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

Iron, Zinc and Pure Gold: Culture Night Galway 2016

(by Róisín Curé) Last night was Culture Night in Ireland. It's one night of events in all the cities and throughout all the counties of Ireland - and everything is free.

For the last two years I have given presentations on urban sketching as part of Culture Night. When you give a presentation as part of Culture Night, you're encouraged to involve some kind of practical aspect that the public can take part in, so two years ago I got people doing some urban sketching in the afternoon, followed by a talk, and last year I did something similar. This year I gave myself a break, and decided to enjoy Culture Night as a punter. My husband and I perused the myriad offerings and settled on a nice itinerary of events for the evening.

First off: a blacksmithing demonstration given by Cumann na bhFear. There's a thing in Ireland called Men's Sheds - I don't know, maybe it's a global thing - where men who might like a bit of company can go to sheds or industrial spaces and do manly things like welding and mechanics, or chat about fishing or whatever. For Culture Night, a Men's Shed - Cumann na bhFear - in Sandy Road, just off Prospect Hill in Galway City, showed the public how you forge and shape iron.
Wondering if they shod horses there, I asked a bit about it, as I loved to watch the local blacksmith at work as a child.
"How long would you get out of a horseshoe?" I asked Micheál Ó Toibín, on the left in the sketch.
"Depends on the surface the horse is travelling on," he said. "I know a farrier who goes out to the Aran Islands once a month - their horses' shoes are worn down in no time. He has them all lined up in order of wear and does them over a couple of days."
This was mostly said in Irish, which was a treat for me, as I don't get to use it much outside my kids' school. But I was conscious that my husband is a Sasanach (Englishman) and wouldn't understand so I was partly relieved when I realised I probably wouldn't be able to keep up with Micheál's Irish, and switched back to English.

I was delighted to draw the men at work. You can see the brazier behind the men; it's a converted back boiler. The men are, respectively, renovating discarded masonry chisels (left) and making a decorative poker for the fire (right).

Before too long it was time to go to the next Culture Night event. Jennifer Cunningham was giving a talk on printmaking and a short demonstration on how the process works in Galway City Library on Augustine Street. She showed us a short film, made by the filmmaker Des Kilbane, on her work. In the film and in person she spoke about her printing methods. As well as painting, she etches zinc and copper plates, and told us how she likes to depict derelict, abandoned spaces. I found this focus on the melancholy to be quintessentially Irish, and it's not something I can identify with, although Jennifer did point out that the miserable wastelands and derelict hotels, abandoned beaches and decaying nightclubs in her paintings and prints are the very places she grew up in on the outskirts of Galway City.

Jennifer told us about being careful to use non-toxic inks now that she has a two-year-old running amok. I wondered if many fathers of toddlers switch to non-toxic inks until their children are at school. I shared this thought with Marcel.
"Oh God, so boring," was his predictable reply, which is what he usually says when he has no other answer. It wouldn't be the first time this sort of thing has come up.

After a while Jennifer asked a young girl in the audience to draw a picture, which was then made into a print using a sheet of zinc. The girl drew a tree with no leaves, and a strong and simple shape it was too, lending itself nicely to an aquatint.

Here is Jennifer telling us about her method. I wanted to be discreet - urban sketching tends to attract a lot of interest - so all I did was this line drawing. Jennifer's talk and Des's film gave us a lot to think about. Jennifer had very sweetly made some cakes for everyone and Marcel was helping himself to some banana bread, but I figured it was time to get to the next event.

On to the next event. We had planned to see the amazing Andreas de Staic in a play called The Mackralaytors, about a group of artists living in Galway in a flat made of cardboard, who dream of getting their big break. We joined a long line of queuers snaking up three flights of stairs, hoping to get in. We inched our way forward, but when there were just two people ahead of us the line stopped.
"Sorry folks, I think we're full," said a young man, and called up to a girl peering down from the top flight of stairs.  "Niamh, can you fit any more in?"
"No," said Niamh, "I have them three and four deep. They're crammed in as it is." 
If we'd arrive two minutes earlier, rather than dawdling at the library, we would have got in, but Marcel and I decided we didn't want to be packed like sardines, so we weren't too disappointed.

Our next stop was across the street from Galway Arts Centre. Rouge Restaurant is our favourite haunt in Galway - it's everything I want in a night out, with great food, friendly service and brilliant live music. It's French in theme, in flavour and in fact: the serving staff are all French and many haven't learnt a lot of English, which gives them an inimitable Gallic charm. For example, I chose a cassoulet with goat's cheese and a "chutney fig" on top, and I had a "salad French." 
 (I worked as a waitress in Paris many years ago. At its very heart, service in France is exactly that - service. We were always told by the management to treat the diners as guests in our own homes - nothing would ever be too much trouble. That's what you get in Rouge - and always with typical French confidence and good humour.) 
The menu is very small. As well as the "amuse-bouche", there's just one meat, one fish and one vegetarian offering on the menu. I spoke with the proprietor some time ago and told him how I appreciated that.
"There's so much waste involved in running a restaurant," he said. "I cannot abide that. By sticking to three items I have very little waste, and that way I can keep the prices low."
That's an ethos I can really support.
Rouge were offering an après-Culture Night glass of kir and live French gypsy music, beginning at 11pm. Marcel and I were hungry, so we decided to have dinner there first, and enjoy the music later. We had a super meal and then the band struck up...two gentleman on electric violin and acoustic guitar played Django Reinhardt - Stephane Grappelli type music which gave a great atmosphere. Their playing was lively, buzzing, pure magic. Soon, Culture Night festival-goers started to file in for their free kir. Marcel and I were joined at our table by two musicians who had just finished a gig at another restaurant. They were lovely guys and while I had a deep and meaningful conversation with them about the nature of art and finding one's mojo, poor Marcel was having his ear bent about the joys of leaving the European Union by a fellow Brit. Marcel sees both sides of the argument but this gent was firmly pro-Brexit, and very free with his opinions. Then the staff brought us a glass each of kir, the pale pink-gold drink glowing softly in the candlelight.

Some of my best childhood holidays were in France and I've lived there a couple of times. I miss that wonderful country, but Rouge brings me back. It was a great way to end the night, and after a long and very cultural evening, Marcel and I made our way home. I think Culture Night is a fantastic idea and it's such a good way to get to do things you might not have tried before. 
Forging iron, printing with zinc, drinking pale gold.... Yes, I'm all for a bit of culture.





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