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

Not Too Grinchy...I Hope

by Róisín Curé in Galway

Ah, Christmas. The days of magic are a distant memory. I grew up in an intensely religious family (my mother was/is a convert to Catholicism, my father a cradle Catholic). Both were in the Charismatic Renewal movement throughout the 1980s which meant endless interminable religious services, although a lot of them were genuinely very spiritual. And I got to listen to a lot of wonderful religious music in vast, echoing churches, and joined in the singing with most. Nice.

But my faith has long since evaporated. I don't feel any Christian meaning at Christmas anymore. So what's left? Overeating, overspending, over-fretting? A grumble of irritability when I climb the escalator in the shopping mall, inescapable Christmas music assailing my ears from all directions? Have I watched The Grinch too many times? Is my heart two sizes too small?

Then my parents drove all the way from Wicklow to stay with me, and my brother took a sneaky break from work to spend two days with us. He spent days making trimmings for the meal (stuffing for the turkey, a special "jus" which he painstakingly reduced in an already-crowded kitchen) and my mother brought an enormous hamper of goodies. My mum has had three broken bones in the last year and I haven't been able to see her for various practical reasons, so I was overjoyed to welcome her. My father is as contrary, as funny and as good-humoured as ever. And when he wasn't eating or regaling my kids with the stories from history that he tells with such life and realism, my brother was sleeping off the nerves that life in Dublin gives him.

Here's Mum reading on the sofa.

One of the bones she broke was in her back and now, a year later, she has to lie down quite a lot.
 My eldest child is nearly 16 but the excitement of the presents was overwhelming, and she spent much time reading the labels on the gifts under the tree. Her younger brother and sister joined her and they "sorted" the presents happily (ie. shook and rattled them).
A beautifully-wrapped parcel under the tree caught my children's eye.
"To Cinnie, lots of love from Cinnie XXX" (That's my mum, their granny.)

My children found this fascinating. To so openly indulge oneself - their dad comes from a family of truly selfless people who would never do such a thing - was very exotic to them. Mum and I laughed and agreed that she'd make a big fuss of opening it. It was a deluxe edition of Scrabble, my mum's favourite game. Those of us remaining settled down for a game last night (my brother had gone back to Dublin, no longer able to ignore the call of duty).
Here are my father and my husband Marcel before the game. Marcel wasn't playing, I suspect because we were having a very mild Christmas-themed row, blaming each other for buying one too many turkeys. Turkeys are great but not when your freezer is full and iced over.

 Anyway we got the game underway and I, encouraged by how much fun I'd just had drawing my funny old Dad and husband, continued to sketch. A chorus of dissent went up.
"She's sketching!"
"It's not fair!"
"She won't be paying attention to the game!"
They hate it when I'm sketching because I'm clearly vaguely absent.

I painted them Scrabbling, Dad, my daughter Liv, my son Paddy and my mum Cinnie -

- and I came last in the game.

Christmas was wonderful for me. It meant so much that some of my family were with us. And everyone loved their gifts, and we're all happy, and more or less healthy.

Happy New Year to you all!





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