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

A Transatlantic Crossing

[Guest Post by Isabelle Laliberté]

I had wanted to do a transatlantic crossing by sea for a long time. This spring, after I finally qualified as an architect, I felt I needed a long summer break to recover from the seven years of study. After living in London for 10 years, I would go home to Montreal entirely by land/sea, to enjoy slow travel like in the old days: I would take the train from where I live in London to Southampton, board the Queen Mary 2 for eight days to New York, and then take the train for 11 hours to Montreal. I also had this romantic idea of the sketches of the sea I could do on board, mostly influenced by a painting by John Singer Sargent I saw at an exhibition five years ago. 

I arrived early in Southampton so I would have time to sketch the ship at the dock. I was incredibly lucky and found her facing in to port, which is very rare: she is usually backed into port. I finally boarded and I felt like I had just slipped into the film Titanic! It is a really beautiful ship, and it remains mind-boggling to me to this day how such an enormous thing stays afloat.

We sailed from Southampton on a sunny early evening. I quickly realised that although it was mid-July, the North Atlantic is cold and windy, and I wouldn't be enjoying the sun loungers in a bathing suit every day, so I bought a warm gilet and a raincoat/windbreaker that night. By late morning the next day, there was no land in sight.

There are never-ending activities on board: there is a planetarium, an enrichment lecture series, theatre, concerts, classes, a gym, a spa, pub quizzes, etc. For me, the luxury was to paint, read, and enjoy a cup of tea out on deck, wrapped in a warm blanket, staring at the ocean. 

I had intended to sketch the view out of my cabin every morning, but quickly realised that the ocean wasn't as exciting as that Sargent painting: it was often grey and flat. I had been afraid of being sea-sick on board, but I never felt queasy even once: the Queen Mary 2 is not a cruise ship but an ocean liner. The difference is that it is built specifically to cross the Atlantic, and has all the modern technology since it is only 11 years old, so it is incredibly stable even when we did hit a bit of rough weather. We "luckily" did get a couple of days of bigger waves, reaching 4-5m (13-16ft), but the ship is so large that even these waves didn't appear very big (and we barely felt it on board). 

I discovered rather quickly that sketching waves is incredibly difficult: they move constantly, and they move very fast. I did a few sea studies from the windows of a lower deck, and then took some pictures to attempt two pages in my main sketchbook. I struggled even with the pictures. My admiration of Sargent's talent in capturing the seascape grew exponentially. Two days before arriving in New York, the weather warmed up and the sun came out more often, so we were able to enjoy the deck a bit more, and it allowed me to sketch on the top deck. 

Arriving in New York by sea is rather special. The ship just barely makes it under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (12 feet/4 metres clearance). We went past the Statue of Liberty, and arrived just as the sun was rising over Manhattan. After breakfast, I had two hours before my disembarkation time, so I sat on a chair beneath a lifeboat to hide from the rain, and sketched the New York skyline.

I find that this quote from The Man in Seat Sixty-One summarises the experience of a transatlantic crossing best: "From personal experience, I now realise that staggering around a transatlantic liner in a dinner jacket with a martini is the normal, rational, reasonable way to cross the Atlantic. Heading for an airport and strapping yourself to a flimsy aluminium tube is an unfortunate and eccentric aberration." Quite.

Isabelle Laliberté has just retrained as an architect.  Originally from Montreal, Canada, she has been living in London, England, for 10 years. You can see more of her work on her flickr page.





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