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

Life Stories - Pushing Your Sketching Boundaries in Bristol on June.

Contact: for information and a registration form.

Bristol, in the heart of South West England, has a distinctive identity as sustainable city - it has earned European Green Capital status and has a vibrant art, cultural and social scene.
Whilst preparing this workshop we approached various groups in Bristol to engage with their work and their approach of creating a better social environment and we have teamed with the Brandon Trust, a local charity supporting adults and children with learning disabilities and autism. Specifically, we will be based at Elm Tree Farm, a social enterprise enabling people  with learning disabilities and autism to gain working skills and access employment.  
We are going to tell their Life Story as well as discovering each others.
Elm Tree Farm, situated in Stapleton, has a variety of livestock, a farm shop, a market garden, a plant nursery and a wood workshop. We will be based at the farm during the mornings and early afternoons and divide in groups to discover the various aspect of their activities, they will tell us they stories, welcome our questions and also participate and ask us about ourselves.  We will sketch their normal activities, as they are gardening or working in various activities whilst trying out the challenges posed by each of the tutors.
In the late afternoon, we will go into Bristol and discuss our experiences of the day and continue drawing in the urban setting.  We have booked a space to gather in the Stokes Croft area of Bristol - Cafe Kino where in the first day we will have an introductory talk by Len Grant on his personal experience on projects involving local communities, such as Sown in Bolton.
As part of the workshop we will put together an exhibition of our work, while the course is in progress, at cafe Kino, and later (preliminary date is September 2017) we will help the Elm Tree Farm put an exhibition together of the stories we told at the Farm, in their own environment.

Discover, talk while you paint and draw (Isabel)

Drawing people in action and intimately is a journey of discovery, a conversation, finding out while you draw them, listening what they have to tell as much as the difficulties of the drawing.  We will work in colour initially setting up the scene and the people who tell us the story at the same time as we talk to them.

Starting with colour (in watercolour or your prefered media) we abstract what we see. Drawing will take place later either with more colour more linear marks or with pen if preferred. Because we are discovering and finding out loads of information, we will learn to synthesize, pick up those points that interest us, record them and remember them while drawing them

The process will help participants to think about a sketch from the general (capturing the general picture in colour in blocks) to the particular (adding detail and focus gradually).
As well as capturing the people, and the action, we will spend time in their setting, looking at the outcome of their work and  bringing it all together with text and note taking.

“Talk, listen, watch, draw” (Miguel)

The main topic of this workshop is storytelling in general but also in particular about the work and life at Elm Tree Farm.
First, we will work out how to give the sensation of space depth without surroundings, using only the people and objects whose actions interest us.  Next, we will experiment how to make the surroundings play the main role and the people be simply decoration but not as just still images but as characters in the story we tell.

Then we will work on live composition as the opposite of still composition. This means not only paying attention to color weights and line balance, but also to what the actors (either people and environment as we saw on the first part) do or see or pretend to. We will learn how this interpretation can be underlined with the way we display them in our drawing. We also experiment on how framing or cutting parts of the drawing can be a very strong tool to add interest and drama, to our story. Our tool for this part will be vignettes as in a comic strip, so composition is important to tell our story.

Finally, we will work with sequence, and how to tell a little story/reportage of what happens around us, trying to capture some of the everyday stories that happen before our eyes on a tale using some of the cinema and comic techniques for this aim.  We will look at the activities and day and day tasks at Elm Farm and see how we can break them into small actions and sequences that can tell their story effectively. Our sequences will focus a part of the story or another and can change the meaning of what we tell significantly. Loads to think about.

WE, the storytellers (Swasky)

When thinking about drawing and telling stories, it always comes to my mind those old storytellers who went from village to  village with big signs full with little illustrations. I consider   our role as storytellers, we tell stories which are around us, from our daily life and from the places we visit.

My approach to a place that I want to draw and I want to capture is  normally the same but with little subtleties which  express the difference of the particular place. First of all, I try to feel which is the common thread that links to my own experience, to my daily life. I choose something which touches my heart and catches my interest.

6 or 10 seconds sketch. Starting up our approach to draw people.

People is the most important thing related to any place like Elm Tree Farm. This is why we are going to follow their activities and try to find out their feelings and stories. Based on portraits, interviews and drawing people we will tell the stories which are behind such a great project.

These are the examples of what we are going to do. Here there are two double spread which follow the same structure. Nevertheless this is just the starting point to work how to mix action and interview.
Capturing the action of an accumulation of moments and then add the portrait

Having the opportunity of being in front of someone who give you the opportunity of chatting is a great moment to portrait and find out more details about that person. Slowly, we learn from the conversation we are having things we may not have expected and they can enrich our drawing and story to give a fuller reporting of their personality and activity.

Time as always, it is a question of time. We all have questions. Now is the moment to feed our curiosity.

Learning goals

  • Pushing participants out of their comfort zone, at their own level. From beginners starting to sketch to more confident participants, we aim to teach you something new and push you outside your boundaries, helping you experiment.
  • Losing the fear to draw people
  • Focusing on people, context and the story underneath.
  • Learning to interview people and tell their story
  • Reportage and collecting in drawn form what you want to express
  • Experiment with different techniques and ways of approaching a live sketch situation, helping you find your own self expression.
  • Using and trying different approaches - line drawing with pens and pencils,watercolours and colour in different media.
  • Using more colour and texture and making you think about how do you represent what you see and to develop your own way of representing what you see in colour with confidence

Workshop location

Bristol , UK


Introduction evening Wed 21st June
Course sketching dates  Thursday 22nd, Fri 23rd and Sat 24th June 2017 We will run an sketchcrawl in central Bristol with all the local Bristol/South West Urban Sketchers group on Sunday 25th June


(Be as specific as possible, i.e. 3 hours on a Saturday morning, from 9 a.m. to noon; or,three consecutive Friday afternoons, from 6 to 9 p.m.)

Each day 9.30 am – 6:30pm

Workshop Schedule

Wednesday 21 June
Welcome at Cafe Kino  in our meeting space , from 4:30 to 7pm with a talk by Len Grant

Thursday 22 June
9:00 to 10:00 Welcome at Elm Tree Farm at our base- Induction talk by the Brandon Trust team at 9:30
10 am -12pm Isa, Miguel and Swasky workshops
12pm - 1.00pm Lunch

1.00pm - 3.00pm Isa, Miguel and Swasky workshops
3.00pm -3.30pm Review and tea at our base at Elm Tree Farm
3:30 to 4:15 Make our way to cafe Kino
4:15 to 6:15 Sketchbook session - bring it all together at cafe Kino

Friday 23 June
9:30 to 10:00 Gather at our base at Elm Tree Farm
10 am-12pm Isa, Miguel and Swasky workshops
12 pm- 1.00pm Lunch
1.00pm - 3.00pm Isa, Miguel and Swasky workshops
3.00pm -3.30pm Review and tea at our base at Elm Tree Farm
3:30 to 4:15 Make our way to cafe Kino
4:15 to 6:15 Sketchbook session - bring it all together at cafe Kino

Saturday 24 June
9:30 to 10:00 Gather at our base at Elm Tree Farm
10 am-12pm Isa, Miguel and Swasky workshops
12 pm- 1.00pm Lunch
1.00pm - 3.00pm Isa, Miguel and Swasky workshops
3.00pm -3.30pm Review and tea at our base at Elm Tree Farm
3:30 to 4:15 Make our way to cafe Kino
4:15 to 6:15 Sketchbook session - bring it all together at cafe Kino

Sunday 25 June
10.00pm -5.00pm Sketchcrawl in Bristol - USk Bristol/South West will join us

Maximum number of participants

Max 30 people
Any level of experience

Minimum number of participants

18 people

Supply list

A list will be provided for participants - generally bring what you normally draw with.

Registration fee

£ 225 - (£180 concessions - 20% discount for students or unwaged (with proof of concession status))

To book: e-mail: for a registration form

Cancellation policy: All fees are fully refundable if cancelled prior to 29th May 2017. If cancelled after 29 May, a £25 cancellation fee (30 Euros) will be retained. In the event of too few registrants, all monies will be refunded.

About the instructors and guest speaker

Isabel is Spanish but studied in UK where she practices as an architect and artist. Her passion is watercolour, easy to carry around and sketch on the go and likes experimenting and mixing media to get interesting effects. Isabel started sketching in 1993 as part of her architecture training and continues to this day. She joined Urban Sketchers Spain in 2011.  As an artist she is part of West Berkshire and North Hampshire Open Studios scheme and joined the Oxford Printmakers Cooperative in 2013.

Miguel. After a long career as advertising creative in Spain and Italy, Miguel becomes a freelance illustrator a few years ago. Working all day with digital media drove him back towards the live touch of the sketchbook that had finally grown to become his main medium of expression.

Swasky born and raised in Barcelona, Swasky has been drawing most of his lifetime, but when he finished his BFA he left drawing because he tried to start working. Then he decided to start again a degree in Audiovisual Communication. Once he fulfill his second degree he worked in an advertising production company, RCR, disappointed with a job so stressful and invidious he left his job and run a shop. With a new life he started drawing again.  

Len Grant (Guest speaker) :
Following an unrewarding stint in sales and marketing Len launched himself as a photographer over 25 years ago and subsequently added writing and sketching to his repertoire.
He’s a keen member of the Manchester Urban Sketchers and has taught on the 2016 Urban Sketchers Symposium and at local workshops.
For a variety of non-profit clients Len now uses sketching as a story-telling technique often with vulnerable subjects or in low income neighbourhoods.  





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