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

Trees and the City: a workshop in Ottawa, Canada

Sponsored by Winsor & Newton

Instructor: Shari Blaukopf
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Date: September 30, 2017,
Morning session: 10 am -1:30 pm (full, wait list only)
Afternoon session: 2 pm - 5:30 pm (full, wait list only)

Workshop description

A landscape sketch is always more interesting when a built element punctuates the flow of nature. The same is true of a city sketch. Trees and plants soften and break up architecture and urban elements. Take a step back from the asphalt and concrete to a grassy patch and you’ll see what I mean. Place yourself in a green space and look at the city again. See how the view shifts and becomes more human, accessible and dramatic. In this workshop we’ll look at the city of Ottawa through the trees!

Learning goals

This workshop will be divided into two parts. The first part will cover methods and techniques for drawing and painting individual trees and other natural elements within the cityscape. The second part will cover compositional decisions and framing techniques to create dynamic sketches.

In this workshop participants will:
  • Explore different ways of using trees to frame a composition
  • Simplify the shapes and lines of trees, while remaining faithful to each tree’s individual character
  • Learn techniques for confidently drawing and painting fresh and vibrant trees, branches and foliage using a combination of ink and watercolour wash
  • Discover methods for painting overlapping views of foliage and architecture

Workshop Schedule

Part 1: Techniques for drawing and simplifying trees

We will start with introductions and by looking at sample sketches and discussing the workshop exercises and demos. We’ll move on to quick line drawings of trees to loosen up, and look at techniques for conveying the uniqueness of each tree, their shapes and contours, volumes and direction.
Next we’ll look at mixing green swatches from our palettes and I’ll demonstrate quick techniques for painting trees by massing foliage, using brush spatters and weaving branches in and out of foliage. We’ll look at lights and darks in foliage, as well as texture on trunks and tree shadows. Participants will have a chance to watch and paint.

Part 2: Composition with trees

In the second part of the workshop we’ll use trees to frame our composition. Are there trees in the foreground, foliage that hangs overhead, buildings that can be seen through the trunks? Quick thumbnail ideas will help us compose our final sketches. There will be a demonstration and then participants will work on their own thumbnails. We’ll review these and then move on to the final sketch.

In this final sketch, students will choose and enlarge one of their thumbnails that incorporates both trees and urban elements in a dynamic composition. This can be either a close-up view or a panoramic scene. This will be a more detailed sketch that incorporates both line and colour. I will walk around for one-on-one instruction.  

In our last half hour the group will gather again to discuss and review the final sketches.

Supply list
  • Portable watercolour palette with a good variety of colours and fresh paint
  • Good quality watercolour sketchbook (Moleskine or other) or loose sheets of watercolour paper on a backing board
  • Small plastic water bottle
  • Brushes: medium size round or flat, small round or rigger brush for details and branches
  • Pencil, pen for drawing (I use a mechanical pencil and a Platinum Carbon EF desk pen for drawing)
  • Bulldog clips, kneaded rubber eraser, paper towels
  • Small folding stool

Workshop Registration and Cost:

Registration Fee: $55 CDN*

Contact Shari Blaukopf at for registration information, space availability, and paypal link.

Maximum Number of Partipants 15 (minimum 10) All levels welcome

*Please note: cancellations up to September 10, 2017 will be refunded the full amount minus a cancellation fee of $20.00, and no refunds will be granted after that date. Thank you for your understanding.

About Shari Blaukopf

Shari Blaukopf is a Montreal-based graphic design teacher, illustrator, sketch blogger and correspondent for Urban Sketchers. She has a BFA from Concordia University with a specialization in graphic design, but her true love has always been watercolour painting.

She is co-founder of Urban Sketchers Montreal and has given many watercolour workshops both on her own and through the Urban Sketchers Workshop Program in Chicago, Manchester, Barcelona, Singapore, Galway, Montreal and Portland. Her watercolours are in corporate, government and private collections in Canada, the United States and abroad, and she is a signature member of the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour. You can find her online courses Sketching Landscapes in Pen, Ink and Watercolor and Sketching the City in Pen, Ink and Watercolor on

These days she spends her winters inside the classroom teaching graphic design to college students and her summers outdoors, giving watercolour workshops and painting the urban landscape.




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