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

Lunchtime sketching in gouache

[Guest post by Heather Martin in San Francisco, California] Being the new kid at work is always a little anxiety inducing for me, so for the first week at my new job in early June 2016 in the bustling financial district of San Francisco, I floundered around trying to figure out how to spend my lunch hour. (Being social isn’t my forte).

By day I am a mobile game artist, and fortunately work alongside several talented folks. A handful of the most driven artists spent their lunch break drawing and painting, so I decided to tag along with them to fill that hour. It was so incredible to see the amount of dedication and passion they all had. Every day we'd pack up our bags, and head out like a little line of ducklings (surprisingly most of us are five feet or under). We’d meander our way through the concrete jungle of San Francisco to a randomly chosen spot (usually Yerba Buena Gardens) to sit quietly near each other and draw. This below is the Museum of Modern Art, painted from Yerba Buena Gardens.

Something about this daily ritual, and being around these artists, triggered something in me that I had never felt before, even though I have been drawing and painting all my life. I was thrilled to get back into traditional art (most of the past decade I’ve been glued to a computer and Cintiq at various tech companies), and couldn’t wait for the next day’s lunch break. The passion was reignited, and I began seeing everything in a new light.

Gouache seemed like a natural choice of mediums, even though I had never used it before: It was a snap to clean up, easy to carry around, and had the opacity and flow that I wanted.

It wasn’t all easy-breezy though. I wrestled with probably 100 paintings before I truly got comfortable with the medium and understood its notorious value changes. If you’ve never worked with gouache before, you’ll quickly learn that the value you lay down on the paper is very rarely the value that it ends up drying as. Darks dry lighter, lights dry darker, and if you have layers of paint it will reactivate the under-layers and...yeah. It is a challenge.

Over the past year and a half I have obsessively tried many different types of paints, papers, palettes, you name it! I always want to find the perfect setup. Now I have it down to a science, although I am  still trying to find something better. This is what I found works best for me.

My palette is a Mijello airtight. I love it. If you spray your paints down regularly, it should remain a nice moist consistency for days. I used to shove it into the bottom of my backpack, but learned that it’s better to carry it flat in my hands. If the colors are too wet inside they will bleed into each other and create a pool of mud.

For my paints, I use primarily Winsor & Newton. I find that they re-wet quite well, and a tube goes a long way with really strong pigment compared to other brands. I also like Holbein, and have used Utrecht gouache with success.

My brushes are a mixed bag, but for the most part I stick with a 1/4” flat, 1/2” flat, and 3/4” flat and one small round.

Sketchbooks are a pretty personal choice, but my favorites are the Cottonwood Arts Recycled Paper Notebook, a beautiful toned ground, and the Strathmore Watercolor Visual Journal.

Since the lunch hour is so short, and I have to factor in the time it takes to walk to a place, find a spot, set up, and clean up, I have to be super efficient. The night before I prepare a fresh water cup for my bag, and I make sure my palette is clean. My backpack is always stocked well with a ridiculously large number of paper towels (I always have some in just about every pocket so I never run out). I set up my stuff the same way every time. I only carry a sketch pad and supplies, and will sit just about anywhere. It’s nice to not need an easel. I never dilly dally, and rarely chat. Everyone that paints with me has commented on my intense (and let’s face it, frightening) focus.

I think we have painted a 360 degree view of every public space within four blocks of work. Below you'll see a compilation of some of my St. Patrick's Catholic Church paintings. I think I could paint it blindfolded by now. I keep getting drawn toward it with it's bright reddish orange brick, and teal accents. The building definitely sticks out from the rest of the tall modern skyscrapers that surround it. For a while I was getting bored with it. The church, AGAIN? But then I decided to shift my perspective and find details in different parts of the building that I wanted to capture. I also love if I can tell a story in a painting, like the flock of city pigeons hanging out on the roof are appealing to me.

It’s becoming more challenging each day to find something new, so I often paint my coworkers or any people that I think might not move for a while (they almost always do move though). I have a complete series of each of the lunch sketch “regulars”. They’ve become numb to the idea of being the subject of another painting. In turn, I allow them to paint me whenever so it's really fair game if you're in the group.

Here are some pieces of my sweet friend Nicole. She is an excellent watercolorist and artist. She never complains about always being my “model”.

I highly recommend anyone with a day job get into the practice of regular lunchtime sketching. Having very limited time forces you to paint quickly and capture the gesture of the scene. It also forces you to simplify and pick what the most important thing in the scene is for you. I’ve gotten stronger in all aspects of color, value, composition, and technique–all because of this daily speed painting and I have confidence that you will too!

Heather Martin is an artist located in the Bay Area of California. Follow her on Instagram to see all of her work, and visit her website for more blog posts and information!





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