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

Trials and tribulations of tablet sketching, traveling in Turkey

[Guest Post by Leslie Akchurin] This June, my husband and I set off to visit some wonderful old and new places during our annual visit to our extended family in Turkey. And I looked forward to sketching all along the way, having discovered the pleasures and ease of working on the iPad a few years ago. As it turned out, I encountered a significant app problem for the first time, but I returned home still devoted to this exciting artistic medium.

Until recently, I used Paper 53 exclusively because it’s intuitive and simple to use and can create nice pencil and watercolor-like effects. But recently, looking for more variation in pencil line quality, I switched to Tayasui Sketches. This application is still easy to use. It shares some capabilities with more complex programs, especially the use of different layers (so a background wash, for instance, can be erased or reworked without disturbing other lines and color) and the ease in adjusting width and density for most of the tools. The “watercolor” washes and infinite color palette are just as nice as Paper’s, plus Sketches has a crayon-like tool that I loved right away.

Antalya Beach
I used that crayon tool, for instance, on the bathing suits in this picture from the public beach in the port section of Antalya. The beach was full of Russians, who have recently been moving to this part of the city in large numbers. Thanks to the unobtrusive nature of my art kit, I sat under an umbrella right behind the bathing families and drew without being detected, achieving the kind of invisibility that those of us who find it difficult to concentrate when we’re being watched really value. As long as I have shade, I find I can draw, though it’s true that I sometimes need to adjust colors later because it can be difficult to determine their accuracy while outside.

Konya mosque
After a week in seaside Antalya, my husband and I traveled with his brother northeast into Anatolia, first to Konya, the city where Mevlevi whirling dervishes originated in the 13th century. Thirty-five years ago, I found this town to be very dusty, sleepy, and traditional, with the townsfolk wearing old-fashioned baggy clothing, caps, and shawls. Today, while still quite conservative, Konya has become a city of over a million people, with only a few landmarks that I could recognize. We happened to be there just a few days before the national elections, which meant that vans plastered with garish photos of candidates passed us every few minutes, blaring slogans and deafening folk music. But in the hush of the beautiful Selcuk-era Alaeddin Mosque, we found a rapt all-female tour group listening to their guide. Again, it was only the very discrete nature of my materials that allowed me to stand mere feet away without attracting much attention. I drew very quickly—the figures first and then the basic outlines of some architecture—and just as a larger tour was entering, I took a quick photo with my iPad to remind myself of the locations of some decorative detailing, which I later represented with some transfer dotting, one of the pre-made graphic elements available on the Sketches app.

Flock on plains
From Konya, we traveled further northeast, through the ever-shifting light and shapes of Anatolian mountains and plains. Although sensitivity to motion usually keeps me from even reading in a moving car, I found I was able to make this quick sketch of a distant shepherd with his flock. Having all your tools permanently at your fingertips sometimes makes drawing possible when you least expect it.

Balloons in Goreme
Our destination was the town of Goreme in the famous cave region of Cappadocia, where early each morning dozens of balloons carry tourists above the astonishingly shaped hills. I tried to convey the pervasive dawn glow of this scene outside our cave hotel room window by selecting a peach background color for the base layer; most iPad art apps allow you an almost limitless choice of “paper” colors and some choice of texture. I enjoyed the thrill of the chase as the light rapidly changed and the balloons floated off.

Both the visuals and the complicated history of Cappadocia were so much more varied and interesting than we’d anticipated, and I eagerly set to sketching—the scenery, buildings, international tourists, camels—but to my great dismay, my app crashed on the second afternoon, something that had never happened to me before, and I lost three or four promising drawings. I had made color notes but hadn’t added all the color and so hadn’t saved the drawings to my desktop “Photos” file. If I’d been near computers and equipment, I might have found a way to save that work, but we were only mid-trip and of course I wanted to continue sketching. So I just gnashed my teeth a bit and resolved to save, much more frequently, all future drawings in progress so that after a possible crash they can be re-imported to a Sketches layer and thus finished. My app has only crashed once since then, and that advice to myself allowed me to save the picture I was working on. I’ve also learned to plan my moves better and to shift a bit slower between tools, which I think has probably prevented more incidents.

After three days, we drove south, back over the Taurus mountain range, to the coast and enjoyed visiting Tarsus, where St. Paul was born and Cleopatra apparently used to meet Mark Antony. Then my brother-in-law expertly navigated us westward along the narrow, twisty mountain coastal roads to very windy Anamur, Turkey’s southernmost town and producer of most of its bananas. Its relative inaccessibility has prevented Anamur from growing into a big city in recent decades, unlike so many other Mediterranean towns that have acquired modern roads and airports. It largely retains the lazy backwater feel of a village, with a lovely if somewhat seedy beach mostly populated by locals.

Cirali Beach
After returning to Antalya for a week or so, my husband and I visited our favorite coastal town, which is about a 1½ -hour drive west into Lycia. Cirali is home to one of several cities and accompanying mountains in the ancient world that were named Olympus. But this one was the home of the fire-breathing monster, Chimera (eternally burning flames by that name can still be visited today), which Bellerophon slew while riding the flying horse Pegasus. Today, the town is quiet and turtles breed on the beach. I drew this picture in the breezy early evening, using some transfer dots and lines to suggest the grainy texture of rapidly waning sunlight.

Although I usually prefer a pencil or watercolor-like feel to my drawings, when I awoke to this scene outside our Cirali window, I wanted to use bold colors and shapes to express the brilliance and seeming flatness of the flowers overlapping the chickens and lemon trees. Naturally, the wide variety of tools in an iPad app like Sketches can easily accommodate this kind of change in style.

Family walking past ruins to beach
On our return to Antalya, we spent an afternoon at the gorgeous site of ancient Phaselis, which was once a major harbor city and now comfortably crumbles in a pinewood park. This was a quick sketch from my perch on a Roman wall, just before a line of ants drove me off. The figures are a bit awkward, but I think I conveyed something of the filtered sunlight romantically highlighting the ruined main boulevard.
Beach with ruins
On the edge of the woods, the extensive ruins of Phaselis give way to lovely beach views. You can see in the distance here one of the touristic “pirate ships” that have lately sprung up all over the Turkish coast.
Hagia Sophia
I had been wanting to take a stab at drawing Hagia Sophia for some time, and I got my chance during the one afternoon we were able to spend in Istanbul on our way home to Texas. I plunked down on the first shady bench I could find and fell to drawing whatever I could see, which at times seemed to be the population of the world – it being a spring Saturday in the Sultanahmet district, which must be the most popular tourist destination in all of Turkey. Once again, I reveled in the scene for an hour or so, capturing what I could and sitting virtually unnoticed by the throngs.

I love the iPad for onsite sketching, given that I have been an amateur artist who previously only rarely found the time or nerve for it and who would still find it overly cumbersome, time consuming, and disruptive to work out in the world with traditional art materials. The iPad makes some things a lot easier, but I would not like to leave the impression that an app is so magical that artistic ability and vision become irrelevant. In addition to the possibility of an app crash, there are some real difficulties involved in iPad creation as compared to traditional methods, for example its less accurate drawing capability, unusually smooth, specular, small, and sometimes annoyingly smudgy surface, and one’s inability to work in full sun or even the lightest of drizzles. As with any medium, if you want to succeed, you must accommodate or overcome its limitations and exploit its strengths. What I know is that as long as I’m still learning, enjoying, and feeling gratified by the results, I’ll remain an enthusiastic advocate!

Leslie Akchurin is a New Englander who currently resides in Lubbock, Texas, where she instructs in a university writing center.  More of her iPad work can be seen here.

*Readers – Do you sketch using Digital media? What app do you use and why?





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