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

Sunny Santa Monica

[By Shiho Nakaza, Virginia Hein and Tina Koyama in Santa Monica, Calif.]

TinaWhile visiting family in L.A. a couple weekends ago, I had the fun and good fortune of sketching with soon-to-be-official Urban Sketchers Los Angeles. On a gorgeous, blue-sky day that was a welcome respite from Seattle’s drizzle, we met at Santa Monica Pier, a popular attraction that draws both locals and tourists alike. I had my pick of lots of fun sketching subjects – crowds of people, colorful tents and food stands, a Ferris wheel, an historic merry-go-round – but I knew I couldn’t leave L.A. without sketching lots of palm trees (above).

I know I say this every time I have this kind of opportunity, but I think the single best thing about Urban Sketchers is that this worldwide network makes it so easy to sketch with others, no matter where I travel. Many thanks to Shiho Nakaza and Virginia Hein for organizing the gathering for my visit! 

Shiho: I enjoyed sketching with Tina along with Virginia and our fellow local sketchers. It was a nice Sunday out by the sea without huge summer crowds, with a wealth of things to draw: people mingling, a marching band practicing, and tented event happening on the dock. 

Amid all the activities, I realized I have never sketched the merry-go-round even though I’ve lived in this town for years. It was a pleasantly warm day (and not too hot inside the carousel building built before air conditioning was invented), so I decided to give it a try. The merry-go-round celebrated its 100-year old birthday this year:

 I used Fabriano Artistico watercolor sheet sample, which behaved as I expected, but I had to battle some technical difficulties with my paints. I had dirty washes and paint not sticking to paper due to wax on my paintbrush, so I switched to doing some color with 4-color Bic pen before I could soap off the wax residue later. I'm still glad I made a record of this piece of history.

 From Virginia: It was so great to have Tina visiting us last week—and Shiho, myself and some of our other L.A. urban sketchers met in Santa Monica on a perfectly beautiful day.  There's always something interesting going on at the pier...and on this Sunday, we were met by a brass band from Santa Monica College, leading a crowd of charity walkers...

We started sketching on the sunny boardwalk, and I loved the movement of people against the "forest" of palms.  That row of people in bright yellow t-shirts were the walkers we'd seen earlier--fundraisers for the Aga Khan Foundation.

That sketch never got quite finished...I heard dance music and had to go find the source--the fundraisers were having a party on the pier!  I found a view of the stage and began sketching over a chain link fence...

Tina came to investigate, and the security guard (man in the "SAFETY" vest) graciously invited us into the party.  We duly registered, and joined the festive crowd!  I was seeing some messages I was needing and wanting to see...

I wasn't at all familiar with the Aga Khan Foundation--with a little research and conversations with participants and Sasha Rawji, the Marketing & Media Manager for the Aga Khan Foundation of Los Angeles, I discovered that while the community that follows the Aga Khan are American Muslims from all over the world, the Foundation itself is non-denominational, with all kinds of local volunteers.  They serve communities across Africa and Asia with childhood development and health programs, literacy programs and more.  I found the message "building better futures together" to be truly uplifting that day, and felt pride in the diverse community of my city! 





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