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

Galway Workshop, 14th-16th July 2016: Fun, Laughter and Learning (and that was just me)

[by Róisín Curé] A few weeks ago my town of Galway was honoured. In fact it was honoured twice: firstly by the fact that 45 sketchers came from the far corners of the planet to join Shari Blaukopf, Marc Taro Holmes and myself for a three-day workshop. Then halfway through the workshop, the news came through that Galway has been selected to be European Capital of Culture 2020. It says a lot about the people who attended the workshop that they were so excited for me when the bid was about to be announced. At the time we were on the top floor of Galway City Museum, drawing the view of the Claddagh, which used to be a distinct part of Galway (it even had its own king until recently). The winner of the bid was to be announced at midday: I couldn't resist a sneaky peek at Twitter, but then, one by one, students started asking me, "Have you heard yet? Have you heard?" and I realised they were eager to know too. When I read the words "WE WON!" on Twitter, it was all I could do to remain professional and not cry in front of everyone. It was just too much - to be with these wonderful sketchers, hearing this wonderful news...

The absolutely stellar Shari Blaukopf and I met a few days before the workshop began, and sat side by side at the Claddagh. After all my years of corresponding with sketchers from a distance, I can't describe the joy of having a real, live, flesh and blood urban sketcher at my side, filling me in on all kinds of tidbits about Symposia through the years, making me hoot with laughter. I was amazed at how instantaneously Shari picked up the spirit of the Galway sky, and, just for the craic, I sketched the same scene on my own a day later to see how our respective styles would differ.

 Meanwhile, I met Marc and his wonderful wife Laurel and we did a quick recce of some of our sketching spots. All was in order and on Wednesday evening I met 45 more living, breathing urban sketchers on our meet-and-greet evening in Tribeton restaurant and cocktail bar in Galway. The name of the restaurant was apt - I knew as soon as I started chatting with the delegates that I was with my tribe. What an amazing feeling. We could chat about pens and paper and our preferred colours, and no one's eyes would glaze over.

Thursday morning dawned warm and sunny. I met my first group at the Fishery Watchtower on Wolfe Tone Bridge, on the west bank of the River Corrib. The theme of my morning session was twofold: accurate drawing and creative use of colour. The Watchtower offered the perfect subject for the former, being a simple but exacting shape. I showed the delegates my technique for putting each point in the right place, which is very simply to start at point A, make a line, then draw each subsequent line in relation to the preceding one (how far from, how long etc.). I explained how I rather than teaching perspective I would teach looking honestly and drawing shapes, and passed on my clever friend Brenda Malley's genius tip for determining the slope of a line if it's not obvious at first.

After that I showed the group how to put watercolour on for a lively result, which is to apply a selection of colours and let them flow together on the page by themselves, without a brush.
I some incredible work that day, and picked up some new tips of my own from looking at students' work: it's one of the unexpected perks of teaching.

I'm relatively new to teaching large workshops, and I soon realised that rather than dragging students from their positions of concentration for demos it worked better for me to go around each individually and see what issues, if any, they had, scribbling sketches on my own drawing board as a mathematician uses a blackboard. This worked really well, and I swelled with pride as people said things like "I've never got the hang of foliage before now" or "you make it look so easy." This was music to my ears: I'm basically a self-taught artist, so I know what it feels like to be frustrated when things aren't going well. As a result, it gives me great pleasure to take whatever frustration a sketcher might be experiencing and send it running for the hills - if I can.

Our afternoon sessions were to be focused on capturing people in motion and then more shape-capturing, at Eyre Square at the top of the town. I showed how drawing a continuous line to draw moving people was a good technique when speed was of the essence.

I showed how much fun it was to try and guess how long someone would be stationary - sort of like being a bird-watcher, not that I know whether they do that. You can see some of our lovely sketchers here: Jan was a popular subject for the other sketchers (standing under the umbrella); Laura made a nice shape on the grass, under an umbrella; Mary is in the backpack; the toddler, just learning to walk, is my favourite, for it reminds me of the sketchers' sketch, a drawing depicting the same subject by Rembrandt.

My group was hardy and intrepid, and valiantly battled the rain, as you can see, but it started to rain just as everyone's lovely sketches of the fountain were ready for paint, meaning I didn't have the chance to demonstrate how watercolour can be made to dance and swirl even on a seemingly flat-coloured surface (the sketch was done before the workshop, on a sunny day). Never mind, I had a lovely wet-weather sketching location up my sleeve...

We slopped our way through the wet streets teeming with holidaymakers running for cover. The workshop took place right in the middle of Galway's International Arts Festival, and the town was thronged with visitors. St. Nicholas' Church in Market Street was our next stop, a medieval church whose most recent addition was built in the seventeenth century, but parts of it date to the fifteenth. It was the perfect spot to demonstrate the value of values, so to speak - using just one or two colours to show depth and form, light and this demo I used two, just to add a bit of interest. And, in the absence of any colour at all, I wanted to show how the white of the page can be the most powerful asset you have.

I repeated the format on Friday with my second group - a rainy morning at the Fishery Watchtower and Galway City Museum followed by a downright wet afternoon in St. Nicholas's Church. Towards the end of the afternoon I sensed that the sketchers were starting to tire, so I did a very quick values demonstration. The sketchers found it interesting that I could chat while drawing and painting, and I hastened to say that it wasn't always like that. One of the sketchers told me that she'd read a study which showed that after a certain amount of time doing an activity it becomes automatic, like driving, and you can put the thinking part of your mind to bed for a bit - it becomes a right-brained activity, I think was the conclusion. I was delighted! I have to admit is very useful to be able to sketch whilst driving or operating heavy machinery (ha ha).

By Saturday the weather had warmed up and I even had a few sketchers taking advantage of the trees for shade. The sun gave me a great opportunity to show my technique for "keeping the lights on" - exaggerating the effect of light by using one colour (indigo is my favourite) and leaving the sunny side unpainted.
The gentleman on the far right is called Michael. Michael had a sad episode during the morning session. It had been very windy and a gust took his sketch, his favourite of the entire three days, and carried it into the Corrib right in front of his eyes. In seconds it was technically out of the river and into the Atlantic Ocean, where a swan gazed inscrutably at it as it lay face down, still afloat. I raced around to the boats and beseeched someone to take us to the spot where the paper lay, but no fisherman was available. Michael was crestfallen, but he was amazingly stoic about it.
"It's gone to the gods of the sea," he said.

Meanwhile, Marc and Shari were sketching up a storm in the Claddagh, the Bridge Mills and Galway Cathedral, but the only downside of the workshop was that I couldn't watch them at work myself! But their renown goes before them, and many sketchers told me they hadn't hesitated to book when they heard Shari and Marc would be teaching in Galway. Laurel, Marc's wife, made it all possible by her unsurpassed organisational skills, and I'm eternally grateful to her.

Every evening the entire workshop took over the Kitchen Café, next to Galway City Museum. There were 45 sketchers, three instructors and various travelling companions, so we made quite a crowd. It was the perfect location: central, served super cakes, tea and coffee as well as alcohol, and we were looked after beautifully by the friendly staff. My mother Cinnie joined us from the second evening onwards: she's Canadian, from Montreal, and a watercolour artist to boot - there was no way she was missing this.
"I've been to many workshops, as you know," she said to me, "and I've never experienced a buzz like this."
" You know, Mum, that's just because they're  Urban Sketchers," I told her. "They're a very jolly bunch."
Of course, the host city played a huge part in this - you can't come to Galway in the summer, during the Arts Festival, and not be blown away by the colour, atmosphere and happy vibe of the city.

On the last evening, I moved mountains to get a table in my favourite restaurant (okay, begged for a text if there was a cancellation!) for a farewell dinner with Cinnie, Shari, Spyro, Marc and Laurel. It was a late booking and I squeezed in a sketch of one of Galway's colourful buskers, standing in a crowd - nay, a stampede - outside Neachtain's pub on Quay Street.

I have to say the three days of our workshop were some of the most enjoyable and indulgent, if not THE most, I have experienced for years. What a privilege to meet my very own tribe at last, and to help others get over issues they may have struggled with for years, which I know thanks to some very generous comments made by our lovely sketchers. Some of funniest, the warmest, most easy-going, enthusiastic and generally smiley people I've had the pleasure of meeting for a very long time visited Galway that week, and I will be forever delighted that they chose Galway to expand their sketching horizons.

Will there be another urban sketching workshop in Galway? Wild horses couldn't stop me...see you next year!





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