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

Exploring the Cinque Terre by boat

[Guest Post by Phil McDonel in Italy] One of the most memorable excursions my wife and I have taken in Italy was our sea adventure in the Cinque Terre region last September.

The Cinque Terre (The Five Lands) are the five villages that have been clinging to the rugged cliffs of the northern Mediterranean coastline for centuries. The villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernazza, Corniglia and Monterosso have survived on fishing, wine, and tourism. Many come to hike the nearby Sentiero Azzurro (Blue Path), part of the National Park that surrounds the villages.

No cars are allowed in any of the narrow ancient streets of the villages and everyone either takes the local train, the ferry or walks.

My wife and I arrived in Vernazza, by train, on a warm and humid day. I promised her that I would only sketch for an hour each day so we could spend the rest of our time together. Although I stretched that promise on more than one occasion in this incredibly scenic and sketch-worthy area.

We stayed in possibly the most beautiful of the five villages, Vernazza, with its 13th-century Church of Santa Margherita d'Antiochia and the large Piazza Marconi by the ocean (image at the top of the page).

From the window of our rented house, we could see the Mediterranean sea from one side and the convent (or monastery) from the other. I found out later that the group of small buildings at the top of the hill were part of the carefully maintained local cemetery.

Of course we had to explore the other villages and the best (and most fun) way was to hop on one of the ferry boats as they darted up and down the coastline every 15 to 20 minutes.

First stop was the tiny village of Manarola. When the ferry pulled into port, I couldn’t believe the view! How did this community manage to build so many houses along that rocky cliff? And to think, some of these these dwellings have managed to survive cliffside for 700 years. I spent about 2 hours trying to capture this gorgeous view of the sea, the cliffs and the colorful buildings. I was fortunate enough that my lovely and patient wife let me sit along the trail that winds away from the village and sketch this remarkable view while she walked further on.

Next stop Riomaggiore. We spent about half an hour in the village and I was just able to get a quick sketch of the town before our ferry arrived and we were on our way to our last stop.

Porto Venere, a larger village that should have been included into the Cinque Terre, but was left out somehow, maybe because it’s bigger and easier to get to.

Fortified by a hearty lunch in Porto Venere we capped off the afternoon with a ferry ride back to home base. Vernazza is at its most magical and relaxing in the evening. After a scrumptious seafood dinner “al fresco,” we strolled the seaside piazza and down to the wharf where the fishing boats bobbed in the little harbor. Wrapped in the intoxicating warmth of the evening we chattered excitedly about our amazing day.

Phil McDonel is a retired art director, graphic designer and freelance illustrator. Most of his work was in advertising, direct mail and package design. Nowadays, he spends as much time as possible sketching, painting and making art. Oh, and he loves urban sketching.





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