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".
Blog
Flickr

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

Pruning Grape Vines with Vince


 [By Richard Sheppard in Calistoga, California]  Vince Tofanelli is one of the founding members of our wine group. His family’s vineyard is located in Calistoga, California and he farms and sells most of the grapes to local wineries but retains about 20% of the crop for his own label, Tofanelli Family Vineyard. The 40 acre farm is a field blend of primarily Zinfandel and Charbono. Today I was invited to learn how Vince prunes his vineyard.

I drive onto Vince’s property, parking beneath a row of trees.
I call Vince on his cell phone and answers, “Hey Richard!”
“Where are you?” I ask.
“See the orange tractor in the middle of the vineyard?”
“Yep.”
“Walk toward it, then follow the sound of my chainsaw.”
Chainsaw? What would Vince be doing in his vineyard with a chainsaw? I walk along a dirt road dividing the vineyard in two sections until I reach the orange tractor. Mustard is in full bloom and with the help of the warm sun, the air smells sweet. Hearing the unmistakable revving sound, I turn to my left and see Vince crouching over a vine. With a quick downward motion, he lops off a cordon. 

“What are you doing?”
Vince looks at me with a half grin and says, “I’m vine sculpting! Seriously though, this cordon was in the way of my tractor so I sawed it off. It’s necessary to make adjustments in the vineyard from time to time.”
“But with a chain saw?”
“Actually, some vines enter a new growth phase once they’re cut. These old, head-pruned Zin vines can get sleepy, even lazy, and cutting can wake them up to produce more fruit. The younger vines don’t seem to need it. So if I cut a young vine, like this one, it’s only because it’s blocking my tractor.”
“How do you decide where to prune?” I ask.
“After many years I’ve come up with a formula. I start pruning on February 15 and finish before March 15. After the middle of March, the buds are softening and will soon open regardless of pruning.

“Let me show you how this is done. This is a head pruned vine with cordons growing directly off the main trunk. The canes that grow off the cordons are pruned back very short, creating spurs. Later, buds will grow off of those spur ends. It’s important to only allow two buds to remain at each spur. Any extra buds are removed, a process called suckering.
“To balance the energy of the plant, it’s necessary to limit the amount of shoots the vine produces. Too many shoots take away from the vine’s ability to ripen its crop. But by limiting the amount of shoots, and subsequently the fruit, the workload has been lightened, and the vine’s canopy of leaves reduced for increased light and airflow. I get more complexity in the remaining grapes.”

While watching Vince prune, I’m impressed with the amount of thought and care that goes into the process. He must consider each individual vine’s unique growth pattern. Vince has so much of himself in this vineyard, no doubt he’s influenced every aspect of these vines’ growth.

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