starry Night”), Arles is a fascinating town of ancient Roman artifacts. I think I spent the least amount of time sketching in this city compared to others because I spent the most time simply taking in its history. The Amphitheatre Arenes was an especially challenging sketch subject: How do I choose how much of it to fit onto a dinky sketchbook page? I don’t think I came close to indicating its vastness, but I have fond memories of sweating instead of shivering as I sketched! Yes, we were finally in the warmer southern end of France!


Our final stop in France was Villefranche-sur-mer, a small resort town a short train ride from Nice. Unlike Nice’s shiny glamour, Villefranche is a charming village with crooked, narrow streets. It has a slow, sleepy quality (except when a cruise ship is in town!) that is just our pace. The pastel-colored buildings, palm trees, lovely beach on the bay and warm sunshine all made me feel like we were not just traveling but on summer vacation at last. There, we could finally relax at outdoor café tables and enjoy the music of street performers. It was the perfect end to a wonderful two weeks (and we have a long list of things we saved for the next time we visit France!).

Buskers in Villefranche

Tina Koyama is a Seattle native and active member of Seattle Urban Sketchers. To see more of her sketches and photos from her trip to France, please see this Flickr album.





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