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

My accordion sketchbook from Christmas and New Year's in Japan

[By Peggy Wong in Japan] My husband and I spent Christmas and New Year’s Day in Tokyo, Kyoto and Nagoya, Japan. The trip had plenty of first-time experiences: a Japanese-style Christmas gathering, my very first snowfall, ekiben on the shinkansen (bento boxes sold on the fast train), cycling in Kyoto, Japanese New Year’s Day with osechi-ryori, a special holiday meal.

I sketched in an orihon, an accordion folded book which you see in the image at the top. I drew on both sides of the paper. I enjoyed collecting mementos and attaching them with glue tape. Sections from this trip journal are below.

A picnic and and a party in Tokyo

We spent the first three days in Tokyo. On the first day, we toured Asakusa and Shibuya. We attempted both Edo-Tokyo Museum and Meiji Shrine but were disappointed that both were closed. A lot of the tourist attractions were closed for the year end. However, our moods were quickly lifted with a visit to the Studio Ghibli Museum in Mitaka and a picnic in the nearby park thereafter.

We took a day trip to Gala-Yuzawa, a ski-resort in Niigata, where we rode the gondola. It was too cold outside to hold a pen!

We were invited by our Airbnb host to join their Christmas and New Year’s Day gathering of very interesting guests; there was our host who worked at NHK Radio, a French photographer documenting decorative trucks, graphic designers, musicians, jazz singer, engineer, and even a ninja who just finished his martial arts training. While I was sketching the party scene, I discovered that I have a party-trick: my quick sketch. I showed them my sketchbook and travel watercolor set, with a little presentation about Urban Sketchers.

Biking, hiking and dining in Kyoto

For our first day in beautiful Kyoto, we cycled through the narrow streets of the old quarter of Gion, watched a magnificent sunset at Kiyomizudera, and finally ended our day with an okonomiyaki (an omelette-like dish) and yakisoba (stir-fried noodles) dinner at Pontocho Alley.

The following day, we headed west for Kinkakuji, Ryoanji and Arashiyama. Since the bicycle rental shop was closed for the day, we ended up taking the bus and randen (electric tram), another interesting experience. Kinkakuji was flooded with tourists, but yet, the golden pavilion stood majestic in its context with the reflective pond and landscape.

The serene bamboo forest in Arashiyama took us further with a hike up the hill for another sunset overlooking Kyoto basin. By the time we headed to the randen station, the colorful Kimono Forest installation was glowing against the twilight sky.

Our tachinomiya-style dinner at Bungalow was delicious, with two helpings of craft beers each. This modern izakaya restaurant has transparent thick plastic sheet walls and reminded me of the Korean pojangmacha. The crowd here were mainly young professionals after work hours, and young family groups. Since the operators spoke good English, we had a really warm chat with them about our trip and my sketches.

Before we left for Nagoya, the next day, I had to see Fushimi-Inari, after countless postcards and movie moments of those red tori gates. I was not disappointed, but again, it was flooded with tourists. However, the further up the hill we climbed, the less tourists there were, and thus, it was less busy, and the view from up there towards the Kyoto basin was amazing; this time from the east.

A tour of historic sites in Nagoya

I was looking forward to spending some time catching up with my old high school friend who now lives in Nagoya. She treated us to our first night at a hotel next to the Nagoya Castle, where we enjoyed a nice breezy sunset stroll around the castle.

The next day, we made our way out of town to visit the heritage site of Shirakawa-go and Takayama. This would be my second time experiencing snow, and first time sketching in snow. Takayama was famous for the dark-stained timber buildings and plenty of shops serving hida beef, which definitely lived up to the expectations.

Peggy Wong, an architect turned builder, is currently based in Kuching, Sarawak of Malaysian Borneo. Together with two other architects, she co-founded Urban Sketchers Kuching.
You can see more of her sketches from this trip here on flickr.





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