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 tour around Crail, Scotland

Guest post by Kenneth Williams, from Crail, Scotland

My wife and I have been going to Crail every year because our son and his wife live there, as they work at St. Andrews University along the coast. Crail is located in the East Neuk, a strip of coastland in Fife, Scotland, about an hour’s drive north of Edinburgh. It was made a Royal Burgh in the 12th century, which gave the village international trading privileges – it was one of the largest marketplaces in medieval Europe. 

The village architecture is a joy to sketch, much of it dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. Crow-stepped gables, pantile roofs, chimneypots and seagulls can be found on most structures. This skyline view of Crail was sketched from the harbor looking back on the town. I love the interesting angles and subtle coloration of the roofs and buildings, all so very different from my home in Arkansas in the southern US. An earth-toned palette works well here as so many of the buildings are of rubble construction.

Summer is a great time to visit Crail. The weather is mild and mostly sunny. Festivals are held in all the coastal villages of the East Neuk. There is plenty of music, food and art to be enjoyed. The accordion band added a cheerful flavor to Lifeboat Day at the harbor during the Crail Festival. Their added virtue was that they stayed relatively still so that I could draw them.

Many artists come to Crail to paint the harbor. At one time a large painting of it hung in New York's JFK airport. I find the harbor infinitely sketchable. It’s one of the few remaining stone-built working harbors. Most others have been rebuilt into formidable concrete structures, no longer of a human scale and lacking the warmth and complexity of stone.

Lobster fishermen leave the harbor each morning when the tide is high enough. I enjoy painting the boats and the men working on them as they mend lobster pots or repair the boats. Fish parts are used to bait the lobster pots and the odor can carry around the harbor when the wind is calm. Gulls are attracted to the bait and hover around the lobster boats trying to snatch pieces of fish.

This corner of Scotland is synonymous with golf. Crail has the seventh oldest golf club in the world and the 11-mile coast from Crail to St. Andrews has five golf courses, including the famous old course at St. Andrews. Posh tour buses stop at the local chip shop or lobster shack on their way there. The lobster shack at the harbor is rated one of the best in the UK. The stern warning on the open lobster tank adds a bit of menace and mystery to the establishment.

My wife and I often take an early morning walk around the village. Few people are up and about so I don’t feel I’m getting in the way of others when I sketch, and the morning light is beautiful. Going down the high street, we pass the tollbooth. It was built in 1598 and is the most imposing structure in town. The design was heavily influenced by Dutch architecture of the time. It now houses the local library.

Passing the tollbooth, we come into the kirkyard of the 13th-century parish church. The “Blue Stane” – a glacial erratic boulder – sits out front. It was purported to have been thrown at the church by the devil during its construction. The boulder has a blue-colored indention that is said to be the thumbprint of the devil.

Our walk usually leads to Shoregate Street and the Crail tearoom, one of our favorite stops. We usually sit on the patio out the back and enjoy the beautiful view of the North Sea and the resident poultry while we have our tea and pastries. 

Working as a science illustrator has forced me to be exactingly detailed for clients and it often shows in the tightness of my sketches. It’s a hard habit to break even when I get more personal satisfaction from fast, but less accurate sketches. I find new sketching opportunities with each trip to Crail and look forward to a spring visit in 2016. It’s always interesting for me to compare sketches from previous years to see how skills, observations and impressions change.

Kenneth Williams is a semi-retired science illustrator from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA. See more of his science illustrations here.





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