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

Knowing your Values with Versatile Indigo

[By Róisín Curé in Galway] I've long admired the work of Miguel Herranz and Inma Serrano, and I was thrilled when they accepted my invitation to present a sketching workshop in my home town. And so, last week I was honoured to welcome them and students from across Europe to Galway. In true North Atlantic style, the sun split the stones on the day everyone arrived, only to become shy and hide until the day they all went their separate ways. After that it got really hot and sunny, but that's the Atlantic coast for you.

I wanted to demonstrate how simple and powerful a tool one blue-grey colour (indigo or Payne's grey) can be when used to advantage. If you don't have much time but really want to produce something dramatic, understanding values to convey light and shade is a great tool in your kit.
You never know what level your students are at when you teach, and so I aim to assume nothing and hope that those who have already explored that particular topic won't be bored. One of my fellow instructors was in my group - we each had two sessions free - so I was especially conscious of preaching to the converted.

However, if I was going to preach, I was in the right place. I chose to bring the group into St. Nicholas's Church in Galway City; it's a medieval church, full of stone pillars, stone carvings and plaques and a very ancient stone baptismal font. Such a monochromatic interior was the ideal venue to put the subtle use of values to the test.

I started with explaining that one colour can be used with varying degrees of intensity. The students draw six to eight rectangles on watercolour paper. Pen or pencil, it doesn't matter, as long as the ink is waterproof.

The first shape is left unpainted. The second and remaining shapes have one light layer of paint applied, evenly and not too wet. When this first layer is dry, the third and remaining shapes have a second layer applied, and so on:

The last rectangle has black ink, just to show that if the situation really, really requires jet black (it has to be critical!) then you can use it.

There isn't much difference between some of the shapes but you get the idea. Some of the comments showed me that this was a useful exercise, and that I was right not to overestimate the level of experience in the group.
"I never knew so many colours could be made from just one!"
"Do you let the layers dry in between?" [Yes. Otherwise you won't build up the depth, or worse, lift the layer underneath.]
"I'm making my first layer too dark."
"I've never used indigo, it's perfect for shadows."

Then the group went to various parts of the church to put their knowledge into practice. I warned them to only use unpainted white paper for bits that were in strong sunlight. Here are some of the things they painted, which had no colour, and which required the subtle use of values:

A large stone celtic crucifix (headstone)
The ancient baptismal font, which was very ornate 
Some filigree stonework

I was very happy with the students' pride in the results they produced. One or two of them were surprised and delighted, which is the best feeling for a teacher.

For my own demo I painted an appliqué banner which hung in the Church. Although it had many colours, I wanted show how they could be translated into "black and white" - that is, indigo and white.
I put zero layers (white) for the white bits: one layer for the yellow: two for green, three for blue, four for red and five for black. I didn't use black ink at all. These assignations are a bit arbitrary but I emphasise that it was for demonstration purposes.

So far, so academic. But what's the use of all of this? There are two main uses. One is that you can convey light and shade very effectively with one colour. The second is speed. There's no colour change, so you won't be cleaning your brush very much. And of course the fact that there are fewer colours means you'll get finished more quickly. Sometimes that's very important...

My husband had a birthday two days ago. Between teaching, entertaining family and baking, I didn't have time to paint him a card. I didn't feel right about it so I took advantage of my trip into town yesterday to see Miguel and Inma on their way, and spent half an hour at Galway Marina. It would have been two hours, but the change pocket in my car had been raided the day before, and I didn't have change for parking. After scrabbling around on the floor of my car in front of a funeral party for fifteen minutes I found the precious ten cents that would bring my total to €1.50, enough for an hour. I had a couple of tasks to do and by the time I sat down, it was about 10.45. I had to be gone by 11.15 as the clampers are very enthusiastic in that car park, so I had to work fast. For once the weather cooperated: I was beautifully warm and my paper didn't blow away.

My husband and I have recently bought an 80-year-old boat. We're all very excited, despite the saying that if you want to know how it feels to own a yacht, just stand under a cold shower and rip up fifty-euro notes. So I wanted to paint a nautical theme. Voilà! Thanks to some speedy sketching (with a Sailor pen until it clogged, followed by a Noodlers Acrylic) and the use of indigo, I managed to paint a card that I knew he'd like.

If indigo or Payne's grey aren't already part of your repertoire, give them a try!




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