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

Novembre zim

[By Fred Baele, Kariba, Zimbabwe] My father in law is renovating a lodge on lake Kariba, at Tiger bay. He invited us over for the WE, so we did what all responsible parents do, we took the kids out of school and headed straight for the lake.
So we thought. The car was packed with suitcases and food, the kids in, all sharp, ready to go.
It just would not start.
Bummer. Not a cough, just the dry noise of an unhappy engine.
That feeling when you are at the height of expectation and then it just does not come,... a serious anti-climax.
I saw the day before that our fuel gauge was not working, so went to get some diesel just in case, filled the car . It started. It was just very dry, and parked on a slope, on the sand pit the kids use as their fairy tale land, filled with cliffs and caves. No Diesel no go, Diesel go.
Act 2: ready (again), off we went. Only 60 km up the road, 5 police road blocks later, the cars starts to overheat. aaargh. To make the story short, we go back home the same night.
It felt like karma, maybe for taking the kids out. Or the car's way of expressing discontent at a compliment my wife made on another car, the legendary Landie sensitivity. So, only a day late, with a borrowed car, we get to the lake. We spend the next 4 days in the middle of the bush, kids mostly in the pool, fishing in the evening, just chilled.

We did not catch anything. People believe it is because of the very low level of the lake. The bad rainy season combined with the way the dam is managed and electricity produced empties the lake. There is less water coming in than taken out. The entire lake dropped of over 4 meters. Harbors are nearly dry, with boats clogged in small space, and the entire ecosystem of the lake changed. We did not really see any oxygen weeds or others, which are normally plentiful on the edges and are the breeding ground for fish. No weeds, no fish. But stunning landscapes.

Lots of elies, hippos and crocs. Far too many crocodiles indeed.
The WE in Kariba was welcome. We returned to Harare, to learn that the school was offering the possibility for parents to not bring their children to classes, because the city dumpsite was on fire. The smoke packed with heavy metals, arsenic, cyanide and other nasty things was a bit too close and did not seem to stop at the school compound's boundaries.
Hot stinky and dangerous.

Finally rain came. It has been nearly 8 dry months, and a heavy build up for it, with record high temperatures over the last couple of weeks.
Dryness and heat, the grass brittle, the trees in flower, and many, many fires. Smokes turn the sky pink and pastel when the sun goes down, flames provide exquisite views when they set a hill alight in the night, but they burn, clog the air and stretch the nature to its limits in the last months of winter.
With rain, dust settles, the sky clears up and the nature breathes.
Temperature dropped significantly. 2 weeks ago we were sweating over 34, and rains dropped the air to a humble 15 in a flash. That is as radical as an ice bucket challenge, unprepared, with nowhere to escape.

 Back to realities. Headlines packed about corrupt officials, outrageous salaries of civil servants and party cronies, political wars,... Unpleasant.

The economic situation is dire. There is no cash available, banks only allow people to take 50 usd per day, and businesses 500 usd. People queue for hours to get their money out of banks. Old faceless dollars that you need to scrutinize closely to figure out if its a 1, 2 or 5 dollar-note. It is not easy to live in a place where everyone struggles to have cash, where plastic and cell-phone based payments become the norm. Now there is the threat of the introduction of the "bond-notes", a type of monopoly money, backed by nothing, the government wants to introduce on parity with the USD. People just fear that their accounts will be changed overnight, and that they will receive bond notes, spiraling again in hyperinflation and scarcity, as it happened first decade of the millennium. It is very frustrating to see the way this place is managed and led, the level of corruption and embezzlement. Very sad.

And upon return from Kariba, we just heard the choice the USA made for president and government, and felt the world was in a worst place than the day before. Very disappointing, sad and scary. The rise of populists, extremists and fundamentalists are never good news. The fact that they congratulate each others is also concerning.
I guess it's karma for having the Cubs win this year. Against all the laws of the universe,... heavy toll.
We should head back to the lake, away from civilization, networks and information overload, and live on fish.
Oh, no, I forget, we could not catch fish,...  





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