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

Sketching human frailty at the Mütter Museum

[By Marc Taro Holmes in Philadelphia, PA] I waited many years to get to the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia. it’s the sort of place where I can lose myself for hours. I love sketching a museum full of fascinating artifacts.

I actually managed a quick trip last year, but have debated a while before posting the drawings. You may want to skip this post if it's not your kind of subject matter. That would be perfectly understandable.

In this case, the sketches aren't just history. Mayan culture or Samurai armor. But rather, a look at the fascinating machine that is a human body - and the things that might go terribly wrong with it.

The Mütter is a museum of medical oddities. Antique anatomical wet-specimens, plaster casts, wax models, osteological (bone) collections, and rare medical instruments.

There’s a bit of a Dr. Frankenstein feeling about the place. The collection was originally assembled by a Dr. Thomas Dent Mütter (1811-1859). Initially begin as a means of teaching his private students, Mütter later donated his specimens to the College of Physicians – backed up by a sizable monetary endowment to launch the museum, and a demand for an on-going commitment to public access and education.

Dr. Mütter must have been an interesting man. He is described as an “exceptionally gifted ambidextrous surgeon”. Which is strangely specific praise. How did he demonstrate this ambidexterity? Removing a burst appendix with one hand while stitching a perforated bowel with the other?

He is known to have been a very successful surgeon, training in Europe before establishing a practice assisting Dr. Thomas Harris in Philadelphia. (No relation to Hannibal Lector-Thomas Harris. I don’t think?)

Mütter is said to have been a handsome man, with a confident bedside manner. He was also a pioneer in reconstructive surgery. One of the first nip and tuck artists. I can see him played by Robert Downey Jr or Daniel Day Lewis depending on the kind of bio pic you might want to make.

But I don't mean to make light. His work was apparently ground-breaking. He was restoring club feet and cleft palates – not injecting botox. These were surgeries that could give a patient a productive life, or just allow them to walk down the street without drawing stares and mockery.

This was a time before anesthetic – something he introduced to America. It was also before doctors had a real understanding of anatomy or awareness about the spread of disease. He’s credited as an early advocate of Aseptic Technique – which we take for granted in this age of hand sanitizer at the Walmart.

I can see his passion for teaching. Working as he was, with all manner of medical quackery going on around him, he must have felt a great drive to show the world the science behind the surgery. This was knowledge that could truly improve people’s lives, if it only could be better known.

Only a small percentage of the collection is on display at any one time. To be honest, what began as a teaching collection is now a kind of educational haunted house with annual attendance exceeding 130 thousand visitors.

I don’t suppose there’s anything too wrong with that. But the display is biased towards the grotesque over the simply factual. (As are my sketches, I admit).

Besides the mesmerizing examples of non-viable fetuses in jars, and a variety of conjoined twins, there are skeletons of the smallest dwarf and largest man on record. Amazing to see how the body tries to adapt our basic pattern. The dwarf and the giant have the same bones, just squeezed together or stretched apart.

You might also see the skeleton of a man whose bones never stopped growing - all fused together in a jumble. Or an exhibit of Anthropological CSI – skulls of pre-humans demonstrating various kinds of historic murder.

The most disturbing for me was the example of a perfectly normal child’s skeleton labeled ‘Healthy Youth”. Apparently not that healthy. It seems unfair that a lad would beat the odds of all these birth defects, abnormalities and murders, yet still end up as bones in a cabinet.

It’s certainly an informative collection. And if it sparks a youthful interest in medicine or just sends you away with an appreciation for your own good health – or how recently we’ve invented modern medicine – well that’s probably enough learning for a day.

If you’re in the Philadelphia area the museum is open daily 10-5pm (barring a few holidays). Photography is not allowed, but if you’re a sketcher they’re ok with that. In fact, the museum has run drawing classes in the past, so you might inquire about upcoming opportunities for art in the collection.

If you’re not passing through town any time soon, you might be interested in the late curator Gretchen Worden’s excellent book: The Mutter Museum: Of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.






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