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

Intense and colorful Sketch Tour Portugal in Alentejo!

[by Marion Rivolier traveling in Alentejo, Portugal]

I was glad to be invited by Urban Sketchers and the Tourism of Portugal to travel in Alentejo during 6 days for the event Sketch Tour Portugal. My host sketcher was João Moreno.
The region of Alentejo is huge, covering almost a third of the country. We were mostly in the Northeast. We visited ten towns in five days: Evora, Estremoz, Marvao, Elvas, etc. For me, visiting this region for the first time, it was a lot to discover and to understand: beautiful landscapes, picturesque cities perched at the top of the hills, different styles and periods of architecture and art.

I liked the relationship between architecture and nature: villages grow from the rocks and vegetation. It was interesting to capture the contrasts between white villages and the warm colors of farmed plains. I played with the strong contrast between white houses, churches, fountains, and the sky. Sky is very important. It can completely change our perception of a place, if it is tormented or pure Azure blue.

When you travel a lot and discover a region for the first time, it is difficult to immediately focus on a subject. Because you are always in a perpetual state of discovery, and you need time to take a step back and choose a subject to address throughout the trip. We didn’t have that kind of time.
So I searched, and tried different ways to capture the region of Alentejo.

In Evora, I painted a water tower, a modern structure that stood out a bit in the old town, which I liked. I chose to reveal the strangeness in a picturesque place “frozen in time.” This is this thread that I decided to follow: to show what is hidden, to reveal a strangeness, a beauty (or not) in places imprisoned in their history.

When we stopped on the edge of the road to capture the glowing view of the battlements of Monsaraz, it was amazing. The hill, trees and houses were kind of glowing. I only had time to put the red-pink on the paper as the landscape transformed and became green again. This was a disappointment, but we had the chance to see it for a few minutes and capture the essence of the light! 
 I tried to capture what we do not see, which disappears too quickly. What is hidden, that is not visible at first glance. It is not the picturesque that interests me, but the story that we feel when we go through a place. This is what I want to capture, impressions and sensations. I do this through colors, light, shadows and contrasts.

It was the first time I met João Moreno. After a few hours together, I realized our time together would be fun and smart. Even if we don’t have the same “sketch style,” we like to use colors and to practice watercolor. We were looking for beautiful light and subjects with a lot of values and colored contrasts. João knows the region of Alentejo and the history of art very well. During our travels, he told me about the different places we went through. We spent a lot of time talking about technique: choices of watercolors, brushes in natural hair or not, why we prefer to use this kind of brush or colors, etc. We had long conversation about the paper of the Laloran sketchbooks we received for the SketchTourPortugal: how to tame the paper? How to use water? We both like to play with lots of water and sometimes it was a problem because of the humid atmosphere…
Meeting João was fantastic and artistic. Thank you to Mário Linhares for imagining this combination and the Tourism of Portugal for this beautiful travel!





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