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

Crazy French artist sketches the kasbah

[Guest Post by A. Rmyth in Marrakesh, Morocco]
 February 2018, a small chain of personal circumstances took me to Morocco, to the Hotel Kasbah Bab Ourika, to sketch and paint as their first artist-in-residence. Nothing was clearly defined so I went there with an "Inshallah" (God's will) attitude on a two-week tryout, offering to do workshops on "curved perception and sketching", arty talk/chat, and live sketches on request for any interested customers.

I arrived in Marrakesh a week before I was due at the Kasbah Bab Ourika and stayed at Marrakesh Rouge, a backpackers hostel (above). I noticed a difference from my traveling days 25 years ago. In those days we read aloud Robert Pirsig or Allen Ginsberg. Nowadays we watch Ted 2!

While staying at the hostel, I had time to acclimatize, to focus and to get into a strong sketching dynamic.

Of course, I had mental images of the medina, with narrow shaded streets full of bazaars leading to even more perfumed and colorful souks that I could sketch. It is indeed like that, except that the main perfume comes from the exhaust pipes of the many scooters darting around. I could not find a spot or an angle that was not busy, I found it too crowded with people shopping, tourists with cameras, bicycles, freight tricycles, handcarts, donkey carts and Chinese-made mopeds and scooters. I envy those who can sketch fast standing up while not breathing! That is a skill that I would like to develop.

I found refuge on a cafe terrace (above), where Europeans and Moroccans alike enjoy the February sunshine, or in a small canteen, or on the rooftop of the hostel. When the young manager of the hostel swapped me a free night for a copy of a sketch I knew the art residency program was on.

Tired from a complicated trip which should have only taken an hour, I finally got to my destination: Hotel Kasbah Bab Ourika, south of Marrakesh. In room 10 (below), the bed was striped with yellow flowers as a welcome. The hotel is staffed by Berbers, who live in villages nearby. Really friendly, there is a family spirit among the team. Before crashing, I had to sketch the room to honor their hospitality.

The next day I moved to room 21. 

The hotel is an eco-friendly, rammed-earth building made using traditional Berber methods. The atmosphere is similar to a riad, with rooms opening to courtyards and gardens.

It is in a stupendous setting with great views over the Ourika River and to the High Atlas Mountains. On some of the high peaks there can be snow all year round, this year it has snowed more than they have seen in a long time.

During the day, I painted the landscape from the hotel. In the evening I documented the cosy and warm atmosphere created by the natural building materials and the vintage furniture. I sketched in the common rooms (bar, lounge, TV room), always from a distance to respect the guests' desire for quiet and intimacy. Apparently having a genuine "crazy French artist" wandering around the hotel was exotic and added a special touch for the customers. I also enjoyed the strange privileged situation of being neither a customer nor a staff member but something in between.

I also sketched behind the scenes at the hotel. See the kitchen staff at work below. I gave the hotel staff a private viewing in my room of the panorama acrylic paintings. They easily recognized the landscapes surrounding the hotel and really appreciated the artistic gesture.

Then one evening a nice gentleman and his daughter-in-law asked me to sketch at the table of a family gathering. They were celebrating his beloved mother Lolo's 94th birthday.

Some would say it's the magic of being at the right place at the right time ... pure coincidence ... sure ... synchronicity ... maybe. I had no idea at the time that the nice gentleman was Glenn Lowry, the director of New York's Museum of Modern Art. And it got better. He bought my sketch right on the spot.

After my 18 days at the Hotel Kasbah Bab Ourika, it was time to move on, back to Marrakesh. This time I was hosted in a riad with a lush courtyard. Owning a riad appears to be a must for Europeans these days. There were so many contrasts between the lively backpacker hostel where I started my visit in Morocco and this peaceful riad with its inward focus and birdsong.

A. Rmyth lives in the "Pays de la haute vallée de l’Aude", in southern France. See his work on Flickr and his previous guest post, After Paris on Friday, no market in Espéraza on Sunday. Take in his continued journey in Morocco in On a freewheeling painting trip in Morocco.





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