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

Ban Siew San (Temple of Longevity) - 万寿山寺

[By Don Low, Singapore] Quite a hidden gem in an estate where I live and work. The temple, known as Ban Siew San is located at the junction of Henderson Road and Telok Blangah Road half way up the hill where the Telok Blangah Estate is established. Ban Siew San means 'Longevity Hill' while the temple is also known to the Cantonese as Koon Yam Tong (Hall of the Goddess of Mercy), and is a Buddhist temple dedicated to Guan Yin (Goddess of Mercy). The temple has been around since 1880. I have been living in this area for more than 10 years and has never visited the temple until when I found out that a friend was involved in a painting project to restore some of the murals within the temple. I was curious to find out about the project and decided to pay my friend a visit while she worked on the murals.

This was during the end of November last year in 2015. The project involved repainting 4 murals of Buddha and some deities, with each mural measuring more than 2m tall, at a height of 2.5m above ground. So when I saw my friend at the temple, she was inevitably standing on a scaffolding way above my eye level thus I have to crank my head to say hi to her.

The process was painstaking as she would use her fingers to even out the enamel paint after she applied with her brushes. Out of curiosity I climbed up the ladder beside the scaffolding just to see what it was like to be up there and of course to take a closer look at the Buddha mural she was working on. After a short conversation with Hnin Phyu (her name) at eye-level, I decided to give myself a tour around the temple.

The temple is located about a quarter way up the hill that leads to the Telok Blangah Estate, the latter which means "cooking pot bay". And yes, we are about one to two kilometres from the coast, now reclaimed as West Coast Park. The west coast leading up to Clementi to the west of Singapore is predominantly used as shipping ports. In the past, also known to the Chinese, the hill on which the temple was built, was known as Longevity Hill, as how the temple was also named. Visitors would have to climb a long flight of steps before they could reach the first entrance of the temple. I painted the temple from below the hill.

Ban Siew San Temple has an outer court. The feature I included in my painting is the door way to the outer court. This is where worshippers would offer their burnt offering of incense papers to the deities in pagoda like structures placed outside the main building. The temple itself is not very big, but it has several unwalled chambers dedicated to different deities. The murals are done at the outer chamber. The back of the temple includes a washing area, workers' quarters, dinning room and a kitchen. The temple is owned privately. Besides the caretaker, there are elderly volunteers who come regularly to help upkeep the area in exchange for a simple meal.

The duty of the caretaker includes removing daily, the burnt out incense and joss sticks from the altar; removing accumulated ash from the urns and making sure the place is swept and cleaned. I was able to catch the caretaker in action as he cleaned the altar and shrine dedicated to Guan Yin.

I sketched the caretaker as he was taking a breather from his work. He introduced himself as Brother Keong but he is about 70 plus years old now. He has been working for the temple for 17 years, probably after he became a retiree. He also walks with a slight limp (probably caused by some hip displacement) but he never complained about his work. He said this work kept him going but he is not sure how long he could stay up this way.

Ban Siew San has been around since 1880s which makes it one of the oldest and very rare few historical Hainanese temples in Singapore still standing as it was more than 100 years ago.
According to the historians, the building itself is a hybrid of 2 different Chinese cultures; the temple is Teochew origin, but the architecture style follows the Hokkien convention. Inside the temple, there are 4 masonry columns of European Neo-classical design supporting the roof decorated with curving ridges and 'swallow tails" ridge ends, typical of the Hokkien temple construction origin. 

Here's a glimpse of the temple's exterior.

Hnin Phyu is an intermedia artist living in Singapore, she graduated from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and started out as a painter and is currently exploring the intervention of spatial relations by experimenting with light and new media such as video, text and sound to investigate the paradoxical space that breaks away from the limitation of single plane surface. (





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