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

Thrown to the Lions

[by Fred Lynch, outside Boston]

When a gladiator failed at the Colosseum, I doubt is was easy to face the challenge again. I, on the other hand, can just turn the page after failing at a drawing. But not without feeling defeated.

It wasn't until my eighth year of teaching in Central Italy, that I faced the Colosseum—attempting to draw it. It was intimidating. I'm a student of art history and understand full well that foreign artists have faced Roman antiquities for hundreds of years—painting, drawing and learning from them. I’ll bet no building in Rome has been painted more than the Colosseum has; there are hundreds of works from some of the world's greatest artists. It's humbling.


Looking back, I notice that it's mostly in paintings, as opposed to drawing or sketches, that the entire structure is depicted. Perhaps that's an issue of amount of time the artists had to spend. Paintings are often works of much longer engagement, while drawings and sketches can be done more quickly. And the Colosseum is pretty complicated. It is curvilinear, and has lots of windows. The perspective is challenging. Also, these paintings were created as portraits of the building—on commission, or for sale—so showing the whole thing might have been a better for a client’s taste or desire. Either way, it is these images that we most often hold in our head.


Other paintings are broad views of the remarkable interior. They show us the elaborate remnants of the inner structure. Unlike today, the artists could gain access to the inside of the building; choosing any spot, for any amount of time, simply by walking in. Today, the building is a museum and secured as such.


The drawings and sketches of the Colosseum, on the other hand, generally show partial views. That could be due, again, to the time available to the artist. Or, it could be that these were created as research or as studies for paintings. Either way, it's interesting to see how many sketches deal with less, rather than more of the structure. There certainly is a lot of detail, however. No doubt, my work has much in common with this era—lots of convincing description.

When I faced the Colosseum, all this information was in the back of my head, but I tried very hard to make my own drawing—a contemporary drawing. I tried to be attentive to my own observations, feelings, and concerns. It turns out that it was easy to forget what came before me, because everything around the building is different, and difficult. It was July, and very hot, with little shade in sight. Swarms of tourists circled about. Finding a decent view was limited by the conditions. Going inside could only happen with a tour and for a very limited time.

Nonetheless, I grabbed a spot within the masses, huddled under a tree, and started to work. After thirty minutes, I stopped. I found that trying to capture the whole building wasn't going to work with the time I had. Too complicated. 

So, I tried again from the same spot and after a while, I surrendered again. This time, I was both interested and annoyed by all the tourists in my face. I wanted modernity in the picture, and thought adding people would help, but in the end, I was completely bothered by my surroundings. I could draw an angry picture, which would be truthful to experience, or move on. I moved on. That is very rare for me. I hate giving up. And now I'd done that twice! Twice defeated at the Colosseum.

In a last ditch effort, to save the day, I walked around the Colosseum and found, to my surprise, that the other side is like the dark side of the moon—cooler and unexamined. It held everything I wanted—quiet, shaded, uncrowded interest. And I had learned from my previous mistakes, too: Rather than drawing everything, I drew a nice part, which could represent the whole. I had modernity before me, as well, in the form of fencing. Simplicity and directness was the best approach. Like they say, the third time's a charm. 





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