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

At Last – the Minnesota Fair Sketchout!

[By Tina Koyama in St. Paul, Minnesota] My husband Greg and I have been visiting his family in Minnesota’s Twin Cities annually for 30 years. During those decades, due to various family events, we’ve managed to time our visits to coincide with the Minnesota State Fair only a couple of times, and the last time was about 10 years ago – long before I began sketching.

Certainly I’ve been to our own Washington State Fair, and the last few years I’ve even joined Urban Sketchers Tacoma there. But I have to say, our fair cannot hold even a 15-hour votive candle to Minnesota. One of the oldest and biggest state fairs in the country, the Minnesota State Fair is arguably the best. 

Ever since I started reading Roz Stendahl’s blog several years ago, I’ve been fascinated with her passion for sketching at the Minnesota fair – and for the fair in general. I could see that she worked very hard to organize an annual outing for sketchers in the area – bringing together not just urban sketchers but art groups of all kinds. Every year her sketches of animals at the event and the sketches of other Twin Cities Urban Sketchers inspired me, and I became more and more determined to get to the fair again someday – this time with sketchbook in hand.

Sheep shearing

This summer the stars finally aligned, and we were able to make it to the fair again – and even better, I made it to the 8th Great Minnesota State Fair Sketchout! 


I spent quite a bit of time wandering slowly through all the animal barns. The chickens were so colorful, and the bunnies were adorable, but I think I had the most fun sketching a broad-breasted bronze turkey. Constantly twitching, his bluish-pinkish head had a bizarre texture that was very challenging to capture. It was fascinating to watch that thing that normally hangs down over his mouth lift up when he ate or drank. Eyeing me intensely, the tom occasionally turned around to display his rear end.

Broad-breasted bronze turkey

In the Dairy building, I watched a demo of the Smart Masker Pro several times. This product would be 10 times faster than using an ordinary roll of masking tape, he assured us. Although he moved quickly, the demo guy made the same motions repeatedly, which made it easier to anticipate what his next gesture would be.

Smart Masker Pro demo

When the occasional drizzle dried up, I wandered around outside to capture the Sky Flyer ride (I stood on a bench to get above the crowds) and Fairchild, the fair gopher mascot, who is celebrating his 50th birthday this year.

Sky Flyer

Fairchild, the fair's gopher mascot

My only regret for the whole day was that I missed sketching Princess Kay of the Milky Way! Crowned during Minnesota fair pageantry, the princess and each of her court members has her likeness carved in a 90-pound block of butter. At a previous fair, I had seen one of the princesses sitting for her butter sculpture (crowned and bundled in a down parka because the sculpting occurs in a refrigerated chamber with glass walls for viewing), and that image was seared in my memory. Where else on earth would I have the opportunity to sketch someone being sculpted in butter? Unfortunately, the sculpting schedule isn’t published, so by the time I got to the Dairy building, the sculptor was done for the day. Oh, well – it gives me a new life goal.

The Fair Sketchout sketchbook sharing!

When the sketchers got together to share sketchbooks, I was delighted to meet Roz herself! After all these years of learning from her extremely informative (not to mention entertaining) blog, it was a thrill and honor to meet her in person. I was also happy to meet Ken and Roberta Avidor, two more Twin Cities urban sketchers whose work I follow. In addition, I was happily reunited with Amber Sausen and Daniel Green, whom I last saw at the Manchester symposium only a few weeks ago.

Polka dancers

The single-best thing about Urban Sketchers is the amazing network it offers. Whether I travel around the globe or go to Minnesota, I can find sketchers to spend the day with. The Urban Sketchers world keeps getting smaller.

Many thanks to Marty Harris for organizing a fantastic Fair Sketchout! I can’t wait to get to another one!

If you think that making all these sketches left me no time to eat
lots of deep-fried foods, you would be wrong!





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