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

Toronto's Disappearing Landmarks

[Guest post by Marie-Judith Jean-Louis in Toronto] When I moved to Toronto, urban sketching was my way to get acquainted with the city and its people. And in order to relive the great experience I had during my first International Urban Sketchers Symposium, I set out to create and grow an urban sketching community in Toronto.

Toronto is growing at such a rapid rate that even for a relative newcomer like myself, many areas look completely different than they did two years ago. As the city keeps growing and new buildings get erected, some of the landmarks are slowly fading in the background or completely disappearing. Buildings are sentenced to be demolished, and locals are voicing their disappointment and disagreement about the decisions made by the city. Many of the sites have a lot of history, and Urban Sketchers Toronto thought it would be great to capture some of them in an illustrated book. The Toronto Disappearing Landmarks project became a way for us to tell the story of some of these landmarks and for us to connect with some of the history.

The project, open to any sketcher interested in participating, included 21 sketchers who submitted their sketches of various landmarks of the city over the summer, and the book was put together in the fall. Some sketches were made together as a group, and others were done by individuals on their own.

Honest Ed's 

Honest Ed’s (sketch above by Mauricio Munoz) is a landmark discount store with large red signs and screaming for attention with its 23,000 light bulbs. You can’t miss it. The owner, Ed Mirvish, was a European immigrant who achieved great success in Canada through hard work and innovation. He first opened the store Honest Ed’s Bargain House in 1948. The popularity of the store grew quickly and led him to expand the store to take up the entire city block on the corner of Bloor and Bathurst streets.

Honest Ed's by Marie-Judith Jean-Louis

This unique building has a lot of stories to tell. For example, every piece of store signage is hand-painted. Ed Mirvish was known as much for his generosity as for his skill as a merchant. His longstanding tradition of giving away free turkeys at Christmas and Thanksgiving has been continued by his son, David Mirvish. December 2015 marked the end of an era: their 28th and last annual Christmastime turkey giveaway. The iconic store will be replaced with affordable condos and independent shops.

Captain John's Boat Restaurant

Captain John's Boat Restaurant by Barry Stoch

Captain John’s Boat Restaurant used to be a familiar sight to Torontonians and visitors alike in the Harbourfront area. This unique restaurant was the brainchild of John Letnik, a refugee from FPR Yugoslavia who came to Canada in 1957.  After working as a chef, he opened his first restaurant. He then came up with the idea of opening a boat restaurant, which led him to open Toronto’s first floating restaurant in 1970. Five years after that, he bought another boat. Captain John’s Boat Restaurant, docked at the Harbourfront, was Lenik’s second floating restaurant. The ships started the development of the area, transforming the then-industrial port into what is now a major tourist attraction and residential area.

Captain John's Boat Restaurant by Amara Strand

Unfortunately, his first boat sank a couple months after having been struck by a ferry boat. The Captain John Boat remained at the Harbourfront for several years. Falling into disrepair, the boat was to be scrapped. On May 28, 2015, the old ship was towed out of the harbour to begin its final voyage, witnessed by a crowd of several hundred people and an impromptu band. A couple weeks before, several sketchers gathered before its final departure to capture this iconic landmark.

The Cookbook Store

The Cookbook Store by Patricia DaSilva

Sitting on the corner of Yorkville Avenue and Yonge Street, The Cookbook Store was a place where you could run into famous foodies such as Julia Child, Anthony Bourdain and Nigella Lawson. For over 31 years, cooking enthusiasts had a destination where they could find like-minded individuals, books and various items related to food and cooking. The store was the idea of Dr. Josh Josephson, a retail pioneer who jumped into a narrow niche and opened The Cookbook Store in the old Frogley Building.

The Cookbook Store by Nora MacPhail

The Frogley Building’s food connection doesn’t start with The Cookbook Store. Charles J. Frogley bought the building in 1885 and operated a confectionery store and bakery. We’re not quite sure exactly how old the building is, but it’s well over 100 years old. When we went out to sketch the building, we could still see the “Frogley’s” name on the top of the building, but the signage of the Cookbook Store was long gone. Brown paper was already covering the window. Fortunately, a couple months before construction began, one sketcher had a chance to sketch the building. This centenarian building will soon make way for a 58-story residential building.

Urban Sketching Disappearing Landmarks in Toronto contain sketches from 21 Toronto urban sketchers. It was a great opportunity to collaborate on a project together and is a great memento of our summer together. The book is available at

Marie-Judith Jean-Louis is a curious artist based in the city of Toronto. She's the founder of the Toronto Urban Sketchers and the Toronto Real podcast. You can find out more about her at





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