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

Asylum Drawing

by Róisín Curé

"It's like an asylum drawing," said my husband in response to yet another sketch I stuck under his nose.
I didn't know how to answer that.
"Asylum? As in, someone looking for asylum?" I said.
"No, it looks frantic, as if it were done by someone in an asylum."

We visited my husband Marcel's family in Britain over the Christmas period, and took two flights in the space of five days. It's the middle of the stormy season, which meant turbulence, bumps and in my case lurching stomachs. Neither my husband nor our three kids suffer from in-flight nerves, but - ever since I became a mother - I do. My husband tries in his way to allay my fears.

Marcel: Think of it like this - this is the tenth flight the crew have made today.
Me: Then why is that stewardess running? There's clearly an emergency.
Marcel: Think of it like a ship.
Me: Oh, so it's like it's floating on air, just another fluid, and is as stable as that!
Marcel: No, not at all.
Me: You could have pretended.
Marcel: The craft is made to withstand forces many times greater than this bit of turbulence.

Some things he said helped, others didn't. Worst were the kids saying things like "look how far the ground is" or "we'd definitely die if the plane crashed now".

But since I've been in the habit of bringing my sketching stuff on board the flights I take, it's all been immeasurably better. The only drawback is that I often forget one of the tiny bottles of water stuffed in some hard-to-reach corner of my sketch bag, and when the security people find it they make me wait while thet eventually get round to my bag for a thorough, frosty-but-polite search. This isn't too much a problem because while my husband may be calm once he's on the airplane, he is so stressed about getting there with hours to spare that there's always lots of time for security to mess around in my sketch bag.

So here are a couple of the sketches I made last week on my journey to Gatwick and back again, starting with a sketch made in the Departures Lounge of Dublin Airport:

I was inspired by the incredible oeuvre ("work" doesn't do it justice) of Donald Owen Colley, who makes the most beautiful and accurate sketches of travellers that I have ever seen. I took a sneaky photo of my subject, I figured he wouldn't mind too much since you can't really see him.

Once on board I got down to more sketching:

For this one I had the idea, inspired by a gorgeous sketch by Lapin which I saw on this blog a few weeks ago, of drawing the window at different stages in the flight. There were two reasons why this didn't have quite the effect that Lapin's did. Firstly, I never get to sit beside the window. ("You're too terrified to look out the window, so you don't appreciate it," says my husband, not unreasonably.) I could have insisted, but the sky was just a featureless grey from the moment we left the ground, and not the pretty blue we're often treated to.
The sketch of Marcel on the right didn't work very well - I was trying to show how the face is thrown into near-silhouette by the bright light outside. I chose the wrong mix of colours.

Then I painted this beautiful woman. She was the sort of woman I envy - really slender, with lovely bone structure, and while her hair was the same colour as mine, it had a gloss and thickness that didn't seem right on a lady who was clearly quite my senior - not a hint of frizz in sight. Her make-up was immaculate and her hands, which she admired constantly, were elegant and heavily bejewelled and her nails were, of course, perfect. Her clothes were coordinated to match her hair and skin tone. You can see the ghost of an initial sketch which I abandoned in the seat ahead of her.

(The seats weren't the usual chunky Ryanair seats. I know them intimately - I have painted them many times. "Look at these cheap, thin seats," I said to my husband. "What else have they cut corners on?" "I think they're great," he said. "More leg room for me.")

On the return flight things got really bumpy. I made the above sketch just after the upsettingly loud noise of take-off and before we levelled out, when turbulence was shredding my nerves. Now that's a frantic sketch. The pen was blotting like mad too with the changing pressure. After this sketch I moved one seat forward as the plane was half-empty - most people have better things to do on New Year's Day than cross the Irish Sea on a dark and stormy night.

The Japanese lad on the left was one half of a loving couple. They were both beautiful, but he was particularly striking. I have done nothing to convey this beauty so I will tell you that he had magnificent cheekbones, an aquiline nose of exquisite proportions, a full, soft mouth and beautiful hooded eyes. Someone commented on Facebook that she was sure she had spotted the same young man and his girlfriend on a flight from Dublin to Heathrow last October. This would make sense - we were making the return journey from Gatwick to Dublin just a few months later. We compared notes, and we both noticed the beautiful hands and the attentiveness they showed each other (I commented to my husband that he put chapstick on her lips at one point).

I wasn't very satisfied with this sketch (surprise) so I turned to my husband to sketch him instead.
"You're not allowed to draw me," he said, with an air of resignation. We've been through this a million times.
"I'm drawing the window, you just happen to be blocking it," I said. He gave up and had a snooze.

I wanted to convey the subtle reflection in the glass. I didn't really achieve what I was looking to achieve but for once my husband wasn't offended by how I'd portrayed him. This bodes well for future sketching.

Here's the reader in the row ahead of me again:
This was on the descent and it was so bumpy that the pilot announced we weren't allowed to land because it was too windy in Dublin. I was sure that no sketch would take my mind off the leaping around - not this time - but it did. In fact I was so relaxed that I figured I'd try to be funny, putting my own words on the reader's book.

I don't know why sketching on a plane works so much better than reading when it comes to keeping calm on board. I wonder whether it's something to do with the fact that reading is somewhat passive, whereas you just can't sketch passively - you have to fully engage your mind, which leaves little room for dwelling on fears.

Asylum sketches? Far from it - urban sketches have kept me from the asylum since I discovered the practice in 2012 (not that I was in one before that, but there were many times that it came too close for comfort). I'm confident urban sketching will continue to keep the wolves from the door as long as pens, paper and paint exist.





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