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

Longest beard. Fattest boar. Biggest tomato.

[By Marcia Milner-Brage at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, USA]

  It’s HOT. It’s HUMID. It’s CROWDED. It’s oh-so-AMAZING! It's the IOWA STATE FAIR. For eleven days every August, it's the place to go to experience the BEST OF IOWA.

This year for my day at the Fair, I arrived at 9AM and headed to the Agriculture Building to gaze upon the prize-winning jumbo vegetables. It was so stifling hot in there, I couldn’t stay long. The vegetables were holding up pretty good laid out on their paper plates, some with ribbons. (I can only imagine what condition they’ll be in five days hence, at the end of the Fair.) The above drawing was from my 2013 day at the Fair.

I made a beeline for the Beard Growing Contest. (On the way, I scurried past the Cook-out Contest on the Grand Concourse where the finalists from the County Cook-out Contests were stoking up grills and smokers to prepare original recipes of beef, pork, poultry or lamb for the judges. Sage Buttered Turkey won, by the way.) 

Pioneer Hall was dense with whiskery dudes, adoring followers and curiosity seekers. The Longest Beard contestants were the first to be called to the stage. Each was given a numbered placard to hang from their neck.

Next, the Best Groomed Beards were called. Second place was my favorite (below left)—Gary Miller, number 246, aged 68 from Pleasantville with his pure white, impeccably shaped paddle of a beard.  Then Most Unique Beards took the stage. Dakota Rundlett, age 25, from Vinton was a shoe-in for a blue ribbon (below right).

I guess everyone else of the 88,000 people who attended the day I was there thought the same thing: You must see the the Fattest Boar at the Swine Barn. Lugnut (pictured below)—all 1,148 pounds of him—slept blissfully as the masses shuffled by. No time or room for anything but the quickest of sketches. A little girl peered down on the snouty winner, her pigtails remarkably similar to the shape of the pig’s ears.

Back at the Agriculture Building, six-hundred pounds of butter is used every year to sculpt the famous Iowa State Fair Butter Cow. Below, my drawing from the 2013 Fair.

A quick walk through the Sheep Barn and then the Cattle Barn. Seeing the animals is always a treat for a city person like myself. And I love seeing the people who have brought their animals to the Fair.

By mid-afternoon I was flagging from the heat and humidity and being on my feet all day. At the air-conditioned Exhibition Center I gained some relief and a quick sketch of horses prancing in the arena.

So far, I’d just captured vignettes of the Fair. I wanted to see if I could show the larger place that surrounds the fairgrounds. I found a shaded park bench next to the one-room First Church at the head of the Grand Concourse. Looking down this fairground main street facing due west, the gold-domed Iowa Statehouse is two miles away in the distant Des Moines downtown. As I sketched my last drawing of the day, harmonizing voices singing hymns accompanied by a piano drifted through the open windows of the tiny church. 

Heads up for those coming to the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Chicago next summer. You might factor into your extended trip plans to the United States a couple days at the Iowa State Fair 2017 (August 10-20). It's about a five hour drive from Chicago to Des Moines. It's about a one hour flight. You’re sure to be rewarded by a rich dose of Midwestern Americana and pre-WWI exposition architecture to sketch and delight in.





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