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

Back to the Alma Mater

[by Róisín Curé in Galway] We're not big on putting people on a pedestal in Ireland. But every now and then we like to honour someone for their achievements: one way we do this is to confer them with an honorary doctorate from one of our universities.

In the National University of Ireland in Galway, my alma mater, a graduand (the person receiving the honour) will don a red gown combined with another colour to denote their discipline. Purple for letters, light blue for science etc., with a broad-brimmed black velvet hat with a tassel in the colour of their gown. They will then join a long line of similarly-robed past graduates and file through the grounds of the university, under ancient trees, past ivy-clad facades, a procession popping with colour.

An urban sketcher's dream.

And someone wanted to pay me to sketch it.

My alma mater is not really that old, having opened its doors in 1845. I was lucky enough to have done my degrees in the Quad, which you see in the sketch. But I left the world of science behind me, first to have children, then because the pull of art could not be ignored.

One afternoon I got a call from Eilís, who works in the university. She told me that four people, giants in their respective fields, were to be conferred with honorary degrees in two days' time.
"We were looking for an illustrator to record the day in sketches," she said, "and we were getting nowhere. Then my colleague Fionnuala was in the hospital, and she went through the wrong door - and there were your portraits of the hospital we got in touch with you."
That's how I get work, folks. By chance.

The idea was to present a portrait of each of the graduands to them at the gala dinner. I had beautiful paper with me and quickly got stage fright. What if I messed up the sketches? What if I messed up one person's sketches, and they were the only one not to get a gift? What if I looked like a chancer?

So I drew in my trusty sketchbook and transferred the sketches onto the beautiful expensive paper with a light box after the event was over. I haven't shown those here, even though they are almost identical to the sketches I made on the spot.
I got busy, starting with Joe O'Shaughnessy, one of the photographers, who works for the Irish Times, together with some illustrious people in robes. Joe is the one with the big camera. Of the others, only the guys in red were being conferred - the others were illustrious personages of the university.

I sketched and sketched.
"Watch out for the robes!" said a member of staff, as my paintbox was balanced precariously between a bunch of scrolls and a heavy crystal jug of lemony water. She would have been even more concerned if she had realised that lots of colours don't wash out.
Luckily for me, the photographers made their subjects pose for photos over many minutes. I sketched behind the guys with the cameras.
"Talk casually amongst yourselves," said a photographer.
They did. They discussed art, the paintings on the wall and the work of Jack B. Yeats, who did the same sort of thing that I do - drawings of everyday Irish life and the landscape in watercolour. They didn't seem to notice the sketcher in front of them, who, unlike Jack B. Yeats, was alive.

That changed when we went outside, and a second photographer, Aengus, instructed the graduands to come in for a closer look. Here's the photo he took, in the Galway Advertiser, one of our local newspapers.

Joe filmed me over my shoulder as I sketched. My face was flushed a deep red but I put vanity aside, or pretended to. There was nothing I could do about it anyway.

Here's the video that Joe shot.

Here are three of the graduands: Fintan O'Toole, John McNamara and Kristina Johnson.

Here is Kristina Johnson with her presenter, Colin Browne, who used to teach me geophysics back in the day. He was a pretty amazing teacher, calm and patient, but he's gone up in the world.

Here are Prof. Jane Grimson and Fintan.
Finatn and Jane again, and a few fake scrolls (they are just for the photos).

After the chit-chat in the state rooms (if that's what they are called) the graduands joined a procession of other colourfully-robed graduates. Here are Fintan and John.

I brought up the rear, struggling a bit to keep up, like the little boy on crutches in the Pied Piper of Hamelin. The procession of people filed into a vast auditorium, the doors shutting behind them, just as in the story. Michelle, the lady who had commissioned me, came to the rescue.
"Just go on up to the front," she said. "Don't feel shy. Do what you have to do."
Having convinced Security that I was there on official business, I walked up to the front, trying not to be conscious of the reverent hush and the beautifully-dressed crowds that filled the rows to either side of the central aisle. My parents were always late for Mass on Sundays so I am very used to walking to the front of a packed, silent room with people in ceremonial robes at the top, but I still bristle with self-consciousness. A bit.

I had the perfect vantage point. And my subjects didn't move a muscle. Bliss. From left to right: Prof. Jane Grimson, Kristina Johnson, John McNamara and Fintan O'Toole. Through each graduand's presenter, who gave a speech about their achievements, I learned a bit about the graduands. Suffice to say that one feels rather inadequate next to them, and I was glad I didn't know about their amazing careers when I was sketching at the beginning of the day, or I might not have felt so free. I did try to write down their bios here but I couldn't break it down - it was impossible to write a concise précis of each.

On my way out of the university, I passed a security guard in a fluorescent jacket who had shown me where to park when I arrived. He was one of those calm, older men who has the whole gig under control without the need for tough-guy appearances. I showed him my sketches.
"An artist, eh? Sure you could frame a fella quick as that," he said.

Solemn occasion it may have been, but Galway's relaxed vibe will always shine through.





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