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

The Colours in my Paintbox

[by Róisín Curé in Galway] It's always nice to see what colours other sketchers use when they are out on the road. When you have a self-imposed limit of twelve colours, as many of us do, it can be a source of angst - yes, angst - to wonder which colours to keep and which to leave at home.

(Disclaimer: I am not really a watercolour artist. I am more of a colouring-in artist. So I neither know nor care a huge amount about all the finer points of pigments - I just want to get the colour to match what I see.)

As to why I use the colours you see in the picture, here they are, moving down from the top left and working anti-clockwise: indigo, ultramarine, cobalt turquoise, phthalo green, permanent green olive, lemon yellow, chrome orange, yellow ochre, sepia, Venetian red, permanent carmine and opera pink. All but the last are by Schmincke; the last is Daniel Smith.

Of course we all have our favourites, but there are some colours that just keep telling you that you need them. 

Try as I might, I can't lose indigo, and I do try. Its deep, calm blue hits the spot every time. Payne's grey is super and it was my first alternative-to-black crush but...sorry Payne's, it's not you, it's me. Me and indigo - well, we're a thing now.
Here's a sketch which made full use of indigo for a muted, understated background that gave context to the girls in the foreground. It's a café called McCambridge's in Galway City.

What about ultramarine? It's there on trial at the moment. Not too green, not too purple - but not very rich and creamy. Hmmm. I'm watching you.

Cobalt turquoise is there because I saw a colour that looked just like it in Felix Scheinberger's Urban Watercolour Sketching. Now, he says it's helio turquoise, but my helio turquoise never looked like that, whereas cobalt turquoise does. Besides, it's super-pretty, so I've invited it to come out with me, and things are going rather well. 

Phthalo green? What a sharp, unnatural colour! No leaves ever looked like that. But mix it with yellow ochre or lemon yellow and it becomes miraculously foliage-like, and mix it with cobalt turquoise (or helio turquoise) and suddenly it's a copper dome, or a tropical lagoon (I just wanted to get it in that I have to paint tropical lagoons sometimes. Oh yes.) 

Here's a tropical lagoon painted with a mixture of Phthalo Green and turquoise:

I had to paint very fast - not only were the young Mauritians in the foreground starting to move, but the sun falls out of the sky so fast in the tropics that you have to be very speedy indeed. This was done at Trou-aux-Biches in Mauritius, and I invite you to imagine the whales and dolphins that gambol just beyond the reef, where the sea drops to 400m within a short distance.

Permanent green olive? A quiet, gentlemanly colour, a shortcut to foliage or grass, at least in Ireland, where intense acid green foliage is in short supply, as are tropical lagoons, for that matter. 

Lemon yellow is so useful. Quiet and unprepossessing, it lifts so many colours into sunshine, and makes greens behave. Without lemon yellow there would be no pendant lighting hanging from pub ceilings...

Chrome orange is a must-have if you live in Ireland. Why? Because we are a patriotic bunch, of course! We like to hang our glorious tricolour all over the place (note to self: buy a large flag for the front garden, like all the neighbours) and without chrome orange I would spend much time mixing red and yellow, only to end up with a muddy imitation of the acid orange that all our flags have to be. When it comes to colours, we don't really do subtle in Ireland. Maybe we have enough subtlety in our beautiful countryside. 

Yellow ochre is one of those ones that keeps creeping back into the paintbox. It's just too useful for skin tones and a million other things. 

Sepia is a bit sombre, it's true...but mix it with Venetian red and you have a sort of burnt umber, or as near as makes no difference. Not to me, anyway, and as I said, I'm not too bothered as to the exact outcome, nor am I any sort of expert.

Venetian red is useful in Ireland because we are not a great people for maintaining our stuff. That is why there are lots of rusty things around. I happen to love painting rusty stuff so it's win-win. Therefore, even though I don't personally like Venetian red very much (it's too red, too brown, too...rusty) it's great for the sort of stuff I do. Mix it with yellow ochre on the page - let them flow into each other - and you have a soft result.

Permanent carmine is not a colour I love either. I would never wear this colour. If I'm going to wear red, it has to be RED. So on those dubious grounds I swapped permanent carmine for some kind of scarlet, but it refused to work well for me as a colour. Too garish. So I mix permanent carmine with cadmium red light if it's around, chrome orange if it's not, and then it looks nice.

Opera pink is just one of those pretties that I had to include. I would liken it to a diamond necklace if I had one (note to self, get one) - it just lifts everything and gives it a sparkle. Folk have been quick to point out that it is fugitive. Well, I know that...or I would have if I had read the tube. So now all those millions of commissions I have done feature people whose pink cheeks are going to lose their youthful bloom in time (like everyone else's). Ah, it's not really a problem because (a) there aren't millions of commissions out there and (b) the vast majority of my output ends up on a screen or in a print so permanence isn't an issue.

Just look at this use of Opera Pink:

Clean, intense, and delicate all at once.

There you go! My colours. If you want to see examples of where each colour is put into practice, check out my longer article on my website here.

If you have a colour that is absolutely your must-have, please don't keep it to yourself! Share it with me here...please!! Think of yourself as doing Good Work.




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