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

Space Shuttle tank finds new home

[By Mike Sheehan in Los Angeles] I love drawing in the middle of chaos. I think it’s my version of dancing. In my mind it’s all rhythm and motion and hyper-awareness. From my last experience sketching the Shuttle Parade, nothing is more fun and chaotic than that. Going through my sketchbooks, I remembered I had also sketched the Shuttle Endeavour as it flew over Disneyland.

When I heard ET-94, the fuel tank from the shuttle, would be making its way through the streets of Los Angeles, I was in. These events create a weird magical day where everybody in the city decides to be amazing and nice to each other, like a real-time scene from a musical. This one was going to be in two parts: ET-94 arriving in the harbor, and then its drive through the streets of Los Angeles to its new home at the California Science Center.

For its arrival, I arrived at Fisherman’s Village in Marina del Rey at around 5am. It wasn’t too crowded. I got to sit in one place and draw, which is nice sometimes. I set up near the news crews since they usually know where the best view is going to be. Helicopters hovered overhead creating a constant roar. ET-94 came into view around 6.30am. It was hard to get a sense of scale when it’s on the barge. The crowd was mellow and small.

When I got to the same spot to see it start its trek Friday night, it was a totally different scene. I got there pretty early, at 10pm. The streets were already blocked and the crowds were streaming toward the Village. I parked and walked a mile-and-a-half. Again, there was constant helicopter noise. It had the effect of making the event seem epic and important. I walked up to the tank to AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” blaring from the California Science Center’s Annual Discovery Ball in a nearby tent.

I started drawing the truck and tank. A French woman walked up and asked if I was a professional; I said yes. Then she proceeded to tell me everything she thought was wrong with my sketch. That was balanced by a fun conversation with an LA Times reporter.

At 12.08am it began its journey. As I was walking alongside it, people showed up in period costume with a New Orleans jazz band from the gala. I walked and sketched the tuba player. My Dad likes tuba. Probably why I honed in on him.

I had to walk alongside the band and draw in the dark. I tripped over a few traffic cones. But when am I ever going to draw a tuba player in a New Orleans jazz band while a spaceship's five-storey tall gas tank looms overhead at one o’clock in the morning? Never, that’s when.

I followed it through the wee hours of the morning. I hit the wall at about 4am. Stopped at a Denny’s, drank an obscene amount of coffee and went back out. Thankfully, the sun was coming up and it righted my brain.

For all the seeming chaos of these events, this time I really noticed the precision the planners put into this. The quick breakdown of the obstacles in the route and the immediate replacement of all those elements the minute ET-94 rolled through. The traffic cops would show up ahead and prep the area, chat with people and be helpful to people who were chasing this thing across the city.

This time it didn’t do any photo-op stops. It was pretty much always in motion. It moved along at a faster clip than I expected. It stopped at one point for them to trim some branches off a tree. Two women next to me seemed very upset thinking they were going to cut down the whole tree. They didn’t.

At the Forum, people were taking pictures with astronauts and police. Someone was blasting music from their car from a playlist that seemed to take a lot of different tastes into consideration, everything from Digital Underground to the Star Wars theme, as we all filed back to our cars. Another weirdly perfect moment.

Because of all the planning and precision, we get to play in the chaos of a big event like this and to be in the moment when the whole city decides to have a great time together.

Mike Sheehan is a regular contributor to Off Ramp, a radio show that broadcasts on 89.3 KPCC Southern California Public Radio. See more of Mike's work at





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