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

The Aix Files

By Pete Scully, in Aix-en-Provence, France
aix: place de l'hotel de ville
Thirteen years ago, I spent A Year in Provence. Actually it was more like nine months, but 'Nine Months in Provence' sounds more like a gestation period, so better to round up to the more famous Year. In many ways though it was a year that gave birth to who I am now, or at least (to be much less dramatic) helped nudge me in that direction. I met my wife in Aix, which directly led to me emigrating to California a few years later. It was here that I also started drawing again, and specifically drawing while out and about on the streets. So when I came back last month after more than a decade since my last visit, it was like coming back to where it all began. I got to visit all the old places I used to love, got to eat poulet-frites, and got to sketch a lot of places. I walked around with my head full of memories, though the main thing I was remembering was to look down at the street in case I trod in dog poo. Above, that is the Place de l'Hotel de Ville, the main square of Aix's old town. This is where you have to paint or draw if you come to Aix because this is an artist's town. This is Cezanne's town. I met a lot of artists while I was living in Aix, and art students from across the world (mostly America). At the time I was mostly working with performance art so to be around people who drew and painted  (and cut things up and stuck them back together - these were fine artists) inspired me a lot. However what I think of mostly when I see the square above are the 'Dog People', a group of people who would hang out in the square at night, sometimes playing those big jambee drums, accompanied by a pack of dogs that would run around the square not minding any of the people. I didn't see the Dog People this time, but then everyone I knew in Aix years ago has moved on.
chat reveur
The Cat People were still here though. 'Chat Rêveur' was a shop I used to always get a kick out of, selling lots of cat-themed items. While they seem to have cut back on their feline focus, it was nice to see this store still in business.
cours mirabeau
Aix-en-Provence was founded by the Romans in 122 BC, and the name comes from the spring waters (or 'Aquae') which were in turn named after the Roman Consul Sextius (the Latin name for Aix is 'Aquae Sextius'). You'll find fountains bubbling up around town, and the ones on the Cours Mirabeau, Aix's main thoroughfare, are old and covered in moss. This one is the Fontaine des Neuf Canons, which dates from 1691. The Cours Mirabeau is on the ancient Roman road linking Arles with Italy, and these days is the wide-sidewalked touristy-but-not-too-crowdy dividing line between the old town and the still-fairly-old Quartier Mazarine. On the Mazarine side, nearby to the cinema (where, incidentally, I first saw both Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter), is a fancy little shop called Bechard which makes and sells 'Calissons d'Aix', a local specialty. They are little diamond-shaped candies made of candied fruit and almond paste, and you have to buy them, just because you do. I don't think I ate a single Calisson while I lived in Aix, but of course I got some to bring home, for old time's sake. I sketched it below. You can just make out the diamond shaped calisson boxes with red ribbons in the window.  
aix: bechard calissons, cours mirabeau
Below is the Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur, dating from the twelfth century, located uphill from most of the old town.

aix: cathedrale st sauveur
Below, the corner of Cours Sextius and Rue Van Loo, both of which are named after famous water features. Cours Sextius is a traffic-heavy, tree-lined street leading up to the old Roman Thermes Sextius. Aix is no sleepy town, but is a bustling and lively place, the historic capital of Provence. I stood and sketched outside the old Bistrot Aixois, a bar that was popular when I lived there but has now closed down. I shed no tear, that was not my favourite place in Aix. Across the street you can just make out a small red object which, to my surprise, was a fire hydrant.
cours sextius
Yes, Aix has fire hydrants, and I had no idea. I obviously wasn't interested in them when I lived there back in 2001-02, they were just invisible to me, so it was a nice surprise to see a few varieties when I came back. Here are a couple that I sketched; the one on the left is located outside the post office, next to the place where I get my beloved poulet-frites; the one on the right was sketched at 2am, on the corner of Boulevard Roi Rene (named after the last King of Provence) and Avenue Victor Hugo (named after two bungling cartoon criminals).
Aix hydrant 2 smAix-en-Pce hydrant

I drew a map of my Aix sketches (I've even blogged about my trip, with comparisons to my old sketches). It was a brief visit, just one night, and as I left town a massive thunderstorm nearly stopped me from connecting with my TGV to Strasbourg, where I was headed for the 3rd Urban Sketchers France National Rencontre. Mais je reviendrai!
map of where i sketched in Aix





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