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

Edinburgh: Built on bones and ruins

[Guest post by Aud Koch in Edinburgh, Scotland]

Edinburgh is a gorgeous city built on bones and ruins: it is a mad god's dream. This I learned on a recent sojourn to the British Isles.

Crofter's pie with mashed haggis is delicious; Arthur's Seat is damned chilly in late autumn.
At the end of last October, I arrived in Scotland after a brief adventure in Iceland, and the stone buildings, beautifully worked by generations of Scotsmen and darkened by centuries of inclement weather, were a lightning bolt of inspiration after the barren concrete of Reykjavík.

The Royal Mile is where the tourists flock and so a lot of people disdain it, but the architecture was so gorgeous there and the street performers were so fun that I didn't want to leave it.
My hostel hung on the edge of The Royal Mile, in the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town, and I spent most of my time joyfully wandering that area. The 19th century buildings are stunning, their Scottish limestone facades darkened by rain, and it's fun to explore all of the narrow wynds and alleys that snake between the buildings. When you do so, you must always stop to read all of the plaques, which proudly proclaim the stories of even the most mundane historical characters of Edinburgh. (Some are far from mundane, like Deacon Brodie, who inspired Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.) And the street performers! There is never a lack of professional entertainment on The Royal Mile, whether it's jugglers or whip-toting cowboys or live owls being displayed.

Magic in Edinburgh: Hallowe'en night on The Royal Mile is perhaps less magical than it should be, because the crushing crowds trample the mystery of it; similarly, The Elephant House café, famed as the birthplace of Harry Potter, is now so insanely busy that it's difficult to find pleasure in it
However, wandering through the crowds of The Old Town during those chilly autumn days, the murmurings of conversations were frequently punctuated by coughs — the deep chest coughs of bronchitis. On my first day in the city, I thought to myself, "I will be lucky if I get out of here without getting sick." By the third day, I had a scratchy throat. By the fourth day, I was tired and congested.  I spent my last evening curled up around a mug of herbal tea in an armchair in my hostel.

Instead, if you want magic, then step inside the St. Giles' Cathedral. If the hush of the place doesn't impress you — if its shadows don't appear to hold the answers to any mysteries — then watch the flickering rows of lit tea candles for a while.
For all of the beauty of Edinburgh, its legacy is also one of death and disease. If you catch any of the free walking tours, you will hear many a gleeful story about the squalor of the city during the medieval and renaissance times. In the 18th century, Edinburgh was one of the most densely populated, overcrowded and unsanitary cities in Europe, and its old nickname, "Old Reekie," is still thrown around. The Greyfriar Kirkyard, which cannot be more than a few acres big, is packed with thousands upon thousands of skeletons (the bones of which have the — alleged — habit of emerging from the soil after rainstorms). The Old Town itself is built upon layers of ruins and crypts, and many of the buildings (like the old Parliament House) contain an incredible number of storeys built down deep into the ground.

Street-wanderings. I stopped to listen to a military brass band play soulful songs for Remembrance Day; there were remembrance poppies everywhere.
For however much Edinburgh inspired me with its 19th century stone architecture and jovial modern spirit, I was grateful to move on to the Lake District. I needed the fresh air of the fells and dells to clear away the cold that Edinburgh gave me. (I will keep the pocketful of mad dreams I found there, though.)

A beautiful day-wander: Traipse along the Walkway of Leith path, which follows the river's russet-colored waters, and then stroll South through the streets to return to the Old Town. Stop at Cuckoo Bakery along the way; its food is fabulous, and its salads are a welcome relief from Scottish pub food.

Aud Koch is a Portland, OR-based illustrator who currently draws comics for Marvel & Image. You can view more of her art at her website or on her Tumblr, Twitter or Instagram.





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