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

Day 2: Happy mistakes, cityscapes made easy, intimate sketches and more

[By Béliza Mendes, Symposium Correspondent in Chicago, USA] 

The first day of workshops was hectic to say the least. Wes, Vincent and I each have our workshops to cover and today I went to see what was happening with Paul Wang, James Richards and Asnee Tasna.

Paul Wang's workshop called 'Sketching dangerously - Turning happy mistakes into expressive movement', was all about taking advantage of mistakes like smudges, wrong lines, dripping, and turn them into opportunities to make sketches more vibrant. Participants were encouraged to bring out the child in them by warming up with a page of 'mistakes'. A certainly freeing concept, I left the workshop with a much more relaxed attitude towards sketching and the day ahead.

When I arrived at James Richard's workshop, 'The grand illusion: achieving a dramatic sense of depth', he was advising participants individually on how to improve their sketches. Tirelessly giving tips on how to express depth, and showing examples form his sketches, from fellow urban sketchers' work and even from great masters, James appeared like the fountain of knowledge and wisdom any sketcher would love to learn from.

One show and tell later and I was on my way to the Asnee Tasna's workshop location.

Asnee's workshop has a pretty self-explanatory title: 'Penciling Chicago Capturing the modern cityscape in gray scale with flat tip lead pencils'. When I arrived, participants were busy sketching the cityscape in pencil, making sure not to go too much into detail and focus more on values instead.

I was invited to try the exercise myself, so I added the cityscape in pencil to my sketch (see sketch above).

Participants I spoke with were enthusiastic about this exercise and so was I. This is definitely a fun way to deal with a very complicated subjectmatter.

After lunch, I headed to the Art Institute of Chicago to catch a glimpse of as many workshops as I could. My first stop was at Norberto Dorantes' 'Dynamic ink', in which Norberto showed participants his work process and best tips. He very patiently answered the flow of questions coming his way while demonstrating at the same time. After all, images speak louder than words.

I then stumbled upon Lapin sketching a participant in his 'Big head portraits' demonstration. The atmosphere was intimate and exactly reflected his words when he was saying that portraits were a way to create an intimate connection with the subject and getting to know them.

I finished with Peggy Wong's demonstration on '3 basic book binding for beginners' along with another participant, Eileen. Peggy makes book binding look easy and was very generous with tips, even allowing us to put into practice what she had just demonstrated. Eileen certainly seemed thrilled, talking already of all the ways she was going to use her knew knowledge in the future.

The day ended with excellent lectures by Marc Leibowitz ('what's in your pocket?') and Tapas Mitra ('Urban sketching ground rules in art'). People were eagerly listening, taking notes and sketching.

For my part, too tired to completely focus on the lectures, I was bemused to catch Mike Daikubara sketching Cal, one of the volunteers who had been working at the Art Institute of Chicago in the afternoon, while he himself sketched Mark I assume. At the same time I think I was myself the subject of someone's study. That's an Urban Sketchers symposium for you.




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