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

Return to a wild island

[By Marcia Milner-Brage on Little Saint Simons Island, Georgia, USA]

I have visited this slip of land off the southern coast of Georgia a dozen times over 15 years. In January, I returned once again for six days. In-between visits, Little Saint Simons Island is the place I visualize to calm my restless mind. When there, I find solitude and renewal surrounded by nature.

There, Mosquito Creek (above) wends its way through the salt marsh, rising and falling with the tides and reaching the Atlantic Ocean a few miles away.

It was unusually blustery and cool during our stay. These egrets and ibis found a sheltered spot on a limb overhanging the Creek. Riding the wind, a vulture seemed to hang in place overhead.

As is my ritual on my first day on the island, I bicycled to Main Beach on the hard-packed-shell-tabby Beach Road. Heading into stiff gusts, the two miles felt like four. The ocean was a roiling tumult of churning waves and blowing sand.

Not the best sketching day at the beach, no way would I be able to get my watercolors and brush pen out. I grabbed a quick one of a horseshoe crab stranded on the sand by the tides. And sought a place where the dunes might shield me.

Mosquito Creek bend, near the dunes

Mosquito Creek makes a broad curve through the salt marsh before cutting through the dunes and entering the Atlantic Ocean. I planted the kickstand of my bike into the sand, but the wind blew it over anyway. I wished I had the gloves and hat that I had worn when leaving frigid Iowa.

Humans have trod lightly here. The island’s owners have been fierce stewards for protecting the natural floral and fauna, rejecting overtures to transform the island with condos and golf courses, like on so many of the nearby coastal Georgia islands. Under a canopy of Spanish moss draped live oak, there is a cluster of simple buildings, dating from the beginning of the 20th century. The Hunting Lodge is where paying guests gather for meals.

Live Oak Above the Hunting Lodge

Deer Locker

The deer locker is left over from when there were hunting parties.

Beyond the few buildings, there are miles of narrow rutted paths and two-track roads to explore.

On a day when the wind died down, I set up my easel on the isthmus that bisects Deer Marsh. Even in the relative coolness of winter, it is verdant and alive with waterfowl, wading birds and fish. Tiny sand crabs skittered at my feet.
Deer Marsh from Old Airstrip Road
Norm's Pond
Norm’s Pond is a freshwater pond named after one of the many American alligators that are native to the island. In early spring, the pond becomes a rookery for wading shorebirds. No alligators spotted and no nesting yet, the slowly swirling skin of chartreuse algae stole the show.

The backbone of the island is a lush maritime forest. I set up my easel out of the wind near Willow Pond Dike, on the the north end. Birdsong filled the canopy above. In the palmetto understory, raccoons, armadillos, and deer rustled the leaf mulch. In this wildness, I feel as though I'm in a primordial forest.
Live Oak Dead Cedar, near Willow Pond dike
3-color ink underdrawing to the above drawing

Being here, drawing here, I feel the most alive and the most insignificant. 

January 2015 I visited Little Saint Simons Island. Fully Alive on a Wild Island is that earlier post. This Flickr album has even more and older drawings from Little Saint Simons Island.





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