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

Cockfighting in the Philippines

[Guest post by Félix Tamayo in Norzagaray, Bulacan, Philippines] During a recent trip to the Philippines, I had a rare opportunity to witness one of the country’s oldest and more popular gaming rituals: a cock fighting tournament.

Arenas dedicated to cockfighting can be found all over the country. The one I visited is located in Angat, Bulacan. The Angat Cockpit Arena is a semi-open timber construction with a sandy square arena with wooden bleachers where people stand to watch. There were about 200 men that very hot afternoon and only a couple of women — and people were allowed to smoke. The noise of the crowd as people shouted their bets was remarkable.

The first sketchworthy scene I saw upon arriving was a group of men playing a game known as sa pula sa puti around a board. The players were betting the color of the box on which the ball would be placed. The excitement around the game spoke for itself. I think Filipinos love betting.

Later, I was allowed into the room where the roosters were being prepared for the fight.
The Manari, often a trusted person of the bird’s owner, determines the length and shape of the blades that will be attached to the rooster’s legs. Each rooster must be fitted with at least eight knives. This task must be carried out carefully and it is key to a successful combat.

Before the tournament started, the cocks' fighting spirit was stimulated by bringing them together for a practice round of feint attacks. This allowed the audience to form an opinion about the roosters and decide which ones they would be betting for.

Then the referee took the leather wrappers off the rooster’s blades to examine them and sanitize them with alcohol. Once he was certain that people had placed their bets, he gave the sign for the fight to start.

That afternoon there were twenty fights and each fight lasted about two or three minutes. What took longer was the time for betting. During the fight, the audience remained in silence and when the fight finished, losers threw their money (bank notes) to the bookmaker. He is known as Kristo, because the way he outstretches his arms resembles Christ's body language.

The wounds of the victorious cock had to be sutured up by the cock doctor right away. Meanwhile, the owner collected his share of the bets and received a trophy: The carcass of the defeated rooster.

A few days before I witnessed the cock fighting tournament I had the opportunity to make sketches of the roosters at one their breeding grounds.

Sketching among the crowds watching sabong, as locals call this ancestral event, was quite a challenge. When I began to draw on my notebook, I felt the unusual situation as locals in that locality are not used to seeing foreigners in the cockpit area, observing and drawing them at the same time. Although I suffered a bit from initial jokes, later the comments were words of appreciation and I think in the end I finally became part of the spectacle that afternoon. It wouldn't have been possible without the help of a local breeder who invited me to the event and some employees who offered and facilitated my entrance to areas of the coliseum that were not allowed to the public.

Félix Tamayo is a sketcher based in Valladolid, Spain. He is a correspondent of USk Spain. You can see more of Felix Tamayo in his blog and Flickr.





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