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

Two Aussies in the Shaky Isles

[By Chris Haldane in New Zealand] Recently, Liz Steel and I had a memorable holiday driving around the south east corner of New Zealand, which has been nicknamed 'The Shaky Isles' by Aussies because of its frequent seismic activity.

You can imagine the chats we had! It was wonderful to travel with someone who doesn’t think you’re weird when you say things like, ‘Do you think that sky is cerulean or ultra?” or “Is there a touch of yellow in that cloud?”

Our trip began in Christchurch, where a huge earthquake caused massive damage in 2011. Nothing had prepared us for the devastation that is still evident in the city six years after the event. Life is gradually returning to the central business district, but it was actually in lockdown for a year after the quake.

There are still many buildings boarded up, vacant lots where damaged buildings have been razed to the ground, and shipping containers still used to prop up facades and protect pedestrians. That's earthquake-damaged Christchurch Cathedral at the top which lost its spire, part of its tower, and its western wall, which collapsed in the 2011 quake.

Shipping containers propping up an historic facade

A complete contrast was my visit to Breedenbroek Gardens, just outside Christchurch, a truly delightful spot that seemed worlds away from the earthquake damage.

Breedenbroek Gardens

Heading south we stopped in Oamaru, a small historical town that retains its Victorian character. We enjoyed drawing the beautiful limestone warehouses, despite bitter winds and freezing rain which were truly a test of our urban sketchers’ grit and determination to sketch on location!

Grains and Seed Merchants Store doorway, Oamaru

Further down the coast we called into fascinating Curio Bay with its remains of a fossil forest that they say dates back to the Jurassic period. We were lucky to be there at low tide, when the stumps of the trees rise above water level, creating a unique landscape indeed.

Fossil forest at Curio Bay

That afternoon gave us a good laugh as we looked for the town of Haldane that I’d seen on two maps, and thought MUST be named after someone from my family. Well… it seems that these days it is more like just a bus shelter for one, a house and a couple of shearing sheds. That’s it! But at least I got to paint one of my favourite subjects: a rusty shearing shed.

Old barn at Haldane

I wanted to go to the port of Bluff on the southernmost tip of the South Island, despite the driving rain and wind that had really whipped up, with the cold sweeping up from Antarctica across the eerie grey-green seas, and the forecast saying 'feels like 4 degrees'… Yes, that’s midsummer in New Zealand!

Looking south past Bluff Lighthouse to Stewart Island and Antarctica

Our last few days on the South Island were spent in Akaroa, nestled in the heart of an ancient volcano. We soaked up its relaxing holiday atmosphere while we sat with our sketchbooks, enjoying the chats with locals who stopped to talk about what we were doing. Travel sketching is such a great way of making connections, isn’t it?


And finally to the North Island and Auckland, whose skyline is dominated by the 328m Sky Tower, the highest manmade structure in the Southern Hemisphere, which they say will remain standing even in an 8.0 magnitude earthquake within 20km. I guess time will tell.

Auckland's Sky Tower

Our tour guide that day was Murray Dewhurst, sketcher extraordinaire in Auckland, and it was so special to affirm once more the wonderful connection that sketchers around the world have with each other!

Chris Haldane is organiser of USK Sydney and an artist in her other life! You can see more of this trip and her other sketches on Facebook and on Flickr.





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