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

Searching for Sperm Whales in the gulf of Naples

[by Simo Capecchi, Ischia, Italy]

In September I was kindly hosted on board of the "Jean Gab". This beautiful cutter from the Thirties is the floating laboratory of Oceanomare Delphis, an association dedicated to the observation and research on cetaceans in the Mediterranean sea and in the Gulf of Naples. Their mission is to promotes conservation of big mammals and to raise awareness on marine biological diversity. Oceanomare team have been collecting data on 7 species of cetaceans since 1991. They finance their research organizing cruises and workshops on the sailing boat from May to October.

It has been a surprise for me to know that there are sperm whales up to 18 meters swimming around my town, where there is an underwater canyon deep enough for them to fish giant squids, despite the huge traffic of boats and the questionable quality of the water. Early in the morning I reached Casamicciola harbor in Ischia island and joined the crew on board, hoping to be so lucky to spot one of them.

Captain Angelo Miragliuolo is from Casamicciola but the boat has been his home since many years. Alessandra is studying Environmental Science in Naples and has been his assistant for the season. Britanny is a workshop participant from South Africa and will stay in Ischia for a couple of months.

The boat is equipped with two hydrophones Angelo adapted himself, among other instruments. All sounds are recorded and translated in visual data on computer. Two little dogs, who live on the boat with Angelo, will start barking well before the hydrophones amplify any click or whistle: Berta and Sterna are "fishing" dogs and can spot a dolphin from far away, they are trained!

All of us, dogs first, got excited when many dolphins (Stenella kind) start jumping all around the boat. Three groups of mothers and kids, said Angelo.

We sailed the whole day, while recording was often interrupted by big boats whose engine's noise not only disturbs data collection but the habits of cetaceans too, since they use sound (clicks) to echolocate their prey and to communicate to each other. Even if we did not meet any sperm whale I had a great time and I learned a lot about what happens under the sea just a few kilometers from my house.

Below is one of the many pages I filled a few days before the trip, when captain Angelo gave to me a  "cetaceans for dummies" lesson so that I wouldn't come totally unprepared. Sperm whales are Angelo's true love, and he is never tired of studying them. He is right, they are totally fascinating! With the largest heads, largest brains, and loudest recorded sound of any animal on Earth, it's no wonder these whales were the inspiration for Moby Dick. The highlight has been Angelo's translation in real time of an audio clip: while I could only hear a sequence of clicks he explained me how a young male sperm whale was diving, hunting and finally catching a squid. 

But the reason why I was asking Angelo about sperm whales and hoping to meet one in particular, was a project by Franco Lancio. Having read on the newspaper that "Brunone", one of the many sperm whales tracked by Oceanomare - they all have a name and an "identity card" - had been spotted again near Castello Aragonese, where we were going to held our Ischia Urban Sketchers workshop, Franco decided to create a real size portrait of him (13.30 m. long), with all the details Oceanomare gave to us. Brunone or the sperm whale has been exhibited in Chiesa dell'Immacolata inside Castello Aragonese during the workshop and it has been a real attraction.





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