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

Rencontre à Strasbourg!

By Pete Scully in Strasbourg, France

Rue Merciere and Strasbourg Cathedral

Last month, I had the great pleasure of visiting the city of Strasbourg, in Alsace, north-eastern France, for the third annual Urban Sketchers France 'Rencontre Nationale'. This was a weekend of pure sketching, wandering, meeting other urban sketchers, soaking in an amazing city. I had first visited Strasbourg twenty years ago on an exchange trip, and have been back a few times, but not in the past ten years, and not since I've been sketching like I do now. As someone obsessed with the magnificent and massive cathedral, and with timber-framed houses and riverside scenes, Strasbourg is the perfect city to sketch. Above, the famous view down the Rue Merciere towards the Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Strasbourg, which is a thousand years old this year (the first stone was laid in 1015 by Bishop Werner von Habsburg).

Petite France, Strasbourg

One of the most picturesque parts of the city is the area called Petite France, located where the river Ill breaks off to form the Grand Ile (the main island upon which old Strasbourg is built), splitting into several canals spanned by narrow footbridges and locks. I sat for a couple of hours and sketched the scene above, which shows the 16th century Maison des Tanneurs next to the timber-framed loveliness of Place Benjamin Zix, named for an artist from this area who worked during the Napoleonic era.

Petite France, Strasbourg

Petite France actually gets its name from a nickname for the disease syphilis, as this was the area where French soldiers who had fallen ill with the disease while fighting in Naples were housed and treated. Strasbourg (and Alsace in general) has a long history of going between France and Germany (or being part of the Holy Roman Empire), and syphilis was nicknamed the 'French disease' by the German-speaking population. Much of the architecture in Strasbourg feels very reminiscent of towns in Germany, but it's wrong to tie Strasbourg historically to one 'realm' or the other - it is historically as much French as German. The city literally lies at the crossroads of Europe - while the Romans called it Argentoratum, the name 'Strasbourg' meant the settlement at the roads (Strassburg in German, Strossburi in the local Alsatian language, a dialect of low Alemannic-German which is still widely spoken in the city today). In fact the historic Oaths of Strasbourg signed in the city in 842 provide possibly the earliest written evidence of the French language as distinct from the Latin found elsewhere in the former Roman empire. These oaths were written in Old French (or 'Romance' as they preferred), Old High German and Medieval Latin, and effectively formed a pact between two of the grandsons of Charlemagne, Charles the Bald (ruler of West Francia, roughly the western portion of modern France) and Louis the German (ruler of East Francia, roughly where most of modern Germany is today), against their elder brother Lothair (current Holy Roman Empire and ruler of middle Francia, roughly analogous to the modern Netherlands, Belgium, Burgundy, down to Provence and Northern Italy). Strasbourg is in the dead centre of the Carolingian empire, and being at the geographic centre of the original pre-expansion European Union, it was chosen as one of the capitals and the European Parliament was place here (and also in Brussels). Strasbourg has been a big deal for a long time.

Sketching by the Ill river, Strasbourg

Yet despite that strategic importance and its historic role as a European crossroads, it doesn't feel like a big, self-important overcrowded metropolis - quite the opposite. I've always liked the relative calmness of Strasbourg compared to the other European cities I've spent time in, even Aix. That tranquility is never more noticeable than down by the river. Strasbourg has a lot of access to waterways, located around several branches of the river Ill, and its eastern edge borders the banks of the Rhine, marking the modern frontier with Germany. I like it by the river Ill though, circling the Grand Ile, and down on the riverbank there are lots of spots to sit and read, or of course sketch. Above is the Pont St. Thomas, sketched from the Quai Finkwiller, while below is the Pont du Corbeau.

Pont du Corbeau

Also located on the river is the late nineteenth century Eglise St.Paul, where the river Ill is joined by the river Aar. I sketched this from the tram stop on one of the other bridges. While not as spectacular and old as the Cathedral, its location is beautiful. It was built during a period when Strasbourg was part of Imperial Germany, and was constructed for the Lutheran German soldiers garrisoned here.

Cafe Atlantico, Strasbourg

I was here for the Urban Sketchers France Rencontre, of course, the third annual meet-up of sketchers from all over France (and other neighbouring countries). There was a strong Belgian contingent, and it was great to see old sketching friend Gerard Michel and his nephew Fabien Denoel here, as well as meeting Dutch urban sketcher Rene Fijten for the first time. I also met some sketchers who I knew from previous Symposia such as Corinne Raes and AMrtine Kervagoret. Each evening the sketchers would congregate at the Cafe Atlantico, on the banks of the River Ill, to share each others sketchbooks and enjoy a beer. I don't know how many sketchers attended the Rencontre in total, but it was more than 150 I believe. I sketched part of the crowd above. On the Saturday evening, a large crowd of us went to the Brasserie de la Bourse to speak French (very badly in my case), swap sketchbooks and eat plentiful amounts of the local specialty, Tarte Flambée. I saw some amazing sketchbooks, notably those of Nicolas Doucedame, Vincent Desplanche, Sophie Navas, Caroline Manceau and of course Gerard Michel. Now I did try to sketch people, but after a day of architecture and rivers I was a bit rusty on the portraits, so I gave up using ink and made a portrait of Gerard using a more local material...

USk France rencontre 2015Gérard flambé!

I spent three days in total exploring and sketching Strasbourg at my own leisure, before heading back to London. It was great to reconnect with other sketchers, and also with a city I used to love but had almost forgotten. I spent time in old bookstores, eating delicious food, getting lost in narrow streets. I was even pleased to find that they had fire hydrants.

Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Strasbourg, and Maison KammerzellStrasbourg Hydrant

If you want to read even more about my visit, you can visit those posts on my sketchblog. For more information about Urban Sketchers France, visit their website (it is in French). The Rencontre was organized superbly by Lolo Wagner, and he has posted many photos from the event on Flickr.
Oh, and here is a map showing all the places I sketched...





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