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

Bali and Java captured on toned paper

[Guest post by Doug Russell in Java and Bali, Indonesia]

During the summer of 2017, my wife and I traveled for a month through Java and Bali in Indonesia. Borobudur was the initial reason for our visit to Indonesia, but I found myself sketching and enjoying many other wonderful sites – both the venerated and the commonplace.

One of the first drawings I did on this trip set the mood for the rest (see above).  Early in the morning, on the front porch of the Yabbiekayu bungalow studying the light falling on the opposite bungalow put my mind in the right place for travel: slow down, look, observe, record, enjoy.

I am always looking for ways to change up my drawing process. A few years ago, I decided to limit myself to one hour per sketch – with the potential for a “bonus” ten minutes of fast sketching to finish it up if absolutely necessary. The quickened process prevented overworking a piece and also brought me into a closer relationship to my subject and drawing materials.

For this trip I retooled my travel sketching kit, choosing to use toned gray and brown paper and a limited palette of Prismacolor pencils. The paper provided a value and color to play off against. I also chose to expand my palette away from my typical monochromatic pen and ink work on white paper. Indonesia seemed to demand a more tonal, colorful, and textural solution.

Rice Fields at Yabbiekayu Bungalows, Yogyakarta, Java

A view from the back porch of our bungalow in early morning.

Yabbiekayu Bungalow, Yogyakarta, Java

A view of our bungalow from a handmade bamboo tower.

Plaosan Temples, Yogyakarta, Java

This was a pleasant change from the larger and more touristed Prambanan Temple complex we had visited the day before.  As I drew, workers at the archeological site watched quietly from inside the building behind me.

Rice Fields near Borobudur, Java

As the evening calls to prayer echoed in the distance, I drew from the porch of our bungalow at the Rumah Dharma Guesthouse near Borobudur.

Mendut Temple, Java

One morning, my wife and I borrowed bicycles from the Rumah Dharma Guesthouse and rode to the quiet and beautiful Mendut temple.  I found a quiet and shady spot and worked on the drawing for about an hour. 

Pura Lempuyang, Bali

This is a small shrine inside the larger Pura Lempuyang complex.  The temples here have many other more spectacular gates and features, but I found this small shrine to be a humble small subject.  Though one can climb all the way to the top of the temple hill (over 1700 steps), we opted to go just part way up that day – enjoying the mist shrouded forests and temples along the way.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, Bali

This was one of the most spiritual and breathtaking moments of the trip.  We arrived early to find the entire lake and temple covered in fog and mist.  As the morning progressed, the clouds rolled over the waters and repeatedly revealed and concealed the temple.  When I began drawing the entire site was quiet and empty.  By the end I was waiting for the selfie-takers in front of me to move so that I could get one more glimpse of the temple.  As the mist turned to rain, one of the on-site professional tourist photographers graciously offered his umbrella to me.

Pura Batu Bolong, Tanah Lot, Bali

There was no obvious and convenient place to draw the view of the temple I had wanted to capture.  So, I chose to stand and lean my drawing board on a stone lamp on a main path overlooking the cliff.  I soon was surrounded by an ever changing group of polite onlookers.  My drawing and I became the subject of many people’s tourist photos and selfies that day.

Villa Gate, Sanur, Bali

As with the bungalows in Yogyakarta, I chose to focus here less on the famous and historic – and spent a morning studying the play of light and shadow falling across one of the villa gates at our hotel.

Poolside, Sanur, Bali
While waiting for our ride to the airport, I snuck in one more quick sketch – looking out across our hotel pool. The gate I had drawn earlier is hidden in this sketch behind the foliage on the right.

Drawing kit for this Indonesia trip

Drawing on site is a way to be a witness of a place, a moment, a space in time. In that moment I am fully focused and present. It is truly one of the joys of travel and of drawing. I often augment this experience by recording stereo audio files of ambient sound. Along with the drawings I’ve done, the recordings I’ve captured help to bring back those fleeting moments to me long after the trip is over – a kind of audio sketch. You can listen to a few of my Indonesia recordings here on SoundCloud.

Doug Russell is an Associate Professor of Art who teaches drawing at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, USA.   You can see more of Doug’s travel drawings on his website.





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