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

Exploring the streets of Helsinki

[Guest post by T.K. Justin Ng in Helsinki] Earlier this month, I moved to Helsinki from Ontario, Canada, to do an internship as part of my university's program. As an avid sketcher, my goal apart from working hard at the office is to sketch as much as I can. After all, who knows when I will visit Finland again.

Below is a sketch I did on my flight from Toronto to Copenhagen. For some reason the watercolour acted a little like marker on the plane – let me know if this has happened to you before. I suspect it has to do with cabin pressure or the paper (Moleskine) or the fact that there is a bit of alcohol in the water for winter sketching. On the left is a small sketch of people de-icing the plane right before takeoff.

The weather in Helsinki is similar to that in Toronto but I was shocked the first day when I realized how much more snow there is here. The cars parked on the smaller residential streets in the districts of Kamppi or Punavuori were buried in snow. The tricky part about sketching Helsinki is that it is too cold to do a complete and controlled sketch outside. On top of that, the sun sets at 4pm.

Before coming to Helsinki, I had read up on Nina Johansson's tips on sketching in the winter with alcohol in the water brush. I tried this technique in Toronto but the way the watercolour reacted was very unpredictable. Although the lack of control felt exciting, being in a new city for the first time meant I wanted to create sketches that capture the beauty of the city with control. As I spend more time here, I will most likely loosen up and produce more relaxed sketches. In the meantime, the more elaborate sketches are drawn in ink (without the shading) on location but I move to a cafe nearby to complete it on the same day when my memory is still fresh.

Here is the Helsinki railway station, Rautatientori. One thing that I really enjoyed was the orange brick post office in middle of the sketch. After inking it, I went into the popular Fazer Cafe to have a cup of tea and add the colour. I plan on drawing a few close-up sketches of this train station soon.

This is one of the major streets in the city centre and from where I was standing the street not only bends but also sloped down creating this very dynamic streetscape. (Now looking back, those sunny days seem very rare...)

Sketching in Hong Kong is very different from sketching in Helsinki. People here never come up to look at the drawing, start a conversation or take a photo. This was a gloomy day so I stayed in the neighbourhood to sketch this Methodist church. The yellow and green vehicle is the tram.

As the weather worsened the next day, I stayed indoors in a beautiful Swedish cafe called Johan and Nyström. I decided to relax a little for this sketch and ended up really loving it.

On the left of this page is a sketch of Helsinki Cathedral in the morning. It was foggy and the sketch turned out rather dull. On the right is the Kamppi Food Market, a great place for lunch, ranging from ramen to street gastro sandwiches.

And finally, a sunny day. I drew the cathedral again, but this ended up a little too rigid. What I really liked about the cathedral was its relationship to the streets nearby. I might draw the cathedral from other angles, maybe even from the island off the city. I'm here for a few more months anyway.

T.K. Justin Ng is an architecture student from the University of Waterloo in Canada currently doing an internship in Helsinki. He is a member of Urban Sketchers Hong Kong and Toronto. You can see more of Justin's sketches here.





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