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

Portrait of a park in paint markers

[By Marcia Milner-Brage in Cedar Falls, Iowa, USA]
 Before the summer heat and high humidity sets in, before the resulting swarms of mosquitoes hatch, there is an ideal time to do plein-air sketching. For a string of days in early June, with my new set of paint markers and a small, black paper sketchbook, I went to the closest green space, only a few blocks from my house, Washington Park. A paved path–used by walkers, runners, and bikers–curves around the perimeter. For years, the park had been a 9-hole golf course.

Washington Park is by the Cedar River. The River flows from the northwest, carrying runoff from rich aquifer farmland, and eventually joins the Mississippi River in the southeast corner of the State. The Cedar River, with its many small tributaries and vast floodplain, periodically floods. The Washington Park Golf Course was destroyed by the “Hundred Year” flood of 2008. After that, it was converted into the multi-use city park it is today. There are covered, open picnic shelters scattered throughout the park.

The city’s sewage treatment plant is also on the River. It is protected from flooding by a grassy, earthen dike. The circular structures of the treatment plant and the dike can be seen from the park. Some of what used to be mowed and manicured fairways are left to grow into wind-ruffled, wild grass, wildflower fields. So lovely!

There are beautiful, mature trees. The City of Cedar Falls–known for its tree-lined streets and parks – used to have an arborist who lived in a small house on the edge of the golf course. These grand cottonwood trees are testament to his tenure. Baltimore orioles nest in the trees beyond.

There are two ponds in the park. The one above is a small, vernal pool. In May, chorus frogs or Spring peepers, supply their eerie, mating soundtrack. Tall grasses grow along the edge. Migratory ducks and Canada geese stopover. Redwing blackbirds, heron, and dragonflies frequent. As temperatures warm, mustard-colored algae covers the surface. By July, the pond dries up.

Mullen Pond is the larger of the ponds. Occasionally people fish there. As I drew this from one of the picnic shelters, I saw a Canada goose and her goslings. I saw a woodchuck (a kind of marmot that makes its burrow in the pond embankment). Grey clouds foretold of a rain.

The entrance to Washington Park is across the railroad tracks. These tracks lead to the coal-burning, power plant, with its landmark chimney. Train cars are often stored here. I drew this looking out from the park's parking lot.

Near the park entrance is one of my favorite trees in all of Cedar Falls: this mottled white and grey barked sycamore. Sycamores are the last deciduous tree to get their leaves. All the better to appreciate its graceful limbs and trunk against the fully leafed out maple; and the shadows cast by its branches on the blue metal roof of the public toilet.

The playground is strangely empty on this weekday morning. It comes alive on weekends and in the late afternoon when parents bring their children after work.

This is the first drawing I did in this portrait of Washington Park (before I knew I was going to do a series). It was my first attempt at using my newly acquired paint markers. They were fun! And with their limited colors and flat opaqueness, they were a challenge.





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