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

Vernacular architecture of Chiapas, Mexico

[Guest post by Perrine Philippe in Chiapas, Mexico]

I have been living in Mexico for one year between 2014 and 2015. First in Mexico City, to study architecture at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México, and then in San Cristóbal to work on the construction of a library with some of my architect colleagues (kind of a design-build project with the university). I had luck to travel around in this beautiful region of Chiapas, always using local buses and trying not to discover only the famous Maya pyramids. This region of Mexico has a beautiful hybridization of autonomous culture and Spanish colonization - and a huge variety of climates and landscapes.

I choose not to sketch that much Maya temples and colonial churches, because they are the most represented architectures of Mexico. But nobody really cares about vernacular shelters, local houses without architects. As I am studying architecture, to sketch is for me a way to observe and catch a place or a building. I am really interested in popular architectures: people are so creative with local -- and most of the time cheap -- materials. 

San Cristóbal de las Casas

San Cristóbal de las Casas (pictures above and below) is a beautiful small colonial city in the middle of the pine tree forests. The old town is full of colored Spanish houses, all with interior patios. Generally these houses are made out of adobe (mud bricks) and stones, with tile roofs. Once one goes in the mountains around, he can find villages where people are still speaking dialects and dressing with wonderful traditional clothes.

San Cristóbal de las Casas

There is one big and one small church on the Zocalo of San Cristóbal de las Casas, both in a baroque style. I chose to paint the small one, which is simplest, smallest and with less ornament, but with powerful yellow and red colors. 

Zocalo de San Cristóbal

Colors in Mexico, and more specifically in San Cristóbal, are one of the amazing things for my French eye, used to the gray tones of Paris. A beautiful inspiration for watercolor/ink lovers!

view from a San Cristóbal terrace

I was living in San Cristóbal de las Casas while participating in the construction of the library. I spend very few nights in this hostel, Hotel Marimba, as I had a house after. But I kept going there very often to have a fabulous café de olla (traditional spiced coffee prepared in an earthen pot) with the owners Aly and Victor. The house is very rudimentary, but the patio--present in all the old colonial houses--is so beautiful and convivial.

Hotel Marimba

The library is being built in the Barrio de la Isla.

Barrio de la Isla

With one of my Mexican friends, I was invited to have a generous lunch one day at Doña Mary's house. Doña Mary was part of the future community of users of our library. She was from San Juan Chamula, an autonomous village really close to San Cristóbal. She was living doing traditional embroidering work and living with her mother, her children and grandchildren in the only room of her house.  I sketched the view from my seat: a house made out of wood, cardboard and sheet metal.

casa de Doña Mary

Beyond San Cristóbal: Agua Azul, Ocosingo, and Frontera Corozal

Going down from the 2,000-meter high of San Cristóbal in the direction of Guatemala is Agua Azul, an obligatory stop between Tonina (Maya site) and Palenque. There are some wonderful waterfalls there, but what I wanted to draw were these vernacular poor houses in wood. This one is so simple but so beautiful at the same time for its simplicity and intelligent way of building with few materials.

Agua Azul

Ocosingo is a small city also on the road to Tonina. Here we can see a Spanish building on the zocalo (a public central square), with very typical colonnade. All the colonial cities have a zocalo, with a church and sometimes important political buildings with covered corridors, as this one below.


During a second trip I continued after Palenque, along the Rio Ucumacinta which is the physical border between Mexico and Guatemala. I stopped in Frontera Corozal to have rest and visit Yaxchilan ruins (the most beautiful I saw actually - to note in your list for a next trip in Mexico). The village of Frontera Corozal didn't change because of these ruins - as they are quite difficult to access, they are not attracting a lot of visitors, and there is almost no touristic infrastructure. 

Frontera Corozal

The village does not have a colonial center, just a strange grid - where does it come from is still a mystery for me - with very simple houses, generally in wood. Nowadays, a lot of the new houses still have the same rectangular plan with the kitchen and sanitary outside and a double slope roof, but the walls are made out of blockwork.

Frontera Corozal

I love to sketch these "normal" landscapes.

Perrine Philippe is an architecture student in Paris, France. But she is traveling around and living abroad as often as she can. She is a member of Urban Sketchers France and Urban Sketchers general group on Facebook. You can see more of her sketches here:





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