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".
Blog
Flickr

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

Documenting a Changing City



[Guest post by Laurie Wigham in San Francisco] Throughout its history San Francisco has always been reimagining itself and trying on new identities. But right now there is a lot of bitterness and anger at how the influx of new tech wealth is rapidly remaking the city and displacing so many of the long-term residents (including the artists).

I thought it would be interesting to organize a series of sketching meetups in the areas which are changing most rapidly and to see if the process of sitting down to sketch the changes would make it possible for us to think more clearly about what’s happening. So far I don’t feel that I’ve had any great insights, but it’s been a good thing to be still and think while I draw. Here are a few of the sketches I’ve done.

Mission Bay: Until recently this old industrial waterfront area was mostly fields of weeds and rubble around scattered old warehouses. Overnight it seems to have filled up with blocks of gleaming medical research facilities, high tech businesses and luxury condos.




Mission Creek: If you turn around and look north from this point you can see a few of the city’s last remaining houseboats along the rotting old pylons, but across the water there’s another formerly industrial area turned into a continuous strip of new apartments and condos.



South of Market: Go another dozen blocks north to see the spot where the city’s newest tallest building is under construction. In this part of the city, elegant green glass high-rise towers are sprouting up faster than a field of mushrooms in spring. They’re beautiful, I guess, but don’t seem to belong in this city. Everyone I know seems a little dazed by it all, frequently asking each other “How did they get a permit to build that?” Still, I’ve always had a thing for cranes, and get a thrill every time I catch a glimpse of one poking up above a familiar landscape.



The Mission: This flat area in the southeast part of the city has traditionally been working class—Latino for the last half century, Irish before that. Many blocks like this one are still full of taquerias, murals and graffiti in colors that came from some warmer tropical place. But the Mission is turning into hipster central, and I did this sketch sitting in a new cafe and sipping a $5 single-source pour-over coffee.


The corner building below is still boarded up after a fire last January which killed one man and left 58 homeless. It was ruled an accidental fire, but there have been so many fires in the Mission this year, each one displacing more long-term low-income residents and opening up valuable real estate for developers to build more luxury condos. The new condo building next to it, in bright yellows and oranges, seems to have been thoughtfully developed in many ways, and the New Mission movie theater next to it has been restored and reopened after decades sitting derelict, so maybe not all the change is bad. But every time I sit down to sketch in that area, people stop to tell me their stories about they or someone they’re close to has had to move.



I’ve heard that the Transamerica Pyramid was considered outrageously inappropriate when it was built in 1972. Now it seems to be so at home that it’s impossible to imagine the skyline without it. When I did this sketch a few weeks ago the pyramid into the background behind the power lines and the cable car slid off to one side, getting equal weight with the moving van. It’s hard to tell at this point if I’ll get to feel at home in this new city, or if I’ll be putting my own things into a moving van one of these days.



Laurie Wigham is an artist and former graphic designer who has lived in San Francisco (“Don’t call it Frisco”) for 30 years. She’s putting together a show of her Changing City sketches and paintings for April. You can see more of Laurie's sketches here on flickr.


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