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

Sketching tips: people as stories

[Guest post by Sophie Baxter in Halifax, UK] I love drawing people. Why? Sketching people IS difficult. People move, you get proportions wrong (I do, anyway), likeness goes out of the window. I am not particularly fond of uncomfortable situations, but sketching people and going beyond your comfort zone can be rewarding. Here are a few people-sketching tips for beginners, sketchers or anyone who wants to develop their skills.

1. Use cheap paper

Use a cheap sketchbook–it will take away the fear of making a mess or spoiling lovely paper while you build your skills and confidence.

2. Take a deep breath and dive in

Sit in a cafe, park or on the train, and draw. If your subject gets up and leaves, just move on to the next one and keep going until you have a page filled with small drawings. Don’t worry about the results. As you practice, your drawings will improve, and you’ll learn which techniques work best for you.

Suggest context with a few lines–people might be the focus of your sketch, but the context will tell the story.

3. Let go of perfection

You are learning–the process matters more than the result. You can’t expect quick drawings to be flawless. They will be lively and have character, though.

I often warm up with a couple of loose contour drawings (when you look at your subject and draw without looking at your paper). The results are loose and wonky–perfect to let go of issues such as likeness!

Drawing is about storytelling and experimenting, a moment in time, emotions, memory and who you are. Like life, sketching is messy and imperfect and all the better for it.

Take time to step back and see your work’s qualities rather than just its flaws. Drawings I was disappointed with when I made them often don’t look half as bad a few days later.

4. Practice in different settings

If you are just starting out and don’t feel comfortable drawing strangers yet, practice drawing friends and family first. Draw your kids or partner while they watch TV. Go out for coffee with a friend and draw them.

Draw people in settings where they are relatively still–on public transport or in a café, for example.

As you build confidence, move to drawing people walking on the street, in shopping centres or playing sports. Try to capture a simple gesture and movement, and build your drawing from there.

5. Vary the focus in your sketches

Are people the main subject of your sketch? Draw detailed faces and suggest the background with a few pen or brush strokes.

If architecture is the focus of your sketch, include quick figures or silhouettes to help give a feel for the place you are drawing.

This will help you develop different ways to draw people to tell specific stories.

6. Try new techniques

Start drawing with a pen or pencil. As you gain confidence, try and experiment with watercolour, pencils or markers to add shading and colour–until you find your favourite tools.

7. Practice, practice and practice

Finally, there’s no magic pill. It takes time to build a skill, and drawing people is no exception. Practice as much as you can, even if it is just a few minutes at a time. Cafes, bars, restaurants, parks and other public spaces, trains, planes and waiting rooms are all great places to draw people. Your skills improve as you fill your sketchbook pages.

Further reading

If you are looking for more tips and inspiration, Lynne Chapman’s Sketching People is one of the best books I have come across on the subject. It contains heaps of useful information and is beautifully illustrated–worth a read if you are looking to improve your people sketches.

Sophie Baxter lives in Halifax (UK). She loves to sketch with whatever she can put her hands on. You can visit her website or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.





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