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 in Saint Augustine is a crime.

 By Thor, Orlando FL

Back in 2009 Saint Augustine city officials wrote an an ordinance that banned the creation of art in public spaces. Painting or sketching city parks became a crime punishable with 60 days in jail and a fine of $500. In the ordinance, artists are grouped together with street performers, and vendors. Performers in the law includes, "acting, singing, playing musical instruments, pantomime, mime, magic, juggling, artistry or the creation of visual art, and wares, which means drawings or paintings applied to paper, cardboard, canvas, cloth or other similar medium when such art is applied to the medium through the use of brush, pastel, crayon, pencil, spray or other similar object, and the creation, display and/or sale of crafts made by hand or otherwise."

This clearly contradicts our first amendment rights which allows for freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The law bans art on 8 public streets and 4 public parks and green spaces. My first reaction was indignation and then I found out about a protest that was going to be held in front of the Lightner Museum and City Chambers (75 King Street Saint Augustine). The city is celebrating its 450th birthday and this law seems like it was written back before there was a US Constitution.  Sections of King Street are included in the ban on creativity but I couldn't find out online if it was illegal on the block where the protest was being staged. My original plan was to do a digital sketch, which would seem to fall outside the laws limited definition of visual art. The protest was at noon however, so I returned to work in an old fashioned sketchbook. Imagine toddlers scribbling with crayons in their sketchbook getting arrested. Illegal or not, it was time for a road trip and a sketch.

I believe this insane law us was put in place because the historic parks were being turned into a free for all flea market. Vendors sell all forms of tourist trinkets, including  snacks, sunglasses and clothing. Brick and mortar merchants must have wanted the ban so that they wouldn't loose a dime in tourist sales. Some performers would attract large crowds of tourists who would sometimes block traffic. If the city would ban the tourists, then there would be no problem.

Saint Augustine City commissioners do not seem to mind having artists creating in public, but artists are still bundled into the law prohibiting performers and vendors. It should be noted that artists are not performers and they seldom attract a crowd. While the flea market continues, police turn a blind eye. The police do however take photos of artists at work in an effort to build a case against them. Artists are being considered a threat to public safety and a visual blight. There are 12 spots in the plaza that are legally available for $75 a month to rent, and these are given out on a lottery based system. Even if an artist were lucky enough to rent a spot in the park, it certainly wouldn't offer the historic views that beg to be sketched all over the city.

My primary concern as I drove into Saint Augustine was the parking. 450 years ago the city streets were set up with only pedestrian traffic in mind.  The streets are narrow and often one way. Parking meters charge $1.50 an hour with a time limit of 3 hours. Clearly I would have to execute the sketch with that 3 hour window and then get the hell out of Dodge. The museum parking lot was full and I didn't have enough quarters for a meter, so I got lost on the suburban side streets until miraculously a parking spot appeared. I'm thankful that I didn't pay the city to document the protest.

I was quite nervous as I began the sketch. Every line was an act of civil disobedience. A musician pulled up behind me on his medical scooter. He had a friendly old Labrador retriever who wore sun glasses, a white beard and a Santa cap. As a musician, he clearly is affected by the law. He was looking forward to giving a speech later in the day. As I sketched the gorgeous architecture several dozen protesters gathered on King Street holding signs that said Art is not Crime, Freedom of Expression, and Spend 60 Days in Jail. Sketching was the perfect way to document this protest. One protester told me that the Mayor would at some point notice the protest when she glanced out her window. She would then likely have the police chase the protesters off. A silly little red tourist trolley stopped in from of the protesters. The driver was annoyed that shouts of "Art is not a crime!" interrupted his endless monotone scripted spiel. One police cruiser passed the protest without incident. Apparently you need to stay in motion when you are protesting. Protesters paced back and forth. As an artist, I was the only one who remained completely still and therefor I might be suspect.

Angel Jones welcomed me and handed me her card in case police gave me trouble for sketching in public. I was told that handing out business cards in Saint Augustine is also illegal. Angel was definitely the protests greatest cheerleader. When cars honked their approval, she would shout and cheer. Her enthusiasm was contagious. From across the street she shouted to me, "Don't worry, if the police show up we will surround you. I'll chain myself to your chair if I have to!" She was hilarious.

A Japanese family stopped to watch as I sketched. The little girl almost pressed her nose to the page as she crowded in to watch intently. The last thing I wanted was to draw a crowd because that is what got this insane law started. The trouble is that people love to to watch artists sketch. People kept asking me about the protest, so I got a chance to inform people over and over again as I worked. Limiting artistic expression is an issue that is near to my heart. Winter Park, which is a place I sketch often, is considering a similar ban on artists. Their reasoning is that artists hinder foot traffic on public side walks. This insanity is getting closer to home.

As I was finishing up sketch, some one told me that the area where I was sketching was safe from the ban on artists. Had I sketched one block east, it would have bee a different story. The city needs anti-art signs to let people know where creativity is prohibited. Maybe there should be an anti-art curb color to ward off possible painters or sketchers. It would have be nice to know it was safe to sketch earlier, the sketch might have been less frantic. I posted a picture of my sketch in progress on Instagram and close to 300 people have joined the conversation on the issue. Protests in Saint Augustine will be happening biweekly. When my sketch was done, I got out of that backward city as fast as I could.

The ongoing case to overturn this ordinance is in federal court, and a ruling is pending. Change comes slowly, and this battle has been going on for too long, but you can help by telling others about this crazy law and of course you can e-mail city commissioners to let them know how you feel about St. Augustine's current anti-artist laws. As Queen Victoria said, "Beware of artists because they mix with all classes of society and are therefore most dangerous." The next step could be burning books.

Nancy Shaver, Mayor

Roxanne Horvath, Vice Mayor/Commissioner

Leanna Freeman, Commissioner

Todd Neville, Commissioner

Nancy Sikes-Kline, Commissioner

Analog Artist Digital World





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