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

Snapshots from an Australian summer

[Guest post by Barbara Gao in Australia]
 Over the Christmas break I went on a much anticipated trip to Australia. It was my first time setting foot in the Southern Hemisphere!

After getting off a 14-hour red-eye flight, I arrived in Sydney at 9am. Although extremely jet-lagged and slightly delirious, I still set off immediately to explore downtown. We strolled along the harbor, and while taking refuge from the sun under the Opera House, I did a sketch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I imagined Australian summer to be dry like California, so the abundant clouds in the sky was a pleasant surprise.

The hot spell continued the next day as we trotted along the touristy spots of the Blue Mountains. I thought about doing a quick sketch of the famed Three Sisters from the designated lookout point, but seeing people were almost elbowing for space against the railings, I felt bad for taking a spot for too long… Luckily while hiking along the cliff walk, I found another spot with both a full view to the sisters and a sweeping view across the valley. There was, however, a tree smack in the middle of the view, which might explain the lack of people taking pictures there, but it was a perfect spot for an urban sketcher!

Next day, again in sweltering heat, we visited a small wildlife zoo outside the city. Since there were relatively few visitors (probably busy preparing Christmas eve meal at home), I had the luxury of observing the koala enclosure at length. That is, if I disregarded the droplets of sweat sliding down my back in the 40 degree heat! So hot, as can be observed from my sketches, that the koalas resorted to lying flat on the ground to cool themselves down. They still looked cute though.

We underestimated the importance of Christmas day lunch in Australia, so the frantic search for anywhere to eat the next day meant there was no time to sketch. Luckily most official establishments went back to business the next day, so I gave this American-made Holden prototype a sketch at the National Museum of Australia. I was fascinated with this brand ever since seeing it in Top Gear, so I made another stop at a private Holden museum in Trafalgar, NSW.

Our stopover point in our drive from Sydney to Melbourne was Albury, on the Humes Highway. Many historical buildings dotted the main avenues and the Mutual Life building especially caught my eye. The train station was also a magnificent structure, but I only discovered it after sunset. Maybe next time!

The weather in Melbourne did not bode well for our day-trip to the Great Ocean Road. What started as a cloudy day along straight motorways quickly turned into a hair-raising drive through meandering mountain roads in a torrential downpour. We took a quick break near Apollo Bay after our planned lookout point turned out too foggy to see anything. The rain has mostly stopped, but a few droplets still found their way onto my page.

The next three sketches were done in quick succession as we drove along the scenic spots on the Great Ocean Road: 12 Apostles, London Bridge, and Bay of Martyrs. During the course of our slow-paced tour down the road, swarming tourists and noisy helicopters gradually gave way to empty parking lots and peaceful views. The sun also popped out completely nearing sunset, giving a near picture-perfect view onto the scattered limestones in the Bay of Martyrs.

On our way back to Sydney, we stopped by Kiama to look at the famous blowholes. I picked the smaller one to draw because it was less windy and the coastlines just as beautiful. You could see the lighthouse (although only a small yellow blob) from there as well! I tried my best flicking my brush to illustrate the occasional splash from the blowhole, but the soft squirrel mop brush smothered my fingers with paint instead… maybe I should bring an old toothbrush along next time.

The last day we decided to take it easy and just stroll around the University of Sydney campus (see the sketch at the top). The main building, the Quadrangle, was really a sight to behold, not to mention the impeccable lawns! And the fact that I had ample seating and shade along the corridors to sketch had absolutely no influence over my fondness of the building.

Steaming summer heat took over again as we returned to Sydney. And alas, it was time to say goodbye to the beautiful scenery, people, and animals. See you next time, Australia!

Barbara Gao is an engineer from Vancouver, Canada, currently living in San Jose, California. She was grateful for the Australian summer because she could sketch all she wanted outside during Christmas without fearing for the harsh weather of the Northern Hemisphere. See more of her sketches and stories on her Blogspot and Flickr.  Also, check out her previous guest posts: Cycling Hokkaido's mountainous panoramas and Adventures of a stalking sketcher.





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