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

Steam and Stone with Simonetta

By Marc Taro Holmes in Volterra, Italy

Our week painting with Simonetta Capecchi in Volterra was a different sort of Tuscan experience. Not the usual tour of Italian food and culture the area is known for. She'd chosen the painting locations based around the theme of states of matter. Steam and stone.

We spent time in the town of course, the various historic squares and churches - but the real focus of Simo's locations was the earth itself.

We visited many strange landscapes, starting with a drive through an area used for geothermal power generation. The ridge above us featured conical towers with the disturbing look of nuclear power plants. The steep valleys bisected by fat chrome pipelines arching over the road and cutting down hillsides transformed the entire valley into a postmodern sculpture.

We started the exploration with a short walk through white clay hills that had the feel of a miniature Sahara desert. I did a quick sketch of the pale dunes, then turned around and sketched the reverse view directly behind - a stand of hard-scrabble olive trees and tinder-ready underbrush.

It was odd to see the two different landscapes sit right next to each other. We had a hot and dry lunch of bread and cheese and moved on.

Over a short but steep climb, we started to see the steam vents. Initially just small holes in the earth emitting a puff of smoke that might have been a dust-devil - but soon enough we came to the fumaroles themselves. An area that looked like a land slide or a small open pit mine where there was no top soil - just sand and red rock and big cracks in the earth emitting tendrils of smoke. This is the natural engine beneath the geothermal plants.

It might have been a moody landscape - there could have been a hellish feeling even - except for the surrounding green hills, and the blue sea in the distance. I was told we could see Corsica on the horizon.

The next day we visited The Balsa - a great wall of red rock that is part of the foundations of the town of Volterra. The flat-sided ridge tapers off to narrow pinnacles, reminding me again of miniature versions of other places. Something like what we saw in Utah. I suppose this is the reason for the phenomena of the Spaghetti Western.

On the way back from this view point, I pulled off a nice 10 minute sketch while standing in the blazing sun. I strapped my umbrella to my body using my shoulder bag, had to hunch a little to stay underneath it. I'm sure this looked ridiculous, but was the only thing that made the direct sun bearable.

I'm continuing to love these direct watercolor sketches. I used to talk endlessly how the drawing was so important, and how everyone should make a careful line drawing before considering color. It seems I'm moving away from that technique - but I suppose I am still making a drawing - it's just that now I believe you can make that drawing using only the edges of interlocking shapes. The line can happen in the very moment the washes are forming.

In the time since these Italian sketches, we continued onward to Asia for the Urban Sketchers workshop in Singapore, and a followup painting holiday in Cambodia. So I'll be showing some more of these 'shape paintings' in the next few posts. Stay tuned!






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