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

Italy, this time with sketchbook

[By Tina Koyama in Italy] Greg and I took our first trip to Europe in 2006 – long before I began sketching – to the country that was at the top of our bucket list: Italy! Since I became a sketcher, we’ve traveled to several other countries, but I have always yearned to visit Italy again. That’s because unless I’ve visited a place with a sketchbook, I feel like I haven’t properly seen it. I finally got my wish – we just got back from three weeks on the Amalfi Coast, in the Cinque Terre, on Lake Como, and in Venice. Here are my favorite sketches from our 18 days.

A friend who travels frequently says that her general happiness is directly proportional to the amount of time she spends in Italy, and her favorite place in Italy is the Amalfi Coast. As we explored the vertically built village of Positano, her words rang true for me. Turn your head one way to see the spectacular coastline; turn it the other way to see impossibly compact houses in sunny pastel hues clinging to the cliffside. It all made me happy. Climbing steep hills and stairways, you have to take in the view slowly – if only because you are pausing to catch your breath!

With my very first sketch, I realized I had no previous “vocabulary” for Positano’s (and that of much of southern Italy, it turns out) architecture. The buildings are simple in design, but each is placed on the hillscape however it is best supported, and that often means directly against another structure – and not necessarily at a right angle. Built-in wonkiness! A-ha – finally an architectural style for me! Given the impossibility of working out perspective, I adored sketching Positano’s landscape.

Back in 2006, I was making art, but the materials I used then were beads, fabric and other fibers. On first sight of the colorful pink, yellow, blue and coral buildings, I was completely smitten with the Cinque Terre on the Ligurian Sea. I took many photos that I’d hoped to someday express in fiber art. At that time, I was still convinced that I “couldn’t draw,” so I focused on abstract works. While I loved the pastel palette of the region and felt inspired, I never got around to finding a way to express that vibrancy. Afterwards, whenever I saw photos of the Cinque Terre, I felt regret; it was as if I were a writer with the thoughts and ideas but not the words.

In Manarola, one of the Cinque Terre’s five villages, there’s a particularly popular spot for postcard photographers and painters, so it’s one of the most-often seen views of the town (and all of the Cinque Terre). I know that some sketchers shy away from iconic views, but I didn’t care that it had already been portrayed many, many times. Sitting at a shady picnic table high above the water, I felt as if I’d waited 11 years to make the sketch shown at the top of the post. Although I’d carried the feelings since 2006, I finally had both the inspiration and the vocabulary to express them.
Wash line in Riomaggiore

Our next stop was Lake Como and the town of Varenna. Shortly before I left for Italy, I had been introduced to the secondary triad color palette in a colored pencil class I was taking. Italy’s landscape seemed ideal for giving it a try, so I built my colored pencil selection for the trip around the palette. My first morning in Varenna, I knew that the palette had been made for this place: blue-violet mountains, lush green trees and the terracotta rooftops of the surrounding villages.
Lake Como and Varenna

In addition to exploring Varenna thoroughly, we spent time just hanging out in the piazza observing the locals taking la passeggiata (slow evening stroll), catching up with their neighbors.
Varenna piazza

Venice, the glamorous sinking city, was our last stop. On our visit 11 years ago, we had spent too few days trying to see too many museums, so all I remember of it was fighting crowds, being lost and feeling frustrated. We wanted this year’s visit to be different, and it was – except for San Marco Square, we avoided all high-traffic areas and rented a flat in a quiet neighborhood off the beaten tourist path.
Basilica di San Marco, Venice

We spent many happy hours sketching and photographing our Dorsoduro neighborhood. In particular, I enjoyed going around to the back sides of buildings where all the wires and antennae were tucked away from the postcard views.
Dorsoduro neighborhood in Venice

A minor canal was just outside our flat. One of my fondest memories of Venice is sketching the canal traffic in the cool, early-morning air, the sky a brilliant blue, all within sight of our flat (in other words, not far enough away to get lost).
Canal in the Dorsoduro neighborhood

Since I began sketching and traveling, I’ve come to learn that it’s impossible to be both a tourist and a sketcher and expect to do both well. If I visit sights, I feel frustrated that I’m not sketching. If I take time to sketch, I feel like I’m missing out on the long list of things I “must” see. (Greg is a photographer and feels the same way.) Over the past several years, we’ve figured out what we really want from travel – an opportunity to see and experience unfamiliar places through my sketchbook and his camera – not a checklist of “musts.” I feel no conflict about our choice – when I travel, I’m a sketcher, not a sightseer – but the sights I do see are observed closely, and the memories are preserved well in my sketchbook.

(For more photos and sketches from Italy, please see this album in my Flickr photostream or visit my blog.)





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