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

Drawing the Drawing Robot Drawing

By Marc Taro Holmes in Montreal, CA

The other day I was sketching at the C2 Conference here in Montreal, and found myself drawing while simultaneously contemplating the death of work in our upcoming automation based economy, and the role of artists after the singularity.

(If you believe in either of those theories).

C2 is a place where you might find yourself believing all that stuff after a few lectures :) I was actually doing, while thinking these deep thoughts, was drawing a gang of drawing robots, while they were drawing a live human model.

An odd feeling for sure!

These small robot arms are built and programmed by artist Patrick Tresset.

Each robot has a camera "eye" and some techno wizardry in its processor brain that converts the values the camera sees into densities of pen marks. The results are actually fairly similar to what human artists do - since of course these robots were programmed by an artist who knows how to draw.

When I passed by, the group of about a half dozen arms were part way through their drawings, so I quickly pulled out my own sketching material to see if I could beat them to the punch.

I was only drawing for a few short minutes, but in that time a number of hilarious things happened.

First, I was in such a rush to beat the robots that I spilled some ink on the gallery floor. I'm in the habit of flicking dirty brushes onto the ground when I paint outside - and in my rush I did it without thinking. Luckily it was a polished concrete floor - so I could just casually drop a bit of paper towel and stand on it while I drew, mopping secretly.

Immediately after, I was digging in my bag for a pen nib or something, and I cut my finger. Painfully jamming a hangnail on the edge of a drawing board and ending up leaking blood down my finger tip while juggling multiple wet ink drawings.

I could see the half dozen robot arms working relentlessly while I fumbled.

They would never need a break. Never get distracted, never cut their fingers, never spill their ink.

There is no way to avoid seeing the obvious parallels in the larger global economy. This is what all those auto plant workers or deep sea welders, or the fabled John Henry must have felt like.

But I'm an artist - I was so sure this didn't apply to me! Supposedly I am the one thing that cannot be replaced by a machine - and here I am being forced to confront my human frailty in this one sided drawing contest with a bunch of mechanical back scratchers bolted onto grade school desks.

But then, as I was turning the corner in my imaginary sketching race, well ahead of the sluggish robot team, I was congratulating myself on starting late and finishing early - totally owning those wind up toys - when I noticed a bit of programmatic theater.

The robot cameras were actually bobbing their heads, like an artist does.

Looking down at the paper then up to the human subject, then down again at the paper. A gesture any artist will recognize from life drawing class.

It was then I realized the true (terrible) nature of the situation.

There is no way the robots were actually analyzing their drawings visually. That would simply take too much artificial intelligence. I am techy enough to know this could not be the case here. It has to be a simple one-shot image analysis algorithm.

That means the camera head-bob was programmed in to make it *look* like the arms were thinking about the drawing.

In fact - the entire process of the pens scratching away while the model tried not to fidget? That was total mummery. A puppet show designed to entertain the humans. Look how cute the robot overlords are!

The human didn't have to hold still! He could have walked away at any time! The robots only need a single glance to capture the likeness of our model (Mr. John Farquhar-Smith of FLUX). (I'm not sure he wasn't a ringer working for the robots).

In fact - the robots don't need time to do these drawings at all!

They could have executed them in a blur of motion, so fast they melted the ball point pens. They could have extruded the final drawing as a single stamped shape in a millisecond. They could probably have 3D printed a clone of John's DNA in the time it took me to figure out how badly I was actually losing this race.

This fantasy that I was speeding past the machines was just a bit of re-assurance Mr. Tresset is trying to allow me. A bit of salve to my ego. I might have walked away thinking - those robots will never replace me! I've chosen the one path that is future proof.

But instead, I've walked away knowing - it's only a matter of time until making imagery by hand is a Luddites' pastime. A poet's licence.

Eventually, all of us will have to consider what automation means to us. And I suppose, we'll have to decide how much we care.

For now I can see the humor in it all. But I wonder what I'll really be thinking in the next decade? It's going to be interesting times ahead!






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