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

Seafest 2017: Love and Respect for the Sea

[By Róisín Curé in Galway] Life as an urban sketcher is one long stream of self-indulgence. Sketching is our passion and we squeeze it in wherever and whenever we can. Getting paid for it happens (to me, anyway) very rarely, and is the icing on an already delicious cake. I was commissioned to sketch at Seafest a couple of weeks ago and it was just one of those dreamy days when the sun shines, the sea sparkles and the sketches go pretty well.
Seafest is a sort of Galway maritime festival which aims to tell everyone how great it is to live by the sea in Galway. They don't need to convince me - I think it's incredible. It may be a life of bad weather, but it's also a life of clean, fresh air, wonderfully fresh fish and seafood and lots of sea-based activities. The Marine Institute is based in Galway and they were my employers for the day.

This was my first sketch, done the evening before. It really doesn't say much about the festival - who wants to see the roof of a big top? - and, what's far more unforgiveable, the flag was blowing inside out from where I was sitting. But I was so paranoid that it would rain the next day that I did what I could.

The next day dawned bright but not especially sunny and I set off. I had promised a minimum of four sketches so I knew I'd have to have a pretty seamless experience, which is a tall order when you can't be sure what the weather is going to do. Things didn't start off well. I started drawing members of the Defence Forces, and was moved out of the way within a few minutes by some burly men in fatigues who wanted to put something where I was sitting. This made me grumpy, to add to feeling tense. What next? And how was I going to get into restricted areas? My eyes fell on a very large and muscular soldier. I asked him if he knew who I should ask about getting free movement around the docks.
"Just come with me," he said in a beautiful Limerick accent. "We can go anywhere."
He got a security guy manning a gate to let me through. Things were looking up considerably. Off I went, feeling very special...a full five minutes before the general public was allowed there too. Then I saw the Celtic Explorer, a research vessel owned and run by the Marine Institute. It was on my target list so I sat down to sketch it. That rust! Those cranes! The giant hooks! I had long wanted to sketch it and had never really had the opportunity, so I was in my element. Soon a man in an orange boiler suit hung out on the back (the stern?) and spotted me drawing him. He became shy but I had him in the bag. Him and his mate. Then a man shouted "Duck!" to me. I ducked just in time to avoid being brained by a huge rope thrown onto the deck.

Then the sun came out to stay, and after my sketch of the ship I trotted off to find a flag to paint. I thought the client would like that in the collection. They looked very pretty too, orange, yellow and sky blue, planted in long rows along the quay and the marina, flapping in the wind, their colours intense in the strong sunshine.
 As if that wasn't enough, there were lines of pennants in the background...bliss.

I went to sketch the Celtic Explorer from another angle. I had a clear view over the bay and was getting into my stride when I shrieked as my baseball cap was whipped off my head by a gust of wind. The sun had come out by then - I needed that cap to finish my sketches. A nice tanned young man in a wetsuit hanging out at the water's edge handed it back to me. Then an announcement drifted over the air. "Ladies and gentlemen," said a man's voice. "For the first time in Ireland, the wonderful new sport taking the world by storm that is flyboarding! Prepare to be amazed! Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together and give a big Galway welcome to Kristen Smoyer and Beau Weston! They will swoop and dive before your eyes..."
A girl and a guy in wetsuits drifted into the bay, attached by long rubber tubes to jet skis. Then they soared into the air, far above the Celtic Explorer, swooping and diving in huge clouds of spray and mist. The boy was the nice tanned young man who had handed me my cap!
"The bigger the cheer, the bigger the stunts!" said the man over the tannoy. We cheered louder and the swooping and loop-the-looping went on. Whew! I tried to think curmudgeonly ant-flyboarding thoughts about the environment but I couldn't come up with any.
Needless to say, this sketch didn't make the final cut for the Marine Institute, but it gives the uninitiated an idea of what flyboarding is about. It really was cool, and reminded me of that Dr Octopus fella in the Spiderman movies. Something in the way they lean forward as they whoosh along. They held a remote control in their hands which increased or decreased the jet of water that emitted from the board they stood on (by the way, I spelt Beau wrong in the sketch).

Here's the sketch I made of the Celtic Explorer, with another flag, before Beau and Kristen started their high-flying antics. There was some jolly sea-kayaking going on with a bunch of children in the foreground, and they made me want to join in.
I was feeling rather wiped out by this stage - so much excitement! - but I wasn't finished yet. Walking back along the quay, I spotted through the quays a humongous man dressed up as a pirate. We have a very skilled puppeteering group here called Macnas, which is where all the talented hippies get work in Galway.

I followed him and sketched him as he tried to slip away through the crowd. You can judge the atmosphere at Seafest by the fact that a man dressed like that could actually slip away unnoticed, as could his lady friend, and the two outsize deep-sea divers. I was very brave hunting the big green man down through the crowds, but if he'd actually tried to engage me in conversation - or worse, hug me, as he was doing to the nice blonde lady in the sketch - it would have been a different matter.

(Apologies for yet another yellow flag in the bottom corner, I dropped that into an otherwise empty corner.)

It was getting hotter, but there was one more sketch I wanted to do. The Defence Forces were very attractive to me (as a sketcher) with their camouflaged uniforms and fancy artillery. I decided to try to finish the sketch I'd had to abort earlier in the day.
As I walked through the area where they had their displays, the large and very muscular soldier who had helped me stopped me.
"Did you get everything you wanted?" he asked. I thanked him and assured him that I had. I noticed that every time I asked a soldier something there would be a time attached, as in "it will be at one o'clock" "we will be here until three o'clock" - none of your "around one" "about three" sloppy nonsense for these regimented, orderly men.

I drew the big gun and the nice young men demonstrating it to the little visitors. I noticed something interesting. No judgment, just observation. Well, maybe a bit of judgment, I'm human. The kids who were intrigued by the big gun were of a certain social demographic. The little boy in the sketch had red hair and a mullet haircut. Now, I have red hair, but neither I nor anyone whose haircut I have requested has ever had a mullet. And a mullet in 2017?! That's all I'll say on the matter.

Then I sketched the bomb disposal guys. They are the lads on the top right. "Sketch us!" they said. This is what people always say to me, and I always say, "Right, I will so." And then the subject gets stage fright and becomes shy. Happens every time. So I drew the soldier on the right, in profile. "I knew my ears were big," he said, "but my nose too?"
I asked him if there is much call for bomb disposal in Ireland. "Yes," he said. "Two to three times a week. It might be a hospital or a laboratory with chemicals that need to be disposed of. Or a suspicious package - anything with wires sticking out - or a letter, or an old haul left over from the Civil War."
"Wow," I said. "And that's a bomb disposal suit?" I pointed at the bulky contraption hanging from the edge of the stall. "Yes," said the soldier. "You don't want to find yourself in that."
Then the soldier's children and wife came to say hello. They chatted for a while, the children clearly devoted. They were very intrigued by my sketch. "Daddy's nearly coloured in," I heard one of them say to her sister. After a bit they went off and left their father to his job. "Bye, Daddy," they called, and I reflected on the bravery of men like that soldier who step in to keep us all safe.

Daddy being fully coloured in, I turned my attention to the bottom of the page, which needed a little something. There was the large muscular soldier again. "May I sketch those men in uniform?" I asked. "Take your pick," he said. "They'll be there until six o'clock." I had fifteen minutes. The sun was really hot by now, but I fancied sketching a man in a gas mask. "Perhaps it's not a good idea," I said to his colleague. "He'll suffocate." "Nonsense!" shouted the colleague. "Noonan! Keep still! You're being sketched!" Their hectoring went on. "You look gorgeous - it's an improvement!" they called. "You're getting very red, Noonan!" (He was.) "We'll take bets on how long he'll last before he faints," they said. "When water starts appearing over the top of his boots, we'll know we're close!" Poor Noonan - but these were orders, and he stayed stock-still.

Released at last I turned my attention to another man in an almost-as-fun uniform. This one was a riot suit. The subject was dark skinned and taciturn. Just the sort of man who would thwart your riotous intentions, in fact. He stood obediently while the heckling, mean man goaded him, although with less energy than that directed towards Noonan. They dis ask me if I wanted the visor down. ""But he'll cook," I said. "Whatever you like!" assured the colleague. "Have it down if you want!" Gotta love those Defence Forces. But the riot gear man was very obliging, and seemed happy when he saw the finished product, or at least I think he was.

I clocked off after that, pretty exhausted but having had a super day. If you're in Galway next July do pop out to Seafest, or better still, come and live by the sea in Galway...





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