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

UK Trip Part 1: Pre Symposium trip (London + neighboring scenic sites)

[By Mike Daikubara in London] Once a year my wife and I try to take an overseas trip somewhere and this year we decided to tie it in with the USk Manchester symposium trip. Unlike the other symposium's I've attended in the past, this was the first year I was going as an instructor - I knew I would be occupied much more so we decided to invite my mother-in-law to come along with our trip. I get along of my mother-in-law great, and she would keep my wife occupied while I was unavailable so the trip turned out to be perfect!

The trip was broken up into 3 chunks:
Part 1) Pre Symposium - London and neighboring scenic sites
Part 2) USk Symposium! - Manchester
Part 3) Post Symposium - Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow

So here's part 1!

Boston Logan airport: A pretty mandatory sketch among us sketchers. I drew this thinking it was our plane to London since it was parked in our terminal but in actuality was a plane that took off to a different location. oh well, no biggie. The plane leaves at night and arrives early morning - I knew this was going to be a very long day..

Another mandatory plane travel sketch. But pretty much immediately after takeoff they turned off all the lights - which makes sense since the flight is pretty much a red eye flight.

Landing into Gatwick airport: I had already pre-purchased the Thameslink train tickets into London - and 1st class seats too to make it easier for my mother-in-law.
Well, it turned out there was no real such thing as 1st class. The train was jam packed with people sitting on the floor and there were no train conductors checking tickets so anyone could have sat in the 1st class seats. The person in the green checkered shirt mentioned he never buys 1st class seats since it was completely useless. The business dressed person sat comfortably on the floor sipping his Starbucks coffee so this must have been pretty common.
I actually enjoyed this ride since I was able to talk with a few people and also got this sketch too.

Once arriving at our hotel and dropping off our luggage, we took a stroll around the city.
Piccadilly Circus: I've seen this scene sketched by so many sketchers and had to try it for myself.  I heard of how crazy this place with people/traffic but I actually felt pretty relaxed and at ease.
It started to rain so I had to wrap it up much quicker but this one was a fun one to get into the London speed/groove.

Just blocks away from Piccadilly Circus and tucked 1 block in a quieter side street was our hotel. Location was excellent and the service was real friendly. The hotel also accepted 3 people in 1 room which was pretty hard to find for all our hotels on this trip.
It was funny how when the sofa bed popped out it pretty much jammed into the side of the master bed. I had to do acrobatics to jump over my mother-in-law to get to the bathroom in middle of the night :)

The next day we made reservations to an afternoon tea place recommended by our world traveler Boston Friend. The hotel was beautiful and so was the room setting.  Scones were probably the best tastiest scones I've ever had.
For me the most disappointing fact was getting a Japanese Iron tea kettle for my English breakfast tea. Every table had the same tea kettle so it must be the restaurant trend but I personally wanted to see a very decorative porcelain made English tea kettle.

Buckingham palace (seen in the background). I was actually drawn more the the sculpture in the front and started sketching it right away under the strong sunlight. Midway into the sketch I thought about starting to bend the top of the sculpture (AKA Lapin style) or by making it really small with a forced perspective to fit on the page but realized they both didn't work... oh well. So the bubble added to the right was another approach to make this work.

For dinner we ended up going to a nice London based Hakata style Ramen place that opened up a few years ago. I loved the interior decoration, the attention to details and yes, the Ramen was really good too.

On Sunday we booked a bus tour to go see 3 historic sites neighboring London.  For a sketcher these rushed tours can be a bit of a challenge but it was a personal challenge for me too to prove that my personal sketching method works - in being able to capture anything in limited time.

Windsor Castle: It's our first stop, it's early morning, but there was a huge line outside to get in. Once in, I only had about 20 minutes to wrap up this sketch. Colors for all these 3 sketches were added later.

Next stop was Bath: What a cute little town and inside this place was quite astonishing too.  This time I had 30 minutes so I quickly jumped right on in. I also chatted with another fellow Architect/Sketcher from Hong Kong and we showed our sketches. It's funny how he had an identical view sketch of the Windsor castle as me too. He didn't know anything about Urban Sketchers so I made sure for him to check it out :)I could have easily spent a few days in Bath sketching the town and visiting the historical spots.

Lunch in the Bus:  I wish I had drawn this. It was a Subway sandwich with lettuce, cucumbers and butter/spread. The person sitting next to me mentioned "They forgot the meat", and my wife was saying the same thing. Since everyone on the tour had the same exact sandwich, I'm sure they picked something that could suit anyone regardless of any dietary restrictions. I thought it was a little funny.

Stone Henge: It's the last stop. It was starting to get dark, and quite cold from the wind too. From the visitors building, you need to take a 5 min shuttle bus to this spot - it's a quite clever way to keep the area preserved and making it so you can't see it unless you pay.
This one was the most challenging with 15 minutes of time before having to take the shuttle bus back to our bus to London. I liked how it came out but later I learned from looking at my wife's pictures that the rear view of the stones looked much better in appearance.

Last day in London: I wanted to stroll around the River and also see Tate Modern too.
I've visited museums in many different countries but this one just blew me away. The size and quality of the exhibition for sure but just the pure accessibility to the general public where anyone can casually walk on in for free was amazing.
We have free museums in the US too but there's usually some type of front check in desk (asking for a suggested donation), and possibly even security check/metal detector. The Tate had none of that and I couldn't even remember seeing intimidating looking security guards. Many people had backpacks and that didn't seem to be an issue too.
I remember seeing a huge version of this spider sculpture in Tokyo and being really impressed. This small one was powerful too.

Last panoramic sketch at River Thames to wrap up my London trip. I actually drew this since I wanted to draw the tower bridge. I was so happy to be able to squeeze it in :) That's another thing I get a kick out of when what I wanted to draw fits onto the sketch page.

Story to be continued to Part 2: USk Symposium - Manchester! 

Go to:
Part 2: Manchester
Part 3: Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow





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