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 Aztec Archaeology with USK Montreal

By Marc Taro Holmes in Montreal, QC

[A small 'mask' - part of a broken terracotta vessel. Depicts a man as a youth, aged, and in death].

The other day USK:MTL sketchers met up at the Pointe-à-Callière Museum for an exhibit on Aztec culture.

What a fascinating show! It is closed now - we met for our drawing outing on the last day of the exhibit. We were lucky to get this great collection of work here in Montreal. A miniature version of what can be seen in Mexico City of course - but impressive nonetheless.

I'm always inspired by the imagination and unique sense of design in the ancient South American cultures. I've always been more attracted to Mayan art vs. the more decorative Aztec - particularly when it comes to visiting archaeological sites. But in this show, I was exposed to a wider range of sculptural forms than I'd previously seen. This exhibit presented things as a continuum of design, rather than distinct periods.

I admit to spending my whole time looking and drawing - enjoying things in a naive way - rather than actually reading any of the informative panels. (Sorry museum people! You work so hard. I'll have to do some after-the-fact-research to learn more about what I saw).

[Brush Pen Montage of Sculptural Elements]

Though there were many 'in the round' figurative forms on display - statues and clay figurines - I'm more intrigued by the solid shapes of the architectural carving. The designs are cut into cubes or wedge shaped masses of rock, making powerfully planar forms. Everything has such a massive strength.

Like most museum shows of antiquities, the items here were dramatically lit with top-down lights casting deep shadows. I love this presentation visually - it makes for great drawings of the sculpture.

It seemed very natural to sketch entirely with a brush pen - just drawing the negative and positive shapes of light. I came in after with some accents of watercolor - as of course we can't paint inside the exhibit hall.

But I can't help but think - as much as I like it - isn't this an odd practice museums do? Why do they make these things look so moody? Some of these figures are rain-deities or female figures related to fertility and domesticity. Yes, some of them have to do with death and sacrifice - but not all of them. When we see things in this theatrical lighting, everything becomes kind of like telling ghost stories around the campfire. Shining a flashlight under your chin.

When we were in Singapore recently, I noticed how the Hindu temples wreathed the statues in fresh flowers. The Buddhist temples were brightly lit with gold decoration and colorful murals on the walls. If you put one of those statues in the dark under a spotlight - suddenly it's an angry vengeful god. Put it in a sunny courtyard draped with colorful silk and flowers - and you get a different feeling entirely.

I think it creates a false impression of these cultures. Yes, there was human sacrifice involved at times - but I can't help thinking everyday life wasn't as grim as people seem to think it was. I'm not saying it's a party for the guy getting his heart cut out - but I don't think they did that every Sunday either. I guess I don't know for sure - readers who are anthropologists - tell us what this is all about! Write us in the comments :)

BUT - all that being said - I did do a couple of fun watercolors playing up the dramatic lighting.

These are pencil drawings done in the exhibit on Fabriano Artistico, then painted back home. The drawings were fairly well developed, indicating all the shadow shapes.

These were sort of just playtime for me. I felt like using a tube of Payne's Grey that I normally dislike. I had a bad experience with it and haven't brought it out since. I've been meaning to just squeeze out a big blob of the stuff and use it up!

I paired that with a tube of Tiger's Eye Genuine. A Daniel Smith Primatek color - which is in their ground-rock series. It seemed appropriate to paint carved stones with ground stone.

The background is painted with clear water and the Payne's Grey is splattered and dropped with a fully loaded brush. You can get some nice floating effects on the fresh water you've just laid down.

I'm not sure what you'd use this effect for, other than an abstract treatment like this. But it's fun to watch the color bloom!






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