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

Searching for a nice watercolor blue to paint my California sky

[Guest Post by Delphine Doreau in Los Angeles] For a long time I was very comfortable with gray. Blue, and especially blue skies, was a luxury in Paris or San Francisco where I lived, something joyful to experience with delight…and rarely sketch. Blue was out of my comfort zone as a sketcher. And then, I moved to LA seven years ago. Here, the sky is blue, a blinding, glorious and lovely blue, most of the time. When I decided to seriously learn to paint watercolor sketches, I had to handle it…and realized I had never given it a real thought.

Painting a beautiful blue sky in watercolor sounds very straightforward, but it's actually a difficult task. There's the whole thing about gradients and paper and dilution of course, but this can be solved with a little exercise and some very good paper.

The biggest problem is actually color. We, as humans, have a good notion of a medium blue. I looked up for a medium blue of 475 nanometers, and found it to be quite unsettling: it's exactly as I imagined it. We all have different versions of basic colors, our own cultural and personal palettes. It's normally impossible to imagine a universal, medium color. It's difficult to define red, some see it more tomato, others more carmine. Yellows are even more difficult and green–don't even think about it. But blue, we have a good notion. It is quite interesting if you think about it. Is it because of the very little occurrence of that color in nature apart from the sky?

Blue sky tests at the Huntington Gardens, in San Marino, CA. This was before I understood that I really, really needed to wet my paper before painting skies.

If you want to sketch a clear blue sky you know what you want to show, wouldn't it be nice to have the exact right blue (or blues) in your palette? 

Problem: There's not so many blue pigments.
And even if you can get the right hue, the right saturation and values are hard to find if not impossible. The sky, pure blue sky, is blue because of Rayleigh scattering: particles in the atmosphere scattering the blue light more than red. It's the light of the sun, scattered. It's more luminous than paper, more luminous than any paint.

I made tests: Prussian blue is too dark, Phthalo is too green and too intense, Ultramarine is nice as a touch but a bit too dark and purple...this, for the not obviously, classic historical pigments that are lightfast and easy to find. I tend to prefer non toxic pigments or not too toxic paints because my cat loves to drink my paint water. I also look for paints with only one pigments at first when building my palette. For example, I quite like Verditer Blue from Daniel Smith, but it's made of three pigments including a gouache-like white, a lovely color but probably not the best building block for a restricted palette. So I continued my search for nice paint made from possibly only one pigment with a historical background...

Some sky tests

I couldn't find a nice blue for my Californian sky. It was very disappointing. I made some research for grays and discovered that cobalt made some delightful cold grays mixed with raw sienna. I tested it but then hesitated. What a beautiful blue.

I looked around for solutions. Richard Parkes Bonington has some beautiful blue skies. John Sell Cotman, too, has delightful, intense blues. So I looked up what kind of paints they had access to in their time. It could be ultramarine, prussian blue...or it could be cobalt. It made me go back to this pigment.

I had some cobalt tucked away, two small tubes, from Sennelier, and Winsor & Newton. Both are the same pigment composition, PB 28, but unlike phthalo green or some other colors that are fairly consistent through the spectrum of brands, I was surprised to discover that the Sennelier cobalt was more ultramarine (reddish) than the Winsor & Newton. It doesn't show much after scanning a RVB picture, but in reality the difference is more visible. Both are beautiful and intense and will make deep saturated skies, combined with other colors for depth. Cobalt blue turns to lovely grays once adding a touch of light red (PR102) or raw sienna, which makes creating clouds a real fun task. So it makes it a very lovely addition to a small, summer sketching palette.

And doing more research, I found out that the closest pigment to that magical medium blue is coeruleum (Which translates roughly in Latin to “ the color of the sky or the sea”).

Cerulean blue is a good color, and something the great painters of the 19th century had access to. But a real one (PB 35) is difficult to find. I bought a Daler Rowney one.

It's almost the right thing for a French sky, a nice, medium blue with a beautiful granulation, but not quite as intense as one would like. There's a hint of green in it, that you can find in some skies, but it's not as intense as cobalt. This said, it's a lovely color to add to a palette, as it makes lovely mixes with other colors.

So...I'm ready to change my palette, again!

Delphine is a French artist living in the Hollywood Riviera in Los Angeles. She’s an Art Director and blogs her work at





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