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

4 days in Foz Côa

[by Mário Linhares, in Foz Côa, Portugal]

As a teacher I have the opportunity to prepare, every year, a sketch trip with high school Art students. Sometimes we choose big cities but we are reaching the point where we understood that special sketching experiences must be done in places where the mass tourism doesn't exist. Last year we went to La Tourette (USk posts here and here).
This year we choose Foz Côa, a world heritage place where rupestrian art (Prehistoric Rock Art) discovered at the early 90s changed the perception of rock art more than 25.000 years ago.

(top image: train trip from Lisbon to Oporto and from Oporto to Pocinho - North interior of Portugal)

So far, archaeologists thought that rupestrian art happened mainly inside caves and sometimes on exterior. What Foz Côa proved is the opposite! More than 1.000 rocks with around 8.000 engravings animal pictures in open air blowed away archaeologists minds and changed ancient and solid ideas they had until then.

Why do they took so long to discover this place? 
The water levels rose and covered the engravings. At the beginning of 90s, the Portuguese Government started a big dam construction and the water levels went down. 
A huge movement started campaigns to stop the construction and the current UN General Secretary António Guterres (the Portuguese Prime Minister at that time) decided to cancel the dam construction and he gave orders to begin archeological excavations in large scale around those two rivers: Côa and Douro. Great man!

Looks like that zone was the center at the Iberian Peninsula. Around 20.000 people lived here at that time and they met in Vale do Côa to do economic exchanges and to mate. One of the most impressive things about the rock art engravings is that many of them are overlapping. Dozens of animals layer over layer. Why? We don't know, but they wanted to do it that way, because even along the side are smoother rocks without a single picture...

In other places we can find more remains. 
We asked the students to use different techniques they must learn during Drawing classes before University. One of them is "sanguínea", a kind of blood pressed mineral dust used by great artists like Leonard da Vinci during Renaissance.

In Portugal we can find Castles in almost every city. Marialva is one of them. Using colored pencils, during night, only with the light focus pointed to the castle, students got frozen. That's a hard experience: sketch at night with 5ºC...

On our last day in Foz Côa we went back to the Côa Museum. The building is amazing and so well integrated in the landscape. The concrete has the texture of the local rocks where we can find the engravings! :)
The visit must be done with a guide, who will be one of the archaeologist of the place.

That day I met a New Zealand couple traveling in Europe for 6 months. The man told me Foz Côa is one of the greatest places he visited so far. 
I'm with him. 

On the train traveling back home to Lisbon, I sketched three of my students in blue ink.
Sometimes, when I overlap my sketches, people tell me that's innovator. Now I can respond:
- Not innovator. I'm just trying to get close to what our ancestral artists did, more than 25.000 years ago.





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