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

The Muse Visits My Daughter (And Skips Me) At A Vintage Car Show

[by Róisín Curé] Recently I was invited to sketch at a vintage car show. I was thrilled to be asked: I'd long admired the work of masters such as the late Florian Afflerbach and others, and I wanted to give it a go myself. Turns out it's not as easy as I thought.

Why didn't my sketches turn out as I would have liked? The fact is that I didn't enter the zone, where something outside of yourself seems to guide your hand as you sketch. Was that because I was distracted by my wonderful sketching companions on the day? Was it the fact that I have to up my game a bit and just try harder to get it right? Sure, but I think it was more than that, because I often draw with lots of distraction, and besides even the least slick of sketches can be beautiful. I think it's because I'd been asked to present a finished sketch to the event organisers for a charity raffle at the end of the day, so I felt I wasn't free to mess about, opening the portal to that wonderful zone. That zone is far less likely to happen if you're trying to make a formal painting for someone else. It's a matter of inspiration, the capricious Muse that sprinkles her magic on everything she inspires us to draw, a magic you can see. Now, I'm very lucky in that the muse seems to hover nearby most of the time, but commissions are notorious for frightening her off. I do a lot of commissions and I need to be proud of them, so I've developed a way to get around the problem. I make "just for fun" sketches in my sketchbooks rather than drawing on the final paper. When the drawing turns out well - and it invariably does if I do it that way - I can easily transfer it to a formal sheet of heavy quality paper with my light box, tracing over barely-visible lines with my favourite fountain pen. And I'm in good company. The master illustrator Quentin Blake always uses a light box to capture the fluidity and spontaneity of preparatory sketches, and Felix Scheinberger says that he tells himself that whatever he's working on is just a preparatory sketch.

But the option of a light box wasn't there for me at the vintage car show on the day. I had come prepared with a big fancy sheet of heavy watercolour paper and although the passers-by seemed impressed, I am less than happy with the results. I know we're not supposed to do our own work down, but that kind of thing is irrelevant to me - I only care about honouring my subject in the best way I can.

There were beautiful cars, trucks and tractors of every description everywhere I looked. But I barely saw any of them because I was too busy sketching. I barely saw the display of owls and falcons, because I was sketching, and I even missed the fluffy baby rescue owl who only wanted to stand on her handler's feet and face inwards with her eyes closed, according to my daughter. I missed the antiques stalls and the threshing demonstration, Seán Keane and his band on stage and basically everything else. 

And the sketches? I drew a hearse that was built in 1936. The number 17 appears on the passenger door, a phone number from the days when you only needed to remember two numbers to phone someone in Galway. "If you phone that number now, no one would answer," said a passing man drily. The man who had recently purchased this beauty had an "occupant" in the hearse. "Come and see," he said to me. He peeled off a corner of the Tricolour and revealed...a hay bale.

 Then I drew the wonderful milk float you see at the top of the page. It brought me back to the days I spent in the Gaeltacht in Donegal as a ten-year-old, when the milk for the cornflakes would be brought in from the yard, still warm and frothing from the cow. An acquired taste, but one I did acquire...what a far cry from the various nut milks I drink now. Not even sure which I'd prefer - but I know either is preferable to the ubiquitous grim plastic containers that our low-fat milk comes in now. Wouldn't it be infinitely nicer to pour your milk from a chubby glass bottle?

Castlehackett House was built in the 18th century. Here it is. The vintage car show took place on the grounds of the estate. The sketch was difficult, all those lines needing to be drawn in the right place...

So that's my experience. But if you've made it this far, here's a happier story. It was warm and balmy on the day, and I was surrounded by sketchers young and old stretched out on the grass, including some from Urban Sketchers Galway and our respective daughters, all of whom sketched away happily. A husband of one of the sketchers treated us all to tea and coffee and bottles of water, the most sunny and generous of men. My daughter's puppy was patted and petted by everyone who passed, and spent much time having his tummy tickled. An urban sketcher drove across the country from Dublin to be with us, and enjoyed the exhibits as well as his sketching experience. My daughter had a ball, choosing nice things to eat from the food stalls, bringing her puppy everywhere she went, teaching him new tricks (he can now add "Right paw!" to his repertoire) - and sketching. Look at her beautiful drawing of an old Ford...I'm so proud of her. She just drew away so naturally and easily, looking after her puppy and chatting to her pal all the while - distraction clearly didn't affect her at all.

I'm off to Galway County Show next Sunday. It'll be mostly horses and agricultural stuff but there will probably be the odd vintage car if the weather is nice, and there's a dog show. My daughter Liv and I are going, we're entering the puppy into the dog show, and yes, I will bring my sketchbook, but this time the sketches will be just for my own pleasure. 

As urban sketching should always be.




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