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

Miracle Marker

The Basilica of La Quercia is completely oversized for its tiny village. It looms over a quiet crossroad on the outskirts of Viterbo, with a couple dozen scrappy houses around it. The entire population of little La Quercia couldn't possibly fill the church - probably not even half of it, or less. However, this isn't a church for the village - it's a church for miracles.

Here in 1417, a local wealthy landowner, Mastro Battista Magnano Juzzante, nailed a painting to an oak tree (La Quercia means "the Oak") which was at the edge of his vineyard.  Perhaps it was to comfort the pilgrims who passed by regularly on the way to Viterbo, and then on to Rome. Or maybe, it was a conscience-raiser for thieves known to prowl the area. Either way, it was a small gesture, and it was a small painting - created on a roof tile, depicting the Madonna and Child. 

Not long after it was hung, a local hermit took a liking to the artwork, and stole it back to his cave. He prayed to the image before going to sleep, and when he woke up, it was gone. Later, he came to discover that the painting was surprisingly back on the tree!

After some time, a woman by the name of Bartolomea took the painting. She too, prayed to the painting at night, and found it missing in the morning. She had heard the story of the hermit and ran back to the tree, only to find the painting hanging there again!  She took the painting home a second time, and the very next day, it had returned again. She kept the secret of the two incidents to herself until 1467, when yet another miracle occured.

A horseman was being chased from Viterbo by enemies when he saw the large oak tree ahead. Arriving before of the evil pursuers, he jumped down off his horse, hugged the tree, and prayed to the Virgin Mary for help. Upon arrival, the bad guys found the man's horse, but not him. He had become invisible. Later, the horseman rode back to town to exclaim the power of the painting on the tree, and the reputation of the miraculous painting started to grow.

Later that year, the plague known as the Black Death swept the area. Fearing for their lives, Viterbo residents (and beyond) rushed to the oak tree to pray for healing. One historian claimed that 30,000 people came, and that the plague disappeared within days. Soon 40,000 people came from far and wide to pray in thankfulness.

Before long, an altar was built by the tree. Then, a chapel. And in 1593, the huge church was erected to celebrate the miraculous image of the Madonna and Child. A monastary, a cloister and an impressive campinile (a freestanding bell tower) followed, and were visited by popes, future saints, and masses of pilgrims. 

The church had some hard times ahead, despite the protective image. Gold, silver and jewels were stolen from the church on Christmas night of the year 1700. Napolean's soldiers roughed up the place in 1800. And the church was very nearly bombed on January 20,1942, during World War II. 

But what remains to this day, nearly 600 years later, is the Madonna della Quercia - a small painting on a roof tile, glorified and enshrined, along with a few remnants of the oak tree from which it hung.





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