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

Book Review: Emma FitzGerald's Hand Drawn Halifax

ByMarc Taro Holmes in Montreal, QC

I met Emma FitzGerald at a past Urban Sketchers Symposium. I forget if it was Lisbon? Or Barcelona?

One of the first things you ask at an international sketching conference is where someone is from. I’m always excited to hear someone is a fellow Canadian. She probably told me she’s from Halifax – but it’s complicated - as she seems to be from all over. Born in Lesotho South Africa, grew up in Vancouver Canada but now living in Halifax.

I’ve done a lot of city hopping myself, and I find being a transplant to a place leads naturally to obsessive sketching. You’re new to a town, you want to explore it. It can become a passion – finding new corners to draw.

Emma has recently released her book Hand Drawn Halifax: Portraits of the city's buildings, landmarks, neighbourhoods and residents. She was gracious enough to let me review a pre-released copy – so I’ve only seen it in pdf format. But now it’s out, and we can all get our hands on it in print.

I was immediately impressed with her storytelling and sketching. The word that jumps to mind is “charming”. Her intimate sketches and poetic story-snippets of her now-home-town will absolutely charm you. You’d have to be an ogre not to fall for this town. Halfway into the book you’ll be packing to move.

I reached out to Emma to ask a few sketching-related questions. I’ll let her tell you about it in her own words and pictures.

MTH: So, you're not from Halifax originally, but you've lived there over a decade. How long had you been in town when you began these drawings? And how long did the book take to write! It seem like you've been to every street and alley of your town.

EF: I started the drawings in 2013, so 9 years after arriving in Halifax. I had always drawn while travelling, but it took losing my job and the new necessity to create income, to get me drawing what had become my home town. Knowing where I wanted to draw was in many cases informed by years of 'research' going to different places in the city. Lots of places were completely new to me as well. Once I realized I was making a book about Halifax, the project took me two years to complete.

MTH: Each of these sketches has a perfect little story to go with it. How did you choose the places to draw? Did you find the story or location first - or - is there some other magic to the storytelling?

EF: A variety of factors informed what I drew. I wanted both the most 'typical' Halifax moments, and also, the things people wouldn't think to notice. Most of the text was generated simply by listening to what was going on around me while I drew, though in some cases I referenced a previous memory, like Elvis in the South End, or turned to a reference to gather a few historic tidbits, like the history of the Ferry boat in the Halifax Harbour.

MTH: Your drawings are very direct, very economical, yet they have a feeling of immediacy. How did you arrive at your style? How much of your drawing technique is just capturing life as it happened, and how much is strategic?

EF: I think I developed this style through drawing a lot in small sketchbooks while travelling with friends who weren't necessarily interested in drawing! I also spent hours looking at the drawings of Quentin Blake as a child, and that influence seems to have come through!

MTH: I love this answer! I think that's such a basic reality about travel sketching. We have to find ways to make it happen, no matter what is going on in the moment :)

MTH: What is next for you art-and-book wise? And where can people go online to find out more about you and your work?

EF: I have a new book I am working on, about the South Shore, another beautiful area of Nova Scotia. I am also getting ready for a wonderful Christmas craft fair put on by Halifax Crafters, a local organization that is committed to local artists finding a viable economic outlet for their work! I have a website, at, and just started an Etsy shop. Many thanks Marc! All the best to you and yours.

You can get a copy of Hand Drawn Halifax from the usual suspects. Your local bookstores can order from Formac Publishing .You can order from Amazon US or Amazon CA – or purchase directly from Emma’s Etsy shop.

Opinions expressed by our correspondents and guest contributors don't necessarily represent an official view of
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