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

Barrel to Bottle

[By Richard Sheppard in Napa Valley, California] Rising at dawn, I make the sleepy-eyed half hour drive from from where I live in Healdsburg (Sonoma County, California) to Calistoga (Napa County), to see my friend Vince Tofanelli’s wine bottling operation first hand. Pulling into the dirt parking lot, I see Vince gesturing to a man beside a trailer embellished with the name Top Shelf Bottling.

“Hey, Richard,” he says. “Come on over. We’re working on label placement.”

Vince points to three bottles lined up on the trailer steps, labels placed at varying heights. Along with Greg from Top Shelf, we stand in a row, contemplating our choices.

“I think the label’s too high on this one,” Vince says, pointing. Greg picks up the bottle and disappears inside the van.

A few minutes later Greg returns with another bottle, the label a bit lower. Vince asks my opinion, and we agree it works.

“Okay, let’s go with it,” Vince tells Greg.

Vince Tofanelli
It’s expensive to own a bottling line, especially if it’s only used a few weeks out of the year. It’s much more cost effective to hire a mobile bottling company. Vince explains that he and other small wineries pool their resources, bottling at the same time to save money.

Today they are bottling at Envy Winery in Calistoga. “I’m feeling nervous,” Vince says, arms crossed tight. “High anxiety even.

“You probably wouldn’t think bottling would be stressful since the wine is already made, but it’s even more stressful than harvest. Bottling mistakes can be catastrophic, and once a wine is in the bottle, it’s too late to make corrections.”

Greg returns and hands Vince a full bottle of zinfandel. He takes a swig, then nods approval.

“I just confirmed that what’s in the bottle tastes like my wine,” he says. Then he shrugs. “It’s not easy to tell at this point. It’ll be six months before the wine settles back down. Bottle shock is a real thing.”

A loud whir cuts through the still morning air, soon becoming a roar. From inside the van comes the clinking of glass along with a mechanized hum and clatter. The bottling process has officially begun. The tension is as heavy as an early morning fog.

Next to the van I notice a large metal tank with hoses connecting it to the side of the vehicle and ask Vince about it.

“That’s nitrogen,” he says. It’s used for many things, including replacing air in the empty bottle before filling and pushing or pressurizing the bottling line.
The first full case of wine heads down a narrow rail lined with rollers.
The first full case of wine heads down a narrow rail lined with rollers. I cringe, picturing cases sliding off and onto the pavement, crushing glass and spilling wine on impact.

“I stopped worrying about it a long time ago,” Vince reassures me. “Somehow it just works.

“There are so many factors that can go wrong. The bottles must be filled to the correct level with the labels properly applied. And that’s after I’ve already made sure the labels have been printed correctly, the corks have been labeled right, the foils have been stamped and the bottles have been delivered.”

Greg steps out of the van and shouts above the din, “Want to see the operation from the inside?”

Greg managing the bottle operation from inside the van.
There isn’t much available space inside the bottling truck. We squeeze in between the wall and the line, watching as vessels whiz along railed pathways, clanging and banging from one stage of processing to another. At the far end, two women guide the operation.

“You might think with so much going on that problems would arise, but actually the process works pretty smoothly,” he says. “If we have any trouble at all, it’s usually with applying the foil that wraps the top. Sometimes it gets stuck.”

The entire set-up is impressive, especially the way all the equipment fits into this small van.

Outside, Vince stands with hands on hips, inspecting a case of freshly packed wine. Cases slide down the chute one after another. Everything appears to be going smoothly, and although Vince is still tense, he’s beginning to relax a bit.

After a couple of hours of activity, bottling is completed, with cases stacked and ready for storage. I’m looking forward to opening a bottle of Vince’s zinfandel when it’s done resting, especially now that I’ve witnessed this genie being put into the bottle.




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