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

Sketching in the Southest City of Chile: Punta Arenas

[By Erika Brandner in Punta Arenas, Chile]

My sketchbook took me a while ago to the port city of Punta Arenas, capital of the 12th Region of Magallanes and Antártica Chilean Region. It is the largest southeast city of the chilean Patagonia. It is located in Brunswick Peninsula about 1500 km from Antarctica and just between two fresh water reserves in the world: Antarctica and Southern Ice Fields. 

Punta Arenas was founded at the end of the 19th century, when the entire population of Bulnes Fort settled there due to its better weather and water supply conditions. The area was called “Sandy Point” and from there it derives to its  current Spanish name of PUNTA ARENAS.

At the end of the 19th century and early 20th century, the Strait of Magellan had great importance because it was the only crossing between Atlantic and Pacific oceans. A large wave of European immigrants settled there attracted by the gold rush of the 1890´s or fleeing from the First World War. A great number of Croats arrived. But also many Spanish and English and to a lesser extent Italians, Germans, French and Swiss. It also saw the arrival of many "Chilotes", chileans from Chiloe   Island,  resorted to work primarily in the sheep shearing. When you walk through Punta Arenas you notice such immigration mainly in the architecture of the center, characterized by several buildings of great size and palatial, neo-classic style and with wide wooded streets.
Punta Arenas - central street with clock sign

One of the main attractions of the city is its cemetery and of course its monumental gate. Funded by the wealthy and influential Sara Braun. It is said that she put a condition for this funding: that once their remains enter through the gate of the central nave, it should be definitively closed. The story has not been confirmed by historians, but it is certain that since then the main door has not been used. 
Walking through the cemetery avenues the monumental mausoleums of large families stand out for their design and wealth. And distinctive are the topiary style pruned Canadian cypresses…another example of European influence.

The cemetery of Punta Arenas

Called "Plaza Muñoz Gamero" in honor of the governor that made the first map of the city. Like many other main squares, many important buildings such as the Cathedral, the governors house, the palaces of influential neighbors and their companie buildings, banks and hotels were build around it.

Muñoz Gamero main square of Punta Arenas - View from Hotel Cabo de Hornos

There is no doubt that Sara Braun´s palace is the most impressive building around the square. It was designed by the french architect Numa Mayer in neoclassical style but it is hard to identify it as such because of the exuberant and generous ornament. A highlight is its winter garden in a metallic structure. At the time she built it, Sara Braun Hamburgers was already a widow. Her former man was the wealthy Portuguese businessman José Nogueira, who cultivated his fortune thanks to shipping activities, hunting of marine wolves and sheep ranchs. He was founder of the famous "Sociedad Explotadora de Tierra del Fuego". Currently, the palace is occupied by a hotel, as well as being the “Club de la Union” of Punta Arenas.

Sara Braun´s Palace in Punta Arenas

Near Sara Braun´s palace is another palace that captured my attention: Jose Menendez residence, actually the Military Officers Club of Punta Arenas. I draw it only for historical reasons but with a deep feeling of anger and sadness. I knew that ranch activity had been key in the extinction of the natives from the place, but I got more valuable additional information at the tourist office located in the same square. I learned that Jose Menendez, called the “King of Patagonia” was a spaniard that built one of the largest fortunes of the region through the hunting of wolves, the trafficking of wild skins and feathers of the natives Tehuelches, import and export trade with Europe, shipping industry and ranch activities. And it was this last productivity branch the cause of the dead of the natives. He let his ranches expand so much that they occupied the ancestral lands of the Selknam or "Onas" ins spanish: the indigenous people of Fire Land Island, who lived from the  hunting of the guanaco. With the ranch activity, no more guanacos could be find so the indians began to hunt sheeps.  And this was something Menendez and his partners of the "Sociedad Explotadora de Tierra del Fuego" wouldn´t allow so they prompted aggressive and deadly practices against them, known as the “Selknam Genocide”. There was a Salesian mission in Dawson Island that received Indians but all of them also died, decimated by the diseases that they acquired within the religious precinct. On this dark subject, I recommend a book: "El Corazón a Contraluz", from Patricio Manns.

Residence of Jose Menendez "King of Patagonia" in Punta Arenas 

But not only the Selknam disappeared. The great majority of the natives of the place are now extinct. However it is curious that the more famous rite in the Main Square of Punta Arenas handles around an Indian: in the middle of the square is a sculpture from artist William Cordova, made in cast bronze that pays tribute to the heroic deeds of Ferdinand Magellan navigator that also recalls the ethnic groups from the southern lands. Tragicomic because the necessary funds were given in Jose Menendez testament...did he know that in future no one would give attention to the figure of Magellan and the star would be an indian and rather his foot? Because it is said that those who kiss the foot of the Indian, Return to Punta Arenas. It is also said that it good luck and you may be asked to intercede in any favor you ask God and at least you will gain resistance to cold....well. I didn't kiss the foot of the Indian. But my personal rite was to sketch it:

The day I draw in Punta Arenas was a coldy day. I was sitting in the middle of the sidewalk. And as usual, locals came to watch. And in this case they were very interesting locals: a couple of carabineros  (Chilean police), with a hat that took my whole attention because it is unique for the soothest cities: the Chawka, a skin hat very suitable for the cold and snow. And I had to draw it ☺

“Carabinero” of Punta Arenas with Chawka – Sketched by Erika Brandner




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