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

Journey to the Tatar homeland

[Guest post by Leslie Akchurin in the Republic of Tatarstan] In July, I accompanied my husband and some of his family on a unique trip to Russia, on invitation for a cultural visit from the Tatar National Congress. While all but one of this group were raised in Turkey, the lives of their Tatar parents and grandparents had spanned turbulent decades in several countries. My companions were excited to visit the villages that their families had left behind, to find people they were related to, and to augment their understanding of places and things that had been hinted about all their lives.

At 2:00 a.m., we flew into Kazan, the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan, and I had my first delightful experience of a light-filled northern summer sky. We were greeted at the airport by local officials, and in the days that followed, we were received by many dignitaries and scholars. I speak no Tatar, but this deficit did allow me extra time for sketching while the others were engaged in conversation.

Below is the Marcani Mosque, which was the first mosque built in Kazan after it came under Russian rule. It is now the oldest acting mosque in Tatarstan. People were coming out and posing for group photos after a wedding.

Here, you see the statue of the Tatar poet Musa Djalil—who was martyred by the Gestapo in 1944—at the front gates of the fascinating Kremlin, which Ivan the Terrible captured after a long seige in 1552, afterwards banishing the Tatars and Jews to the far side of the river.

From Kazan, we took an overnight train to Saransk, the capital of the Republic of Mordovia, and for several days traveled by car to small villages where my companions’ ancestors had lived. One convivial afternoon, a local imam--a distant relative of one of our group--shared artifacts and entertained us in his home. (See sketch at the top of the page)

In another lush little village, we enjoyed a fabulous lunch with relatives who treated us like long-lost kin.

The local imam liked to engage in somewhat hectoring religious education when he found the opportunity…

Mordovian villages tend to be identifiable from a distance by their churches or simple mosques, like this one. The central figures in this sketch were our friendly but terrifyingly speedy drivers!

Ultimately, we ended up in Moscow, where, like all tourists, we were simply overwhelmed by the magnificent buildings in Red Square and the Kremlin—here the famous St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Ivan the Great Bell Tower.

After our Russian adventure, my husband and I spent time with his immediate family in Turkey with several days at our favorite seaside town, Çirali, which lies next to the ancient Lycian city of Olympos. I leave you with a few sketches from our relaxed time there: the afternoon beach scene and a local lady with her curiously tall chickens.

Leslie Akchurin is a Connecticut Yankee who lives on the Texas Panhandle. She drew these sketches with an Apple Pencil in the Tayasui Sketches app on her iPad Pro. Currently, she tutors at a university writing center and sketches as much as possible. She’s an administrator of the USk Lubbock chapter, and more of her work can be seen here.





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