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

Valparaiso, sketching jewel of the Pacific

Ex German School in Valparaiso, Chile

[By Erika Brandner in Valparaiso, Chile]

This post is about the Port of Valparaiso in Chile. A city with a glorious past known as the "golden age" in the nineteenth century: it served as a major stopover for ships traveling between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by crossing the Strait of Magellan. I was a magnet for European immigrants, the largest communities came from Britain, Germany, and Italy, each developing their own hillside neighbourhood, preserved today as National Historic Districts or "Zonas Típicas." Each community built its own churches and schools, while many also founded other noteworthy cultural and economic institutions. Thet settled here and transformed it in a cosmopolitan city totally connected with Europa.

In 2003, the historic quarter of Valparaíso was declared a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site becaus it is  

"An extraordinary example of early globalization in the nineteenth century"

Unesco describes Valparaiso as a natural amphitheatre-like setting, that is characterized by a vernacular urban fabric adapted to the hillsides dotted with a great variety of church spires. It contrasts with the geometrical layout utilized in the plain. The city has well preserved its interesting early industrial infrastructures, such as the numerous ‘elevators’ on the steep hillsides.

I have been studying and visiting Valparaiso for years, first with my family and recently as a tour guide. Numerous are the examples I have seen of this early globalization but what have impressed me more was the so calle "Victorian Internet": a thick cable covered with gutapercha (the same thing that dentists used) installed in the ground of the ocean that connected and communicated Valparaiso with the nineteenth century! Amazing. It is possible to see a sample of those cables in "Villa Victoria", an interactive museum that tells the history of Valparaíso that deserves a visit.

Valparaíso is located 111.8 kilometres (69.5 miles) northwest of Santiago de Chile

Valparaiso from the nineteenth century was far more developed than the capital Santiago: there was Latin America´s oldest stock exchange, the oldest Bank in Chile, the first public library , the oldest spanish language newspaper and the oldest fire company, a world-class port, the first public transportation system, the first public lighting system, the first cemetery for non catholics, the most important food factories and cookies, the best quality imported clothes and silks, the first brewery....etc. From the port of Valparaiso Chile exported nitrate to Europe and this allowed some chilean families become rich, travel to France, bring french architects to build their palaces and the wineyards.

But after this apogee came the fall, caused by the construction of the Panama Canal, the discovery of the synthetic nitrate and the crisis of the 1930s. Abandoned or destroyed by the many cataclysms and natural disasters like earthquakes, fires and also a bombarding from the spanish navy.
Up: Fast sketch of the hills and the port made from a tourist boat. Down right: war boat

Today, Valparaiso lives from tourism. Although it is the port, that continues to be a major distribution center for container traffic, copper, and fruit export and the approximately 50 international cruise ships that call on Valparaíso during the 4-month Chilean summer. But the port continually  generates friction with the community because of the almost nul contribution to the development of the city, leaving no income or taxs in favor of Valparaiso (port owners are spanish and german holdings) and taking each year more portion of the coastal edge, preventing the “porteño” or so called inhabitant of Valparaiso access to the sea.


This was the view from the port I had from in my hotel room.

Valparaiso is also the First Navy Zone of Chile and that is why tourists and chilean families can passed in a touristic boat ride near to the side of the chilean army frigates. Sometimes it is possible to see the "Esmeralda" school ship, a steel-hulled four-masted barquentine tall ship. All this from the Prat wharf, where the Port functions and near Sotomayor Square. There is also a beautiful neoclassical building, actual headquarters of the Chilean Navy and the Monument and mausoleum of our Pacific War heroes.

I made this sketch early in the morning when the port workers ended their night shift. This is the Sotomayor Square and behind, the Navy Main Quarters and the Iquique Battle Monument (Pacific War Heroes)

Chilean marines, left: a gard that was at the entrance of the navy headquarters  / right: officiers

Many thousands of tourists visit Valparaíso each year. And thet have different opinions about it. The majority is impressed of its colors and do not stop taking photos from each viewpoint and from the city's labyrinth of cobbled alleys and colorful building. They admire the graffiti that fills it with art. Other - thankfully only a few - only see the dirt, the decadence and scribbles and scratches in the walls. The two points of view are  true. There are good murals and there are many scratches. There is dirt and dog shit in the streets. There are many old houses that were restored and function as boutique hotels, galleries, cafes and hostels and there are also a lot of very poor houses. Everything mixed in a colorful

View of the Yugoslavian Square in Alegre Hill, Valparaiso. Left to right: Colombina Restaurant and Hotel, Astoreca Palast Hotel and only a corner of the Baburizza Palast, Valparaiso Museum of Arts.

It is impossible to appreciate Valparaiso without knowing a little about its history and look at it with the eyes of the nostalgia, with affection and appreciation. Artists, designers, architects and poets love its 45 hills, 16 famous funiculars (formerly were about 30) and old trolley buses. It is not difficult to figure why Valparaiso is the Culture Capital of Chile, with festivals every year, and street artists and musicians. That love made the chilean poet Pablo Neruda build one of his houses in the Florida Hill. With a gorgeous view and full with collective items, it is  today the most visited museum in the city. He wrote about love, humanity, simple things and for sure, about Valparaiso:

Pablo Neruda
  VALPARAÍSO, what an absurdity you are, how crazy: a crazy port.
What a head of disheveled hills, that you never finish combing.
Never did you have time to dress yourself, and always you were surprised by life.
Death woke you up, in your nightshirt, in your long johns fringed with colors,
naked with a name tattooed on your stomach, and with a hat.
The earthquake caught you, and you ran crazedly, you broke your fingernails.
The waters and the stones, the sidewalks, the sea, the night, all were shaken.
You slept on the ground, tired from your navigation,
and the furious earth lifted its waves more tempestuous than a marine gale.
The dust covered up your eyes. The flames burned your shoes.
The solid houses of the bankers trembled like injured whales,
while above, the houses of the poor jumped into the void 
like imprisoned birds who test their wings and fall to the ground.

Soon, Valparaíso, sailor, you forget about your tears.
You return to hanging your dwellings, to painting doors green, and windows yellow.
You transform everything into a boat. You are the patched-up prow of a small brave ship.
The foamy crown of the tempest. 
Your ropes that sing and the ocean light that makes the shirts and flags tremble
with your indestructible swaying.

Dark star you are from far away.
In the height of the coast you shine and soon you surrender your hidden fire.
The rocking of your muffled alleys, the uninhibitedness of your movement,
the clarity of your seamanship.
Here I conclude this ode, Valparaíso:
so little like a destitute undershirt, hanging raggedly in your windows
rocking in the wind of the ocean, saturated with all the sorrows of your land,
receiving the dew of the seas, the kiss of the wide irritable ocean
that with all its strength beats against your stones.
It couldn’t knock you down, because within your southern chest are tattooed:
struggle, hope, solidarity and happiness like anchors that withstand the waves of the earth.

La Sebastiana. Pablo Nerudas house in Valparaiso.

 This is me during a Tour sketching Pablo Neruda´s House LA SEBASTIANA while the tourists visited the house.
Behind me the view to the sea.

I love Valparaiso. I dream that there is a future and that the recovery that began over the past 15 years continues. I like that feeling of spaciousness that I have when I walk its hills. I like its ancient cemeteries with its history and calm. I like the fact that there are no right angles in Valparaiso, that every corner has interesting angles and multiple shapes to draw. It is not necessary to search for composition, it is already there. Each location offers the perfect setting for a sketch or a watercolor. It is no doubt one of the best cities for drawing in Chile.
Casa Crucero y Bavestrello Building. An example of the interesting sketching views in Valparaiso.





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