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

Sketching the Chilean Rodeo Championship

[Guest post by Erika Brandner in Rancagua] 

On April 1-3 the 68th Chilean National Rodeo Championship took place in the city of Rancagua, best known as the “Champion de Rancagua.” I was invited by the Chilean Rodeo Federation to draw the event during the three days. They gave me a press credential, so I had full access to the different competitions and behind the scenes areas (like the stables). The national TV station was there and found it interesting that I was there sketching, so they recorded this video for the evening news.

The Chilean rodeo differs from the one in North America although the origins should be the same: surround and herd the cattle. In the Chilean rodeo a couple of horsemen, called collera, mounted on purebred Chilean horses show their skills and courage to ride their horses. Riders must lead a bull or cow through the arena (which is known as a medialuna or half-moon) and try to tackle (stop) the bullock in specific areas.

It was recognized as a sport in the 1960's, with standards and precise specifications of its competitors and rules. During the competitions, musicians play and sing cueca, tonadas and other traditional Chilean music. The highest authority of the rodeo is the delegate. In any rodeo there is a foreman who is a highly trained broker and whose responsibilities are to maintain order within the competition. The jury is formed with a short list that gives points and ensures compliance with the regulation and its rulings cannot be appealed. The rodeo spectators are very knowledgeable about this sport and follow closely the competition. As the tournament progresses the decibel level rises exponentially. The final is deafening.

Rodeo has always been an essentially masculine world, but women have participated since 2005, first in the Rein Movement tourney. It consists of five or eight tests where the rider and horse must demonstrate skills such as running, trotting, galloping, presentation, and more.

Within days of rodeo there is an exhibition of the best exemplars of “Chilean Horses.” They give an award too. Several horses stand there wearing a tricolour ribbon in red, blue, and white, the colors of the Chilean flag. Both the Association of Breeders and the Rodeo Federation representatives were there. And each horse owner spoke about the characteristics of his exemplar. But I wonder... How does a Chilean horse look? I imagine something like a sheep's head, inherited from its Spanish ancestry. Plentiful, thick and wavy manes, and the horse should also be short.

I could draw a famous horse: “Romario.” I was amused because this particular horse had a great topknot that looked like an abundant and wavy fringe. On the last day of the rodeo this same example was chosen for the "seal of the race" award: the most perfect Chilean horse or, as it says on the website of the Federation of Rodeo, the horse that has a stamp that demonstrates his "greatest breed purity."

Rodeo is as old as our history and a lot of people live from this activity. For example our artisans: it is associated with various forms of rural Chilean culture. It has an indispensable craft production for competition and for the huaso (Chilean cowboy) costume. Our huaso uses a hat that is called a “chupalla.” iron spurs, mantas and chamantos (a kind of poncho). Special shoes and leather leggings. There were also crafts for the horse, like stirrups (look so beautiful, made of wood carved with motifs of flowers, rosettes, buttons, ties and soles). Thanks to rodeo these artisans can continue having customers for their handicraft.

The official rodeo season takes place between the months of August and April each year with more than 350 competitions throughout the country. But now there are small championships starting in April. The cycle ends with the Champion of Rancagua. After football, rodeo has become one of the most popular sports in the country, both for its massiveness and its symbolic charge that has been acquired throughout the nation's history. I was surprised to look and draw the working specialised press.

In my sketching walk through the stables I look for the cows. They eat and eat. In the rodeo they are not killed but some animal defenders groups protest against it indicating that it is an animal abuse. I watch them and hope that the vets who work there take care of the cattle too.

Traveling through the stables is like visiting a busy metropolis. There are trainers to prepare and the horses and groomers, not serving people, but their horses. Their work is quiet, but very important, they are far from the lights and the cheering of the crowds. These people are responsible for arranging everything so that the riders look, and when we talk about everything, really everything; they clean the boots, reins, tools, etc., they feed, clean and saddle the horses. Trust and love with the horse becomes strong, as the petisero (groomer) is, ultimately, the link between horse and rider and who deeply knows the animal and gives support to the veterinary.

But while there's a lot of work in the stables, there's a lot to eat too. Boiling kettles and grills provide food the whole day. Dishes of all kinds, teas, coffees and melons adorn the improvised tables. There's a small city where patrons and workers, after reviewing the daily tasks to ensure that the horses had received all the attention required, chat pleasantly and with humor while playing cards. They will sleep right there in tiny rooms in wooden cabins, very close to the stables. They do not care or even notice the cool temperature. There will be long hours where the conversation will illuminate the short night and the little sleep during two nights.

Erika Brandner is graphic designer and illustrator based in Santiago de Chile. She is one of the administrators of Urban Sketchers Chile. You can see more of Erika's sketches here and here.





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