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

Farewell To The French Riviera

[by Róisín Curé in Nice, France] My parents bought an apartment in Nice ten years ago so that they could escape the dreary Irish winter. They've done this in admirable style since then: my mother brought impeccable taste to the apartment, furnishing it just as it should have been. Over the last decade, I've been lucky enough to have brought my young family there to stay with them. I loved the apartment from the first moment I set eyes on it, but I think I may have seen it for the last time, because my parents have decided to sell up. My father is more inclined to stay at home in Bray, close to the golf course of which he's been a member for 66 years, and my mother has had poor health over the last few years and doesn't want to be there on her own. In spite of these real issues, my mother is heartbroken to leave the apartment, which, while very French in character, reminds her of her childhood in Montreal. She asked me to come and help her move, packing and sorting and so on, so I found myself on the French Riviera last week.

Of course, Nice in August was going to be hot, and a nasty heatwave (nicknamed "Lucifer" for its resemblance to hell) was sweeping much of Europe. But in Nice we avoided the worst of it, and temperatures didn't exceed the low thirties while we were there. The humidity was high, though - clothes took ages to dry on the line - and it was a bit uncomfortable, so my mother and I spent every afternoon on the beach.

2nd August
After a dreadfully early start, we arrived in Nice in time for lunch. On the right in the above sketch are cameos from the Blue Beach, a lovely beachfront restaurant. Jets of water vapour were puffed into the terrace for our comfort. My mother and I each had a wonderful fresh scallop salad, and the waiter, Patrick, was charming.  On the left are the umbrellas beside us. The scale of my figures is a bit wonky - there is a Godzilla bather and a Lilliputian one - but never mind, I got used to the vagaries of drawing rapidly-moving people as the week wore on (ie. I avoided them).
I tried again, looking the other direction, and felt I did a bit mother was pleased with my depiction of her. She has always been very glamorous and that's how I drew her. On the right a couple of dark-skinned children with South American accents played with an inner tube. As we left, fishermen came to set up their rods on the little pier.
3rd August
The next morning I thought I'd start recording my mother's lovely bits and pieces in her apartment. Here are some of the pottery pieces she's collected over the years. 

That afternoon on the beach, in the same spot as the day before. The lady in black was gorgeous, and must have been a child bride, for the fine, strapping young men flinging stones into the sea gave the impression that they were her boys. 
An old man (looking good, like everyone on the Med, regardless of their age) tried to coax his granddaughter to swim to him, just a bit further...they were Italian, as you can see from the speech bubbles.
The lady in the red polka dot bikini wasn't there at all, but on the far right, off the page. Unfortunately when I started drawing her I didn't know that I'd end up making such a comprehensive scene. Her companion sat to her left, but although he was there for ages, I started to draw him seconds before he got up and left.

4th (and 5th and 7th August)
The next day we met a friend of my mother's, Chantal, for lunch in a place called Mori's. The food was sensational and Chantal had huge prawns flambéed in a pastis sauce. "I order the same thing every time," she said. I had mussels in roquefort sauce, but I resolved to go back and try the prawns next time. That's why there are two dates on the page on the right - the first time with Chantal and the second time with my mum. I had the prawns in pastis sauce the second time, and I can assure you they were incredible. "My compliments to the chef," I said to M. Mori, "these prawns were a dream." "I'm the dream," he said, in true Niçois-flirty style. My mother took a shine to him, but I preferred a young waiter who flashed a gold tooth when he smiled. However, he only had eyes for my mother. I should try to be more glamorous. 

The sketch on the left is a nice place where we had lunch the next day. The elderly couple on the right were not as young as they used to be but love exuded from the way the man put his arm across his wife's shoulders after the meal. I saw that a lot in Nice - older couples showing casual affection to each other - and it was a very lovely, positive thing to behold.

That afternoon I drew these beauties on the beach. This time we were at Castel on the eastern end of the promenade. I revelled in the chance to capture sunlight on brown skin, which made a nice change from my pasty compatriots. I didn't get to draw a really dark black person but maybe next time. It would have offered a whole different set of challenges, especially when soaking wet.
This is a sing-along sketch: you are supposed to mimic the musical calls of the beach-hawkers as they try to sell you water and beer and the like.

On Friday evening my mother invited her neighbour, Paolo, over for dinner. He is from a tiny village in Italy and was most charming company. He kindly sent a friend of his to see my parents' apartment the next day: she had been looking for a place for ages. She made an offer but it wasn't what my parents were looking for, and that was that. 
In this sketch you can see the curving marble steps that lead from the living room to the garden, and the orange tree that fills your gaze when you look through the French doors. The blue pot was a gift my parents bought to celebrate fifty years of marriage, so that will have to go back to Bray when they leave.
5th August
Saturday afternoon on the beach: two beautiful Italian ladies sat under this umbrella and gossiped about one of their sisters (my Italian is very bad so I didn't pick up what they were saying). The two ladies were in their early sixties, I'd say, and like everyone on the beach were immaculately groomed. Not a hair out of place - and a change of bikini, from scarlet to sunny yellow, halfway through the afternoon! - in fact, I have been inspired to make more of an effort with my appearance by all the glamourpusses I saw in Nice. Anyway, I didn't draw the two ladies, because I thought it might make them feel scrutinised, but I knew their friend wouldn't notice, so I drew him. When I was finished, they asked to see the sketch. "Brava!" they cried. "Bravissima!" No need to have worried, then. 

6th August
Well, there's only so many times you can draw the same patch of beach, so the next afternoon I turned to face the other direction, and I drew the lifeguard hut. It wasn't much of a scene but I stuck to a limited colour palette and managed to achieve something. The bird on the lower left was in the opposite direction, but I wasn't about to miss that chance. It was a cormorant of some sort, albeit  a brown one. I'm glad it's there - it tells you what a beautiful colour the water was.
7th August
Back in my mother's place the next day, I drew the view from the hall corridor towards the open shutters and French doors. I very much wanted to capture the beauty of the tiled floor, so that evening I attempted it, but the real thing is a million times nicer than my sketch. It's hard to draw something that's beautiful partly because of its intricacy and symmetry. I made a total hames of the circle things but I'm still glad I have it. I'll blame it on the rosé that my mother and I enjoyed every evening.

8th August
On Tuesday morning, the day we were set to leave (but not till late evening), I drew the exterior of the apartment. It's in the Russian Quarter, where all the buildings are signed by the architect. It's appropriate that the Sun God guards the entrance on horseback...the city is all about sun. It wasn't easy standing outside at midday with the base of my spine against a bollard. I had just donated a portable stool to charity, along with many other of my mother's possessions, but I missed it.

The odd yellow plant is a representation of the mosaic that decorate the top floor of the apartment building. They look great in real life, glinting in the sun - not so good in watercolour. So I drew the vine that was growing in my mother's garden around it, complete with grapes that could have been in a grocer's, they were so perfect. We had lunch in Le Gambetta at Libération. I drew the waiter and it was a fail, so I drew the lunch right on top of him. Much better!
In the afternoon we lounged about on the beach, just within sight of Le Negresco, a very fancy Niçois hotel built in the Russian style. I'm glad I included the French flag on top.

Our plane was delayed by over two hours and it was nearly midnight as we climbed over the Baie des Anges. I'm a terribly jittery flier, and had my eyes squeezed shut as the plane left the ground. But just in time I remembered to look out the window, and there beneath me was the Promenade des Anglais, fringing the black void of sea, twinkling away in the dark. In my sleepy but nervous state, it was like a dream world.

Vive la France!





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