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 the river in paint markers

[By Marcia Milner-Brage in Cedar Falls, Iowa]

 My passion for paint markers started with a recent series, Portrait of a park. Here is my portrait of the river in my northeast Iowa hometown of Cedar Falls.

The river is the Cedar River. It travels through rich farmland, past towns and other cities, eventually joining the Iowa River and then finally the Mississippi River in the southeast corner of Iowa, having flowed over 300 miles from its headwaters in south central Minnesota.

The dam (above) drops the river 12.5 feet. It is close to downtown. Once there was a small waterfall. Thus Cedar Falls' name. The first dam was built in 1848. This one was built in 1886.

From riverside parks and trails, one can look out on and across the Cedar River as it wends its way through town. Most of these drawings were done a mile or less from my house in old town Cedar Falls—an easy walk or bike ride.

The Parkade, Cedar Falls’ downtown, seen from the opposite side of the river.

Downriver from the dam, the four-lane First Street Bridge crosses the river. The cluster of white tents is a performance venue in Gateway Park. Throughout the summer, but especially during the three days of Cedar Falls' annual Sturgis Falls Celebration at the end of June, bands perform day and night under the big tents.

Further down the river from the First Street Bridge there is a grove of cottonwood. One died. I drew from a park bench on top of the earthen dike that protects downtown Cedar Falls from the inevitable flooding that happens every several years. On the otherside of the river from this vantage, a bike trail–unseen through the trees–follows the river’s path.

The bike trail also goes to Black Hawk County Park in northern Cedar Falls, about three miles from downtown. The Cedar River is broad and placid here. There are ample spots to gaze out on a curve in the river and the plentiful birdlife.

Perhaps contemplating nature along the river’s edge is not your thing. Might you prefer something a little bit more exciting? Once a year, as part of June’s Sturgis Falls Celebration, the funfair comes to town. Carnival rides, kiddy bumper cars, try-your-skill at flipping the rubber chicken into a pot, clouds of pink cotton candy and corndogs. It’s set up across from downtown in Gateway Park.

The metal truss railroad bridge is just downriver from the dam. It was built in 1899. About seven freight trains cross it a day. The Canadian National railroad now operates and maintains it. As the trains slow to cross the bridge and navigate the curves in the tracks before and after the bridge, the train engineers repeatedly sound the whistle. After 30 years of living here in Cedar Falls, it’s always a thrill to be by the river near the metal bridge and hear this. At night, if the wind is blowing from the north, I can hear the whistle sounding and the metal wheels clacking and squealing at my house a mile away.

One of the highest points to look down on the river is from Greenwood Cemetery Bluff, upriver from the dam. The vantage affords a view of the vast, still untamable flood plain of the Cedar River. There are small islands and backwaters. Across the river is the white, concrete plant and Tourist Park, which hugs the rivers' edge.

The river has not flooded this year (yet). When it does, Tourist Park is underwater. For the now, recent rains have left big puddles (and their reflected shadows) in the hard-packed sandy parking lot.

There are more places along the river I could show you. There’s the bike bridge that arches over it, the fishermen who dot the banks, the great blue herons, bald eagles, the flotillas of migrating Canada Geese, the houseboats, the kayakers, the Ice House. I’ll just have to work on a second installment of river drawings (though probably not this summer, because the biting gnats and mosquitos–the Midwest's summer scourge–have arrived).

All of these drawings were done with POSCA paint markers in a Canson 8"x6", black-paper sketchbook.   The same is the case for Portrait of a park.





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