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

What I Learned About Sketching on a Trip to India, Part 1

[Stephanie Bower, Seattle in India] Namaste. For 3.5 weeks in October/November, I visited India for a second time. The first trip was in 2011, and the sketchbooks I filled on that trip have sparked so many wonderful opportunities to travel and teach. My parents also lived here before I was born, so India holds a special place in my heart. There are so many utterly amazing sights and colors at every turn--all of life is here.

I set out to sketch my way across central and southern India... and wow, did I learn a lot, just not what I thought I would learn! The sketching did not turn out as I expected...and while very frustrating at the time, that in itself was a good learning experience. That frustration has helped me to figure out what works for me and what doesn't. I posted ALL 50 sketches in order on Instagram @stephanieabower and photos at @stephanieabower.fotos, including lots of sketches I really don't like. Might not be smart to tip my cards like that, but it's all a process, right? This is how we learn and grow. To that end, here is some of what I learned:

Varanasi has to be one of the most amazing cities in the world, certainly one of the oldest. At breakfast on the roof of the B&B, I'd sketch the river walking up.
1.  Don't bring everything--EDIT your supplies and keep everything light.
Yep, I brought too much paper, which weighs a ton to carry. I ended up filling only one Pentalic 7" x 10" sketchbook (which worked perfectly when I put multiple images across two pages) and one block of Fluid watercolor paper, 8"x16" for larger sketches. I also was not allowed to use my easel and tripod many places, so luckily, I brought a large piece of corrugated plastic to which I just clipped everything, holding it all in my lap for painting. It worked pretty well and was much lighter. 
I have to sit when I sketch, so my super light Tribe Provisions 3-leg stool was essential and often doubled as an easel when I sat on the ground. Where the ground was uneven or dirty, I had a small, virtually weightless square of foam to sit on. I lugged pens and ink but always just went back to pencil. Luckily, a little bit of watercolor goes a long way, so I didn't have to bring much paint. I put everything into one backpack and one carry on!

Old City, Varanasi. Sketching drew a crowd and constant selfie requests everywhere we went. Here I am using the large corrugated plastic base with everything clipped to it, resting on my bag in my lap. I cut a hole to hold the medicine bottle water container.

2.  Draw what interests you, no matter what it is. 
It could be a huge famous building or a simple flower or your fruit at breakfast. You are drawing YOUR experiences, so there is no right or wrong. I wish I had captured more of these kinds of scenes, as they really convey the flavor of a place.

Breakfast in Aurangabad.

3. Work small for speed--work larger for detail.
Working on a small sketch is much faster when pressed for time--you don't have to fill the page AND you can get away with showing less detail. I always tell people new to sketching to work small...don't expect to fill a huge piece of paper right off the bat. At the beginning of my trip, I made fairly small sketches, and once I got the hang of it, I naturally gravitated to the large Fluid paper, which was great for capturing architectural scenes. 
I over-worked my sketches for the first few weeks, then finally figured out a lighter touch that I liked better, shown below.

A hybrid of Hindu and Christian architecture in Goa. By dividing up the pages in my sketchbook, I could easily work large or small as needed. Plus, I get a nice sequence of sketches across the spread.

4. It takes me at least a week to warm up. 
I had to push through the first few weeks of making sketches I didn't like in order to figure out how to draw and paint in India. Every place is different--different humidity (affects watercolor drying time and the ability to work watercolor on the paper), different colors (in Seattle, everything is gray, so the colors of India were definitely challenging), different building styles and landscaping that I have to figure out how to represent, and more. 
This is why instructors show up early at the might sketch all the time, but being in a new place requires a bit of reinvention and figuring out how to work in a new place with different variables.

Queen's Bath at Hampi--it's worth a trip to India to see Hampi. This was one of the first sketches that I part because I found a spot where I could sketch without many interruptions. Plus, this amazing architecture was so inspiring!

5. Post your sketches as you go, if you can. 
I found that Facebook was slow to come up on my phone, but Instagram was very fast and worked better on the road. That is why I finally started posting to Instagram! It's much harder to post when I'm back home with the realities of work and home, plus, it's exciting to share WHERE you are WHEN you are there! I posted a lot compared to other trips I've taken, thanks primarily to the ease of Instagram and paying extra for higher speed data on my phone.
Because I often work in a horizontal format and Instagram mostly uses a square format, my sketches appear too small to see well when they are posted. For this reason, I would post an image of the entire sketch, then post a closer up shot that shows the detail.

One of the amazing caves at Ellora, all this was carved from a single rock. This is the entire sketch in my lap.
And this is the detail of the same sketch.

More of what I learned in the next post...!!!





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