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

A Visit with Winemaker Bo Barrett of Chateau Montelena

[By Richard Sheppard in Napa Valley, California] It’s not every day I get to meet a world famous winemaker, but through my friend Kristina King, I was lucky enough to discuss wine production and storage with Bo Barrett of Chateau Montelena in Napa Country California. Even though there was plenty of wine, sketching, of course, was my primary reason for visiting.

After driving the familiar Route 128 to Calistoga, and a left on Tubbs Lane, I pass Envy Wines where Vince Tofanelli bottled his zinfandel a few weeks ago. Up ahead, the sign for Chateau Montelena appears, and I park beside a thicket of eucalyptus trees.

The view across the estate is reminiscent of Monet’s Giverny garden paintings — pink peonies, blue columbine and wild grasses flourish along the banks of a lake, a pair of black swans gliding effortlessly on its surface. Two Chinese pagodas nestle between weeping willows, each with its own separate island and zig-zagging bridge. Sunlight filters through leaves, lighting up the gray stone manor, its two turrets rising high above the landscape.

Up the staircase is a courtyard where the building’s facade is fully visible, a castle covered in vines. As he talks with a cellar worker, Barrett is easy to spot there, a distinguished man with white hair and soul patch goatee that gives him a rebel flair.

“Let’s head over to the cellar,” he tells me.

As we enter the stone building and walk through a lab and into the tank and barrel room, I tell him how I worked the 1990 harvest at Robert Mondavi’s cellar, doing pump-overs and punchdowns. Back then we used air pumps on Robert’s prized Reserve Pinot, since they were thought to be more gentle on the wine. 

“We use electric,” Barrett counters. “Years ago it was believed that air pumps were gentler, and therefore better for the wine, but I don’t believe that’s true. In fact, I think young, fermenting wine can use a good thrashing at that point.”

Some winemakers take the most gentle approach of all, using gravity to rack the wines by placing one tank above another.

“All those new tools are unnecessary,” he says. “Using tools to enhance wine is a passing trend. Nowadays it’s all about terroir, the flavors of the vineyard, but the winemaker’s job is still crucial. Some tools will always be needed to enhance the fruit — oak exposure, blending, racking equipment, and all the other ways wines are enhanced in the lab.”

The entrance to the wine caves lies at the back of the cellar. The dampness inside smells of earth and oak, adding a palpable air of mystery.

“With the newly blasted caves now in use, the tunnels are half a kilometer in length,” Barrett says. “They eliminate the need for power hungry and costly refrigeration. If you look over here, you’ll see water seeping through cracks in the walls. We allow this to happen, to a certain extent: wine barrels are permeable and when the air is warm and dry, water and alcohol evaporate. But a cool, damp cellar helps keep water and alcohol from leaching out of the barrel.”

We follow the narrow passageway lined with barrels until the cave forks in three directions, each disappearing into utter darkness. With a flick of a switch, Barrett lights up one of the corridors and leads us through yet another portion of the maze. At the end of a passageway, we reach two tall, arched doors. Inside, several rows of wine barrels are stacked two wide and four high, receding into the distance. Liquid gold.

“Even though primary fermentation is over, the wine’s still fermenting when it goes into the barrels, producing heat,” he says. “We don’t want the aging wine exposed to that heat, so it gets stored here at the ideal cellar temperature of 61°F.”

This is where the wine finishes its aging process?

Barrett nods. “From here it gets blended, then bottled. Hundreds of decisions go into making a bottle of wine, but it all begins in the vineyard. Lets take a drive and I’ll show you what I mean.”

Looping back through the caves, we exit the cellar for the courtyard, where Bos pick-up truck awaits. 

At the far end of the estate, Bo pulls off the dirt road, into the shade of a giant oak. Barrett’s vineyards are naturally low yielding because of their rocky soil types, but dry farming also helps keep the yield low, as does annual crop thinning.

We stand looking back toward the winery, past a field of Cabernet grapes Bo says were planted in 1974. “Vineyards need stress to a certain extent to produce great wine,” he says. “That’s why planting in these soils works so well.”

 “We do this because smaller yields produce more intense, concentrated, and complex wines,” Barrett says. “We work with nature and the weather to enhance terroir.”
To ensure even ripening, his crews also monitor the canopy of vines that grow up around each plant, periodically removing leaves to help sun reach the grapes.
“Running a winery is a lot like captaining a ship,” he says. “You can’t take man out of terroir.”

There’s that word terroir again. It keeps coming up, but I believe I’m getting it. The flavor of the grapes is influenced by the type of soil, weather and amount of water they receive. In other words, the same Cabernet grape grown in any other region of the world will produce a different wine.

Then there’s a human element that affects the quality of the wine, and the importance of storing the finished wine at just the right temperature and humidity to bring out the best possible flavors of an aged wine.

Vineyard manager Dave Vella pulls up beside us, interrupting our conversation, and the two men start talking shop.

“I’ve got some guys waiting for me, so I have to go,” Barrett says. “I believe my assistant Jamie has wine for you to taste in the Chateau.”

“Perfect,” I say. All this wine talk is making me thirsty.

I return to Chateau Montelena several times over the next couple weeks to sketch the cellar, vineyards, and stone chateau. As my painting time at the estate accumulates, I feel like a resident sketch artist documenting the winery’s past. What a pleasure to feel so comfortable in such a singular place, so key in the history of California wine. 





USk News$type=blogging$ct=0$au=0$m=0$show=


[Workshops Blog]$type=two$c=12$ct=0$m=0$show=