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

Dropping my Sketchbook into the Sea

[by Lynne Chapman, from Sheffield, UK, on location at Robin Hood's Bay]

On Friday night, John and I got back from a lovely week away, on the East Coast of England. We had rented a house with a group of friends, celebrating John's 60th birthday (!). It was great fun, but our friends went home after a few days and we had the last half of the week on our own. So, when the sun showed up, I wrapped up warm and went down onto the beach to do a bit of sketching.

When ever we visit Robin Hood's Bay, I always get excited by the shadow shapes created on the cliffs, because of the extreme erosion all along that section of coast. It makes for an interestingly ragged skyline too, where the top and edges sink and crumble. At this time of year, it's pretty quiet too, just a few dog-walkers in big coats. As I came to the end of my painting, it started to spit with rain. A big cloud was looming, so I retreated back to civilisation for a warming pot of tea and a sandwich.

After lunch, things brightened up, but I had to battle increasingly strong winds, trying to snatch the sketchbook from my hand, especially as I couldn't resist folding my concertina out so I could work across 3 pages at a time. The disaster struck when I was half way through a painting at the very end of one of my 2 metre long books (I was trying to fill up the final concertina I did in China). While I was waiting for the paint to dry, I thought I'd start another sketch, so I carefully wedged the drying book between my rucksack and the boulder I was sitting on, and got out a new sketchbook.

I had just made the first paint mark, when a particularly violent gust of wind bashed me from behind. I just managed to keep hold of the book in my hand, but the wedged sketchbook wasn't so lucky. Plus, the leverage of the wind against the book toppled my rucksack forward from the rock. To my horror, both book and rucksack landed in the deep rock pool.

Panic. The trouble was, my hands were full and anything I put down would be flung down the beach in the still crazy wind. I sacrificed the rucksack to the water and managed to grab one end of the sketchbook as it went in, whisking it out again really fast. I was left trying to juggle the madly-flapping, dripping concertina, a loaded paintbrush and paint-filled pallet, as well as the other sketchbook. The wet sketchbook was trying to rip itself in half. Paint, sea and sand were going everywhere.

I yelled 'HELP! HELP!!!'

It was very lucky for me that John was not far along the beach, poking around, looking for fossils. He leapt to the rescue. He yanked the rucksack out of the water with and then took the wet sketchbook off me. Miraculously, the bulk of the work was unharmed: amazing, given it was all watercolour or watercolour pencil sketches. Some of the paint on the final sketch had still been wet when it was dunked though, so that image got partially washed away, as you can see above.

I was never able to finish it off though, because of what happened next...

While John chivalrously stood holding out the length of unfolded, wet sketchbook, to dry in the wind, I finished off the other painting I'd just started. This is it above: you can see the moment of the drama recorded in the sharp ochre line which runs up into the sky on the far right.

We were just breathing a sigh of relief. The sketchbook was saved, as was the phone, which I had forgotten was in the submerged rucksack, and I'd finished off my painting without quite freezing solid. Then I looked round. The sea had been coming in behind me. The very second I realised how close the water was, it swirled around the boulder I was sitting on and covered my boots!

The panic, the scrambling with paint, sea, sand, rucksack and sketches, trying to lift everything out of the advancing water with our hands already full of my sketchbooks, was an almost exact replica of the first time, except there were two of us yelling this time. We avoided a repeat of the sketchbook dunking, but it was a close thing.

Back on terra-firma, I had to wash sand out of my palette and paint off my face. I was crunching sand between my teeth for the next hour (from putting the brush into my mouth that I'd previously poked into the sand. Duh). We retreated to the house to warm up. No lasting harm done. Phew.





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