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

On a freewheeling painting trip in Morocco

[Guest post by A. Rmyth in Essaouira, Morocco]

 A month of fairly intense sketching and painting had put me in a trance-like state, everywhere looked rounded and colorful. When the art residency program was over I had no reason to pressure myself or to make a plan. I was flying back home in six weeks and in the meantime I had the use of a friend's little house in the Medina of Essaouira, a three-hour bus trip west of Marrakesh. So that's where I went.

On my arrival at the Bab Doukkala bus station (above) outside the old city, Gerard my French contact, was waiting to guide me through the labyrinth of the Medina, a smaller and quieter version of the one in Marrakesh. He began introducing me to the mysteries of the town as he has known the place since the late 1960s, when Essaouira was a hippie hangout. The medina, like its big sister the Medina of Marrakesh, is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Gnawa World Music Festival, known as the “Moroccan Woodstock”, takes place there every year, and Essaouira is also a well known spot for kitesurfing.


For a few days I seemed to do nothing but follow my guide through the little alleyways to the best places for authentic tasty soup, pastries, tajine and couscous. I was adapting to the oceanic conditions, sudden rain blowing in and being taken away by vigorous trade winds, fast changes of light, deep blue. All the time I was scouting for inspiring and favorable locations in the town, its outskirts and the port.

I was equipped for wide panoramic painting, with a half-size French sketch box easel and a lightweight, home-made, folding support 126 cm long. I had no desire to do any easel-kite surfing, or become an attraction for the throngs of photographer tourists.

Hoping that the right weather window would come, I began on a smaller scale by sketching in the port among the seagulls and workers at the dry dock.


I began to find my way around the port, always looking for an interesting viewpoint and taking every possible opportunity to sketch. I was inspired by its loud and lively market ...


... the fortified “Skala” platform with its bronze canons (designed by Ahmed el Inglizi in the 18th century) which once protected the harbour ...


... and the armada of wooden trawlers swinging at the ends of their loose hawsers after their cargoes had been emptied.


Then the dock would get as busy as the medina. Boxes of fish were passed from hand to hand, tricycles delivered ice. People, cats and gulls would sneak around picking up any fish that got dropped. I found a place on a sea wall where I could look down and see the whole site, as well as the open sky with its aerial ballet of yellow-legged gulls.


It was a cinematic setting and a timeless and authentic spectacle, I wouldn't have been surprised to see a pirate sloop cruising into view around the harbour wall.

That's my romantic side of the postcard. But I shouldn't just be a daydreamer so here are some facts:

  • Essaouira is Morocco's third biggest fishing port, particularly for European pilchards, but reports warn that the natural resources are over-exploited, and that mass tourism and the gentrification of the seafront are creating a strain. 
  • This is the main region for argan trees in Morocco and a large area is designated as a UNESCO biosphere reserve to protect and prevent further degradation. There is a need to promote sustainable development. 
  • As far as history is concerned, the construction of the port and the medina brought a lot of slaves to the town. “Ulad Bambara”, the captivating song of the Gnawa (those coming from sub-Saharan Africa), tells of their forced exile through the desert and the suffering of slavery, it can still be heard in back alleys of the medina around the Zaouia (shrine). Here Gnawa gather around their maâlem (master) who sets the tempo by playing the Guembri to lead the healing trance.


My guide and now friend Gerard goes to these gatherings on Sunday evenings. He did invite me along but I wasn't sure, I was only there for a few weeks and was still a tourist. But as I stayed longer, and through our conversations, I was building a picture of the multi-layered maze of this intriguing town. Once again I needed time for it all to soak in, to immerse myself in the light, the colours, the rhythm of the place. I wanted to render graphically the distillation of my experience, in this complex and intricate region.

The Zaouia (shrine)
I fell very quickly into a routine and the days were flying by. In preparation for my wife's arrival I decided to have a shave and haircut. Azis Coiffure was a very welcoming hairdressers and after bargaining I sat on the bench waiting for my turn. The tiny place turned out to be more than just a hair salon, as friends kept coming for a tea, to chat, watch TV, etc. We all squeezed on the bench and ...


... after checking that I was not taking up valuable client space, I got my sketchpad out. I have always been fascinated by tiny workshops, they remind me of my father's atelier in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine in Paris in the 1960s.

My wife arrived for the last weeks of my Moroccan sojourn. We got married last November after a 25 year tryout period and it was a kind of honeymoon on a shoestring budget, like young students or bohemians.

I was unsure about staying here, at times feeling too boxed in by the medina and unable to paint wide, open-air landscapes because of the unpredictable gusty winds. She loved the atmosphere of the medina and the cosmopolitan vibe. We spent a few delightful days, eating mille-feuille pastries, jostling over bargains in the crowded Sunday flea market “La Joutilla” and making daytrips to various places – The rural market in Had Draa, the green oasis of Ain el Hajar and its palm grove and bubbling irrigation channels, Sidi Kaouki beach on a windless day (below).


Hearing of the existence of a relatively unfrequented bay and its fishing village 45 miles south, we headed down to Tafedna for our final honeymoon location.

As the weather was unstable, we went walking and visited the nearest Berber douar (small village) or wandered along the two-mile sandy beach between the cliffs, the wadi (riverbed) and the ocean. Because of the weather the boats were not going out to sea, activity was minimal, everyone was waiting for the right conditions.


I did not quit the sketching dynamic so as not to get rusty. My marker pens were worn out, I started mixing gouache with the remaining markers or watercolors, making the most of what was still available. My A3 and A4 sketch pads of 250gsm drawing paper would run out soon, I was pleased to have brought just the right amount.

Finally, on the last three days, conditions were favorable for me to paint wide panoramic landscapes with acrylic paint.


A. Rmyth lives in the "Pays de la haute vallée de l’Aude", in southern France. See his work on Flickr. His most recent, previous guest post was Crazy French artist sketches the kasbah and before that After Paris on Friday, no market in Espéraza on Sunday.

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