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

Trip Down (Not Great) Memory Lane

[by Róisín Curé] Thirty five years ago, I spent far too many cold winter nights standing at the Clocktower in the village of Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow, waiting for a lift home. There was a payphone in the foyer of the Powerscourt Arms Hotel, and if I had change for it, I could make a call home to ask for a lift. But a lift was often unforthcoming. Perhaps a sibling didn't feel like coming, or my parents weren't available, or not immediately. Rather than wait alone in the deserted village, I would walk those three dark miles home. We're talking the Wicklow Mountains, and that means lots of huge trees lining the narrow, twisting roads, making for pitch-black walking, and I have always been afraid of the dark. My father would try to allay my fears: "Do you really think some man is going to spend hours crouching in the dark, freezing his backside off, bored to death, on the off-chance you might pass?" It wasn't the crouching men I was worried about, but silent eyes, running hooves, evil...I had imagination issues. Sometimes it was so dark on that road I would have to run my hand along the wall next to the ditch to keep going in the right direction. Sometimes I fell into the ditch. Once I decided to wear my new Sony Walkman headphones to make it less scary, but it was much creepier with them on. Sometimes I hitched a lift, which was usually fine, but occasionally resulted in being in a confined space with a weirdo.  As soon as I turned eighteen I was gone, and I have not spent more than a minute in Enniskerry in thirty years. 

How it would have comforted me on those miserable walks home to have had a vision of the future, even for a split-second. To have seen myself sitting in the sunshine outside the Schoolhouse for Art in Enniskerry Village, sketching away, sharing my passion for urban sketching with an audience of enthusiasts. Enniskerry is as pretty as they come - the buildings are Victorian and picture perfect, and the steep roads leading out of the village on all sides meet in the middle at the Clocktower. I was so lucky to be there - it was by chance that I was going to be around. I wanted to meet Brenda Malley, a fantastic artist and one of the original Urban Sketchers (was anyone else sketching around Europe in 1974?). Brenda is a tutor in the Schoolhouse for Art. The Schoolhouse for Art is a wonderful art school in the heart of Enniskerry Village which teaches all kinds of visual art, from sculpture to painting, pottery and drawing. It was having a SpringFest for Art open weekend and was offering all sorts of drawing activities to the public, as well as an exhibition of the work of some of its tutors and students, all free of charge, in conjunction with the National Gallery of Ireland and National Drawing Day 2016. Brenda suggested that I might drop in and share a few words about urban sketching with the visitors. I jumped at the chance. And so, on Saturday afternoon I chatted to a group of sketchers, from the beginner to the experienced, all about urban sketching: its definition and aims, the highs and lows, the kit and caboodle. I was in my element: I love to be in the spotlight, talking for Ireland about my passion, and then talking my way through a sketch, describing what I'm doing as I go.

I put in my little green car at the bottom: the car that means I won't be walking alone in the dark anymore, the same car that my teenagers ask me to park at some distance from the school, because it's so embarrassing - apparently it has no bonnet.

Here are some of the sketchers on Sunday afternoon. Although a thunderstorm threatened, it held off, and it was really hot...bliss.

That's me in the stripy grey teeshirt, chatting to Anna, an artist who has recently started sketching again. She's getting all addicted again. "I bring my sketching stuff up to bed," she said. I know, Anna, I know. Ciarán is on the right. He was one of the lucky group of artists who accompanied Brenda on the recent sketching trip she led to the South of France. How I wish I could have been there. Ciarán is intrigued by the possibilities of urban sketching, and is hoping to join us on June 12th in north Galway for the next Urban Sketchers Galway meet-up: there's a vintage car rally on in Castlehackett, near Tuam, so if you're around, please join us.

On Saturday afternoon, after the visitors had begun to disperse, I did a quick sketch of the Schoolhouse:

You can see Jenn on the left. Jenn is the lady who makes everything happen in the Schoolhouse. The lady opposite her with the long dark hair moved away before I'd finished her, but Jenn was still there, so I gave her Jenn's skirt and legs. That's urban sketching in practice! The gent in the foreground is James Joyce, in the form of a wooden cut-out. The figure was what attracted me to the scene in the first place, so I gave it centre stage. Quirky things like that are why I love urban sketching.

Meanwhile, Brenda was sketching away too. She gave an urban sketching demo on Sunday too, and produced a beautiful sketch of the Clocktower, with the hot early summer sun making the east face glow.

Neil and Jenn, who run the Schoolhouse for Art, are very keen on the ethos of urban sketching. They weren't surprised to see an enthusiastic response from the public who visited the Schoolhouse over the course of the two days. "Where is the urban sketching happening?" was a question they heard over and over again. Brenda Malley, as well as being a natural urban sketcher, is a lifelong one. Now she intends to start a new chapter: Urban Sketchers Leinster. With someone as active, generous and enthusiastic as Brenda at the helm, it promises to be an exciting group for anyone in the East of Ireland. And what a wealth of subjects they'll have at their fingertips! Glorious Dublin City, the religious buildings and monuments of the Ancient East...they'll be spoiled for choice.

Here's another of Brenda's sketches, showing her loose, expressive drawing style: 

Brenda is a professional oil painter. I saw some of her stunning seascapes in the exhibition, and they left me longing to try it for myself. But Brenda adores the immediacy and ease of urban sketching. She is also a fine writer, so she's found a natural outlet in urban sketching, which is always enhanced by a few words. I was thrilled to meet her over the weekend, and now I want to get her to share some of her tips on oil painting! You can read her beautiful description of the weekend in Enniskerry on her blog ( which should be live in the next few days.

If you are a sketcher in the Leinster area, then give yourself a really huge gift and join Urban Skecthers Leinster - once it's up and running!





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