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

Hiking Nepal, the roof of the world

[Guest post by Marni Zainodin in Nepal] 

I was lucky enough to to visit Kathmandu in March, a country I have always wanted to visit.

My initial plan was only to visit the city, do some sight seeing, visit temples, take a day tour in Kathmandu, and of course sketch! However, I ended up hiking the Annapurna Range to Poon Hill viewpoint.

I have no previous experience in hiking or trekking. I found a backpacking tour online and within my budget. So I did do a little training to prepare myself to walk in a group of 10 other fellow Malaysians. Just like the saying 'sink or swim' I managed to actually go through and surprised myself by not being the last person on the walk.

For 10 days, my new hiking friends and I hiked and admired the beautiful Nepal mountains. I begin to learn more about hiking and marathons! (one of my fellow Malaysian hikers happened to be marathon coach) so everyday there was something to learn - and of course, as an urban sketcher - a sketch book is always in hand. I sketched everyday, but there's a certain challenge to sketching and hiking at the same time. This is something I'm looking forward to be experimenting with more.

12 March 2017, Kathmandu , Nepal
My first introduction to Nepal was the Festival of Colour or Holi. Celebrations started early in the morning. I went to the rooftop of my hotel which afforded views of more rooftops. I will always remember that morning. As I waited for the warmth of the morning sun, I noticed a local family (most probably the owner or workers at the hotel) gathered their kids together and from afar, I could see them throwing coloured powder at each other. Holi begins at home! The kids were laughing, obviously having a good time. The main event took place at Kathmandu Durbar Square and it’s an experience of a lifetime you have to try for yourself. Just remember to wear white to catch a lot of colours!

13 March 2017, Pokhara Lake side, Nepal

Pokhara, located about five to six hours from Kathmandu by walking, is the gateway to the Annapurna range. At the centre of this town is Phewa Lake – a beautiful view and a lovely spot to sightsee. There are restaurants around the lake too, so take a slow evening stroll around, or rent a boat and paddle around. Leave your thoughts behind and move with the natural flow of the lake.

15 March 2017, Chommrong 2340m, Nepal

Hiking these beautiful mountains towards the Annapurna range amazed me more each day. I've been walking from one to another mountain for past two days, no bike or motor can go up toward this mountain, except in emergency cases where a helicopter is needed - of course. The way up and down is by walking/hiking - and yet you'll find small little towns mostly populated by teahouses or guest houses catering to tourists and travelers alike. Everything here is serene.

It's my first time hiking thru snow. It's challenging to get to Poon hill at 3210m (see sketch at top). We start at dawn, as we hope to get the beautiful view of Annapurna range by sunlight. I did not get to sketch by the first sunrise on 18 of March due to very thick cloud fog. As someone who lives in hot southeast Asia, the extremely cold weather was indeed new to me. I am blessed that I make it, and I sketch this view on the way down to our guest house. I wish my urban sketchers friends would be there and sketch it too.

“Stranger than fiction”
18 March 2017, Tikkhedunga 1540 m, Nepal
Even up on the Annapurna range, I was never far from a teahouse as there are many surrounding the hills. Many of them double as guest houses as well, for weary trekkers looking to spend the night. Hot food, hot showers, WiFi – they have it all if you want it. It can’t be denied that digital social connection has become a vital part of 21st century life, but it also wouldn’t kill you to leave the virtual world behind for a while. At the time, these lines from the film Stranger Than Fiction, kept playing in my mind:
Dr. Jules Hilbert: Hell Harold, you could just eat nothing but pancakes if you wanted.

Harold Crick: What is wrong with you? Hey, I don’t want to eat nothing but pancakes, I want to live! I mean, who in their right mind in a choice between pancakes and living chooses pancakes?

Dr. Jules Hilbert: Harold, if you pause to think, you’d realize that that answer is inextricably contingent upon the type of life being led… and, of course, the quality of the pancakes.”

I’ll take that hot masala tea or maybe a hot lemon juice. And sketchbook, of course.

Marni Zainodin is a postcard illustrator, mail art artist and travel sketcher who loves walking too. She works in souvenir shop in the Cameron Highlands, in the region of Pahang, Malaysia. She often travels 5 hours to join the Urban Sketchers Penang Sunday Sketchwalk. See more of her work here and here.





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