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 the Past: the American Civil War

[Guest post by Debora Grosse in Georgia, USA]

I caught the history sketching bug on a trip to Gettysburg in 2013. Thousands of secular pilgrims gathered to honor those who had fought on the site 150 years earlier. Countless volunteers, like these reenactors above from North Carolina, brought the Civil War to life. I returned home very excited. The sesquicentennial would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to follow the progress of the war near my home in Atlanta. As often as I could, I visited the sites of significant events on their anniversaries. Though I knew little about the war when I began, the storyline became clear when I saw the geography and experienced the timing of events.

Marietta, Georgia. November 2014

Reenactors are an ideal sketching subject. It’s urban sketcher heaven to encounter picturesque people who welcome being sketched and who regale you with true stories while you draw. They enjoy sharing their knowledge with anyone who's interested, like the boy in the picture above.  He has just been dressed in a uniform and is now being taught about weapons.

Andersonville, Georgia. March 2014

The war was personalized for me as I got to know individuals who had participated. This reenactor represents Thomas Sylvanus, who, like my great-great-grandfather’s cousin, was held as a prisoner of war in the notorious camp at Andersonville.  Unlike my cousin, Corporal Sylvanus survived, but the miserable conditions caused him to lose his sight.

Cartersville, Georgia. November 2014

Not every historic milestone had an organized commemoration. It can be just as much fun to represent the past through a sketch of a modern scene.  When I visited the antebellum railroad depot in Cartersville, I was delighted to find a fire truck parked in front of it. The fire truck was there for a church-sponsored festival that had nothing to do with the war, but it made an appropriate symbol for the events of November 1864. Too bad it wasn’t around 150 years ago when Cartersville and other towns really needed it.

A side benefit of anniversary sketching is that it trains you to accept your mistakes and move on. There is only one opportunity to draw a 150th anniversary. Chances are you’ll be the only sketcher present, so whatever you produce, regardless of flaws, will be the best urban sketch ever made to record the event.

Smyrna, Georgia. July 2014

My immersion in the war gave me a new appreciation for the land: the mountains, the rivers, and especially the railroads that were so vital to cities and armies. This landscape shows the view from a little park where the remains of Confederate earthworks still exist. Here the soldiers waited with their backs to the Chattahoochee River, the final natural barrier defending Atlanta from the approaching Union army.

Henry County, Georgia. August 2014

When we sketch history, what we actually see is what those events mean now. After 150 years, the war still means a lot to Americans. These spectators at a cavalry raid reenactment are members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.  These two men memorialize their ancestors by reenacting, but today they’re wearing “Mechanized Cavalry” motorcycle club vests with the SCV’s Confederate battle flag logo prominently displayed across the backs.

Selma, Alabama. March 2015

The war settled the questions of union and slavery, but, except for a brief postwar period, the Federal government didn’t try to enforce full rights of citizenship for the former slaves in the South. A century later, nonviolent armies of men, women, and children waged a series of campaigns to end legal segregation and to secure the right to vote. The 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights movement has provided another opportunity for real-time, real-place history sketching.

Debora Grosse is a software engineer in Atlanta, Georgia. Debora traveled from Chickamauga in northwest Georgia to Savannah in the southeast, with side trips to Andersonville, Columbus, and Franklin, Tennessee. She made over 90 sketches related to the Civil War over 2 years. To see more, visit her Flickr albums here.





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