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

Workshop in Kent: A Trek through Time

[By Róisín Curé in Kent] I gave an urban sketching workshop in Kent and East Sussex last week. I visit the area a lot, as some of my husband's family live there. He is from London, and has no desire to return to Britain. "The South-East is like a museum," he says. Maybe so, in some ways. But I for one have had enough of the wild beauty that is everywhere in Galway, and I could do with a bit of controlled, civilised beauty. The part of Kent that we visited is stuffed to bursting with incredibly beautiful buildings spanning hundreds of years, and Kent's great gardens often feature in inspirational gardening books. The population is older than the national average, everyone is exceedingly polite and law and order prevails. I love it. 

The workshop was centred around Tenterden, a pretty little town not too far from Ashford. Our group started with the twentieth century at Tenterden Town Station. We were due to take the beautiful steam train to Bodiam Castle later on in the morning, and meanwhile the vintage signs on the station platform provided plenty of mid-twentieth century atmosphere.
After our trip to Bodiam we sketched the stacks of old suitcases. The station master passed me as I sketched. He was not a tall man, bespectacled in gold-rimmed glasses, a magnificent red curly beard and an immaculate uniform in black, trimmed with red and gold. He wore a large cap with a shiny black peak. "If only those suitcases could talk," he said. "What would they say, do you think?" I asked. He pointed out the one on top on the right. "That one has been to Mauritius and back," he said, "in 1978. I nearly stayed there, but I met a lady here...I couldn't say for sure, but I think my father may have brought it to war, and I know it originally belonged to my grandmother. That dates it to the 1930s."
We looked at the others and tried to guess their provenance. In the end I made them "talk" in my sketch.

At Tenterden Museum I was touched by the coat of the sergeant. As I sketched I thought of the soldier who wore it, and how he sacrificed his life for his country in the First World War. Then afterwards I drew the soldier himself from the photo beside the coat. Apparently there had been false reports of his death sent to his family, and when they discovered that he was still alive and well they flew the Union Jack from the top of an oast house to spread the good news. He came home safe and sound and lived to be 97, and was a keen double bass player and skater. Happy ending for once! And it's the only drawing I made of an oast house, which are everywhere in Kent.

The next day we went to Cranbrook, to visit Union Mill. We had been promised a private tour. It really couldn't be prettier, and the amazing Chris showed us round. The mill is still operational, and Chris got a few of us to grind a little bit of flour. Enough for one scone, I'd say. I bought a jar of bramble jelly from the little shop on the ground floor. I figured my husband would like that better than any other gift (okay, I was thinking of myself). I spent much time as a teenager trying and usually failing to get blackberry jelly to set, so I was very happy with my purchase.
The mill was built by a lady who lived next to it for her son, so that he would have an income, back in 1803 (mothers!). That worked a treat until the end of the Napoleonic Wars, when parts of the economy crashed. The mill had a succession of owners and has been beautifully restored now as a tourist attraction.

Up to the fourth level we went. "Make sure to come down the steps backwards," advised Chris. The ladders got progressively steeper as we climbed. Chris was a terrific character, insisting we push ourselves to the edge of our comfort zones: he made me stand on one of the grain trapdoors just to prove to the assembled onlookers that they only open upwards. 

My eye was caught by these bags of grain. They made a good example of some of the techniques I was teaching. The bag of flour at the bottom of the sketch was suspended from a balance. 
"A farmer turned up with the balance one day," said Chris. "He'd been using it for years to measure feed for his sheep. 'You can have it back now,' he said, 'I don't want it any more.' We told him not to bother but it came back anyway."

That afternoon we visited Sissinghurst, where Vita Sackville-West lived with her husband Harold Nicholson. The garden is magnificent. Beautiful. All the superlatives you can possibly think of. I recognised a couple of scenes from my Reader's Digest Good Ideas for your Garden. Gardeners everywhere. A huge tower, a folly, is a focal point of the garden: it closes next month for renovations - why didn't I go inside when I had the chance? Instead I painted bricks for the class and froze, for although it was very sunny it was cold and windy in the shade. Then, just before our scheduled minibus home, we challenged ourselves to a last twenty-minute sketch. As the clock struck 5.30, a few drops of rain began to fall. My sketch is on the left but I did the bricks when I got home. I hate doing that - the way I approach a sketch means I do everything on site - but this time it couldn't be helped.

Next day was our trip to Rye. After some terrific weather, it was better again. Hot, sunny and still. We made our way to Rye Castle - Ypres Tower (I got its name wrong on my sketch) - and were awestruck by its simple lines and satisfying symmetry. This time the challenge was stone walls and shiny metal, as there were cannon and cannonballs on the ground in front of the towers.

After a while we slowly wended our way down the very steep Mermaid Street, voted by The Telegraph as one of the five most beautiful streets in Britain. It really is. It's like a fairy tale street...straight out of the Brothers Grimm. The buildings have quaint names - "The House Opposite" "The House With Two Front Doors" and many have year they were built written above the doors, dated to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

The street is cobbled, making it heavy going for those unsteady on their feet. I will always remember my 16-year-old daughter in mint green stilettoes that were never meant for actual perambulation trying to walk along those cobbles a year ago, at her auntie's wedding. "I can't walk on this terrain!" she wailed. "You have to help me!" It was more physical help than she had accepted from me or anyone for years, but the alternative was breaking an ankle.

The street is also full of doves and pigeons, so I drew one...

We spent the afternoon in Smallhythe Place, onetime home of Ellen Terry, a famous actress. More outstanding beauty of a quintessentially English nature.

The next day we met up in Little Dane Court, the B&B where some of the group were staying. Rod, the proprietor, is a lover of all things Japanese, and he has blended Tudor and Japanese in his house and garden in a delightful way. The students painted whatever took their fancy, trying to put into practice some of the things we'd gone over during the workshop, and it was all very relaxed. One of our number had a stroke of inspiration: we would all paint a postcard and each choose one blind, so to speak. After that everyone went their own ways the length and breadth of England and as far away as Switzerland (and of course Ireland).

I climbed into a taxi for the airport and left sunny Kent behind. In the airport I had to decant my precious bramble jelly into miserable plastic bottles - and back again once I'd landed - but there was no way it wasn't coming to Ireland with me.

I was sad to be back home in Galway. The summer is over and it's not a bit museum-like in the West of Ireland, being neither remotely tidy nor groomed.

Lucky for me South-East England is only a couple of hours away.

A somewhat extended version of this article is available on my website here.




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