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

An Urban Sketcher visits the Outback

[Guest post by Chris Haldane in Australia]

I’m about to leave home and visit another far-flung part of Australia – Broome in Western Australia - and it has made me look back at my journal from my first visit to the Outback at the end of last year, when I had the chance to visit Broken Hill, an isolated mining city in the far west of New South Wales. It’s over 1100 km (683.5 miles) from Sydney and surrounded by semi-desert, so I was excited by the chance to see for the first time the colours of the outback. It was interesting preparing my palette for the journey. I bought a few new watercolour pencils and topped up with Daniel Smith Transparent Red Oxide, which is a fabulous colour that makes everything better!

Broken Hill once produced 1/3 of the world’s silver. In the early 1900s over 8000 men worked its mines and the remnants of its mining history are everywhere, like the old BHP company poppet head on the Line of Lode that looms over the city.

But there is so much more to see than mines. A special experience was to go out to the Living Desert Reserve at sunset to view the stone sculptures. This Aztec sun god with its keyhole seems to be the favourite. It’s a place of utter tranquility, just entrancing as the sun sets and casts a vibrant orange glow, which gradually turns to grey-mauve as it sinks below the horizon. It was one of the most special places I’ve ever painted! And I was glad to have my Schminke transparent orange with me!

Another special experience was visiting Kinchega wool sheds about 100 km (62 miles) out of Broken Hill. Built in 1875, they’re so remote and a real step back into Australia’s pastoral heritage. In 97 years of operation 6 million sheep were shorn here. If the boards could talk! You can’t help but marvel at the tenacity of those early settlers. How did they survive the remoteness. We were there on a 38°C (100.4°F) day but at least we had an air-conditioned car to travel in!

We also stopped where explorers Burke and Wills’ expedition camped on this river bank on their quest to cross Australia from Melbourne in the south to the Gulf of Carpentaria in the north, as the signage on the tree indicates. Water levels are currently very low and Broken Hill is facing another water crisis as Menindee Lakes dry up. The searing heat of the day came through in the parched colours.

When full the Menindee Lakes hold more than three times the size of Sydney Harbour, but the locals told us that currently they’re down to 5% capacity. The dead trees in the Lakes are a well known feature.

On my last morning I couldn’t resist going to Junction Mine, which I’d spied the day before on the way to Kinchega. I just loved its strong lines and shapes, along with the rust. I drew in the early morning before breakfast because the forecast was for another stinking hot day.

Looking back through my sketchbook I notice how much brown I used on this trip, not generally a favourite of mine, and it was interesting catching the train back on the long journey home, watching the greens gradually appear and the landscape become more lush as we neared the coast. It was a wonderful experience and I look forward to more trips to the outback. It made me feel proud to be an Aussie!

Chris Haldane is an avid member of USK Sydney. You can see more of her work on her Flickr site.





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