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

Personal Trainers Hate this Sketcher - How to lose weight by drawing!

[By Marc Taro Holmes in Montreal, CA]

Like many professional artists, I'm about 20 pounds heavier than I ought to be.

I think that's normal for anyone with a desk job. And being an artist and blogger is definitely a desk job. I probably do seven hours at the computer for every one drawing.

Oh, I have more excuses too: we were doing a lot of travel last year - that's always detrimental to proper diet. And I did all the artwork for my recent digital-art book this summer. That was a lot of butt-in-chair-time. To make matters worse, it's the holiday season with all the celebratory eating that entails.

To that end, I've recently completed a 1 week (7 day) experiment in tracking sketchwalks.

My goal was daily walks of 10 thousands steps, interspersed with motivational drawings of whatever I encounter along the way.

Spend any time reading about fitness-for-the-un-sporty, and you've probably heard this 10 thousand steps rule. A magic number that began with the Japanese Manpo-Kei "10,000 step meter" and later adopted by the Fitbits and Nike Fuelband wearables. Both of which I have tried, and either broken, lost, or lost interest in maintaining.

This is definitely one of my odd-ball ideas. Only valuable to a very niche audience. You have to be someone like me who resents any time spent doing exercise - because of the time it takes away from drawing!

I have to admit, I got this idea from playing Pokemon Go. A game which is designed for this very thing - to get gamers to invest in exercise, by giving them a game that rewards walking. I actually prefer Niantic Studios' grown-up version; a game called Ingress.

The main thing you need for this idea - is time. About an hour a day for the sketch walk. Maybe a bit less if you're a brisk walker.

Gear wise, it's just a matter of a pocket-sized sketchbook and a couple of basic pens - my usual minimum: a fine nib and a brush pen.

Painting your sketches should be optional. A bad idea even, as it's a distraction from the main point of MORE WALKING.

Mostly the drawings should be as simple as possible. I would ask Siri for a 7 minute timer while I dug out my pens, and I'd accept whatever I could draw in that time window. I could see right away, if I didn't use the timer - and limit myself to line drawing - I'd end up over my one hour-ish time-allotment.

Maybe in summer I'll try this with 7 minute watercolors. About 1/3 of the time I spent on my miniature marathon sketches. That would be a challenge :)

To keep score: I've been using a pedometer app to count steps. [Pacer, free on iOS].

The app works on older iPhones (like mine) lacking the improved motion tracking in the iPhone 5s or better. It has all the expected features - a graph of your daily step count, little motivational messages to cheer you on, and/or yell at you when it doesn't detect enough activity.

In order to get visual feedback, I've been using a custom google map to record a GPS position for each sketch. I just drop a map pin at my location, and upload a cellphone shot of the drawing to the map pin's custom description. It would be nice if there was an easier way - after all, your phone can geo-locate a photo automatically - but I couldn't find a simple way to covert my Places album into a shareable map. Any geeks out there know a solution?

What I do like about google maps is the potential to collaborate with other sketchers. If anyone really loves this idea - why not message me and I'll give you editing permissions on the map. If we are both adding pins we might stick with it longer!

Yes, I had to stop by the grocery store and sketch the lobsters. I never get tired of drawing lobsters.

So yes, after seven days, here's my results:
  • I've taken 50K steps I would not have otherwise taken,
  • Not quite reaching the daily 10k goal, but giving a respectable effort.
  • I went outside seven days in a row (ish - not counting Christmas day).
  • I filled 42 pages, finishing the 3.5x5.5" Beta Softcover Sketchbook I cracked open for my recent night-crawl with the Expeditionary Art palette.
  • And, for the month of December, I've netted no change in weight. Not as good as losing, but still beating the historical odds!
  • I call that a successful test.
And, I'm serious - fun as this was, I probably won't stick with it - unless someone else wants to do it with me :) Drop me a line, and we can see about holding each other accountable.





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