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

Barbershop Quartet: Sketching People in Motion

by Róisín Curé in Galway

I discovered urban sketching in Mauritius in 2012. Looking at those drawings you could be forgiven for thinking there had been a bomb scare just before every sketch I made, as most of them are deserted. I regret this heartily now - all those Mauritians, well-known for their ethnic diversity, in saris, galabeyas, hijabs, shirts and swimwear that I missed. I visited again and sketched as many people as I could, but that first time I just didn't know where to start. It's a different matter now and I always get excited when I get a chance to put people in action into a sketch.

You may already know a few tricks which make this easier, such as making a whole figure from the parts of many, if they've passed before you have had a chance to finish them, or looking for people doing a repetitive task so that you'll get many chances to get the pose right. Of course, if you are presented with an opportunity on a regular basis to draw someone in action, so much the better. Maybe you're in a band, or work in a restaurant, or visit the same one regularly. There are a few situations that I find myself in on a more or less regular basis. For example, I'm getting quite practiced at drawing children dragging Optimist sailing dinghies down a slip. And with a bit more practice and a few more empty front seats, I'll get the hang of sketching bus drivers on a long journey. But my favourite situation where I get to draw people in motion is when I take my son to the barber. Drawing barbers at work is a challenging middle ground between drawing a person making a repeated gesture, and drawing someone who's going to disappear at any moment. They move around the client's head continually, so you'll never get them for more than a few seconds, but they will return.
(I did enjoy drawing the barber's chair, but without people a sketch loses its heartbeat, so to speak.)

Each time I went to the barbers, I had a wait of between half an hour and an hour. I knew it was a great place to sketch, but those barbers with their flashing scissors were tricky. Here's the first sketch I made.

I used whatever colours I could see. I tried to draw everything. I made all kinds of errors in my attempts to capture those  people in motion. It was hard.

I tried again the next time:

More mistakes - of observation, and also at that point I hadn't learned that mixing a brush pen (thick line) with a fine-nibbed fountain pen (very thin line) doesn't always work. But I put in bits of chopped-off hair, which I like.

A new barber joined, and I liked his neat figure and Paul Weller haircut (that's him on the far left). That didn't make drawing him any easier. I tried to concentrate and put everyone possible in. You can see how there are far fewer re-drawn lines in the seated figures...but I was determined to lick this people-in-motion thing, and I kept trying.

The new barber is there on the right again. The lady barber who used to cut my son's hair was always so pleased when I showed her my sketches. She is a very tiny lady from Brazil. She may have liked them, but I was still falling short of the mark.

I tried to be more free-styling, drawing my son like a little pasha, with two sets of flying scissors hovering over his head. I love this sketch because it captures a boyishness of my son that is rapidly disappearing. But while drawing in pencil is beautiful and sensitive, it suits my nature to throw down an unambiguous line in ink.

A new year, and a new barbershop. Same small town, but down the road, and inspired by an exceptionally sharp haircut on my daughter's boyfriend. Now I'm finding something has changed in my sketching. I have gone to a new level of confidence with my line. My line was always somewhat confident, but now I can draw a line without hesitation. That doesn't mean it's right - but I'm not bothered about getting it wrong, which frees me so much that it generally results in a line that's more right than wrong. Right-ish, which is fine by me. I've stopped using the fine-nibbed fountain pen and use a thicker one, which I suspect helps.

But there are a few new things that are helping me sketch people in motion.

  • I keep to a limited palette, which means I don't have to worry about cleaning my brush or choosing colours, both of which might break the concentration, or cause me to miss the moment my subject takes up his or her pose again.
  • I use a water brush, which keeps the whole thing flowing - literally.
  • The limited palette means people's pink ears stand out (I have a huge thing for pink an artistic sense, you understand).
  • I've learned that you MUST be patient and wait for your subject to take their pose again - and hope it's not time for their break.
  • I've learned that you have to concentrate hard, and try to be calm.

I hope you have enjoyed this Barbershop Quartet (in seven parts), and if you get one useful idea for sketching people in motion then I'll be very happy...





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