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

More Sketches from Singapore

by Shiho Nakaza in Singapore

While I really enjoyed attending Urban Sketchers Symposium in Singapore, I had very little time outside of the workshops to sketch on my own, so I woke up early before the first workshops to sketch the nearby scenes. Singapore has a fascinating mix of modern and old buildings and multi-ethnic history, and I wanted to capture as much of it as I could. All the watercolors were done directly in my sketchbook without any preliminary pencil or pen lines - a lot of times that's the fastest way to jot down an impression!

On the very first day, my flight was delayed so it was around 7am by the time I arrived at the hotel. I dropped my bags and headed off to Sultan Mosque in Kampong Glam section of the city.

This mosque is at the end of Arab Street, which is lined with shophouses with various stores and restaurants below. From this view I could see the tip of the minaret of the mosque.

I joined a group sketchwalk in the afternoon at Purvis Street. I like the contrast of gray modern highrise in the background and colorful shophouses in the foreground.

On next day I went inside the courtyard of Raffles Hotel, which is a white colonial-style building. This sketch came out too busy with lots of elements, but it still reminds me of the peacefulness of that morning.

I went to Waterloo Street on following day on recommendations from several sketchers. It was fascinating to see a Jewish synagogue, a Christian church, a Hindu temple and a Buddhist temple near each other on the same street. This one is a very quick impression of Sri Krishnan Temple from afar.

I had more time to sketch this Kuan Im Temple the next day, which happens to be right next to Sri Krishnan Temple (coincidentally represented by a stamp from the Symposium on the left - big thanks to the organizers for providing a fun souvenir!)

Another must-have element in Singapore is food. Everything I ate tasted great, and there are a wide array of cuisines that blend Malay, Chinese, Indian, Eurasian and Peranakan influences. I usually don't sketch food because I'd rather be eating though it helped to get some pointers from food sketching activity led by Anita Ryanto: use warm colors, and you can add texture to watercolor washes by sprinkling some salt (which would be pretty easy to find if you are dining!) The dish below is Nasi Lamak sketched during the activity.

I do take my trusty Uniball Signo gel pen out to do small, quick "reference notes for later" type of sketches. This is a collage of odd and ends relating to food. The empty brown eggshell and teh (tea with condensed milk) on bottom right are remnants of kaya toast breakfast - the toast is not in the sketch because I ate it before I remembered to draw it :-)

I also made sure I didn't miss Gardens by the Bay. One of the attractions there are 16-story structures covered with a vertical garden called Supertrees. They are similar scale and shape to naturally tall trees, and they are lit up at night. The sketch below doesn't do justice, even after I added blue wash for night sky at home (It's a struggle to do watercolor painting in the dark), but it was a magical sight.

I also visited Cloud Forest at the Gardens, which is a plant conservatory with tallest indoor waterfall in the world. Interior is kept misted and cool while glass windows let in the sunlight. Backlighting on the plants as I peered and painted through the grotto added to the their beauty. Here are a few photos and some small sketches. The purple background on the second sketch was painted at home - I'm still learning to get dark colors really quickly on location.

People take elevators up to start their visit at the the top, and walk down spiral walkway. Fortunately I am not afraid of heights, but I made sure I held onto my pen and sketchbook while I was sketching so I don't drop them! The space was tight and I tried to squeeze against the railing to let a continuous stream of visitors pass through, so I did the linework on location, and painted this sketch at home.

Looking back at the sketches brings back fond memories of exploring and sketching the city with fellow urban sketchers, even if I'm not happy with the drawings I made and even when it took me a while to scan and process them. The very act of making a mark really cements my experience - here's to more sketching!





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