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

Sketching Rodin at the Montreal Fine Arts

By Marc Taro Holmes in Montreal, QC

This summer the MFA here in Montreal has been featuring an exhibition of sculptures by Auguste Rodin. (On until October 18).

The show is titled Metamorphoses: In Rodin’s Studio, and in keeping with that theme, it features a collection of fascinating smaller works and sculptural fragments, mostly presented as plaster casts.

It seems, the way the show’s curators present the work, that these small models were Rodin’s real passion. I would like to think so – they seem so full of energy and keen observation – as compared to the bombastic bronzes made for the courthouse steps.

There are of course monolithic figures as well. The famous Thinker, as well as figures from The Burghers of Calais. And this standing nude. Possibly it is Meditation: The Inner Voice. I can’t recall the title. But this one caught my eye. The stretched neck and classically antique severed arms are an ongoing theme in Rodin’s work.

But it was smaller works that drew my attention. I didn’t even look at the Thinker. To me, it’s been rendered uninteresting - conceptually buried by thousands of copies, editorial cartoons, and humorous t-shirts. Much like the unfortunate fate of the Mona Lisa.

These exciting smaller works are, I suppose, studies. Temporary works in clay, from which moulds have been taken, allowing the artist to make a plaster cast for use in the studio, or - when he had something noteworthy, these casts might be copied into marble or re-cast into bronze.

One room of the show is dedicated to what Rodin called “Coupes et Fleurs” (translated as Vessels and Flowers). In these, he combines ‘authentic’ classical objects – small clay jars and cups purchased from antique dealers – with fragments of statuary. Some do resemble vases and flowers. Some appear to be bathers. In others, the pale plaster figures rise out of the jars like incense smoke.

Later in the exhibition we see a series of charming arrangements, in which he combines broken fragments of plasters into new works. Using the head from one study on a torso of another, combining figures in interesting juxtapositions. Making new stories out of old.

This kind of playful re-combination of his leftover works seems like a very contemporary idea for the turn of the century.

My personal favorite of the show is a set of copies of his infamous Iris, Messagère des Dieu. (Iris, Messenger of God). As I recall, there was one in stone, and one in bronze on exhibition.

It is impossible to look at this piece from 1895 without thinking of The Origin of the World by Courbet (1866).

At this time, with the movement away from the baroque and towards truth and naturalism in art, it was inevitable that male artists would produce these sort of frank depictions of the female body.

Once these artists, academicians and rogues give themselves permission to seek personal obsessions, rather than continue to serve up re-heated bible stories or historical propaganda - then the confrontationally eroticized figure seems unavoidable. Naturally (patriarchy being what it was) it is the female nude that is an obsession of the time. Though I am sure male subjects could be found.

It can’t be denied, even to a modern audience, Rodin, and Corbet before him, leverage tremendous conceptual power by breaking social taboos. This supercharged exhibition of the body made for a lot of headlines. Any publicity is good publicity.

Friendly critics could call it a celebration of female power. Less compliant feminist analysts might see Rodin as the patriarch – appropriating the female body, using it for his own aggrandizement, and the titillation of his clients.

No matter how you react to the sculpture – it’s a striking piece – the most impactful in the show. Demonstrating both total mastery of modelling, and Rodin’s daring as an artist.

It is interesting that this too is one of his recycled works. I am reading on the Musee-Rodin site that the Iris figure was taken from a swooping angel-winged version of the Messenger – now turned right side up, and exposed with the contortionist’s flexibility of Rodin’s favorite models.

I cannot find (with a quick search) a confirmed account of who the model was – but even if this was a re-used torso, the sculpted limbs and splayed pose must surely have been done from life.

For sketching fans, here’s a look at my process. These sketches were drawn in a Moleskine Folio Watercolor Album (11.75x8.25”) while in the exhibit, using fountain pen and water soluble ink. Then painted off-site with a small watercolor kit. I’m impressed the museum does not restrict us to sketching in pencil, but of course, you have to leave the exhibit to paint. The drawings couldn’t have taken much more than five or ten minutes, most even less. Making it possible to draw standing without unduly blocking people in the crowded exhibit.

Of particular interest here is the (new to me) pigment Graphite Gray (Pbk #10). Used very wet, with a loaded brush in the shadows – most visible in Iris, and Meditation. I’m very much liking this extremely sedimentary silvery grey. It really does look like pencil or graphite stick, in watercolor form. I think it would be an ideal color to take to any major metropolitan area.

Other colors in this mini-kit: DS Moonglow, Quinn Gold Deep, Cobalt Teal, Perlyne Maroon, and Indigo.





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