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

Symposium Day 3: More Rain; Prison Inspiration

[by Tina Koyama, Symposium Correspondent in Manchester, UK] "It's raining again. . .?" I muttered to the man in the elevator this morning when he got in with wet shoulders. "That's Manchester," he replied with a chuckle. Smiling ruefully, I pulled my hood up as I walked to the School of Art for Day 3.

First up was Veronica Lawlor's Puzzling Out the Picture. Sitting next to Veronica on the shuttle bus to Castlefield, I learned that the focus of her workshop would be learning to show depth and dimension in sketches. I could see why she chose Castlefield as a location -- all the layers of bridges, supports, canals and walls break up the wide spaces into interesting compositions. Watching her talk to her class, I stood at a distance and tried to evoke that multi-layered space.

Meanwhile, a short distance away, Shari Blaukopf's class learned to use a limited palette in Bare Bones.

By the time of the lunch break, the rain was coming down harder than ever, so I dried off at the School of Art. To accompany my soup, I sketched a couple of young men who entertained us with lovely classical music. (Behind them is the wall of car sketches in tribute of Florian Afflerbach's memory.)

Here's a view of the musicians from above -- and some of the many sketchers sketching them.

Refreshed and ready for more, I walked upstairs, where Mark Leibowitz was leading a discussion among USk regional chapter coordinators. With varying levels of experience, the coordinators shared ideas for growing their groups and managing sticky issues.

By the time I got down to the main floor again, the Big Crit was well under way. Using a method that reminds me of speed dating, sketchers worked their way around various instructors, who offered constructive feedback about specific sketches in a short period of time. I knew that Liz was planning to cover the Crit among her correspondent's assignments today, so I decided to sketch her doing just that. (After all, I figured, the work of the correspondents should be documented, too!)

My last sketch of the day is the one you see at the very top of this post. Usually I like to put my favorite sketch at the beginning of the post. Although this one of Nelson Paciencia giving a presentation is not what I would call my best or favorite sketch, I put it at the top because the hour I spent there made the biggest impact on me so far at this symposium. Through his own initiative and funding, Nelson made regular visits over the course of many months to a high-security prison in Portugal, teaching inmates to sketch. Initially he had hoped to introduce them to urban sketching concepts by drawing from life, but this proved too difficult when the inmates were forbidden from having any objects to sketch. Despite many obstacles related to prison restrictions and bureaucracy, Nelson endured. Over time, he was rewarded with seeing inmates who had never drawn before start to draw from pictures and eventually from their imaginations. 

Although he has had to temporarily stop his visits for lack of resources, Nelson has found that working with inmates has been a life-changing experience. "I am a better father, a better husband, a better man" as a result, he said, and intends to continue working with them again as soon as possible. 

I left the presentation feeling inspired and hopeful about how the act of drawing changes lives -- both for the people who do it and for the people who make it happen.






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