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 Shapes: Building up a Sketch from Basic Shapes

March 14th, 2018

Searching Shapes: Building up a Sketch from Basic Shapes

Instructor: Linda Toolsema [from Netherlands USk]

Location: Rossio Station (upside platform), Lisbon

Date: Wednesday, March 14th, 2018, from 6.30pm to 9pm

Workshop description

When sketching a complicated scene, we often don’t know where to start, or feel like we need to measure everything and plan ahead before we put pen to paper. This workshop will teach you how to start your sketch with basic shapes and build up from there. 

In this workshop…
  • We will learn how to use basic shapes to improve our sketches.
  • We will learn to use layering to sketch with confidence, fast, and loosely. 
  • We will learn a different way of looking at our subject that will allow us to get placement and proportions right, without the need for extensive measuring.
Learning goals
  1. To be able to see basic shapes in your subject and use these to build up your sketch.
  2. To feel confident that you can draw any subject on location.
  3. To sketch fast and loosely.

Workshop schedule
  • Quick exercises to see basic shapes
We will practice finding basic shapes in our subject and transferring them to paper. The aim here is to loosely block in the main shapes, to obtain a good structure to work from. We will work fast, focusing on the essence.
  • Exercises using layering to build up a sketch
Based on a quick sketch of the main shapes, we will proceed to build up the sketch by working in layers. Each layer allows for making adjustments and improving placement and proportions. Also, with each layer we add more detail. 

  • Final drawing
The final drawing brings it all together. The multi-coloured layering can be used purely as practice, but we will see that it can also produce nice finished pieces, where only some of the lines remain visible and add interest. You combine all that you have learned to set up your sketch quickly, build up layers, and continue with ink lines, colour, or whatever you prefer to turn it into a finished piece.

  • Sharing & discussion
We end by sharing our finished drawings and seeing how we all produce unique results, even when using a similar approach or materials.

Supply list

  • A sketchbook or loose sheets of cheaper paper for the first two exercises (you may use a lot of pages).
  • Your favorite sketchbook or paper for the final sketch.
  • Recommended size: A4 or A5.


For linework we will work with different colors, building up from light to dark. I often use light flesh, yellow, red, and black. The darkest color (my black) should stand out from the next darkest (my red).
  • Recommended tools: coloured pencils in four colours from light to dark.
  • If you like to sketch with pen, you can replace the darkest colour by a black pen (not too fine).
  • Alternative tools: markers, watercolor pencils, crayons. If you want to use watercolor or other wet media for the final sketch, use waterproof tools for the linework.

For finishing the final drawing please bring your favorite sketching materials: paints, mixed media, whatever you prefer welcomed and encouraged! Suggestions: 
  • portable watercolour palette, (water)brushes, paper towels, and water container,
  • broad markers,
  • or you could use the same pencils/crayons as for the linework.

  • Drawing board and bulldog clips if you work with loose sheets of paper.
  • A small stool for sitting, if you prefer. [If we go to a cafe/inside location, this may not be relevant.]

Workshop cost

Standard: 30,00€
Reduced (students): 15,00€


About the instructor
Linda Toolsema (1975) is an economist and sketchbook artist based near Groningen in the Netherlands. She draws and paints in a wide range of media and styles but almost exclusively in books. These include big, messy mixed media art journals used in the studio as well as more portable sketchbooks for sketching on location, with relatively ‘clean’ materials (often fountain pen and watercolors). Linda is active in Urban Sketchers Netherlands and co-organizer of Urban Sketchers Groningen.
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