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

Zoo-Illogical Sketching

[By Marc Taro Holmes in Montreal, QC,CA] Happy Thanksgiving 'Murica! From the wild turkeys at the Montreal Zoo Ecomuseum.

For a huge bird with impressive plumage, they're astonishingly ugly when you get up close. What on earth is the point of all that knobbly skin on their heads? Nature is impressive in it's variety - but it doesn't always care what looks good to us :)

The turkeys at our particular zoo are quite tame, coming up to the fencing and hanging out with you, making them quite easy to draw. Unlike say, foxes, who hide in gullies and under logs and only pop up to dash across their enclosure.

I was surprised to learn that not all red fox are red. Of the pair on hand this day one was the orangy red you'd expect, the other was black with silver tips, excepting the very end of his tail, which was a traditional pure-white fox tail.

It's getting late in the year to be outside sketching, I had five layers of coats and sweaters. The fox was so puffy with his winter coat he looked more like a badger. But he still did that pounce-straight-up-in-the-air which is so distinctive of foxes.

Naturally, when drawing animals the challenge is their constant motion.

It seems, if you can see them, they're moving. For sure, most of the time you can't even find the animal in the cage. Or finally you see an unrecognizable ball of fur way up in a tree or in the back of a shelter. But the other common behavior, in everything from wolves, to big cats, to this fisher (in the weasel family but sometimes called a pekan or fisher cat) - is pacing.

They run loops around the enclosure. Back and forth, around in circles, never stopping. Most of these animals have worn a path into the perimeter of their space.

So, when sketching, it's a matter of waiting on them. Working on a pose every time they loop by. I think you can see in fox above, and this fisher, that I'm starting the drawing with scribbles - just open lines and suggestions of contours - I'm doing a lot of guessing - until gradually committing to certain arc of spine or set of leg positions.

That's the key for me - just keep drawing right on top of the sketch. Your drawing might look hopeless with all these corrections. But as soon as you throw on color, it makes the final pose jump out, and all the searching lines become unimportant. I don't mind leaving the sketching in. It's just part of the the look of a spontaneous drawing. I do the same thing when drawing people from life.

The name fisher by the way has nothing to do with fishing or eating fish. Wikipedia tells me it's based on fitch, a name for the European polecat.

Whereas the otter - definitely eats fish.

We came by just in time see the keeper tossing in some silvery herrings, which were chomped down, bones and all, in about five minutes. Only leaving a tail stub behind.

Interesting to note how the otter and the fisher are very similar in build - but the fisher - being a forest creature, has a light fluffy tail (like a squirrel) where the otter has a thick, muscular, short-haired tail (almost rat like to be honest). You can see right away the otter is built to swim, with that powerful tail being the outboard motor, where the fisher climbs and leaps through the trees, using the tail for balance.

It's always fascinating to me when I figure something out just by drawing. The whole process of being observant is - (ha ha) - kind of eye-opening.

So, lets end the Ecomuseum with the green frog.

I don't know why, but there's an old fashioned epithet where they call French people Frogs. My understanding is it has to do with eating frogs? Which personally, I wouldn't consider that an insult - I love frog legs. I had some great ones in Cambodia, the size of chicken legs. Delicious!

But I suppose people are able to make anything into a slur, just by the way they say it. I wish someone would call me a frog - I've finally got my bonjour to be good enough that people here in Montreal talk French to me.

Here's a few more animals from life - these remaining ones from the Granby Zoo.

It was weird to be at these two places (though, not in the same day - they're nowhere near each other).

The Ecomuseum only houses animals from Quebec. There's a quality of life rationale - that their living conditions are as identical as possible to a natural space. And that the climate is right for them by default. (Eg, no African elephants standing knee deep in snow). I also believe their animals are rescues or second generation thereof, and can't be released back into the wild for various reasons.

The Granby Zoo on the other hand is full on razzle dazzle. Alligators and tigers and colorful tropical birds.

There's a weird Jurassic Park slash King Kong vibe all over the place - huge plastic logs and fiberglass bamboo signs. Trying for a safari feel I suppose? I mean, the place is attached to a waterpark called 'Amazoo '- which I had zero interest in checking out. Zip down the Anaconda Slide, stop by the Tiki Dog stand!

Well, I was tempted by the Bear Paw hut.

A significant portion of the Granby zoo was set aside for an exhibit of anamatronic (robot) dinosaurs. They made a terrific racket fake-roaring and fake-screeching on loud speakers. A: it seemed like a huge cash grab to get the kids in to see these mechanical leaping lizards and B: it has to be stressful for the real animals hearing these mega predators bellowing from sun up to sun down. I know it was bugging the hell out of me.

It's a bit hard to take it seriously as a zoological institution. You're left with the simple feeling that it's a cynical for-profit business crammed full of unfortunate creatures.

So, I dunno what to do about all that. I want to think I can enjoy an afternoon drawing animals. But I'm not sure if I should be giving these sideshow operators my money.

It feels cleaner somehow to draw taxidermy animals at the Redpath. Sure they were killed for a museum some time in the last century. But at least the critter goes on to a peaceful afterlife working for science. I think the argument in favor is, a properly cared for taxidermy mount will last forever.

So, we'll see how much more zoo drawing I end up doing.

I'd be quite willing to donate myself to the plastination people if you want to draw my corpse in a museum! Possibly that will make up for some karmic debt.





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