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

Book Review: 5-Minute Sketching – Landscapes

[Book review by Tina Koyama] When I think of Virginia Hein’s work, two things come to mind: light and composition. She is a master of both, and when I heard she had a new book on landscape sketching, I was thrilled to be able to learn her techniques.

5-Minute Sketching – Landscapes: Super-Quick Techniques for Amazing Drawings is the latest in Firefly Books’ series on drawing from life that focuses on speed. (Other books in the series that I’ve enjoyed are on architecture, people, and animals, by Liz Steel, Pete Scully, and Gary Geraths, respectively.)

Although the term “urban sketching” appears nowhere in the description, all of the principles and techniques covered by Virginia’s book could apply to any type of on-location landscape sketching – urban or rural, desert or tropical, land or sea. Almost all of the sketch example contributors are familiar to me from the Urban Sketchers community, including Shari Blaukopf, Laura Frankstone, Don Low, Shiho Nakaza, Melanie Reim and Pat Southern-Pearce, to name just a few. And of course, Virginia herself, a Los Angeles resident, Urban Sketchers symposium instructor and USk correspondent, contributes many of her own urban and other landscape sketches to the book.

Divided into four main sections, the book begins with an overview of composition, perspective and observation in See the Big Picture. I was particularly interested in topics on seeing large shapes, emphasizing the light, and learning to simplify a complex scene by identifying a strong focal point – all strategies that I see Virginia employing so well in her work.

Drilling down further, the second chapter covers specific strategies and techniques for sketching on location, including an exploration of various tools, materials and support formats. Because I know Virginia works frequently in watercolor, I expected the book to have a heavy emphasis on that medium, but I was happily surprised to find that it takes much more of a mixed media approach. For quick sketches, she advises working on a small scale, not only because small sketches are faster, but also because it encourages more exploration and playing without the fear of wasting materials.

Chapter 3 focuses on specific elements we encounter in most landscapes such as trees, sky, water and foliage. In this section, I especially appreciate Virginia’s emphasis on observing these elements closely so that they never appear generic. For example, many trees in a particular terrain may look similar, but drawing them requires seeing each tree as a unique individual and capturing its personality. At the same time, she gives ideas on how to see and evoke large masses of foliage so that we don’t attempt to draw each leaf. Finding this balance between the specific and the general is a key to sketching a landscape quickly and yet accurately capturing its essence.

The last section, Take it Further, offers fun and creative ideas for using improvised materials (coffee, anyone?) and unconventional formats and breaking out of habitual ruts. As an intrepid urban sketcher, Virginia encourages telling stories by creating montages of small sketches, developing a sequence, or simply writing notes directly on the sketchbook page. She urges spontaneity and being open to whatever the moment offers. For example, if birds or a blimp appear suddenly in the sky, put them into the sketch!

Overall, I highly recommend this delightful resource of ideas and tips for almost any kind of on-location sketching from one of my favorite artists.

Opinions expressed by our correspondents and guest contributors don't necessarily represent an official view of





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