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

Product Review: Field Easel Art Bag

by Róisín Curé in Galway

I've made lots of sketching bags at home, with varying amounts of denim and gingham: the former because it's tough and looks snazzy, the latter because it helps me sew straight lines. But there's been something wrong with all of them. When I stumbled across Darsie Beck's Field Easel Art Bag, I came over all covetous. Once shipping to Ireland was included, it was a little pricey, but I wanted it very much, the more so every time I looked at Darsie's explanatory video. In the end I couldn't fight temptation and I gave in.

Here it is:

I am so glad I did. I bring it everywhere I go. It's big enough to hold my wallet as well as my sketching kit so it's all I need. The whole point of this bag, artistically speaking, is that you can make a sketch without needing to find somewhere to sit down. The front flap (see above) lifts up into a horizontal position, and a plastic piece with Velcro on either end holds it up. The resulting "table" is big enough to support an A5 sketchbook and even an A4. Darsie talks about drawing on the spot using the bag and then painting later but I don't like to do anything after I've left the scene, so I try to paint as well using the Field Easel Art Bag, and it works okay.
The following sketch was done from start to finish standing up. It was tricky enough to stop everything falling but I managed. It's a Connemara boat being rigged by some macho types during Cruinniú na mBád, a traditional boat festival in Kinvara, Co. Galway.
The bag comes with a sort of wallet for your pens and brushes, which you can take out and stick to the shoulder strap with Velcro too. I found that if I put all the drawing stuff away when it came time to paint I could just about manage to hold the paintbox in my left hand and paint with my right. There is a vertical compartment on the right of the outer side of the bag so that's your water bottle taken care of.

I do have three small criticisms.

1. The raw edges of the fabric are left unfinished where the zip is sewn on. This means that the fabric frays a lot, and the loose threads stick to the Velcro tabs when the small plastic support is taken out of its pocket, meaning you are forever picking bits of thread off the Velcro. I think it should be turned in and stitched to avoid this.

2. The bag is a small bit floppy when the "easel" is in use, and I think I need to add another piece of Perspex the same size and shape as the one that you lean on, to give the bag more rigidity. I will simply cut one and add it to the front pocket, whose only use is to hold the slim plastic support when the "easel" is not in use.

3. The shoulder strap is designed for people taller than me (most of the world, no doubt). I am 5'4" and when I attach the wallet to the Velcro tab on the strap, it's too high. The tab needs to be a bit longer to accommodate more adjustment in the length of the strap.

I love the bag and if it ever wears out - which doesn't look likely, except that I literally take it everywhere - I will be buying a new one.

This is an unbiased, unsponsored review.

You can read all about the boat festival on my website here.

Opinions expressed by our correspondents and guest contributors don't necessarily represent an official view of





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