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

Bud Break at the Bacigalupi Ranch

[By Richard Sheppard in Healdsburg, California] In an effort to learn more about the wine making process, today I'm visiting John Bacigalupi. John grew up farming along side his father Charles on their Sonoma County, California ranch.

 I drive up a gentle slope to the Bacigalupi ranch. The road curves to the right through a stand of trees, then left around an old house, and ends up on a small hilltop overlooking vineyards. Stepping out of my car, the sound of gravel under rubber tires distracts me, as a red truck pulls up and parks beside my car. A large brown dog paces in the truck bed, and John Bacigalupi and his daughter Katey step out of the truck. The dog barks and John opens the tailgate to release him. “His name’s Cali,” Katey tells me. “Short for California. He’s one year old and still has the energy of a puppy, as you can see.”

John Bacigalupi

John was raised on this ranch and worked alongside his father, Charles, in the vineyard. Now, John has been farming these vines for over thirty years. So I ask him, “How are things going out in the vineyard?”

“We pruned the vines about a month ago, and now bud break’s just beginning,” he tells me. “Even though morning temps have been low, frost hasn’t been a problem.” We walk along the rows of old vines sloping downhill from where we are, only to rise and disappear over the next hill. The only thing breaking the view is a single, majestic oak.

“We took out some trees awhile ago to expand the vineyards, but we decided to keep that oak as shelter for events. Look at how perfectly round its canopy is. The vineyard to the left of the oak is Pinot Noir. These old vines we’re walking along are the famous Paris Tasting block of Chardonnay.” The head pruned vines are twisted and gnarled with fresh spring grasses growing between rows of black stocky wood. “The vines have had problems over the years and in part by mistakes we made while learning how to care for the vineyard. There wasn’t much covered in books back then. We didn’t know not to prune too early to avoid frost or disease. Same is true for pruning while it’s raining. The disease spores are more likely to spread in wet weather.

“Back in 1964 my father created a reservoir to capture water during the rainy season. Still today, the reservoir collects enough water to irrigate all the grapes on our property for the remainder of the year. Up on hills like this one, you see, there’s no water table for vines to tap into.
Katey Bacigalupi
“Our vineyards now consist of 125 acres of premium grapes, which I’ve managed for over 30 years. Growing up, some of my fondest memories are of shadowing my father in the vineyards. As a self-taught grower, he learned everything about the vineyards from experience, trial and error. Although he doesn’t formally participate in the harvest any more, he likes to ride the 4-wheeler around the vineyards, and he sometimes even drives the tractor during harvest,” John says.

“Because my father used St. George rootstock, phylloxera isn’t a problem. But over the years the vines have contracted a bacteria that infects the pruning cuts and works its way down to the roots, eventually killing the plant.” John points to a dark section of the vine’s trunk where no flaky bark exists. “That part of the vine is dead. But the rest still has some life in it and produces good tasting fruit.

“I’ve tried several methods to combat the infection, with mixed success. At this point, the vines are at about half the yield they were in 1973, but the grapes still pack flavors as good as ever. Despite the vineyard’s problems, we’ll keep it as long as it produces fruit.”

John points to a green vine sprout protruding from a nodule. Bud break. Katey and I look in close. Two shoots are growing out of each spur, with morning dew settling on the young leaf’s tips.

“See that bunch in there?” John says, pointing to a small bulbous portion of the plant, its surrounding leaves unraveling like a new butterfly. “The entire plant is contained within this little bud. The leaves, cane, and grapes are all there.” One of life’s many miracles.

Walking back towards the house, we pass between the West Side Road Neighbors Pinot and the Paris Tasting Chardonnay block. There I find the best view of the property, with the Chardonnay in the foreground and the ranch up the hill behind. I pull my sketching kit out of my bag and begin drawing the view looking back at the old house. The vineyard is intimately quiet, broken only once by the distant sound of a quail’s call “chi-ca-go,” though I never catch a glimpse of it.





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