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

Street vendors the powerhouse of Bhopal

[Guest post by Tapas Mitra in Bhopal]

Street vendors and service providers form a significant visual aspect of the Indian urban landscape. The diversity of trades and services provided is immense and though the entire sector is technically classified under 'urban informal', they provide significant contribution to the country's economy. Seen in residential areas, central business districts and along movement corridors, the vendors are primarily independent traders and/or specialised in certain services. Each holiday or 'absence' from work cost them their day's income. The government tries to mainstream this sector but the nature of the 'informal' cannot perhaps be captured within the formal economic order.

The fruit seller (top) sources the fruit early in the morning and operates from his makeshift shop the whole day. His son helps by arranging the fruit and putting them in bags or packets for the customers. India is trying hard to reach the state of being free of plastic. These days we see more and more paper packets coming into use.

The Chai stall

It is called the tea stall or the 'Chai' stall in India and its presence is almost everywhere (above). As is the ubiquitous holy man. The gas cylinder is kept casually at the front of the shop. Accidents due to this are quite common. The body language of the tea seller boy in the sketch is full of his entrepreneurial persona.

The dress forms or the mannequins (above) are kept outside or hung from bamboo poles of this stretch in a locality called 'Bairagarh' in Bhopal, lived in predominantly by the Sindhi community who settled here after the partition of 1947. They are a business community dealing in a wide range of products. The figure of the holy man makes for a striking visual amidst the mannequins. This sketch was made during Diwali or Deepavali, the Hindu festival of light celebrated all over the country at this time of the year.

The florist
The florist shop (above) does good business during these festive days. Note the garland stitching cum bouquet artist boy at the back of the shop on the street.

The Panipuri vendor
The Panipuri vendor sells perhaps the most popular street snack in India. Ingredients are fried hollow balls with extremely thin crust made of flour to be filled in with a mix of mashed potato, boiled chickpeas, coriander leaves and spices. The ball is then filled with tamarind water and served by hand. How a panipuri shell is burst with the thumb of the left hand is sketched. The panipuri has diverse local variations and as many as, if not more than, six names depending in which part of the country you are in.

Coconut water vendor

The tender coconut water seller perhaps cannot compete with the global soft drink brands but the vendor is a common sight on Indian streets.

The milkman

Every morning the milkman delivers milk at the door steps of his customers. In the sketch, he has 20 and 10 litre containers tied to the bike on both sides. The balancing act is worth a glance.

The boot polishwala

The 'boot polishwala' as he is commonly referred to, is the man on the street, as seen in this modest kiosk in the sketch, who not only polishes, but also repairs and even designs new ones. He is a very specialised service provider. The floaters (sandals) seen in the foreground are meant for customers who take their shoes off while they are being polished or repaired.

The man who presses clothes in residential neighbourhoods use charcoal to heat the iron (above). It is heavy (3-5 kgs) and can be operated only by specialists. Details of the iron and the charcoal chamber are shown in the sketch above.

The last sketch shows the inner court of an old palace, which is restored and taken over by the government to host fairs on various occasions. The one hosted during Diwali is called 'Deepotsav' or 'festival of light'. Here the street comes into a royal palace of another era. I have sketched areas where brass figurines of Hindu gods, goddesses and nymphs are being sold along with lamps of various shapes and forms and sculptural ideas.

Tapas Mitra is a self-taught artist who teaches architecture and urban design at the School of Planning and Architecture in Bhopal, India. He lectured at the 8th Urban Sketchers Symposium in Chicago. Read his previous guest post 'Scenes from the departure lounge'. He lives and works in Bhopal with his wife and daughter.





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