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".
Blog
Flickr

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

The spires, kites and towers of Lucknow

[Guest post by Tapas Mitra in Lucknow, India] I had never been to Lucknow, but read and heard so much about the city that numerous words spoken by Lucknowis (people of Lucknow are referred to this way) and mannerisms attributed to them are known to me as if I belonged to the city. Lucknow has a principal place in Indian urban mythography; its cuisine, buildings, mannerisms are known to all but not experienced by many. Hence, during the Holi break in early March (Holi is the festival of colour and played passionately in north India), we decided to do our much-awaited Lucknow trip.

I booked a hotel in the old city area that would make it easy to navigate through the maze typical of the core of an Indian old city. The first thing that struck me from the hotel room on the sixth floor (above) were three distinct elements in the city skyscape: the spires and the kites (both expected) and the mobile phone towers. The mobile network is accessed by most people now and given the density of Lucknow’s inner core it is not surprising that the towers dominate the skyline. The heady mix of people and their peculiar engagements, decaying/mutilated/maintained artifacts and the burgeoning communication towers better represent the layers of the city today than a hackneyed sketch-essay of the much visited Lucknow, the city of Nawabs.


This is the second sketch from my hotel room: the roof of the Methodist church adjacent to the hotel forms the foreground. The modernist building across the street, the mosque domes and spires at a distance, the phone towers, the Smart City poles and the kites fight for attention in the mix of images.


This sketch is done from the 10th-floor terrace. The unplastered second block of the old city can be seen here. Unlike other cities in India, kites are flown in Lucknow throughout the year, and predominantly by the Muslim community.


This is a street view in the old Aminabad area of Lucknow. The gable-roofed building here is the remnant of a rich past. Perfumeries on the ground floor still operate. The Lucknow ittar (perfume) dates back to the time of the Nawabs, the provincial Muslim rulers. (The last of them, Wajid Ali Shah, is remembered for his taste in classical music and dance, and all finer things of life. He spent his last years as a hostage in Calcutta after the British monarchy replaced the East India Company to rule its colony.)


This is a site in front of a famous shrine in Lucknow, the Bada Imambara. City people, tourists, horse-drawn carts and royal architecture dominate the scene. Inside, there is a labyrinth, known as Bhulbhulaiya, where the Nawab, as goes the story, would play hide-and-seek with his begums. The Smart City pole is visible clearly in the background.


The last sketch shows the names of patterned kites flown in Lucknow. I was pleasantly surprised to see the traditional patterns (not the ones with profiles of film stars). The translations (in English) are of the names we have given them in Calcutta, in Bengali. They would have local names in Hindi or Urdu, but since the leisure of flying kites was taken to Calcutta by the last Nawab of Lucknow, I thought it would be a tribute to the legacy we Calcuttans still carry. Like many old habits, the art and practice of flying kites is dying in most Indian cities. This Holi, I relived in Lucknow my childhood of flying kites from the rooftop of our old house in Calcutta.

Tapas Mitra is a self-taught artist who teaches architecture and urban design at the School of Planning and Architecture in Bhopal, India. He lectured at the Urban Sketchers symposium in Chicago. His previous guest posts have focused on Indian departure lounges and street vendors. Originally from Calcutta, he lives and works in Bhopal with his wife and daughter.

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