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

The Magic of the Arctic Lights

[Guest Post by Mohan Banerji in the Arctic] We jetted off from Gatwick Airport for Tromso, the ‘Gateway to the Arctic’ on board Germania Airlines. This was the start of our six-day holiday, set completely within the Arctic Circle for the best chance to catch the Northern Lights. The Arctic. In the winter! It would be frrrr-ee-zzzing cold. Were we mad? No, but we were well prepared. In the weeks leading up to our departure, we had researched and bought all the essentials (or so we thought) for the trip ... boots, jackets, thermals, gloves, scarves ... we had it all.

After a short flight we arrived in Tromso to find it covered in white snow. A magical winter wonderland, albeit a bit slippery underfoot. Before long, we were at the dock and we got the first glimpse of our home for the next four days – Hurtigruten’s the MS Nordkapp.

Our four days at sea, sailing from from Tromso to Kirkenes and back, took in Skjervoy, Hammerfest, Honningsvag, Vardo, and Kirkenes amongst others. It was an absolute delight to sail in and out of these scenic places with their colourfully painted, quaint houses – instead of the vast stretches of open water that one normally associates with most cruises.

On a cruise within the Arctic Circle, there was very little chance of finding anyone applying sun cream for a dip in the pool or dancing a conga outdoors. This is not to say that there was nothing to do. Each day, you could choose from: tastings of local specialities, exciting excursions like snowmobiling, and dog sledging, or if you preferred, just relaxing and enjoying the view of the ever-changing scenery; or listening to talks on fishing traditions, polar history, flora and fauna, glaciology, and even on polar bears (or the lack of them). Thanks to climate change, there is no permanent ice in the area anymore. No permanent ice, no seals. No seals, no polar bears. Simple!

One of the highlights of the trip was the visit to the Snow Hotel at Kirkenes. Did you know that it is built from 15 tonnes of real snow and ice, and is only open from December to the end of March? Each room is 5m in diameter and themed to reflect Arctic culture or nature. The solid ice bar is surrounded by intricate ice sculptures, carved by Chinese ice craftsmen, flown in each November to create the hotel.

As we sailed further north, one could sense a change in the atmosphere. The sea became calmer and darker, the air crisper and cleaner, until all hell broke loose! During our last night on board, the weather worsened. Not the best of nights for many a passenger on board ... round and round, and up and down we go again (you get the gist)!


We ended our holiday with two nights in Tromso. Did you know it served as the capital of Norway for a few weeks during the Second World War?

Tromso, today, is the where the world’s northernmost university is located. In the past, however, it was the starting point for many Arctic expeditions, including those led by Roald Amundsen.

The ultimate highlight, without doubt, was witnessing the Aurora Borealis, more commonly known as the Northern Lights. Curtains of light ... dancing and swirling across the night sky. We got a sore neck, looking up at the sky ... in the howling wind and freezing cold (but a hot chocolate later made it all better). Truly magical experience. Certainly unforgettable!

Mohan Banerji is a relative newcomer to urban sketching. A member of the London Urban Sketchers, Mohan is often to be found acting, travelling or gardening. Despite having no formal art education, Mohan loves playing with watercolours, acrylics, pastels and mixed media. You can see more of his work on Instagram @mohanbanerji





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