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

Focus Your Sketching Stories – Our Dry Run

[Isabel Carmona and Len Grant, Manchester] As our group gathers around one of the café tables the talk is inevitably about the European Union Referendum result, our constant conversation topic over the last few days.

“The rest of the of the world must be looking on us in disbelief,” I hear someone say.

Despite the grey clouds of depression hanging over half the UK population Isabel and I are pleased to see all our ten guest sketchers have turned out for a rehearsal of the workshop we’ll be leading at the symposium.

Our workshop is called Focus Your Sketching Stories and is all about really thinking about what you want to say with your sketches before you put brush or pen to paper.

“Quite often we sit and sketch what’s in front of us,” Isabel suggests to the group, “without much regard for what might be the main focus or mood of our sketch.”

We’re in Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre, an in-the-round auditorium of steel beams and colorful staircases that resembles a lunar module. The theatre has ‘touched down’ in a cavernous space that served as a trading room when Manchester was the centre of the world’s cotton trade.

Our guinea pigs are mostly friends from the Manchester urban sketchers but also include Joe who has made the train journey across the bleak Pennines from Leeds.

“We’ll run the workshop as if you are all symposium delegates,” I say, “but afterwards you must not hold back. We welcome robust feedback from you all.” They all nod enthusiastically as we distribute our workshop handout.

Isabel and I introduce ourselves. She tells about the other workshops she has run for the USK community and how we met at one that she co-hosted in Oxford. I talk about my work as a photographer for the past two and a half decades in Manchester and how I’ve incorporated sketching into my professional storytelling repertoire.

“Our workshop is split into three,” says Isabel, holding up three digits. “Len is going to talk about how the composition rules he uses in photography can translate to sketching. Then I will encourage a different way of looking at applying colour in your drawings. And then we’ll put it all together.”

For the next hour and a half the group works hard: they hear from us both in turn and are then sent off to make thumbnail sketches which we share and discuss before we set the final task.

“Now we’d like you to put it all together in one final sketch,” I say, “but remember, if you’re feeling out of your comfort zone, that’s good, go with the flow.”

For a final time the sketchers disperse around the space and Isabel and I offer support and encouragement. “I’ve learnt so much in such a short space of time,” says Karen as we re-group for the ‘throw down’. More than three hours have flown by.

Once everyone switches back from being symposium delegates there is, thankfully, overwhelming approval for our workshop and some constructive criticism of how we might improve parts of it.

As we pack away our brushes and pens we’re all jerked back to the dreadful reality. “I’m going to apply for individual EU membership,” jokes Joe, “you know, as if you’re joining a gym.”

Thanks to everyone who helped with our dry run. We’re looking forward to meeting all the symposium delegates in July.





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