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

Banishing Bad Hair Days at a Fur Babies Beauty Contest

[by Róisín Curé in Dublin] A few days ago I got a call from Annie Taylor, the lady who bred my beloved puppy. As well as breeding border terriers and Jack Russells bursting with health and full of character, she's a dog groomer too.
"The 20th anniversary of the Irish Professional Dog Groomers Association Championship is on in Dublin at the weekend," she said. "Would you like to come and sketch the event?"
"But dogs are impossible to sketch," I said. "They never stop moving."
"That's why you'll like this event," said Annie. "There will be lots of time to sketch them on the stands while they're being clipped." 
That sounded good to me, and just before dawn on Sunday we were motoring up to Dublin in Annie's van, Howie, one of her terriers, on my lap. He was attending the show in a professional capacity, as he was to "volunteer" his services as a demo dog for a grooming technique known as hand-stripping.

A hall had been set up for the competition. Grooming products were for sale on stalls around the perimeter, but most of the area was laid out with about twenty grooming tables on which dogs stood patiently, awaiting orders. Each table had a metal upright from which a harness dangled, to keep a dog's head steady, or to prevent it from sudden moves, but not once throughout the entire day did I see any dog lunge or try to jump down.

The first dog I saw was a schnauzer in its pre-roomed state. I thought it looked great already - its eyebrows were beautiful, white feathery hoods turning its eye sockets into pools of darkness. The groomer sat by, waiting for the clock to start: each groomer would have two hours to produce a beautifully-clipped dog.

The clock started, and they were off. Near the schnauzer was an apricot toy poodle with a pair of clippers buzzing quietly but steadily across its body. The groomer had arranged a little padded head-rest to be attached to the vertical stand, so that the little dog could be comfy over the two hours. I came back after a long while and the poodle had a red rose above his eyes and another around his neck. His tail was sculpted into a spherical puff at the base, fanning out towards the tip. He looked very smart indeed.
I wanted to sketch around the tables, but it was a bit crowded, and I was conscious that the groomers were in competition, and perhaps not keen on having a yoke with a sketchbook in their face. I did manage to capture a magnificently-eyebrowed Scottish terrier called Ike, having been exquisitely coiffed by his groomer, Tom O' Mahony. I only had seconds but sometimes that's no harm - it keeps your sketch fresh. Tom was not uncoiffed himself.

Next in my sketchbook came Bailey, a little shih tzu. When he'd been clipped and groomed to the satisfaction of the contestant, she put a Hallowe'en bow tie around his neck, with a tiny pumpkin print on the band and a silver pumpkin in the middle of the bow. He appeared to have a sweet character.

"Are the groomers the dogs' owners?" I asked Annie.
"Not for the most part, no," she said, "they are clients."
"That explains why they aren't being affectionate with them," I said.
"Not that exactly," said Annie, "if they were being affectionate the dogs would be all over them, and they'd get nothing done."
I was finding it hard to find places to sketch in comfort.
"It's a bit cramped for sketching," I told her, "but it can't be helped."
"There's a demo of a clipping just starting across the hall," she said. "There's much more room for you to sketch there."
Off I went, just in time to see a miniature schnauzer called Bella in her pre-groomed state on the stand. She looked like a shaggy ball of blue-silver wool, albeit freshly-bathed. Suzanne Garrett, the groomer who would be doing the demo, talked as she worked, encouraging questions from the audience. I learned all about different grooming styles, keeping the dog safe during a clipping (ie not nicking sensitive bits by accident), not ending up with bald patches and lots more. Bella was super-patient. 
"I notice the bitch is very calm," I said to Suzanne. "Does she love being groomed, or does she just tolerate it?"
"I'll be honest," said Suzanne. "Dogs who come to my salon don't look overjoyed to be there, but neither do they protest. They are resigned...apart from the poodles, who love it. They are born to it, and are often groomed from four weeks old."
(After the demo, I noticed that the poodles were the only dogs who didn't have harnesses on them while being groomed, and Annie told me they proffer their little legs to be groomed.) 
Suzanne's job requires physical strength - and patience.
"I'll sometimes have two owners discussing how much their dogs hate me, right in front of me," she said.
After an hour or so, Bella emerged a new girl, a glossy, elegant creature, having shed her cocoon of soft grey wool.

After Bella's transformation was complete, I trotted off back to the competition area to see how the clips were progressing. 
"What's Asian about the Clipped Asian?" I asked an onlooker who looked knowledgable.
"It's a very close clip," said the woman. "Seemingly it's something to do with the tiny families in the likes of China and Korea and so forth. The dogs become surrogate babies and are clipped close, the better to wear clothes. The face is very important - it's all about looking sweet, you see."
I thought of the sailor suit that my scruffy boy wears, and realised that my approach isn't very different. My puppy is very much my baby, now that my human ones aren't tiny anymore.

I met a friendly Swede called Anki, who was transforming her miniature poodle, Sky, into a celestial haze of black softness. That's Sky on the right in the sketch. (She's not navy, she's black as midnight, but I don't use black watercolour.)
"This is the Scandanavian T-clip," Anki told me. "The T stands for Toilet - as in the original sense of the word - but it's not used anymore."
Sky wagged her tail furiously as her mistress's sister approached. I loved her character and, not for the first time, began to hatch plans for becoming mistress to a little girl poodle of my own some day.
Beside Sky was another black poodle beauty. I couldn't resist that lovely muzzle and so I sketched him quickly. He's on the left in the sketch, displaying the Bedlington Clip. I had a chance to pat him afterwards, and words can't describe how soft his coat was. Like touching air.

I sketched two groomers patiently waiting their turn, as the judges began to go from table to table, making their decisions.

I had expected lots of browns for the day, and had juggled my paintbox accordingly.
"I dug out a few extra browns before I left this morning," I said to Annie. "I figured I'd need them for painting dogs."
"I hope you didn't get rid of your brights," she said. "You're going to need them in the afternoon - it's the Creative Styling event."
Just as Annie predicted, I was soon furiously mixing the brightest purple I could, a blend of opera pink and cobalt turquoise. The intense colour I ended up with wasn't yet as bright as the purple of the friendly little poodle who was sitting on a table near me. 

Next to him was a lady with an adorable chihuahua, who clearly adored her mistress, giving her little licks on the nose and face whenever she could.
"The other day," she said in broad Dublinese to the girl grooming the purple poodle, "the kids said to the husband,"Mammy can't find her glue!" and he says, "There's Pritt in the drawer in the kitchen," and the kids shout, "No! Her dog glue!""
The clock started - again, two hours for this class - and the competition began. The chihuahua was clipped very closely, the purple poodle had purple feathers stuck to his head, a white standard poodle was sprayed in a visual cacophony of clashing colours and another poodle was turning jade green.

This was the Extreme Creative class. As well as the poodle and the chihuahua were a standard poodle, a Yorkie or two and a couple of other curly-coated dogs of whose breed I would not be sure. The chihuahua had a spider's web drawn on her back in marker, which was glued and glittered. A huge spider sat on the web and a tiny witches hat was perched on her head. The white standard poodle was clipped like so much topiary into...a bus, some ghouls and a marshmallow man. The theme was the movie Ghostbusters. The jade green poodle had pink feathers tied to its tail, and had been given a lime green tummy transected with black lines, to represent the scales of a dragon. He had a hot pink mohican and purple wings...and lime green fake claws on his toes. Annie wasn't happy with the way one of the dogs looked, but not on grounds of taste.
"That dog is stressed," she said, and explained how she had made that judgment: the dog was panting and pacing. On the other hand, it was incredible how much the dogs put up with, and their big hearts and willingness to please struck me anew. But Annie puts the happiness of dogs above everything, and isn't afraid to share her feelings. For the most part - to my untrained eye - the dogs looked pretty happy. 
In the Salon Creative class were a few sophisticated clips, among them a Yorkie and a couple of other soft things which I again couldn't identify. One was clipped especially to be viewed from a prone position.
"He spends all day by the fire with his elderly owner," the groomer told me, "so I did a clip which was to be seen when the dog is lying down."
How clever. Then there was my favourite dog of the whole show, that black cloud of poodle, Sky, who was now being transformed into a spiral, starting at the tail. How clever was the groomer, starting with an already-coiffed dog and turning it into something even fancier.

A tall and slim groomer had groomed her tiny Yorkshire terrier with a Parisian theme, complete with French plait, tricolor feathers, bows and pale pink crown. On her side was stuck a little hairclip which read "Paris" in gold letters. For the judging, the groomer dressed as a Parisian (each groomer had the option of dressing up to further get into the spirit of the dog they had just groomed). This one was in a beret and was channelling Paris from head to toe. Asked why she had chosen the theme, the groomer had a simple answer.
"I just love Paris," she said. 

At last it was time for the results.  Many of the dogs who had caught my eye made it onto the podium, so to speak: Sky the spiral poodle, the soft fellow with the Bedlington clip, Ike, the Scottish terrier, and lots of others...

Listening to the chairperson and the judges, I marvelled at this new world I've just discovered. I really like it (apart from all the smokers, of which there seem to be a disproportionate amount. Keep it outside, people!). I like the unapologetic pleasure in the sensual and the beautiful. Pleasure in the beautiful dogs, pleasure in the skill of making them look that way and pleasure in the joyful human-dog relationship. I know people who would say it's all silly - my husband among them - but that's the very dictionary definition of "killjoy". 

Annie and I drove back to Galway in the dark, this time with Howie on my lap. I felt very lucky to have made such a good friend in Annie, who knows more about dogs than anyone I've ever met...

When I'm a little old lady I'm going to have a poodle which I groom into cloud shapes. Wait...what's wrong with being a little middle-aged lady with a poodle?

Every artist needs her muse.





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