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

Meet the Porto symposium correspondents

In the program’s most rigorous, competitive process to date, three outstanding urban sketchers were selected to cover the Porto symposium as correspondents: Marina Grechanik (Ra’anana, Israel), Rita Sabler (Portland, Oregon, USA) and Paulo Mendes (Porto, Portugal). The USk Editorial Team and Executive Board are pleased to have chosen such a strong team for the challenging and important role of reporting on the 9th annual USk Symposium. Fifty-six candidates from around the globe applied for the volunteer positions.
Marina Grechanik

An Urban Sketchers global blog correspondent since its beginning, Marina Grechanik has published more than 200 posts with lively sketches and stories of her home and travels. An instructor at the Manchester symposium, Marina will undoubtedly take on this new role with equal enthusiasm and energy.

Known for her vibrant, colorful sketches of people busily doing things (see one example at top of page), Marina says, to no surprise, that her favorite sketching subject is people. In her application, she explained it this way: “For me being an urban sketcher is first of all being a storyteller. The subject that I love to draw the most is people - it is never boring and always tells a story. I love to capture their expressions, postures, and movements. Every little change can tell so much! Interactions with people in urban surrounding are also part of the experience . . . . I think that the Symposium Correspondent position fits me perfectly - that's what I do and love to do anyway - sketching the life around me and especially people in action - the soul of every urban scene!”

Rita Sabler

Sketch by Rita Sabler
A lecturer at the Manchester and Chicago symposiums, Rita Sabler is currently teaching numerous workshops for her local USk 10x10 program. For the past 14 months, she has been documenting political demonstrations, protests, parades and rallies in Portland with words and sketches and publishing her reportage on her personal blog.

“I love reportage style sketching where people and activity are my main subject,” Rita said in her application. About her reportage project, she said, “Some of them have been more static events where people stand and chant holding their signs. Others have been more dynamic including confrontations between the police and the demonstrators or even tear gas explosions, setting things on fire. I learned how to capture things in my accordion sketchbook as events unfold, thriving in the atmosphere of quick action, high drama, and sometimes even personal risk.”

Although we hope covering the Porto symposium won’t expose her to personal risk, we certainly expect the task to require sketching stamina, and Rita’s ready for that, too. Traveling in Venice a few years ago, she challenged herself “to sketch continuously for 12 hours documenting all of the building facades that frame an important stretch of the Grand Canal.”

Paulo Mendes

Sketch by Paulo Mendes

Paulo Mendes has two equally important roles: In addition to sketching and writing about symposium events along with Rita and Marina, he also has the unique job of serving as a guide and local expert to Porto for his teammates. A Porto native and currently a resident of Senhora da Hora, Matosinhos, in the outskirts of Porto, Paulo is “familiar with the city, being able to help with location information, how to get to places, possible shortcuts, etc. I can be available to lead instructors and their students to workshop locations, including in pre-symposium days. . . .  I also have the basic knowledge about the city's history, adding some context and interest to places when leading someone.”

An active contributor to his local and national USk blogs, Paulo is an avid daily sketcher. Although he used to sketch more often in places without people, “my eyes were opened to the enjoyment of sketching people and their activities after a three-day regional sketch festival last year,” he said in his application. “When carried away by the atmosphere of a meeting, I can sketch almost continuously.”

The Symposium Correspondents program, which provides travel and lodging to international correspondents and an honorarium to the local correspondent, was launched in 2011 in Lisbon. Past correspondents include: João Pinheiro (São Paulo), Suhita Shirodkar (San Jose, Calif.), Lapin (Barcelona), Nelson Paciencia (Lisbon), Gabi Campanario (Seattle), Maria Regina Tuazon (Singapore), Murray Dewhurst (Auckland, New Zealand), Tina Koyama (Seattle), Kumi Matsukawa (Tokyo), Liz Ackerley (Manchester, UK), Javier de Blas (Logroño, Spain), Vincent Desplanche (France), Beliza Mendes (Luxembourg) and Wes Douglas (Chicago). The program's goal is to bring attention to the storytelling possibilities of urban sketching, especially in covering an event.

The Editorial Team would like to thank all who applied for the correspondent positions. “We were extremely impressed by so many applicants that we had a very difficult time making our choices,” said editor Tina Koyama. “Our application requirements were more rigorous than ever this year, and we appreciate the time and energy the candidates put into their applications.”





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