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

Interview: Joel Guevara and his book 'A Journey full of Colours'

[Interview by Béliza Mendes and Marcia Milner-Brage]

'A journey full of colours' – the title of Joel Guevara’s self-published book certainly describes this collection of travel sketches well.

From March 2016 to May 2017, the Paris-based architect from Peru embarked on a journey around the world, taking him from the Americas to Asia, with a couple of stops in Europe, thus fulfilling a long-held desire to travel and sketch.

The result is a collection of 450 drawings in ink and watercolour showing the places he has visited and glimpses of the nomadic life of a travel sketcher.

From the top of a building in the district of Castilla, Callao, Lima, Peru

Leafing through Joel’s book is like leafing through his sketchbooks. The drawings appear in the succession they seem to have been made, unadorned, and accompanied with his hand-written thoughts. His personal style and the comments clearly jotted down in the moment and in the language that suited him best at the time (most are in Spanish or French, with the occasional English), give us a sense of immediacy, of wanting to capture the moment before it disappears.

Starting in Lima with a visit at his grandmother’s and finishing in a cosy interior, Joel is very generous in sharing his world with the reader. The result is a very personal glimpse not only into his journey, but also into his mind and private life.

We have reached out to Joel to tell us more about his journey and process.

Waiting for the street show, Valparaiso, Chile

Editors: Can you give us an overview of what preparation you did leading up to embarking? Did you have a known itinerary before setting out? 

Joel Guevara: I only had my one-way ticket. I first visited my family in Lima, Peru. I was thinking about visiting friends I met in Paris who are living in South America now. However, I did not know when I would be going, I wanted to live in the moment, day after day, and be inspired by what I felt like doing at the time.

E: Did you know what you for sure wanted to draw at the different places ahead of time? Or did you choose your subjects once there, when immersed in the moment?

JG: The only thing I wanted to draw was the special moments I was experiencing.

To me, the sketches I like the most come from the moment, from a need that I cannot explain. It’s like love at first sight, I can’t help sketching. It happened to me that I asked someone to pose for me because I absolutely wanted to sketch them, or drawing frozen at an altitude of 4300 metres in Chile or in a heat wave in a small town in a Colombian forest.

My sketchbooks contain above all stories, moments from my daily life while traveling, and countless encounters.

Two weeks sleeping in the Chilean desert, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

E: Tell us about your sketching gear for such a trip. Did you take your usual tools or did you adapt your habits for the journey?

JG: I started bookbinding before the trip, so I made a few sketchbooks for the journey. I took my usual tools, which don’t take up much space, they are quite small: a number 4 brush, a small watercolour palette with 8 colours and a pencil case with coloured pencils and markers.

Mid-way through my journey, I decided to exhibit my drawings, so I took sheets of paper for six months in a portfolio I made.

E: Did you travel alone or with companions?  Did you know ahead of time people in the places you went to? Did you connect with other Urban Sketchers along the way?

JG: I started my trip alone and after a few months, I was lucky enough to have my girlfriend join me and we finished the trip together.

I visited a few friends in America, where I also met new people, for example some urban sketchers in New York.

When we arrived in Asia, we wanted to visit small villages. We often slept in guesthouses (with the inhabitants), a well-oiled system there, very accessible and a beautiful way to get closer to the village’s identity and meet people.

In the streets, Brooklyn, New York, USA

E: Was there any place you fell in love with and did not want to leave?

JG: There were many. When you feel good, you start dreaming and wishes start to form. Nature creates a special connection with human beings that you cannot understand.

In any case, we were moved by different locations in Colombia, India and Nepal.

E: Were some places/cultures more receptive than others to your sketching?

JG: Sketching was the best way to meet people. I think everyone wants to watch someone drawing, especially live. Some cultures are less shy than others for sure. For example, Indians were the most welcoming and receptive. We were welcomed very well in India, a country dear to our hearts.

Waiting for the ritual of rain in Patan, Nepal

E: This is your first book. Did you know when you started your journey that you wanted to publish a book in the end? Tell us about the challenges of self-publishing a book.

JG: The idea to publish came during the trip. I started out with the idea of travelling and as usual, I wanted to sketch to have souvenirs.

I chose self-publishing because I wanted to manage everything my own way. This trip brought up many things in me; I wanted to personalize the publication.

I spent a lot of time scanning, archiving, choosing sketches, working on the layout, choosing a printer, etc. I enjoyed every moment, it was very exciting. I learned many things and I am still learning. It is a similar process as when you start a drawing in a blank page; the process is as moving as the result.

E: Can you inform us about the influences of your style and process? Your drawings are so confident and loose.

JG: Thank you, yes, I noticed some changes at the end of my trip, in my way of approaching sketching. I imagine it happened subconsciously while travelling. Many artists, illustrators, painters influence my everyday work. I love it when you can express a lot through a little and the impact of contrasts and colours.

Street of Rishikesh, India
E: Did you digitize your drawings as you were traveling (and share them along the way)?

JG: I scanned a few. The drawings I shared on social media were quick photos taken with my phone. They are only a small fraction of my drawings. I accumulated about 450 sketches during the whole journey. The rest I scanned after I returned home.

E: Do you have any hard-earned advice to others who would like to undertake such a grand world tour?

JG: My best advice is to start out with a big smile, travel light, both physically and mentally, enjoy the present moments, good and bad. They will all bring you something.

Each journey is different and unique, that is the magic of travelling.

In the local bar, Bago, Myanmar
E: Do you have immediate plans or distant dreams about traveling with your sketchpad?

JG: I will be in Italy, Belgium and Peru with my sketchbook in the next months.

Other than that, this year I am taking part in a few travel sketchbook festivals in France, to present my journey and my book. But the travel continues, life itself is a long journey and a big adventure that leaves traces in me and in my sketchbook.

Joel is an architect based in Paris and a member of Urban Sketchers Paris. You can see more of his work on Facebook, Instagram and Flickr, and order his book on his website.





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