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

Having the Craic in Galway City

[by Róisín Curé] Summer in Galway City - nothing like it. Your senses are assailed by colour, the buildings, the people, the landscape. Underlying this is the rickety skeleton of a medieval outpost and the usual gentle neglect that is the Irish way, and you're in a place where you can feel pretty relaxed. There is no noticeable police presence, and those that you'll see don't carry anything too threatening. I know I sound like an advertisement for the Tourist Board but I know as a sketcher that the visitors are having a lovely time, because I hear what they are saying as they pass.

The Bridge Mills is one of Galway's landmarks. It sits on the west bank of the River Corrib. I went to draw it one morning, and took my 14-year-old son with me. The summer holidays have started, and it's a constant, infuriating and frustrating battle to convince our kids to step away from the screens, leave those funny YouTubes and absorbing Sims behind and get out and DO something. It was not too hard to persuade my boy Paddy to come and sketch with me, as we get on like a house on fire and share a sense of humour. I packed his own beautiful sketching kit with the hope that he'd be inspired. We sat on the grassy river bank and I sketched while Paddy chatted about this and that. After a while I sent him off to buy some nice hot chips from McDonagh's, a traditional fish and chip shop that's been a Galway fixture since 1902. We chomped them in the shade of whatever tree species is the one you can see at the top of the frame, hot, salty, vinegary, just the way we like them.

What with all the chat, I didn't get the drawing finished, and went back there on my own a few days later. A lovely lady named Kate stopped to look. She was the type of person that makes urban sketching such a pleasure. She complimented me profusely, and was so warm that I showed her my sketches of my younger daughter (I don't normally share intimate details of my life with passers-by!). She was clearly a real "mum" and said how like me my daughter is. Then she put her arm around my shoulders, just for sheer niceness. I love people like that. I told her she'd be in my write-up, so there she is.

A swan family drifted into view at just the right moment and stayed there obligingly until I'd finished drawing them. A man passed with his young son.
"Look at the swans!" said the little boy.
"There they are," said his father. "There used to be twelve young ones, now there are only two."
I doubt they had twelve, but what do I know? Maybe swans help out with other kids too.

Perhaps I was distracted by the funny stories from YouTube, but I made a real rookie mistake - I didn't match the shape of the scene before me to the format of my page. In other words, if the scene you're drawing is long and thin, then draw it in a portrait format! So obvious, but I didn't do it. That left me with a big problem: how to fit the river in, which was a very important part of the sketch - what's The Bridge Mills without the reason it was built? The bottom of the page coincided with the pink flowers, so no room for the river.The solution was tricky, but worked. I tore another sheet out of my sketchbook, oriented it to portrait and laid it behind the sheet I had been working on. Then I lined it all up, clipped the pages together with bulldog clips and just continued the drawing on the new page. Then I stitched them together on the computer. Next time I'll take a few minutes to appraise the scene before me.

Neachtain's is a pub in the heart of Galway's Latin Quarter. It's on the corner of Shop Street and Cross Street and is right at the hub of all the action and life of the city. There are wicker chairs outside and they're always full of punters. Somehow there's never one free - I must try harder. Back in the day I drank too much and smoked too much in Neachtain's, many times. And although all I can remember of those Bacchanalian nights is a haze of foul smoke, a dizzy head and some indistinct faces, I know I enjoyed them for the most part (but we all usually drank to excess, which is no fun). I don't think I've had anything stronger than a bowl of soup in Neachtain's for ten years or so. But it's a fabulous pub, a warren of snugs and artistic posters, and there's usually great trad music on somewhere. One of these days I'll sketch the musicians, and maybe the landlord will buy me a drink...

Every few yards in Galway there's a busker. They don't interfere too much with each other in terms of clashing sounds. Yesterday I passed musicians, artists and jewellery peddlers. But the one I've drawn here is one of my favourites. He is a little unusual: he enters a world of his own when he sings, and in fact may as well be alone, as he skips, twirls and falls to his knees during his songs. His taste runs to big Disney ballads and Enrique Iglesias schmaltz. He is frequently the butt of teasing by passers-by, some of which is cruel, but he doesn't seem bothered. I've heard Galway guys teasing him, but it tends to be gentler in nature than that of the visitors (who, it must be said, are often here on stag weekends, and are often in no position to be mocking someone for funny behaviour...).
I had an unexpectedly free afternoon in town yesterday. I love those kinds of free gifts. I had my two younger children with me, and our puppy. I sent them in to get milkshakes in Eyre Square shopping centre, telling them I'd look after the puppy. Then I figured I'd take the opportunity to make a very quick sketch. I was going to sit on the bench and sketch what I saw, but this nice young man got there before me. This is what I love about urban sketching: you just draw whatever you are presented with. Every urban sketcher has their own particular taste in choice of subject: some love beauty in watercolour, others like the big statement. I love the whimsical, the quirky. So this guy with his ice cream was just up my street. Not only that, but he was happy to sit for me.
"I am waiting for my friends," said the young man, who turned out to be a Frenchman called Jacques. "I will not move."
Jacques couldn't have been a better model. He sat still long after I'd started on the statues, but I didn't tell him I didn't need him any more because I had slipped into the "zone" and was barely aware of anything. My two kids were very patient. By and by we were joined by a very special family I know, a mum and her three beautiful daughters, whom it is my pleasure to teach in my art class. We shot the breeze as I sketched; it couldn't have been a nicer way to spend what turned from a five-minute sketch into a pleasant interlude of over half an hour.
The two statues are Oscar Wilde and Eduard Vilde, the latter an Estonian writer. The statues were a gift to the people of Galway from Estonia and there is a replica in Tallinn, unless I'm mistaken. The scene imagines a conversation between the two writers, who were contemporaries but never met. They look like they're coveting Jacques' ice cream...

An old man stopped and peered over my shoulder.
"That lad on the right has more life in him than the fella in the middle," he said, and continued on his way, delighted at his own wit. (This is my lot as an urban sketcher in Galway.)

Summer sketching in Galway City. It's the best.





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