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

Travel Sketching at the Khmer Temples: Siem Reap and Angkor Wat

[By Marc Taro Holmes in Siem Reap, Camboida]

As you read this we are probably starting the first day of our workshop in the Algarve. We'll be away for a couple weeks, so I thought this is a chance to post something from the archives.

Let's go back to last July's trip to the Khmer temples in Siem Reap Cambodia.

Immediately after the 2015 USK Symposium in Singapore, we spent a week touring with some of the other USK workshop instructors.

So what can I say about visiting Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples that hasn't been said before?

When visiting any great archaeological site, we are reminded that no matter how impressive our modern accomplishments (the iPad being the greatest I can think of right at the moment) humans have been constructing epic monuments for thousands of years.

The level of artistic achievement and the complexity of the engineering are so astounding that the modern mind isn't even able to take it seriously.

[Painting Angkor Wat from the east side]

Think about the generations of effort invested in transforming the landscape on this scale. The huge reservoirs dug out of the jungle, the massive stone temples with every surface covered in sculpted carvings. You end up just giving up imagining how it could be accomplished. With any of these places - the great pyramids in Egypt or the Mayan and Aztec cities in Mexico - we have been tempted to revert to magical thinking. "Chariots of the Gods! These must have been made by aliens!"

In our modern society, where we can't even agree to vaccinate children, it seems like cooperative effort on this scale is something out of the question. Something humanity may never see again. You get the feeling, when walking here, that this is a thing we have lost. We may never again see a culture reach these artistic heights.

I don't mean to be romantic about it. I'm sure the reason ancient kingdoms were able to build this way had everything to do with theocratic dictatorships and the iron rule of warrior kings. You probably need a huge population of let's-just-call-them-slaves. There is no time to worry about universal health care and education. Never mind the OSHA.

But it's easy to brush that aside when you're there, and simply marvel at the place. I often wonder, if these beautiful complexes were actually used by the people - or if they were gated palaces only for the privileged few. Who got to see these miles of relief carvings? Who was living in these halls lined with row on row of statues? Was it only a few saffron robed priest-kings living in luxury? or were the stone courtyards packed with people, animals and wooden houses - a chaotic village crammed inside the walls? Today it has an abandoned feeling. I prefer to imagine these empty places packed with a riot of color.

If you spend any time in the modern day temples in Siem Reap, you get a sense of that barely contained energy. The way every inch of space is used for color and decoration. There are very few solemn monastic courtyards in the bustling streets of a living Asian city.

[Wat Prea Prom in Siem Reap]

Next week, I'll carry on with sketches from the more distant temples. Stay tuned! ~m





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