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

Barrel Tasting at Pedroncelli Winery

[By Richard Sheppard in Geyserville, California] One of Sonoma County’s most popular wine events here in Northern California is Barrel Tasting Weekend. On the first two weekends in March, more than 20,000 tasters converge upon the Healdsburg area to sample young wines right out of the barrel. One may also purchase wine “futures,” thereby speculating on upcoming releases. The discounts are hard to pass up, and many limited-release wines sell out even before they’re bottled.
I love Barrel Tasting time as it affords the perfect opportunity to meet winemakers, cellar masters, and winery owners, who are available to provide an insider’s view of the winemaking world not often available to the public.
Saturday morning, my wife Marilyn and I follow Canyon Road uphill from Geyserville toward Pedroncelli Winery. After passing through a stretch of moss-covered oaks, leafless rows of knotted vines flow wavelike over hills into the valley below.
When we reach the Pedroncelli sign, we turn right and park beside a vineyard. Family member Ed St. John, standing before the outdoor greeting table, addresses me along with five other newly arrived visitors, handing each of us a tasting glass. He invites our small group on a mini tour of the grounds.
During Prohibition, John Pedroncelli and his family purchased this then-defunct winery. At the time, commercial winemaking was illegal, but Mr. Pedroncelli planned to sell grapes to home winemakers, a legal practice. Long after repeal, John’s winemaker son — also named John — joined his father, and a few years later, Jim, another son, became sales manager. In the early 1960s, the brothers bought out their dad. Fifty years later, and with the help of third, and now fourth generation Pedroncellis, the winery continues as family owned.

Our group filters into the barrel room for tasting, where we watch octogenarian John Pedroncelli extracting from the barrel using a wine thief. The long open glass tube, tapered at one end, is lowered into the barrel and the thumb is used to cover the top opening. Take the thumb away and the wine in the tube flows into the taster’s glass. I’m poured a taste of a young Cabernet Sauvignon, blended with Cabernet Franc. I swirl my glass to draw in air and release aromas. The wine tastes full-bodied and leaves a velvety texture in my mouth.
“This Cabernet has been aging for 12 months,” John tells our group, “and will probably spend another month or two in the barrel before bottling and release.”

After the wine tasting, I ask for advice on a good place to picnic and sketch. John says the two small hills to the north provide the best views.
Once outside, Marilyn and I climb a low hill, passing through chamomile and mustard flowers, to find a clear space in the shade of an oak. Lunch is simple fare: goat cheese, crackers, thinly sliced turkey, and fragrant orange slices.
With the Dry Creek Valley visible in the near distance, we listen to laughing tasters make their way in and out of the winery below. After savoring a square of chocolate, I sketch the winery, stopping to watch a ladybug crawl across my sketchbook.





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