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

Video Review: James Gurney's Portraits in the Wild

By Marc Taro Holmes in Montreal, QC

Plein-air artist, educator, and illustrator James Gurney has recently announced the latest in his series of instructional DVDs.

Portraits in the Wild takes on a new subject in the field-sketching series, bringing his ultra-portable mixed media sketching kit to the subject of portrait sketching on location.

By way of disclosure, James sent me a free preview of this latest video, which will be released to the public on June 13th.

I know Mr. Gurney from a few painting outings, and in fact, I'm visible sketching in the background of one of the video clips. As well, my own portrait, sketched at a post paint-out dinner the day before, ends up getting some screen time, as it happens to be on the page next to the demonstration.

Here's my own doodle from the other side of the dinner table: Greg Shea, James Gurney and Gavin Baker.

This collection of four demos is a natural follow-up to his earlier release Gouache in the Wild, carrying on with a mixed media approach using watercolor, water soluble pencils, gouache and casein all in combination. (Though one of the video sequences is a side jaunt into alla prima oil painting on location).

Urban Sketchers, by and large, do not use opaque media to any great extent - it's much more common to see us sketching in pen and/or watercolor. It should be interesting to many of us to see proof that opaque painting doesn't have to be any less portable than our usual kits!

The first sequence is a genuine Urban Sketching affair - sketching the crowd at a regional car show.

It's always a challenge selecting what you want out of a moving mass of people. James illustrates the trick of combining the multiple people coming and going, drawing onto gestures of his favorite poses and finding faces that complete the story. Something that will be familiar to readers of my own blog.

Next up is a sketch with a narration by the subject himself. James cleverly gets Scott Corey, a docent at Sturbridge Village, to give a spontaneous monologue while he is being painted.

I wish all models were such great storytellers!

This sequence features a bravura bit of painting where James, with no great fuss, goes into what might have been an 80% finished portrait, and obliterates it with gouache, so that he can repaint for better results.

Next up, we get treated to an alla prima oil painting from first brush drawing to final touches. While not exactly in keeping with his field sketching theme, it's instructive to see how much his approach remains consistent across different media.

And finally the big finish, a sketchbook painting of a group of singers in a choir - a tricky situation with multiple portraits in constant motion. This one is made even more remarkable considering it's in a little 5x7"ish sketchbook.

As soon as I saw this painting in the introduction, I knew I was looking forward to the bit where he paints the pattern onto the dress. A sequence he makes look as easy as painting any other bit. Which I suppose is part of the lesson. Painting a girl's face, or braid of hair, or a patterned dress - the same principles of color, pigment, and brushwork apply.

As with the rest of this video series, Portraits in the Wild is independently produced by James and his wife Jeanette. Purchases go directly to supporting his art practice, his informative and entertaining art-blog, and future releases of more videos.


Opinions expressed by our correspondents and guest contributors don't necessarily represent an official view of


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