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

Vermeer and the Dutch Masters - A Bunch of Plagiarists

[By Róisín Curé in Dublin] All summer I wanted to get to the Vermeer exhibition at the National Gallery in Dublin. I had seen the movie back in June, had made my mother go to it too, and was enchanted by Vermeer. As an urban sketcher who loves to catch people in everyday poses, I knew this man spoke my language. He was moved by the power and simplicity of the lives of the women around him to capture them for posterity.

Finally I had the chance in early September, and went to book tickets (I had persuaded my entire family to come too, other than the teenager who is ploughing her own furrow at the moment). Surprise! Sold out. And for the following weekend. Disaster. There was only one slot left on a day that I could make it and it was the last day of the exhibition. I booked it, worrying that they'd decide the day before that enough people had seen it, they'd hit their target and the pictures could go back to Amsterdam or Rotterdam or wherever.

The movie, Vermeer, Beyond Time, introduced us to lots of the Dutch Masters as well as Johannes. Yes, I may have shut my eyes briefly during the movie, but that was the bit where Vermeer is standing at the edge of a canal in the dark, with dry ice (mist) wafting around his feet. It's very soporific. My mother decided she'd love to come to the exhibition too, despite having slept soundly through the movie alongside my dad Paddy and their mate Gerry. I asked my mother if she felt she deserved to go to the exhibition, but she very much did.

The exhibition came with little black phones which everyone else seemed to work out how to use a lot faster than me (including my children). My mother, father and their pal Gerry knew immediately what to do with them, because they spend a lot of time at exhibitions: Mum and Gerry because they both paint and Dad because he enjoys going along for the ride and likes art anyway. Plus he is usually guaranteed to say something completely left-of-field about whatever we're looking at. I always try to sidle up to him at any event to see if he is going to say something bananas.

The exhibition, which was packed, was about how the Dutch Masters all copied each other and were quick off the block to see what each other was up to, then dash to their own studios. There was a lot of competition and everyone had to have an edge of some sort. It was a hugely fruitful time in art, there was a lot of money about and a lot of rich people who needed everyone to know how refined and arty they were (plus ça change). The paintings were arranged into groups with similar themes. So you'd have five paintings of women reading a letter. Then four of women sweeping the floor. Then five of young ladies at their toilet being startled by prospective lovers. No, not that kind of toilet, but nonetheless the gents had no business startling them. The narrator on the little black phones was a woman but the writer was clearly a man. The ladies in the paintings never "looked" at someone, they always "gazed erotically" or wore "come hither" expressions. True story. To me, they were just looking, but that might say something about my own powers of seduction. (Note to self: buy book of pictures of ladies in Dutch Masters paintings.) In the above sketch, the theme was "Doorkijkje" - views through doorways. They were beautiful - possibly my favourite of the exhibition.

But what of the Master himself? What about Vermeer? To my amazement, he was just as quick to copy his contemporaries as anyone else. There he would be, in the middle of a row of "women doing housework" paintings. Or - and you've seen them all - a row of women playing musical instruments. I have to be honest though and say that there was simply no comparison between the Vermeers and the others. They were all magnificent, no doubt about that. But Vermeer was unbelievable. The skin tones were so soft and delicate and the brushwork so invisible, but this contrasted sharply with the roughly-applied cream and white of the blouses and the yellow bodices. And of course his palette...totally chimes with my view on palettes at the moment, which is to keep your colours to a minimum. Where Vermeer's contemporaries had a lot of red and a lot of everything else, Vermeer's were pared back. One painting would just be white and cream, yellow and navy. Another would just have blue, white and cream, navy and maybe a few browns. All with the addition of subtle skin tones, of course.

The funny thing was, though, that it seems Vermeer didn't really go around his house becoming suddenly inspired to paint his womenfolk. He decided in advance what he wanted to paint, after having seen his contemporaries' work - not so impromptu after all. Still, so what? I came away inspired to paint in oil, but I still believe that the power of an urban sketch to capture the here and now is the beginning point of all genre art. Is that the word for paintings of people doing stuff? It was used a lot in art college. and I always meant to ask.

Fabulous exhibition. My kids and husband loved it. Mum was delighted to go, delighted to have been able to invite Gerry and Dad said some nutty things about the paintings. Great day had by all.




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