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

Good Wine, Good Friends

[By Richard Sheppard] For those of us who live in Sonoma County, California, it’s easy to understand what draws people here. The abundance of natural beauty, world class wines and Mediterranean climate are all attractive lures. Locals and tourists alike enjoy driving the rugged Pacific coastline, hiking in redwood forests and cycling trails amongst distinctive oak-covered hills. But the wine industry creates the biggest draw, and over the years I’ve had the good fortune of exploring it firsthand.

It all started one summer afternoon 22 years ago, when a group of friends gathered in Healdsburg on Glenn Proctor’s porch, each of us having brought a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.

While snacking on soft cheese and crackers, we took turns sharing our impressions of the wines, one by one. Today, after a few personnel shifts, our gatherings are as informal and unassuming as ever, and I’m happy to say our wine group still meets several times a year for tasting and a potluck meal.

To keep our gatherings dynamic, we rotate the hosts, houses, and wine varietals for each tasting. After a varietal has been determined and a date set, each guest arrives with a bottle and food in hand.

Today’s tasting features local sparkling wine. As each guest arrives, their bottle is added to the kitchen ice chest, with care taken to hide its label. This way, our post-tasting unveiling will be a surprise to as many of us as possible. That’s part of the fun. Meanwhile, Bob and Vince have each opened a bottle of still wine. The rest of us will serve as guinea pigs on which these two winemakers test their latest releases. I post myself in the kitchen to paper bag each bottle of sparkling wine, numbering each with a pen, careful not to peek at labels.

Bob is our cheese guru and he always brings a variety of cheese from different parts of the world for us to taste. Although wine and cheese are a classic duo that has been depicted in art and literature for centuries, the ideal combination is surprisingly hard to come by. After years of tasting wine and cheese together I’ve found that most cheeses mask wine’s fruit, leaving a bitter taste. The traditional rule is red wines pair best with hard, full-flavored cheeses, and whites with soft, milder cheeses, although that’s not completely reliable.

Contemporary advice suggests pairing based on acidity, but unfortunately, product labels don’t reveal that information. I think the simplest and most fun way to figure out what tastes best with what is through trial and error. Then the ideal pairing happens serendipitously, and when it does, it’s a beautiful thing.

After half an hour of nibbling cheeses and catching up socially, my wife Marilyn nudges the group into the dining room. A row of six glasses waits at each setting, equivalent to the number of wines we’ll pour during each of two flights.

As we pass the bagged wines around the table, quiet descends for the first time, music once muffled by conversation now recognizable above clinking glasses. Each taster alternately samples and scribbles notes about body and texture (richness, bubble size), taste (sweetness, bitterness, acidity), flavor, color, aromas, balance (of body, texture, flavors, acidity), quality (enjoying the wine), etc.

We each also rank the wines numerically according to our personal preference. When everyone has finished making notes, we discuss the wines one by one, making our way around the table so everyone has a chance to comment. At all our gatherings, we unveil the bottles from lowest to highest scores, accompanied by “aahhs,” “oohhhs” and “huummms” as labels are revealed. Tonight’s favorite wine as determined by rank, is Iron Horse, 2010 Classic Vintage Brute from Sonoma County. And It just so happens to be my favorite too.





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