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

Drawing Attention December 2016

Meet the USk Board 

USk is a non-profit organization run by a volunteer Executive Board with the help of an Advisory Board, Coordinators, Regional Administrators and hundreds of volunteers. Meet the current Executive Board.

Elizabeth Alley, USk President

Elizabeth has been an urban sketcher since before we had a name for it. She enjoyed sketching out in the world since high school. She is the Admin of Memphis Urban Sketchers in Memphis, Tennessee. Elizabeth has been the president of USk for two years, with her term ending December 9. As president she works with the Executive Board to develop strategic goals for the year, and helps to move those goals forward. She has served on the board since 2011, and on the Executive Board since the board was restructured in 2013. She also served on the committee to restructure the board. Elizabeth has helped to organize five Symposiums, 2012-2016. 

Brenda Murray, USk Communications Director

Brenda discovered Urban Sketchers in 2012 and organized Urban Sketchers Waterloo Region in Ontario, Canada in Jan 2013. Since then the chapter has grown to 333 members. On the Executive Board, Brenda contributes to the strategic planning of the organization. As Communication Director she works to promote the organization in general and the workshops in particular, to protect the brand and, working with the Communication team, to integrate the messaging across our various communication platforms: our website, Facebook, Drawing Attention, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube.

Mário Linhares, USk Education Director

Mario has loved sketching since he was a child. He discovered Urban Sketchers in 2008 and founded Urban Sketchers Portugal in 2009. Mario was on the organizing team for the Lisbon Symposium in 2011 and he has served on the Board since then. Because education is his passion, in 2013 he offered to serve as Education Director, setting and developing USk’s educational strategy. Mario also coordinates the Education Committee (who review workshop proposals and brainstorm new education ideas) and oversees the Workshops Program (coordinated by Gail Wong). Mario works closely with the Symposium Committee to develop new educational events.

Joel Berman, USk Fundraiser

Joel discovered USk Chicago in 2013 and felt an immediate and profound connection to his local chapter at his first sketch crawl. As an architect, Joel has used freehand sketching as a design and presentation tool for many years and has taught freehand sketching at local schools and professional associations. In July 2016 Joel became Urban Sketchers’ first Fundraiser. Working with his Fundraising Committee, Joel’s role is to generate sponsorships, donations, and grants that will support the organization’s growth and administration. On the Executive Board, Joel contributes to the strategic planning of the organization. Joel strongly believes in Urban Sketchers’ mission and manifesto and wants to help strengthen and improve the organization.

Joel Winstead, USk Treasurer

Joel Winstead has been following the Urban Sketchers blog from the beginning, and started going to sketch crawls in Washington D.C. not long after that. He has now attended several Symposiums in a row, and enjoys seeing the world with other sketchers. On the Executive Board, Joel contributes to the strategic planning of the organization. As Treasurer, Joel manages the organization's finances and budget.

Suma CM, USk Secretary

Suma has been drawing from life off and on since childhood. She started attending sketchcrawls and following various urban sketchers’ blogs around 2008. That’s also when she started her own blog. When she lived in Connecticut, Suma sketched with the New York City chapter but after her move to California last year, she has attended a few meetings of the local sketching groups and sometime sketches with sketchers in San Jose. As Board Secretary, Suma arranges for board meetings, keeps the meetings running on schedule and writes the minutes. On the Executive Board, Suma contributes to the strategic planning of the organization.


Message from the President

by Elizabeth Alley

It has been my sincere pleasure to serve as president of Urban Sketchers for the past two years. I have served on the board since 2011, and over this time have gotten to know so many people whose dedication to this organization inspired me to work closely with all of the Coordinators and Teams to bring on-location sketching to more people, to create welcoming and educational Symposiums, and to work closely with the Executive Board to continue the stewardship of this amazing organization.

As the next phase of USk moves forward, I don’t expect much to change, actually. The Executive Board is a team of people who work hard to address the day-to-day work of the organization as well as create strategic goals for the year. This will continue as always, as the officers and directors continue to bring you our amazing Education program, sketches from around the world, news about USk and from your communities, events that give you the opportunity to sketch and socialize, and ways to connect with other sketchers.

I will continue to be involved in the organization as a member of the Advisory Board, and as one of the administrators for my local group in Memphis, Tennessee. If you’re ever in my neck of the woods, please come sketching with us!

Urban Sketchers would like to thank Elizabeth Alley for her dedicated service to the organization as our President and in other roles on the Executive Board (VP and Event Director) since 2011 and for quietly yet so effectively organizing the most recent Symposiums in Singapore and Manchester, which were the biggest ever. 

Thank you, Elizabeth!


Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteer President

The term is ending for our current President, and USk is seeking a new volunteer President of the Executive Board. The call for applicants can be found on our website.

Volunteer Vice President

USk is also creating a new Vice President position. The call for applicants can also be found on our website.

Volunteer Writers and Managing Editor

USk is seeking a volunteer Managing Editor for our newsletter, writers, proofreaders, and a social media assistant. The call for applicants can also be found on our website.

Volunteer Fundraising Team Members

USk is seeking volunteer team members to help develop and program tracking studies, perform grant writing, and fundraise in general. The call for applicants can also be found on our website.

Bring a Workshop to your Chapter

USk Instructor Lapin

In 2016 Urban Sketchers organized 16 workshops around the world in collaboration with USk chapters from San Francisco to Dubai. These workshops were taught by our top instructors: great teachers such as Lapin, Rob Sketcherman, Mike Daikubara and more! If you would like to bring an official USk workshop to your chapter, email our Education Director, Mario Linhares at

Symposium News

USk is proud to announce that the USk Chicago Symposium will be held July 26-29, 2017.

This symposium will feature great workshops, amazing demonstrations and informative lectures. Two types of registrations will be available! Stay tuned for more details as well as the registration dates.

Subscribe to the Urban Sketchers Symposium Mailing List to get updates and be in the know when registration opens.

We can't wait to sketch with you in Chicago!


Call for Programming

USk proudly announces the Call for Programming for the 2017 USk Chicago Symposium. We are seeking great Workshop Proposals, Demos and Lectures. We will be receiving proposals until December 31, 2016 (11:59 p.m. GMT).

Want advice about how to write a workshop proposal? Check out What Makes a Great Workshop Proposal in the November issue of Drawing Attention.


2016 Symposium Videos

Karina Kuchnir

Some of the videos of presenter lectures from the 2016 Symposium are now available on our website. Click here to view lectures by Karina Kuchnir, Mark Leibowitz, Richard Briggs and more.


Urban Sketching Books Published in 2016

Just in time for Christmas—urban sketching books published in 2016. This is not a comprehensive list. Apologies to authors who were missed.

by Pete Scully

de Luis Ruiz Padron

by Liz Steel

by Stephanie Bower

by Cathy Johnson 

by Lapin

by Lapin

by Lapin 

by Lapin

by Lapin

by David Edwards

by Liz Ackerley, Len Grant, Caroline Johnson, David Lowther, Alistair Price and Simone Ridyard. 

by Joaquin Gonzalez Dorao

Barcelona Rooftops
by Miguel Herranz

The World Is So Big:An Artist's Sketchbook
by James Tan

Ein Jahr Urban Sketching - Das Workbook: 25 Tricks zum Zeichnen unterwegs
von Jens Hübner

Pen and Ink
by James Hobbs


James Richards, Capturing the Crowd

by Ann Schwartzwald

James Richards is an enormously creative artist, author, urban designer, traveler and teacher. He is also an energetic and generous contributor to our Urban Sketchers community.

James grew up in South Louisiana, and lived in and around Fort Worth Texas in the decades since graduating from college. James co-founded Urban Sketchers Texas in 2011, and recently facilitated morphing that chapter into 4 new ones: USk Houston, USk Austin, USk Lubbock, and USk Dallas/Fort Worth. He is now an administrator for USk Dallas/Fort Worth. James also lectures and teaches design, drawing and urban sketching workshops across the U.S. and abroad. The insights and expertise he so enthusiastically shares with others are based on years of experience. 

“I started sketching on location while studying landscape architecture and urban design in college. Travel sketching and my work developed my drawing skills. I joined Urban Sketchers in 2010.”

James presented a very exciting workshop called “Capturing The Crowd” at the Urban Sketchers Manchester Symposium at the end of July. During this workshop, James taught basic premises and a methodology for drawing crowds of people in public spaces—plazas, streets and the like.

“A great many sketchers are afraid of attempting to draw people at all,” James said. “I taught a highly accessible, step-by-step method that helps alleviate that anxiety. We learned to develop sketches of urban crowds with life, energy and a convincing sense of depth.”

James focuses on the importance of connecting people and spaces.

“Like most of us, I love people-watching. People in public spaces are like the actors on a stage, while the surrounding buildings, trees and other elements serve as the backdrop for all the human stories that are unfolding. At the end of the day, I’m less interested in sketching individuals than I am about capturing that drama, energy and exuberance I feel in great public plazas and streets. That’s impossible to do without including the people that bring the place alive. Over the years I’ve developed a method for doing this rather quickly, which adds to the energy of the sketch”.

Meet James Richards HERE.

Check out his workshop notes HERE.


Urban Sketchers Croquer La Vie

In a recent interview with La Presse, Marc Taro Holmes and Shari Blaukopf of Urban Sketchers Montreal paint a colourful picture of Urban Sketchers and even throw in a few helpful sketching tips. Click HERE to read the lively online article.


ASIA-Link Sketchwalk Bangkok 2016

by Meagan Burns

A special sketching event called, ASIA-Link Sketchwalk Bangkok 2016 was held this past week at the at the Ratchadamnoen Contemporary Art Center in Bangkok, hosted by the USk Thailand and Bangkok Sketchers, bringing together more than 350 Asian sketchers from fifteen different countries. The three-day event offered a variety of workshops and free activities for sketchers of all levels and backgrounds, and Kwin Krisadaphong from USk Thailand shared some of the event highlights.

“Our event not only improved sketching skills, but we felt it was important to have people share their experiences together. Our focus was, ‘Meeting, Learning, Sharing and Connecting’. It was so exciting to learn and share with our friends from other Asian countries as a ‘One Asia’.”

Participating countries included: Penang, Singapore, Bangkok, Bhutan, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam and Thailand. In previous years, some of the participating Asian chapters organized similar smaller events, but this year the groups decided to combine their efforts to create an event that featured sketchwalks, workshops, guest speakers and demonstrations, and some of these events were free.

One of the events available was a seminar called, “One Country One Story”, where each country sent a representative to share for ten minutes something special about the country, similar to a TED Talk, but not necessarily about sketching. “It could be about lifestyle, culture anything that sounds interesting for our USk friends, they could even sing a song.”

Kwin and other event organizers reached out to sponsors to support the weekend event, and were able to secure funding from some wonderful sponsors which helped keep most of the workshops and sketchwalks free, except for a few.

“It was incredible to have so many sketchers from every part of Asia come together for this weekend of sketching and friendship,” Kwin said, “and we are already making plans for next year’s event.”

You can read more about the event at their Facebook page.

USk São Paulo Celebrates 5th Anniversary

by Lauren Peterson

Photos courtesy of Alejandra Kirkwood, USk Salvador

USk São Paulo group marked their 5th anniversary in a special way on November 13, 2016. Chapter Admin Ronaldo Kurita baked a cake decorated with the logo of USk São Paulo on the tv show Bake Off Brasil.

The group was planning to sketch at Luz Park but it was raining, so they crossed the street and sketched at the Luz Train Station instead. In addition to its architectural appeal, the Luz Train Station has an interesting history. Built in the late 19th century by the English architect Henry Driver, it was the main entrance to the city for the first few decades of the 20th century. Kurita says, “This is an important place. It used to be the gateway for the immigrants arriving to the city from the immigration port on the coast.”

This event was the 96th meeting for USk São Paulo, and attracted about 20 people. The group consisted of mostly USk members, but one member, Oliver Wolff, brought his wife and daughter. Six-year-old Melissa Wolff sketched right along with everyone, representing a new generation of Urban Sketchers. There were also five members of USk Salvador, a city in northeastern Brasil, which came to celebrate and sketch.

This active group has another event planned on December 11, 2016.
Melissa Wolff
“It's going to be our 100th meeting and we also always have a special last meeting of the year for the holidays, says Ronaldo. “We will have 50 sketchbooks that will be given to members and passersby to join us sketching a very iconic building: MASP Museum of Art of São Paulo, designed by architect Lina Bo Bardi. We also have art books, drawing and art supplies to give away at the end of the event. These gifts were provided by publisher GGili Brasil, Papelaria Universitária, DinaShop, Hahnemühle and Lukas do Brasil. We expect to have about 50 people attending.”

As Ronaldo says, “We Brazilians love to celebrate!”

Kuala Lumpur, Melbourne and Taiwan’s Postcard Swap

USk Kuala Lumpur
Postcard Swap

Inspired by the postcard swaps between Kuching, Malaysia and Hong Kong, the urban sketchers in Kuala Lumpur organized a postcard swap between their group and urban sketchers in Melbourne and Taiwan. In late October they passed out blank postcards at their weekly sketch outing encouraging sketchers to share sketches with scenes depicting their culture. Hoping to revive the art of snail mail among the younger generation, they encouraged sketchers to write stories or a greeting about Malaysian culture.
The admins in the groups addressed the postcards using a shared list. That way they could bundle the mail and send it by courier insuring its delivery. So far Kuala Lumpur administrators have sent a total of 138 postcards. They are awaiting the return postcards, hoping to deliver them to Kuala Lumpur sketchers at the December gathering just before the holidays.

Kuala Lumpur holds weekly sketch outings with an average of 40 sketchers attending. As many as 150 sketchers may turn out for special events such as the postcard swap.

Congratulations to Kuala Lumpur for organizing such a fun event that allows more people to experience the world one sketch at a time!

Ch'ng Kiah Kiean, USk’s Capital “G” Designer

by Lauren McVittie

Ch'ng Kiah Kiean
Ch'ng Kiah Kiean, or KK for short, is a fulltime artist and sketcher who has been a member of Urban Sketchers Penang for seven years and has become an integral part of the Urban Sketchers global community.

KK has worked as a graphic designer for 10 years and has volunteered his expertise to several Urban Sketchers projects: he laid out all 18 translations of the USk Regional Chapter Guidelines, designed the opening and closing credits for our recent video series, and laid out the Logo Identity Guide.

“I’m glad I can contribute my graphic design knowledge to Urban Sketchers,” he said.

His first trip to Europe was to do a demo in Barcelona for the fourth Urban Sketching Symposium.

“Now I will never miss an Urban Sketching Symposium,” he said.

Since that first demo in Barcelona, KK has instructed at the 2015 symposium in Singapore, and has taught workshops organized by local chapters such as USk Lisbon and USk Napoli. His specialty is sketching with a twig in a bottle of ink. He has also been involved in sketching activities in several countries in Asia.

“All the sketching travels have opened my eyes.”

Urban Sketchers is grateful for KK’s contribution both as a USk instructor and as our capital “G” graphic designer.

How Can I Participate in the USk Global Community?

by Mark Leibowitz

With 169 chapters, it seems that local Urban Sketching groups exist everywhere, you only have to search Facebook to find them. The ways you can share your own work with the USk

Mark Leibowitz

global community have also multiplied. In addition to creating your own local Urban Sketching group you can also post your work to the global Urban Sketchers Facebook Group. Over 52,000 sketchers belong to the group.

You can also post your work on the Urban Sketchers Flickr site. They have nearly a quarter million sketches posted there. Urban Sketchers Instagram is another wonderful resource--an extraordinary site with 100,000 followers. It is staggering how many talented people share our passion all over the world. Or follow us on Twitter.

For me however, the most exciting development is the videos we’re starting to create. The new Urban Sketchers YouTube Channel is the place to go. It’s new and it has incredible potential. We’ve posted loads of videos from this summer’s Symposium in Manchester. You can attend my lecture. In fact, you can watch all the presenters from this wonderful event. And you can meet sketchers in Costa Rica, India, Malaysia, France, Taiwan, Brazil and more. Individuals and groups all over are creating videos to share. You are invited to participate. There, you can explore every potential style and every technique. What a resource!

When we all share - everyone gains. You can all participate by sharing our own work and by following the work of other Urban Sketchers.

New USk Chapters

The following 16 new USk chapters have been approved by the Board. Welcome to the Urban Sketchers community!

Parka Reviews

by Teoh Yi Chie

Teoh Yi Chie
Teoh Yi Chie is an infographics journalist who joined Urban Sketchers Singapore in 2009. He's probably better known as Parka from a website that reviews art books and art products.
This month Parka reviews Winsor & Newton Watercolour Markers. Check it out!



See your sketch on the USk Blog Flag and USk Facebook Page

If you’re interested in submitting a sketch to be considered for the USk blog flag and USk Facebook Page cover photo, check the submittal guidelines HERE (scroll to the bottom of the page) and send your flag to

Shout It Out in Drawing Attention! 

Not seeing anything about your Urban Sketchers group in Drawing Attention? Then we want to hear from you! Please send your urban sketching news items with links and images to:

To receive Drawing Attention via email, subscribe to our mailing list

Happy sketching! 

Drawing Attention, the official monthly newsletter of the Urban Sketchers organization, communicates and promotes official USk workshops, symposiums, sketchcrawls, news and events; shares news about USk chapters; and educates readers about the practice of on-location sketching.
Urban Sketchers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering the art of on-location drawing. Consider making a donation today. Go to to make your tax-deductible contribution via Paypal.




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