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

Post-Symposium reflections on urban sketching

[Guest post by Ed Harker, Manchester, United Kingdom]

 I’ve been urban sketching for five years, and this summer went to my first Urban Sketchers Symposium. I had expected a convention, but instead experienced a lovely cross between a mutual support group (“Hello, my name is Ed, and I’m a compulsive sketcher…”), and a party where everyone brings something to share (techniques, approaches, enthusiasm). I tried to compare it to other large events I’d been to but there was always a difference. It was like a music festival, but one where you got to jam with the headliners. Or an athletics meeting where you’re running alongside the elite athletes instead of watching them from the grandstand.

The overall atmosphere was very relaxed as everyone indulged their sketching habit whenever and wherever, with a strong sense of being among ‘our people’. It was lovely walking through Manchester noticing fellow sketchers lurking in doorways, perched on benches. We had somehow infiltrated the whole city without anyone noticing!

(A large comics convention was also in Manchester that weekend and it was interesting seeing another tribe enjoying their shared enthusiasms; they were easier to spot…)

It was a very rich experience and I wondered what made it so different from other gatherings. I chatted with participants and presenters and realized that the largest part of the magic was the character of Urban Sketchers as a movement, and three key qualities stood out in particular.

Firstly urban sketching hits a sweet spot between amateur and professional. It is something that’s almost entirely done for love, providing a personal gateway for non-artists into creative expression, but also complementing some people’s professional practise as architects, illustrators, designers etc. This creates a healthy artistic eco-system with a huge variety of styles and approaches being shared. Urban planners explore how to bring life to their schemes, animators learn how to describe city life, and non-professionals get tips on perspective from architects, and graphic design advice from illustrators. Everyone learns…

Secondly sketching from life and sharing the experience, encourages habits that are generally good for you, making you feel better. We experience the satisfaction of incremental improvement through personal effort, and encourage others to help us reflect on our progress through sharing our creations on USk forums. This community creates the security that allows risk-taking and trying something new, another key part of effective learning. Sketching is a great way to create ‘flow’, a sense of settled well-being; we take on challenges, improve, become engrossed in our practise, sensitive to our surroundings, time stops, brains stop chattering. On a sketchcrawl, and especially at a Symposium, these positive effects are amplified, creating a supportive and mellow learning environment. It gives us the direct experience of some great values in action…

Thirdly USk is driven by positive values focused on the relationships between us and our subjects, and between each other. Instead of rules about media and techniques, the manifesto simply describes a principled approach and a supportive community. Symposium sketchers used inky twigs alongside others using iPads; differences in approaches are explored and celebrated! The manifesto encourages direct engagement with the immediate world, appreciation of the everyday; go outside and draw the experience on paper. It supports generosity; sharing ideas, encouragement, and advice is at the heart of our forums, sketchcrawls and the Symposium. It is international, inclusive and democratic, reflecting the key role social media have played in its formation and growth. Online each individual sketch stands equal next to the others that are posted.

The manifesto’s focus on values gives the movement a great combination of strength and flexibility, the living of these values makes us feel good, helping to make the urban sketching crowd such excellent company. I’m looking forward to Chicago…

Ed is an Infant school head teacher based in Bath, UK. He’s a member of Urban Sketchers Bristol/South West. You can see his sketches and kit tinkering on his blog: mostly drawing.





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