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

Drawing Attention October 2016

New Urban Sketcher chapter, USk Kharkiv

Bring a Workshop to your Chapter

In 2016 Urban Sketchers organized 16 workshops around the world in collaboration with USk chapters from Malaga to Orlando to Galway. These workshops were taught by our top instructors: great teachers such as Liz Steel, Lynne Chapman, James Richards, Rob Sketcherman and more! If you would like to bring an official USk workshop to your chapter, email our Education Director, Mario Linhares at


 Parka Reviews

by Teoh Yi Chie
Teoh Yi Chie is an infographics journalist who joined Urban Sketchers Singapore in 2009. He's probably better known as Parka from a website that reviews art books and art products.

This month Parka reviews the Kum Automatic Long Point Pencil Sharpener. Check it out!


Language No Obstacle to the Sketching Swiss

by Barbara Nigg

Urban Sketchers Switzerland, founded in 2011 by Rob Carey, a friend of Gabriel Campanario, has four national languages packed into a small mountainous country (15,940 square miles).
"When we gather to sketch, we’re grateful because art is one of the best ways we have to cross language boundaries," says Admin André Sandmann. "Sketching gives us a way to connect that goes beyond language and that’s a great experience.”
Architecturally, Switzerland is also unique in that not only does each city boast regional features, but the medieval town centres are very much intact and beautifully preserved.  

The Swiss group really gets around. Just to name a few events, they’ve had a fabulous day sketching the city of
Fribourg together and met at Bern’s Zoological Museum in the freezing cold, enjoyed the beauty of Neuchâtel, and demonstrated urban sketching at Foundation Beyeler in Basel.  

But which city to sketch next? André organizes sketch crawls as centrally as possible so that as many people as possible, can make it. The sketchers may travel from 30 to 90 minutes by train and sometimes more and anywhere from 5 to 45 people participate. Generally they meet twice a year, but are growing steadily with new people joining and interested in more events. There are two sketch crawls planned in October (Bern on the 8th and Zurich on the 22nd).
“At the sketch crawl in Zurich, we’re looking forward to seeing the sketches of Manchester and hearing about the symposium," André says.



Overcoming Challenges

by Brenda Murray
When USk Instructor Fred Lynch, from Winchester, Massachusetts, was a junior in college he took a simple test and found out that he is colour-blind. Of course this was a surprising turn of events especially for a young arts student studying illustration.

Fred says he still sees colours but he’s just less sensitive to colours—he misidentifies colours. For example, green traffic signals sometimes look off white. Khaki and tan are confusing.

Fred’s condition made painting difficult. It was very difficult to mix and match colours. Watercolour in the tin looked different than on the paper. Wet ink looks different than dry ink.

So Fred switched to drawing in black and white with a ball point pen. It made it easier to communicate what was in front of him. Then Fred picked up Winsor & Newton nut brown ink. In fact, sepia ink was used historically in the drawing of Rembrandt, Claude Lorrain and Corot for example, so he was referencing the masters.

“Deficiency in one area can become a strength in another area,” Fred explained. “For example, Django Reinhardt the great jazz musician who played guitar with a deformed hand. I once met an artist who had a hand-tremor. The result was the she had wonderful loose sketches. She made it into her strength”.

Fred’s strength is in looking at values, and light and dark. How does light hit things and bounce around?

“I learned to appreciate other things [like value] while others were appreciating colour”.

But Fred’s commercial art is in full colour—how does he manage that?

“I have the opportunity to create colour as opposed to matching colours. My colours are always bright, bold and, to be self-critical, unsurprising,” he explained. “I can make things up. But I look at lights and darks more than anything else. I’m attuned to what I like as opposed to what others like”.

One in twelve men are colour-blind while only one in two hundred women. Very few art students will admit that they’re colour-blind.

“This is my struggle”, Fred admits. “We all have an issue. Accept it and move on. All of our work is a way of overcoming our issues and as a result you could end up with a much better piece”.


Why Three Administrators?

by Mark Leibowitz
USk requires each Regional Chapter to have three leaders for several very good and persuasive reasons.


It takes a while to get things going. It's an investment in time for the people running the chapter. Over time things may change. People get new jobs, their life situation changes, they move. Life can interrupt the leadership plans to run a chapter. We’ve seen it again and again. Groups may fail over time because the person who initially made things happen is no longer able to continue.


Having a team of leaders leads to new thoughts, new ways to do things. It makes the group more interesting. The leaders, if they work well together will spark great and innovative ideas.


With three leaders the group can continue to meet through vacations, illness and visits from out of town guests. Chapter events continue when the responsibilities are shared by a group of leaders.


A husband, wife and child is not a great combination of Administrators because if the family moves to a new city the chapter loses their entire leadership team. We’re not going to get the diversity of thinking that enriches the group and we’re also not going to get the backup that makes running the group a doable task.


And there’s one last reason. If each leader has three friends who like to draw, the group starts with 9 interested people who are likely to attend. Each friend probably knows other sketchers and so it goes. Having one leader, even a very friendly leader stifles early growth.




Hooked on Instagram? This time last year Urban Sketchers had 20,000 followers. We now have 94,700+ followers on Instagram! Thanks to the dedication of Missouri USk sketcher, Don Gore.
To find us on Instagram click here. And remember to use the hashtags #usk, #urbansketch and #urbansketchers so that we can find your sketches.


USk Twin Cities, Minnesota

By Lauren McVittie

If you’re an urban sketcher, the University of Minnesota campus has something for everyone—including air conditioning. About a dozen Twin Cities Urban Sketchers met one humid July day for their monthly sketchout.
Students and families attending summer orientation provided ample people sketching opportunities for the group. The campus also features modern and historic buildings, including the Weisman Art Museum, which was designed by Frank Gehry. The group congregated in the air-conditioned museum after the sketchout to look at each other’s work and to take a look at framed sketches by Gehry.

University of Minnesota sits on bluffs above the Mississippi river and offers fantastic views of the downtown Minneapolis skyline.

For Amber Sausen, the organizer of USk Twin Cities, sketching is a way to see the world with intention. “It slows me down," she said, "and encourages a lingering study of my surroundings.That lingering creates the opportunity for connection with strangers and friends alike.”
The chapter was the first regional chapter in the area and was founded in 2012. USk Twin Cities’ monthly sketchouts alternate between Minneapolis and St. Paul. The group plans to host some adventurous outings to challenge their sketching assumptions—everything from winter sketching, night sketching, and bicycle sketchcrawls are in the works for the coming year.


Kharkiv, a Haven of New Construction and Nouveau Architecture

by Jane Wingfield
“Our native city, Kharkiv, the original capital of  Ukraine, is an attractive place to sketch,” says Olesya Kornilova, Admin of USk Kharkiv.

Kharkiv has the highest student population in the Ukraine, which means it’s a great spot for cultural, arts, sports, and food events. Also, Kharkiv has a lot of construction and “nouveau architecture”.

Many members of USk Kharkiv are from the architectural faculty of Kharkiv National University of Construction and Architecture (KNUCA), as well as other nearby cities. Their Facebook followers hail from Kiev, Odessa and farther afield in Russia, Mexico, UK and and they’re happy to have the international exposure.
So far they have sketched in the oldest zoo in the city (now closed for reconstruction), the Sumskoy food market and the industrial zone of Kharkiv.
“Obviously” says Kornilova, “we, as real city activists, want to be in the loop in all that is going on in Kharkiv, so we don't miss an opportunity to go sketching.”
They’ve had about 10 sketch outings so far with 5-10 active and productive participants.

They’re working on encouraging people to share more, not to be ashamed of their skill level and, when they make mistakes, to keep going. They’ve already been invited to come to Kiev and Odessa to sketch, “and our feet are itching to move,” Olesya said.


USk Beijing Organizes their first Exhibition

New chapter, Urban Sketchers Beijing organized their first exhibition in mid-September in the 18th century house in Hutong. Ten of their 89 members participated and everyone was very excited to be participating in their first exhibition.


Creative Collaboration among USk Chapters in Asia

by Brenda L. Murray

USk chapters in Singapore and Hong Kong are collaborating in
creative ways to support the new USk Chapter in Beijing.
Because social media platforms in mainland China are not always compatible and Facebook, for example, is not available, Patrick Ng from USk Singapore and Flora Wang (pictured left) from USk Beijing set up a group WeChat on August 28 so that USk Beijing would have an opportunity to learn more about the Manchester symposium.

Over forty USk Beijing members participated in the hour-long audio chat presented in Mandarin by main presenter Patrick (pictured left) and by Alvin Wong of USk Hong Kong. They talked about the symposium and shared pictures, sketches and videos as well as highlights and key-points taught in the workshops and it ended with a Q & A.

As the result, the sketchers from mainland China hope to attend the next symposium in Chicago.

USk Beijing is looking forward to a second audio chat on the topic of perspective next week with Alvin Wong (pictured left). Patrick and Alvin are working with Flora to help grow the groups in Beijing and in Shanghai. And the pair are collaborating with Flora and Peggy Wong of USk Malaysia to organize an Asian mini-symposium in Beijing in the fall of 2017.

Great work Flora, Patrick, Alvin and Peggy!


Thorspecken film

A short 3 minute film titled "Finger on the Pulse" by artist Thomas Thorspecken was just accepted into the Global Peace Film Festival. The Film consists of sketches done in Orlando of vigils and fundraisers in the wake of the June 12, 2016 tragedy at Pulse.

The end of the film features portraits of the 49 shooting victims created by 16 artists who completed the portraits in one night at a local bar. The film can be seen online HERE.


 USk on Youtube

USk Youtube Channel Coordinator Lydia Velarde has uploaded about 10 USk videos per month since launching our new Youtube channel 5 months ago. The criteria for USk videos can be seen
HERE. If you have filmed a USk event and would like to feature it on our channel, please contact Lydia at


USk Tel Aviv Puts a New Twist on Travel Diaries

by Lauren Peterson

As part of Illustration Week Tel Aviv, 33 members of USk Tel Aviv mounted an exhibition of their travel diaries. But these weren’t your typical travel diaries of exotic far-off locations.

Instead, artists were challenged to look at their surroundings with a new set of eyes and find stories that would give viewers a glimpse into their everyday life.
All the diaries were done on location in the same accordion format. The artists wanted a less formal look for this exhibition, and also were faced with the challenge of displaying the diaries in a way that would be both attractive and accessible for viewers to browse. Their creative solution was to hang the diaries on strings with clips. They also produced 5 enlarged prints of the most graphical and interesting parts of some diaries so as to provide a contrast to the many small diaries. An exhibition poster was created in the form of an illustrated map showing all the places where participants sketched. It featured 33 different flags and a legend with the sketchers' names.

The exhibit took place from September 15 through September 30, and was held at Kastiel As Is Design Center Tel Aviv, a design furniture shop which provides its walls for various art exhibitions throughout the year. Approximately 100 people came to the September 18th opening reception.

“We got a great reaction from the public - both for the content and for the non-traditional installation,” says Marina Grechanik, a participant in the exhibition.
This was the third group exhibition USk Tel Aviv, who self-sponsored the exhibit with money earned from working as correspondents at a Tel Aviv Municipality cultural event earlier this year.

Shiho Nakaza, Flag-Waver

by Susan Rogers

One of the eye catching aspects of the USk home page is the picture at the top of the page called the masthead or blog flag and the USk volunteer who is responsible for this part of the page is Shiho Nakaza. Shiho lives in Santa Monica, CA. She volunteered for this task because of her background in commercial art and illustration which helps her design the flag. Shiho loves going through the submissions and seeing what sketchers around the world are up to.

Shiho has been sketching daily since making a new year’s resolution on Jan. 1st, 2009. She loves being involved with USk because it enables her to meet like-minded folks and to feel part of a bigger community of artists. Urban sketching is her chance to enjoy mark making as a fun activity without the pressure to answer to a client. There is no USk Los Angeles group yet but Shiho is working with a small group of dedicated sketchers in the area who hope to officially start a group.

If you’re interested in submitting a sketch to be considered for the blog flag, here’s what Shiho is looking for: the photos and sketches must be (990 pixels wide), in focus, and not too dark or washed out. Showing your sketch in the foreground and the location in the background in the same photo is great. Landscape format is better than vertical. Shiho wants submissions from all artists whether beginners or experts. Shiho posts a new blog flag every 2 weeks and is on the lookout for sketchers and countries or locations that haven’t been featured before. Check the
submittal guidelines (scroll to the bottom of the page), and send your flag to



Symposium Lectures
Some of the videos of presenter lectures from the 2016 Symposium are now available on our website. Click here to view lectures by Nelson Paciencia, Mark Leibowitz, Lynne Chapman, Richard Briggs and check back soon to view all eight lectures.

Collaborative Sketching Weekend in Szczecin Poland

by Ann Schwartzwald

View of Szczecin by Iga Oliwiak

Urban Sketchers from Germany and Poland have organized a collaborative event that will be held in Szczecin, Poland October 22-23.

The idea took root when Omar Jaramillo, from USk Berlin, and Mateusz Hajnysz (pictured left), from USk Poland, met during the USk Symposium in Manchester. Both felt that their two groups could really grow and have some fun by getting together for a combined event.

“Despite being geographically close, Germany and Poland have always had complicated relations, for historical reason,” Omar (pictured left) explained. “We think that we should get to know each other better, especially because we are so close. Drawings are a good way for that to happen. The Polish USk group is also quite young and Mateusz, after visiting the USk Symposium in Manchester, wanted to show the Polish group a little taste of what is to be part of such a global community like Urban Sketchers, particularly how easy is to feel related to other sketchers no matter where they come from.”

The city of Szczecin (called Stettin in German) a Polish city was selected because it is close to the border with Germany, and is easy and inexpensive to get to on German Rail. Szczecin is a multifaceted port city situated in Northwest Poland, on the Oder River, with many historic as well as contemporary places for outstanding sketching opportunities. Formerly belonging to Germany before WWII, there are many buildings from that period. With open borders in the EU, the city is seeing some revitalization and development, so there is a lot to sketch and enjoy while there.

Professional and beginner artists welcome.

Sketchers are meeting at Plac Orla Bialego at 11 AM Saturday October 22nd and will continue until 3PM (15:00) Sunday October 23rd. Attendees will need to arrange one night’s accommodation in Szczecin. 

HERE for more information. Click HERE to register.


Volunteer Opportunities

USk is seeking writers, a managing editor, proofreaders, a social media assistant and Mailchimp layout volunteers for Drawing Attention. If you're interested, please contact


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Happy sketching!




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