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

Seattle's floating homes

[Guest post by Eleanor Doughty in Seattle] Recently, I've had the good fortune of meeting some folks who have the good fortune to live ON the water in Seattle. I had no idea before moving here that water living is such a Thing - and apparently there used to be way more floating homes before the city cracked down on regulations. After mentioning my interest in them to local artist Gabi Campanario, he generously hit up some of his acquaintances with interesting watery living situations and arranged some visits.

A brief context: The floating homes started as a scrappy working class housing necessity (built by sawmill workers during the timber boom), now it's a gentrifier phenomenon – a place on the lake is now easily over $1 million. The houses float on big old timber logs, some scavenged from the mills over 100 years ago. Actual houseboats (live-aboards) require a hard-to-get permit, and you have to find/rent moorage. There are pros and cons to each! Being able to easily move your home around seems pretty great, but you sacrifice certain things, like having convenient access to toilets, running water, internet, etc.

The floating homes and live-aboard boats are probably my favorite thing about this city so far, and seem culturally unique to Seattle. Getting to explore them makes me feel happy that I moved here. I'm also grateful for sketching, which has led me to meet these people who are gracious enough to invite me onto their docks (which aren't open to the public) and into their homes.

1. A's floating home in Eastlake

This floating home is in Eastlake, just a 10 minute walk from my apartment. It's occupied by a renter who didn't want to be named. His house apparently used to be a brothel! The kitchen, with the skylight, was my favorite part of the interior.

the view from A's patio, with fellow sketcher Gabi Campanario doing his thing on the left. Being able to walk out the door and jump in your kayak and paddle out would be so convenient! It was raining during the visit but I took advantage of the covered area to make a quick watercolor before my hands froze.

2. Ann's floating home in Westlake

Ann is a Seattle native (I think - she's lived here for decades, at the least) who has lived in her lovely floating home for decades and was also introduced to me by Gabi. We weren't able to go inside her house, but there was plenty to explore on the dock and patio. This one is on the other side of Lake Union in Westlake. I love how the docks themselves feel very lived in - potted plants are everywhere & there are plenty of chairs available to lounge in. Ann even swims off her dock in the summer! Apparently Lake Union is clean enough these days.

Our host remarked on the new boxy home that recently moved in a few docks down. Apparently these new "luxury" houses are assembled elsewhere and floated in to the lots! So there isn't that connection of the materials to the land that the older homes have, and a lot of charm is lost. Seattle should recognize the value of its history in these floating homes and do something to preserve the aesthetic before it's lost.

Ann has a direct view of the most famous floating home - the one used in Sleepless in Seattle (the one on the end of the opposing dock with the bench on the end).

Ann and her neighbors own their dock as a co-op, so parts of it are rented out for moorage to actual houseboats. 

3. Jack's Live-Aboard Sailboat

I met Jack at a party at the Center for Wooden Boats, and he invited my partner and me over for dinner to his live-aboard sailboat! He whipped up a hearty stir-fry for us in his boat's super minimal kitchen. Jack lives aboard the Tachyon (n. a hypothetical particle that always moves faster than light), a 42 footer sailboat moored in the Shilshole Bay Marina, on the Puget Sound (I'm super jealous of the mountain views he gets from the dock). His parents were also boat people back in the day, and though he's a Pacific Northwest native, he's not lived in Seattle much longer than us.

The Shilshole Marina is quite sterile compared to the floating home docks - no potted plants, keyed gates on the entrances - and it was hard to tell how many of the other boats were being lived on. I definitely want to come back to sketch the surroundings here, it was a very cold and rainy night when we visited.

Although he likes to cook, Jack is definitely too tall of a dude to do this too often (he was really stooping over the whole time) – mostly he spends his free time at tea houses on land where there is wifi and comfortable desks to work.

It was roomier down in the cabin than I would have expected. Larger than most studio apts in NYC, though the ceilings are quite low. The space is really challenging to sketch, especially because of the curved walls and ceilings.

Eleanor Doughty is a freelance illustrator and urban sketching enthusiast originally from Virginia, now living in Seattle by way of NYC. You can follow her sketches on Instagram and Tumblr, and find her illustration portfolio at





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