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 March 2017

USk Mumbai Participates in Major Exhibition

by Lauren Peterson

When the organizers of a group show of up-and-coming artists in Mumbai wanted to add something different to their exhibit, they reached out to USk Mumbai. “They have never had artists who wanted to display sketches,” says USk Mumbai member Samuel Ribeiro.

The event was held at the Prince of Wales Museum in Mumbai from January 27-29. The museum, one of the most significant in India, showcases approximately 50,000 exhibits of art, sculpture, and artifacts, and attracts large crowds.

To prepare for the event, Ribeiro says they formed a team who carefully curated the sketches that were submitted to ensure they all followed USk guidelines. The end result was a display of 60 sketches from 14 different sketchers. On the last day of the exhibition, some members gave a short talk on Urban Sketching, and others spoke about their experiences.

The event was well-attended and 3 of the sketches were sold. This group, which was organized a little more than a year ago, found the exhibit provided another perk–a spike in new members to the USk Mumbai Facebook group.

Meet Alvin Wong

Videos of presenter lectures from the 2016 Symposium are now available on our website. Click HERE to view lectures by Alvin Wong, Mark Leibowitz, Lynne Chapman and more.


Bring a Workshop to Your Chapter

Meet Suhita Shirodkar

Urban Sketchers organizes workshops in collaboration with USk chapters around the world from Barcelona to New York. These workshops are taught by our top instructors: great teachers such as Suhita Shirodkar, Don Low, Liz Steel and more! If you would like to bring an official USk workshop to your chapter, email our Education Director, Mario Linhares at


10 Years 10 Classes

To celebrate our 10th anniversary, the Education Committee launched the 10x10 Program. Twenty-six cities from around the world are participating (so far) each committing to organize 10 classes. We want to see as many people sketching as possible!

Click HERE to participate in a class near you.

If your regional chapter would like to participate in the 10x10 program, it’s not too late! Contact Mário Linhares at

New USk Chapters

The following four new USk chapters have been approved by the Board bringing the total number of USk chapters to 183. Welcome to the Urban Sketchers community!

Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteer Fundraising Team Members: 

USk is seeking volunteer team members to help fundraise. We are looking for people who can help negotiate Symposium sponsorships, organize grant writing, and set up tracking studies. We need help from everywhere, but would appreciate representation of volunteers in Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and South America. Please contact Joel Berman:

Volunteer Grant Writer: 

The Fundraising Committee is looking for volunteer Grant Writers to help prepare applications for funding provided by an institution such as a government department, corporation, foundation or trust. Experience with foundations preferred. You are detail-oriented, enjoy doing some online research and have excellent written communication skills. 4-10 hours/month. To apply email a cv and letter of interest to Joel Berman

Congratulations 2017 Symposium Scholarship Winners!

Urban Sketchers is delighted to announce that the following candidates have been selected for a scholarship to the 8th International Urban Sketching Symposium in Chicago:

  • Andrew Cardenas
  • Elizabeth Cisneros Tlaxcala
  • Hero See
  • Jeanne Tapia
  • Johnathan Morris
  • Lex Artis
  • Mac Carey
  • Manuel Hernandez
  • Megan De Paula
  • Michelle Patino
This is the seventh year Urban Sketchers is able to offer Symposium scholarships to local artists. The applicants were selected based on their demonstrated interest in sketching, portfolios, and letter of motivation. Please join us in congratulating them!

See you in Chicago!

Better Late than Never

Better late than never, as the saying goes. There are now less than 20 workshop passes available for the 2017 Symposium! To purchase a workshop pass click HERE.

We're very excited with the feedback we have received about the symposium!


USk Blog Now Publishing Group Posts

by Mark Leibowitz

The USk blog is now publishing group posts. That is, a collection of sketches and stories on a theme by a group.

“An important part of the Editorial Team’s mission,” said team member Tina Koyama “is to showcase the good work urban sketchers produce around the globe. To that end, we occasionally curate a group post around a single theme or location and include the work of several sketchers. A recent example about the Lunar New Year, called Year of the Rooster Dawns with Color, featured 31 sketchers on five continents, which told a remarkable story about how this event is celebrated worldwide. The result was a much richer story than would be possible in a post from a single individual or location.”

Following the ever-growing USk Regional Admins Google group, editorial team member Marcia Milner-Brage said, “I thought, this is something we need to tap into. We want to emphasize the interconnectedness of our burgeoning movement. We decided to develop guidelines for creating group posts and invited regional USk administrators to participate. We look forward to seeing what the regional groups put together.”

Click HERE to learn more about the guidelines for a group post.


One Week 100 People 2017From March 6-10, 2017, urban sketchers Marc Taro Holmes (Montreal, CA) and Liz Steel (Sydney, AUS) invite the world to join in a new challenge: #OneWeek100People2017.

The simple goal is draw: 100 people in one week.

Mark and Liz are committing to draw about 20 people a day. They’ll be posting their work on their own blogs every day for the week of March 6-10. If you want to join in, use the hashtag #OneWeek100People2017 and everyone can find your work too!

It’s a big commitment. But you can do it! The goal is practice. Not perfection.

For more details about this great new challenge click HERE.

Our Condolences

Mr. Yip was one of the earliest members of Urban Sketchers Hong Kong, and had always been a very active member. He contributed many wonderful sketches of Hong Kong and abroad. 

Mr. Yip’s sketches are lively, cheerful and full of passion. He will be sadly missed. Mr. Yip passed away on February 5, 2017. Mr. Yip is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter. He was 72.

Urban Sketchers would like to express our deepest condolences at the passing of Mr. Fat S Yip.


Creating Your Story with Marina Grechanik

By Meagan Burns

Meet Urban Sketcher and professional illustrator Marina Grechanik, currently living in Israel, but born in Belorussia. Marina is a graduate of the Art Academy in Minsk, founder of USk Israel, and was invited by USk founder Gabi Campanario to be one of the original correspondents when he launched the blog in 2007. She has been an active USk instructor over the years, teaching workshops in Lisbon and Manchester. Marina’s daily life includes her sketchbook wherever she goes in order to tell the story of her daily work and family life.

Whether you consciously say it or not, the big question when you’re about to start a sketch is, what do I want to say and how can I best say it. Marina teaches students to examine the thing that made them pause and take out their sketchbooks. The catch is that many sketchers know how to create professional drawings that are technically perfect, but lack emotion. How will you add emotion to tell your story and create interest? If it doesn’t touch you as a creator, there’s little chance it will touch your audience.

In Marina’s workshop, the first question is how do you see your reality? She offers a series of exercises which challenge students to work fast, to get in touch with their gut feelings, and to focus on the emotional side of sketching. These exercises bump the student out of his comfort zone in order to create a visual story with his drawings. It’s not about correct drawings, it’s about visual storytelling.

Marina reminds us that urban sketching is more about process, and less about results. Enjoy the journey and don’t worry about “nice” drawings. Look around as if you are a tourist in your own city or even in your own house. Dare to tell your story, even if it looks unimportant or stupid.

If you are a beginner sketcher, here are some of Marina’s helpful tips:

1. Start a sketchbook and draw every day 2. Experiment with new tools 3. Break the rules 4. Move out of your comfort zone 5. Make mistakes 6. Don’t look for step-by step instructions 7. Don’t care about results 8. Remember that practice makes perfect 9. Tell a story 10. Enjoy the process, play and have fun!

Click HERE to see Marina’s 2016 Symposium Notes.

Click HERE For information about Marina’s upcoming workshops and sketching schedule.

Fun and Games with Marc Taro Holmes

by Brenda Murray

Urban Sketcher Marc Taro Holmes (Montreal) is a Canadian art director and concept designer in the entertainment industry who graduated from the Alberta College of Art and Design in 1995. Marc has been urban sketching and blogging his artwork since 2006.

Marc designed a sketching card game for his workshop at the 2016 Symposium in Manchester called the Site Sketching Deck. Each participant randomly selects a card from a deck that instructs the sketcher to sketch a view, object, or area nearby.

“Often it happens that groups of sketchers all draw the same thing in a workshop,” Marc explains. “But with this deck of cards, it guarantees complete coverage of an area. At the end of the assignment the entire area is covered. In theory you could document a place in an hour if you had enough people.”

At the 2016 Symposium, Marc held his workshop in the Manchester Museum which was ideal because it was raining.

Each card in the deck is illustrated with one of Marc’s beautiful sketches. The PDF for the deck of cards can be downloaded HERE.

“This card game is ideal for large sketching groups,” he said. “When you spread out all the drawings, there’s the magic.”

To learn more about Marc, follow his blog.


Joint Meet Up in South Africa

by Lauren McVittie

Fishing boats, seagulls and seals were some of the sights captured at a sketching event in Kalk Bay, near Cape Town, South Africa on February 12.

Three sketching groups came together to enjoy the scenery: Stellenbosch Urban Sketchers, Cape Town Urban Sketchers and The Western Cape Arts Society.Stellenbosch Urban Sketchers has been a registered group for 18 months, but has been sketching together for two and a half years. They organize sketch crawls at least once a month and sometimes cross-pollinate by joining sketching events hosted by the other sketching groups.
“I find that within our groups we have sketchers of varying levels of proficiency--from beginners to real professional artists, but nobody feels intimidated. Some sketchers just enjoy the "me-time" away as much as the sketching!” said Fawa Conradie, the administrator of Urban Sketchers Stellenbosch.


Meet Urban Sketchers México City

By Pedro Loureiro
México City is one of the most populous cities in the world. Of course, there would have to be an Urban Sketchers Chapter there. They’ve been around since April 2010 although they’ve only become an official chapter since June 2016.

The sketchers in México City are from all walks of life. Archaeologists, doctors and even a petrochemical engineer regularly attend the monthly sketching gatherings in and around the Mexican capital. Three of the four group admins – Monserrat, Brian and Alejandro – are architects, and their young age makes for a very dynamic group.

USk México City gets a lot of new people through their use of social media which the Argentina and Chile USk Chapters helped them set up. Last October this chapter was happy to accept the challenge to organize a sketching marathon, during the Abierto Mexicano de Diseño. This international design festival aims to bring design closer to the community.

“We’re focused on growing and attracting more people” Alejandro explains, so this event was an important landmark, as they were exposed to an attentive audience.

The group closed the year with a different sketch meeting, at the prehispanic archeological site of Teotihuacan, which is Nahuatl for “The City of the Gods”. This is the most important and largest city of pre-Aztec central Mexico located about 30 miles (50 km) northeast of México City.

Monserrat explains that “in México City there are many interesting and diverse things to sketch in a very short distance, like an ancient palace, a modern building, or a classic salon”. But when people started asking about going sketching in more remote locations, “the admin team realized it was up to them to get people to meet in certain archaeological locations or magical villages nearby.”

The admin team organized a bus trip from the city to Teotihuacan. Around 15 sketchers gathered in the monumental city of the gods. They sketched by the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon, then along the Avenue of the Dead and finally in the Ciudadela and the Temple of Quetzalcoatl.

“We were glad, as always” said Alejandro “to capture the attention of the people around. When people see that something is important for you, they start paying more attention to the places or events that surround them, and then we all start appreciating more of our culture and traditions”. People are usually friendly and sometimes they even end up asking how much the sketches cost.

Urban Sketchers México is unique, Brian says because they have a small, yet easy to see bright yellow sketchbook that doubles as a meeting point. “We call it the community sketchbook” Alejandre adds. “Whenever someone new turns up, they have to sketch in the book”. There are already some 30 pages packed with sketches, all from different people, even from abroad.

Urban Sketchers México call their activities dinámicas, and that’s just the perfect word to describe this young, dynamic group. If you’re ever in México City, be sure to add a sketch to their community sketchbook.

Click here to see a special message from USk Mexico City:


New Kid on the Block–Urban Sketchers Gran Canaria

by Ann Schwartzwald 

There's a new kid on the block–Urban Sketchers Gran Canaria, Spain! Gran Canaria, part of Spain since the time of Ferdinand and Isabella, is a volcanic island in the Atlantic about 150 km off the coast of southern Morocco. It's about 50 km in diameter, with very different landscapes and climates, beaches, mountains, volcanoes, and lots of warm sun. It has many beautiful natural environments to visit and draw. There are also lovely towns, villages and beaches filled with people for those who enjoy lively, colorful communities for sketching.

“We started drawing as a group on January 21, 2012, during the 34th SketchCrawl,” said Admin Pedro Villarrubia. “That day we gathered 8 sketchers, including my daughter, who was 10 years old then. The idea of creating a group on Facebook and requesting recognition as a Regional Chapter of Urban Sketchers began in July 2016, after seeing that USK-Lanzarot, another nearby group, had succeeded. Lanzarote is another Canary Island 200 miles from Gran Canaria.

USk Gran Canaria has 47 members, but so far have never all met together. Sketch events usually bring out between 6 to12 people. They have been meeting about once a month, sometimes more, and include a wide variety of locations.

“We like to sketch everything: beach, city, cars, people,” Pedro enthusiastically reports. “Lately we have drawn popular festivals from different villages of the island. People gather to dance, to eat and the houses and landscapes are very nice to draw.”

They have been visited by Nina Johansson and urban sketchers from other Spanish groups such as USK Málaga.

The chapter is looking forward to sketching at the Carnival of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria which runs February 10 to March 5. It is the most important festival of the city, and is one of the best Carnival celebrations in Spain.

In March, two members will sketch with USK Lanzarote, a very dynamic group of urban sketchers. Pedro has drawn with them before, and some of them have come to draw in Gran Canaria, but it will be the first official joint meeting as Regional Chapters of the Canary Islands.

Pedro says the new Urban Sketchers group is “very grateful that you have noticed our group. We are still starting and have a hard time getting together many urban sketchers, but those of us who are going, I can assure you, enjoy sharing our different visions and drawings.”

Sounds like another vibrant group of urban sketchers, sharing their world, one sketch at a time!


Parka Reviews

by 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 video reviews Kor-I-Noor Magic Pencils. Check it out!


More Ways to Connect with Urban Sketchers

You’re reading this because you’ve discovered our newsletter, Drawing Attention. But did you know that Urban Sketchers also has its own Youtube channel? There you will find videos of many of your favourite instructors and videos made by USk chapters around the world.

You could also check out the USk Facebook page where the organization posts stories and sketches and news. Want to see sketches from urban sketchers worldwide? Our USk Facebook group is very active with 54,000+ active members and a steady stream of amazing sketches!
Not a Facebook person? You might enjoy joining the USk Flickr group where you will find lots of beautiful sketches by our 9,737 followers and themes to challenge you.

You will also find lots to read and retweet on our USk Twitter account. We now have 10.7k followers!

Lots of urban sketchers (112k in fact) connect with us via Instagram.

Of course, the best way to connect to Urban Sketches is to find a local chapter and join in a sketching event. Click HERE to find a chapter near you.


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

Drawing Attention Mandate

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.

Share your Chapter’s news with our Readers

Contact us to share your chapter’s news, special events, joint meetups, and exhibitions with our readers. You don’t need to write the story yourself. We will assign a writer to cover your story.

Thanks to this month’s Drawing Attention contributors:
Writers and contributors: Managing Editor, Brenda Murray; writer, Meagan Burns; writer, Ann Schwartzwald; writer, Lauren Peterson; writer, Lauren McVittie; writer, Mark Leibowitz;  contributor, Parka; writer, Pedro Louriero; writer and website layout, Joann Sondy; Mailchimp layout, Suzi Briggs.

To subscribe to Drawing Attention click HERE.

Drawing Attention circulation 5033 (March 2017)

Urban Sketchers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering the art of on-location drawing. Consider making a donation today. Click HERE to make your tax-deductible contribution via Paypal.




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