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".
Blog
Flickr

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

What Neil said

[Guest post by Somali Dasgupta in Singapore] 
What Neil said wasn’t new to me. But when a silver haired stranger with wise, deep-set eyes leans in from the other table to look inside your sketchbook and goes, “Drawing is really good for you, much better than photographing. You know why?” you pay attention because from the way he draws in a deep breath and turns himself around to face you, you know he has a story to tell. And I am a sucker for stories. Also a stranger telling you a story makes a great story.

My husband and I spend every Sunday morning at Tiong Bahru Bakery. My husband (above) was reading Jeffrey Archer’s The Prodigal Daughter on Kindle. We shared a sausage roll. I had ginger lemon tea. As usual, I was scanning the room for interesting people to sketch. Interspersed below are a few of the random people I’ve sketched in the last few months.


A couple in Tiong Bahru Bakery (L), A couple in Starbucks (R)


That’s when Neil, “an IT guy from Sydney” as he called himself, settled down at the next table, finished eating whatever he was eating and turned his attention to us.

“Can you remember phone numbers?” Neil asked. We didn’t. Neither did he. “But my mother remembered every phone number in her contact list until her dying days because she never relied on a machine to do the work for her." He said the last bit looking somewhat disparagingly at our smart phones or so I imagined. In any case, my husband quit looking at cricket scores and pushed the phone aside pretending it wasn’t his.


This was my late Sunday night view at our neighbourhood Starbucks which is open for 24 hours every day.
These high stools and shared table are especially meant for people who need to work or study.
Don’t miss the girl with the Micky Mouse hoodie!

But Neil wasn’t there to deride technology; nor was he there to randomly dish out avuncular advice on how to disengage from technology. All he wanted was to talk about an epiphany he once had while watching the Northern Lights in Iceland. “For someone who loves photography...” he said “...this was a chance of a lifetime.”

The last thing he wanted was a smudgy camera lens. Refusing to take chances by trying to clean it himself at the hotel, Neil went seeking professional help, hoping to receive top-notch service. Here’s where the story goes downhill – the girl at the counter whose job was to only receive the item and pass it on to the appropriate person for servicing decided to be useful that day and took the matter in her own hands. She started wiping the lens with a cloth and before Neil could say stop, his only camera lens was irreparably scratched.

(L) People reading physical books is becoming a rare sight. When I saw someone the other day lost in the pages of a thick novel, I had to draw her; (R) This girl was toiling away on a Saturday night with the help of a Frappuccino and gospel music.

“The Northern Lights were beautiful... indescribable really!” he said. Neil had slipped into a reverie. His head was tilted to the side and his eyes glazed over. “We watched the sky for hours y’know... and as far as I could see I was the only one without a camera.” We were crestfallen on his behalf. Before I could offer my first word of commiseration he said, “...but the incredible thing is without my camera, I could really see! Instead of looking through the lens I saw everything with my eyes... E..V..E..R..Y..T..H..I..N..G.. you know what I mean?” He pointed to his head and said, it was all stored up there, intact and distinct, even though he doesn’t have a single picture to prove to his friends that he watched the Northern Lights. But I believed him.

(L) This sketch is of a bunch of girls who were trying to study but couldn’t stop talking about the movie they came out from. Also they didn’t finish their popcorn! (R) This extremely hairy and incredibly talkative guy seen at Tiong Bahru Bakery was juggling two different conversations with two different families on either side of his table. Whoa!

He asked whether he could flip through my sketchbook. Of course he could. We had to leave but were greedy for more stories. Neil, a lone traveler, had found two perfect listeners in us. “So as I was saying to you...” He started again. We slouched back in our chairs. “...when you draw, you see things, observe things more keenly than ever...” I didn’t check the time, but he went on for a while. We let him.

(L) Just a guy seen at Tiong Bahru Bakery wearing a neatly ironed shirt and a very shiny wedding band.
Seemed like he was new to the game! (R) How to make a statement: the case of rugged boots vs. chunky costume jewellery

Neil was right. I only then realized I may have sketched over a hundred people in the last few months spending about 10 minutes per drawing. The incredible thing is I remember each one of them. Every page in my sketchbook takes me back to the actual scene. Every minute spent is accounted for. It is not just fun, drawing is a fulfilling exercise and you know it. But sometimes we all need a silver haired stranger with wise, deep-set eyes to sit beside us and tell us a story to help make sense of what we so love doing.

Somali Dasgupta is a writer, sketch artist and illustrator living in Singapore. You can also find Somali on Instagram, Flickr and her blog.

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