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

South Africa Protests!

[by Cathy Gatland in Johannesburg, South Africa] - with guest sketchers from Cape Town and Johannesburg. 
Friday 7 April saw South Africans take to the streets all over the country, with major marches, rallies and demonstrations in the big city centres - outside Parliament in Cape Town, the Union Buildings in Tshwane/Pretoria, Johannesburg city, Durban and Port Elizabeth as well as lining suburban streets and at traffic lights everywhere. 
A few sketchers' impressions...

From Craig Paton-Ash, outside Arderne Gardens, Claremont, Cape Town.  'An initial fear was that the event would be unsupported and a damp squib, so the human chain stretching up and down Main Road for as far as we could see was a wonderful sight. The enthusiasm of the protest supporters and 'drive bys', irrespective of age, sex and colour gives us reason to hope. We had gathered with family, including grandsons who you can see in the sketch above, and friends - and had the pleasant surprise of meeting, on the same stretch of pavement, some old friends not seen for several years. 
As we face the prospect of ongoing protest action we can take heart from the opportunity it will provide of increased and more wide ranging social contact.'

From Barbara Moore in Simon's Town, Cape - 'People started arriving just after 9 am, some dressed in white and some in black, a few in colours. Young and old started to line St George's Street in this naval base town of the southern Cape Peninsula. There was a cheerfulness in taking part in this statement, by the public to the government, of disgust at the current state of the nation. Anti-Zuma placards and SA flags were waved about despite a strong wind, and the residents kept coming! People had to move ever away up the road, after a time to link up with protesters in Glencairn 4 kms away. Eventually the human chain reached all the way to the City, with hands of every shade joined tightly in solidarity.'

From Fiver Löcker in Johannesburg city centre - 'It feels like a long time since I've been on a demo, back in the day when mobile phones had not yet been invented - when there was no impromptu filming of a passing dance troupe, no selfies, no arrangements on the fly with friends further ahead, messaging, news updates, instagramming while walking - but the initial buzz from seeing thousands of people united in a common cause never fails to materialise. There had been rumours of threatened violence but at the start of the march all was singing and dancing and shouted slogans.

 At one point, as we were walking under the overpass in Newtown, a group of ANC-shirted men crossed our path. Anticipation, whispers, a drop in temperature, but once they had been allowed to pass, the shouts of "Zuma must fall" quickly returned to full volume.
The square was packed, with mostly black protesters, after social media accusations of white people only marching when the Rand falls - though lots of placards referred to SA's new junk status.
Water had been handed out at the start but luckily it never got hot or sunny. True to form, the traders were out selling cool drinks and snacks, and a #ZumaMustFall or DA stamp on the cheek would only set you back ZAR5.
As we left the square the plastic collectors descended to turn waste into cash.'

From Leonora Venter in Saxonwold, Johannesburg - Outside the home, or so-called compound, of the sinister Gupta family, hand-in-glove friends of the president, who are allegedly, or in fact, involved in 'State Capture' of the country's finances and resources. In spite of heavily armed guards and security personnel giving everyone the beady eye, it was a peaceful morning's protest at this stage, but later things got heated as Black Land First party demonstrators clashed with #ZumaMustFall protesters and had to be subdued by a stun grenade and separated with police tape...fortunately Leonora had left by that stage!

And bringing up the rear, me, Cathy - I was late getting out into this momentous day for various reasons, and decided to follow the news on the radio to Sandton where the middle classes were gathered along Grayston Drive. I learnt later that it became the scene of one of the few instances of aggression and violence with protesters being spat at and attacked. I got to West Street as tired stragglers were trailing back into Nelson Mandela Square, and felt as if I'd missed all the action - but it occurred to me that this scene of relative despondency reflects the mood much of the country is, and has been in, for months - as we watch in horror and disbelief the corrupt deals, dictatorial tendencies and dangerous liaisons of the president and some of his cohorts. A far cry from the first time I sketched here in this very same street back in 2010 (my USk post has fallen off the timeline) when all was euphoria and optimism.





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