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

Do buildings have a personality?

[Guest post by Richard Aitken in Melbourne, Australia]

 I trained as an architect, so sketching buildings is my main pre-occupation. My training was all straight lines, right angles, and accurate perspective. Yet so often, a sketch embodying these ideals can be a trifle lifeless—more photograph than creative act. So in the past few months I’ve been exploring the idea of inanimate personality. 

For these drawings, I used Inktober to snap back into a daily sketching routine.

I’m not a quick sketcher. I like to interact with my subject, watching and waiting. Like a good author, I try to spend some time in dialogue, to get the best story or find the most telling aspect. I love looking for quirks. Are those walls slightly out of alignment? Is that column at a slightly raking angle? Have those foundations sunk slightly, causing floors to dip and sway? These are the chinks that allow an inanimate personality to be revealed.

My first experiment investigating a building’s personality was in Portugal. I’m not a big fan of graffiti on historic buildings, so I tried to give this wonderful structure (above) in Lisboa’s Rua Carlos Testa some decency and pride, without disguising its age or condition.

Portuguese buildings are loaded with personality. Vila Real de Santo António sits at the very south-east corner of Portugal, facing south to the Mediterranean Sea and east to the River Guardiana (which constitutes the Portuguese–Spanish border). This exuberant building seemed at odds with the formality of VRSA’s eighteenth-century grid plan so I channeled the nautical influence of old-time ships as I sketched.

Back home, I continued my exploration in Melbourne. I’ve been looking for vulnerable buildings to record their character and the part they play in giving my suburb its character—before it’s too late. Sadly land prices have now overtaken house values in many parts of Australia’s capital cities, and a whole era of modest residential architecture is under grave threat. Sometimes with sketching it is best to err on the side of caution and above I sparingly used monochrome to complement the simplicity of the enveloping corrugated iron roof gleaming in the sun as well as to help suggest some depth to the curtilage.

This early twentieth century house was once a small suburban maternity hospital but its proximity to a shopping centre has sounded the death knell, and it was demolished for medium density residential apartments before Inktober had even ended. I tried to invest it with the melancholy wistfulness of a life well lived yet sadly cut short.

Sketching has the advantage over conventional photography of being able to incorporate multiple vantage points in one sketch, such as showing three sides of a building; an interpretative technique I used to suggest that this house resembles an ark of private memories.

Simplification of buildings does not necessarily mean leaving out their setting, and I often find a satisfactory solution using free lines that hint at driveways, fences, and footpaths without them being a distraction to the psychological drama of the main subject. Often—as here—this line is a third voice, turning a dialogue into a conversation.

There is something at once scary yet deeply satisfying in using ink directly onto paper without any pencil guidelines. It’s a high-wire act without the safety net. It’s just eye, hand, and nib. I’ve enjoyed meeting these personable friends. These buildings speak to me. I see them on my daily walk, and now thanks to Inktober, I recorded them as well.

Richard Aitken is a historian, author, and curator based in Melbourne, Australia. His most recent book is "Planting Dreams: shaping Australian gardens" (NewSouth, 2016). He is notoriously shy of social media, but blogs occasionally as ‘roygbiv’ on the USk Portugal website.





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