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

The Start of the Orlando Florida Blue Box Initiative.

[By Thor, from Orlando Florida. USA]

There are 27 Blue Boxes painted on the sidewalks in Downtown Orlando. These boxes were painted in an effort to control panhandling. Citizens complained about aggressive panhandling, so an ordinance was drafted making it illegal to panhandle downtown. The blue boxes were created to protect first amendment rights, of freedom of speech. They are referred to as Exempt Zones. The city's official position is that street performing is allowed in downtown Orlando as long a the performer doesn't block pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk and they are not soliciting. If the performer has an open music case or a hat, the police will assume that the performer is busking or begging. In Orlando there is no difference between a performer and a panhandler. The penalty for performing downtown outside of a blue box is 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

An accordion player I was sketching at Lake Eola was told that his performance was illegal because his accordion case was open. He was forced to move along. There are no blue boxes in Lake Eola, so the performer packed up and went home. These isolated blue boxes are hard to find, and few people know where they are. Most people are amazed that such an Orwellian idea exists. I thought the accordion music added a festive touch to the day. The best experiences I have had in traveling to cities around the world has been when I discover some astonishing talent performing on the streets or in parks. Disney hires artists to perform on the streets to give tourists a feeling of being in a vibrant creative place. It is a shame that Orlando claims to support the arts but artists who perform in public are treated like criminals.

I've been told to move along several times by police. I didn't have an open case, but my very presence on a sidewalk is considered a hindrance to the safe flow of pedestrian traffic. I am only two feet wide and I always make every effort to stay out of peoples way. Now if you have ever been downtown, you might realize that Orlando isn't bustling with pedestrians elbowing each other for sidewalk space. I've sketched downtown at rush hour, and the city seems completely deserted except for all the car traffic. Orlando natives drive to their parking garage and then drive home at the end of the day without ever stepping outside.

The Orlando panhandling Ordinance wasn't written for performers or artists, but the police tell anyone who is doing something creative to go to a blue box. Because of this I have decided to start the Blue Box Initiative. I plan to sketch 27 performers in each of the 27 Blue Boxes. I found a map that shows where each of these boxes are. Some are worn away from neglect, but I hope to sketch performances at each site regardless. My main objective is to show that artists are not beggars and that encouraging performers to perform in public would add a vibrant spark of life to the downtown scene. The blue boxes are however in isolated spots of downtown. It would be nice if creativity could flourish everywhere. Every sketch I have done in the past outside of a blue box could have landed me in jail. It would be nice to sketch without the fear of arrest.

The first performer to answer the Blue Box Initiative call, was violinist, Ariah Deason, who used to perform on Park Avenue in Winter Park,  before that city made it illegal to be creative on Park Avenue, Hannibal Square and New England Avenue. Ariah's mom Kristi explained that in one night last Christmas season, her daughter, made over $150 in one evening by performing on Park Avenue. Ariah is astonishingly talented. She has been playing violin since the age of five, and is now sixteen. She rehearses four hours every day. She is currently concert master of Florida Youth Orchestra's Philharmonia and has also played with the Ka Malinali band accompanying traditional Mexican folk music as well as original music. She is currently studying classical violin under Joni Roos at Rollins College and her future musical projects include a Persian music folk band, live performance for an original dance production at The Dancer's Edge studio in Winter Park and Irish fiddling. She is also passionate about art and photography and is hoping to integrate all of them into her life path. She regularly performs at weddings. The idea that Winter Park now considers her beautiful performances criminal is mind boggling. 

The Blue Box I met the Deason family at was on Colonial Drive at Lake Dot.  Unfortunately this box was already occupied. I spoke with Cheryl who occupies the box every day from 6am to 6pm. Once the sun sets, it is illegal to panhandle in Orlando even in a Blue Box. Cheryl is diabetic requiring insulin shots. She has applied for medical disability but has to wait 18 months for the paperwork to clear before she can be helped. I explained the Blue Box Initiative to her and she gave me advice on other blue boxes to look for. When the Deason' arrived, I asked Cheryl if she would like to share the box and she could keep any money raised. The ordinance states that there can only be one person per blue box. She said however that family or friends can share a blue box. She is used to being alone, so I met the Deason's one block to the east in front of the Salvation Army. I gave Cheryl several dollars for her help and advice. She is barely visible in the sketch wearing a pink shirt and seated on the sidewalk, a block away.

Ariah opened he violin case and began to perform. Her uplifting music blended with the rush of traffic on Colonial Drive. Several cars honked their approval. The family had blue checkered blanket and they sat picnic style on the Salvation Army lawn. Dad took pictures with his daughters SLR camera while the youngest daughter, Kristi joined me in doing an Urban Sketch. After watching he sister perform for a while, Tiva worked up the nerve to put her ballet shoes on and dance to Ariah's music. Tiva has been studying classical ballet in the Cecchetti method for five years at The Dancer's Edge Studio in Winter Park. She Participates in two production companies there. She also plays viola and is a member of the Florida Youth Symphony's Overture Strings Orchestra. Tiva wore a shirt with a giant heart on it. The Salvation Army sign pointed out, that, "Love isn't Love unless it is shared. Come join us." She was thin and graceful creating beautiful lines of action.

Pedestrians were rare. Several skate boarders rolled by, and Ariah was narrowly missed by a swerving bicycle. A man with red shorts lingered for sometime  talking into his cell phone. In the back of my mind, I imagined him being an undercover cop calling for backup to stop this flagrant display of art. A news truck rumbled by, but they were in a rush to get to an accident or murder. I never spotted a police car. As usual art celebrated life went mostly unnoticed. I fell in love with the entire Deason family. It was a beautiful day with inspired music and dance. For me it was the perfect way to start the Blue Box initiative. With one Blue Box sketched, I have 26 to go. The plan is to sketch one a week, usually on Mondays. If you know someone who would like to become part of project, please let me know. I'll add them to the Blue Box Initiative group page on Facebook. 

Although Ariah's violin case was open, no money was ever dropped inside. At most 5 people passed by on this deserted stretch of sidewalk on one of Orlando's busiest roads. I doubt Cheryl made much in her Blue Box that day. After we were done Kristi gave he youngest daughter some money to give to Cheryl. Excited, her daughter sprinted off and had to be called back. "Wait for us. We'll all go together." This family knew how to share the love.

Analog Artist Digital World





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