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

UK General Election

[by Dan Peterson, Cardiff, Wales]

Only a couple of months ago, I was drawing pictures of the UK Local Council Elections. This week I've been drawing pictures at a count for a UK General Election.

Just back in March 2017 Prime Minister Theresa May said she would not call a General Election until 2020. Then, almost out of nowhere on April 18th, she declared she was calling a 'snap' election as it was the only way to "guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead" - precisely the same reason she had given for why she would not call an election until 2020. Her election slogan became "Strong and stable government".

For the last seven weeks we've watched Theresa May and the Conservative Party go from predictions of an overwhelming majority win to a very exciting and close contest which resulted in a minority win for them, eight seats short of a majority in the House of Commons. With Jeremy Corbyn, the person they claimed as a weak and incapable leader, who had only recently faced a challenge to his leadership of the Labour Party, ride an ever increasing wave of popularity as he went from town to town spreading his message of a Government "For the many, not the few".

We now find ourselves with a Hung Parliament and the Conservatives holding negotiations with the Northern Irish DUP, Democratic Unionist Party, who won 10 seats in the election, in an attempt to form a majority government. Who knows how things will develop with many calling for May's resignation and others claiming we'll see another General Election before the year is out.

All that aside I managed to get myself into one of the election counts on the Thursday night, 8th June and on into the hours of Friday morning. This was not as easy as it was for the Local Council Elections. I have been working with the BBC leading up to the election and they tried to get me into the main Cardiff count but without success as there are time limits to media accreditation. Actually, being accredited media would not have worked so well as the media are not allowed into the actual count area. It would have been hard to get the close observations I prefer. As it turned out a friend of mine managed to get me in as a Liberal Democrat Party observer in the Caerphilly count. Caerphilly is a town just north of Cardiff.

The work I've been doing with the BBC was connected with trying to find ways to increase awareness and participation with politics and the General Election. I produced sketches and illustrations to accompany online pieces under the project heading "My Manifesto". Members of the public were asked to submit suggestions stating what they would do if they were Prime Minister. Some of these people were then interviewed and their story and manifesto suggestions put on television and online.

In one case I was lucky enough to accompany the crew as they were 'gathering' the story. During those few hours I managed to make some live sketches. The first one shows a woman from a place called Butetown (originally known as Tiger Bay) in Cardiff who was concerned about the rise of race related crime and behaviour since the Referendum on the UK leaving the European Union (EU), where the vote went in the favour of leaving the EU.

These drawings are made on a largeApple iPad Pro that the BBC loaned me for the duration of the project. I've tried tablets of one kind or another over the years but never been very impressed. The latest iPad Pro using an application called ProCreate proved to be irritatingly good. I say irritating in that my preference has always been for pen and paper, if only because there is effectively no original with equipment like this. 

The BBC and myself made the decision to try the iPad as ProCreate offers a time-lapse recording of the drawings you make on it which added an element of animation and movement to the work which we felt important due to the video nature of the pieces we were producing. I was strict with myself in that I did not use the 'undo' feature at any time and stuck with a pen option and a watercolour brush as I would have had I been using my usual, more traditional, equipment. The sketch of Gaynor Legal I made in three stages. The portrait element during the interview process and the buildings after they had finished the interview. To be accurate with the things Gaynor was saying I recorded her interview on my phone and then annotated the sketch at the end. Just an issue of timing really.

The other live sketches I made were done during other interviews that took place on the same day. They were of Jenny Rees, a BBC journalist and Gwion Jones, a cameraman as they interviewed the people of Butetown.

So, back to the day of the election. Prior to the count came the voting of course. As I was in the mode of trying to generate interest in politics and the election using drawing I made a couple while I was making my own vote. These two were done in my sketch pad with a real ink filled pen rather than the very clever, if electronic Apple Pencil. I made them outside, and with permission, inside my local Polling Station in the north of Cardiff.

The following sketches were all made during the count in the Caerphilly Leisure Centre. The layout within the hall has a stage at one end where the TV cameras and press can film and record the result. Then about three quarters of the hall is fenced off. Only those involved with the counting, candidates, agents and observers are allowed in this area. It is split up again with fences stopping everyone other than counters entering the centre. Candidates, agents and observers (me) can observe from a fenced off area on either side of the central count area. The central count area is filled with tables, each one numbered and assigned specific elements of the counting. 

In the first instance the ballot papers are simply counted to make sure they match the records taken at the polling stations - that is that there are the quantities they are expecting. Then the ballots are split into candidate piles and checked and then they are actually counted. At one point the candidates and agents are called forward to agree any spoilt papers. A spoilt ballot is one that has been left blank or one on which there has been more than one vote made or marked in such as way as to invalidate it, such as putting a line through it and writing 'none of the above'. 

At the end of the count the candidates are called together and advised of how close the result is giving them a chance to challenge it and ask for a re-count. If no re-count is requested they go onto the stage and the Presiding Officer announces the results.





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