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

The Ballad of Seán and Orla (And Other Stories)

[by Róisín Curé] Ah! La belle France! I was in Nice, on the Côte d'Azur for a family reunion recently. I come from a big family. I hadn't seen my twin brothers, Hugh and Killian, for over twelve years; my sister Fiona and her new husband Bruce for a year, and not since their marriage; my brother Cormac for about three years; my sister Dairine and her beloved, also called Cormac, for about three months and my dear parents Paddy and Cinnie for about three weeks. Only two brothers were unable to join us in Nice, so it was a big occasion. I felt some trepidation before the trip - we've fought a lot in fifty years of being brothers and sisters, and a weekend together would provide a good opportunity to have a row from which there would not be sufficient time to recover. 
Between us, we live in Canada, Jamaica, France, Spain and Ireland, and so we all had a distance to travel to get to Nice. Why Nice? My parents have a beautiful apartment there...and Nice is lovely, and there's a beach, and great places to eat. Alas, there wasn't room for all of us in the apartment, so for the first two nights I stayed in a tiny studio apartment on the fifth floor of a stunning Art Deco building near my folks' place. 
I woke up the first morning with a hangover. I had let my hair down over dinner and was a little loose-tongued. Now, in a strange place and with no one to tell me that I hadn't been too indiscreet, I began to obsess over all the things I'd said. There was only one thing for it...make a sketch.
I sat on the balcony and drew what I could see of the Russian Cathedral around the corner. Once I identified the combination of colours, I felt a calm descend. This would be fun. I saw the jade of the domes and the soft green of the window blinds, and the yellows of the awnings and the gold bits on top of the domes. The shadows were a bonus. Eventually my hangover cleared and I set off to join the family in my parents' place.

It was Fête de Nice or some such title, a day to celebrate all things Niçois. My parents and my brother Cormac were heading to the cathedral on Place Rossetti. I wrote about my experience of feeling nervous in the light of recent events in Nice here.

We made arrangements to meet the rest of the clan on the beach, and off we set in the sunshine. Passing the site where those poor people were massacred in July was very sad. There are flowers and toys and photos and to think of it is heartbreaking. I suppose it brought home to me how lucky I am to have all my family still...
Then, after all those sad scenes, it was like magic to see most of my family lolling about on a white bench in front of me. It was like a dream where all your long-lost loved ones are there...but real.
Here they all are: from left to right we have Killian, one of the twins; Hugh, the other twin; Cormac and my sister Dairine; Bruce, my new brother-in-law; my sister Fiona, Bruce's bride; my dad Paddy; my brother Cormac, and last but anything but least, my mum Cinnie.
I swam in the turquoise water of the Baie des Anges with my twin brothers, and then my brother Cormac joined us, complaining that it was cold, because he lives in Jerez in southern Spain. Planes, having just taken off or coming in to land at Nice Airport, continually zoomed overhead, improbably big and close.
"Those planes are so fake," said one of my brothers. "So CGI."
I saw my mum and dad further out to sea and tried my best to catch up with them. Mum likes to swim steady and slow and Dad swims alongside her, appearing not to move at all, but somehow keeping abreast of her. She's had a lot of broken bones in the last couple of years and my dad doesn't let her out of his sight.
"Slow down, will you," I called out. "I can't catch up with you."
"She won't stop," said my dad, floating on his back with his beach shoes sticking up out of the water. "She going to Corsica."
I gave up and dried off in the sun, sketching each person as they came into view. We had a picnic and said goodbye to Dairine and her beloved, Cormac, who were heading home to Ireland that evening.
Later on, back at my parents', we had another dinner in their beautiful garden and I had a chance to redeem myself and be a little less blabber-mouthed. Luckily, my brother Cormac can always be relied upon for a story. He told us the following, my favourite of the holiday.
"One of the girls went to a friend's birthday party recently," he said [I forget which of his daughters it was]. "When we collected the girls, they all emerged from the coach beaming, each carrying a little cardboard box with holes punched in the front. We wondered what was in the boxes. Turned out they'd all been given a hamster as a going-home present."
"A HAMSTER!" came the shouts.
"Yes, and because our girl was the birthday girl's best friend, she got two," he added.
"Not male and female, surely?" I said, jokingly.
"Yes," said Cormac. "Male and female. They're in two cages, naturally. And the girls aren't allowed to clean out the cages themselves, in case the hamsters get together by accident."
Cormac's girls are very proud of their Irish heritage.
"Guess what their names are," he said. "Seán and Orla."
Cormac sent me a photo of the cages. Each looks like a hamster theme park. I suppose they gaze at each other all day long, pondering on cruel Fate who keeps them from each others' arms.
Next morning it was Cormac's turn to leave the party, along with the utterly inseparable twins, who went back to Vancouver. I packed up and moved into my parents' place, and immediately began a sketch of their garden. The tree in the middle was heavy with oranges, earlier this year, my mum told me. But just looking at the sketch now I start to get itchy feet and calves - I was eaten alive by mosquitoes in that garden.

The beginnings of breakfast can be seen on the table. That was Fiona and Bruce's last day too, and they flew on to London later on to join one of Fiona's daughters. Mum and Dad and I were left to our own devices and the next afternoon we decided to head to the beach again. Sitting around in a swimsuit is the ideal time to think about going on a diet, and my mother and I decided to get serious about it after we got home. My mother said she would swim a little father every day if she lived in Nice, and for some reason I pointed out that she is a slow swimmer. This was a mistake: no one criticises my mother in front of my father. I have known this for many years, so I had no one to blame but myself when my father reprised an old theme.
"You cannot change the shape you were born," he said to me. "You were born stocky, and there's nothing you can do to alter that."
"Stocky," I said. "Thanks, Dad. Then again, I suppose I'm sturdy in a strong wind."
"Now Cinnie," he continued, looking at his beloved wife, "Cinnie has a very slender frame. She has very small bones."
" I do too!" I said. "Look!"
I held out a slim wrist.
"I have a very small frame indeed! Don't mind the middle bit, that's just from overeating. And look at my very slim ankles!"
"Cinnie has much more delicate ankles," said Dad. "They're so delicate that she actually BREAKS them."
"Whereas I only sprain my ankles," I said. "Okay, you win, I concede defeat."
My mother was nearly falling off her chair laughing, despite the reminder of her recent breaks, which took a big toll on her psyche. Luckily we all knew that I wouldn't mind being compared to my mother as an ox to a racehorse.
Here's my father reading his book in the sun at the far end of the beach. The ubiquitous "chariot" is beside him: it fits the swimming gear, a picnic and a bottle of wine so it always comes to the beach. My mother is stretched out on the stones in the foreground. She's the lady with the delicate ankles.

Next day was my last. I popped off to visit the Russian Cathedral, which is about a minute's walk from my parents' apartment. I brought a scarf with me, thinking I'd seen something about covering your head when I had passed by during its lengthy closed period. The inside was stunning, and I'm afraid it's beyond description here - it's too fabulous. I only had a few minutes but I decided to sketch the two young beauties who were gracing the inside with their presence. Try to imagine butterflies all over the middle section of the girl in pink.
"There they are, in their scarves," I thought. "They're clearly Russian Orthodox. They must be so proud of all this majestic artwork. How at home they seem."
I watched them as they moved, their chestnut hair almost to the backs of their knees. As you can see I made colour notes to paint later.
The two girls wandered about then headed for the exit...pulling off their scarves and replacing them in the basket along with all the other scarves that you could borrow if you weren't Russian Orthodox.

Outside I had ten minutes to make some sort of impression of the exterior of the cathedral. Here's what I managed.

Not much, I know. But there'll be a next time.
There's talk of making it an annual event but that's unlikely to happen. Life will get in the way, as it tends to do, especially when you have dependents...but I cherished this trip more than I can say. A celebration of family, of life...of being alive.




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