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

Road trip scenes from San Francisco to Vancouver

[Guest post by Barbara Gao in San Francisco] To mark the occasion of a recent job change, I decided to take on a challenge that has long been on my bucket list: driving solo from San Francisco Bay Area, where I currently live, to my family home in Vancouver, Canada, a round trip of over 3,000 km along the west coast of North America. I have done the trip multiple times with my family members, but I was never the one driving and was probably asleep 50% of the time. So it means a lot to be able to experience the entire journey and be 100% responsible for the way home.

Since I was traveling solo and only had plans to meet up with friends in Seattle, I was free to plan the driving however I liked, and used my rest stops for quick sketches along the way.

Day 1: Willows Rest Area - Northbound I-5 (California)

I took a lunch break at a rest area after merging onto the I-5. Since there wasn’t much natural scenery around the parking lot, I decided to give the trucks a try while munching on my sandwich. As I was putting finishing details on the red truck, I noticed the driver gestured something to me (probably along the lines of “what on earth are you staring at?”) before hastily driving the truck away. Thinking it is probably a bit unnerving to have a stranger stare at you in the parking lot, I decided therefore to avoid sketching cars and trucks along the way. After just sketching the first truck, I already started noticing details on them that I had never paid attention to as I drove past them on the highway: the different door designs, the different side view mirrors, etc, confirming again that sketching is indeed a different way to see the world.

Day 1: Shasta Lake Rest Area - Northbound I-5 (California)

I couldn’t resist stopping in the Mount Shasta region. It was always drizzling or foggy on my previous trips through this region, so it was a pleasant surprise to see sparkling lakes and red soil exposed because of the lower water level.

Day 1: Mount Shasta Vista Point (California)

I had never seen the peak of Mount Shasta on my previous trips. I remember once standing at a vista point and trying to make out the shape of a mountain through the heavy mist. This time though, there was no doubt where the mountain was as the snow-capped peak poked its head above the trees. I stopped for a sketch in case the mountain disappeared behind trees later. However, the mountain only got bigger and more impressive as I drove northward, so I had to stop again. Heavy clouds were still drifting across the peak, sometimes obscuring the view, but the mountain was so stunning that I could stay staring at it for hours.

Day 2: Umpqua Valley near Roseburg (Oregon)

The next day I took a detour through Roseburg to buy gifts. Even though I was running close to my cut-off time to arrive in Seattle, I still decided to pull over and do a sketch of Umpqua Valley. The lush green hills and misty mountains in the distance made an enjoyable drive.

Day 3: Whytecliff Park, West Vancouver (British Columbia, Canada)

I used to take ferries from Horseshoe Bay terminal when I lived in Vancouver, but never took the time to appreciate its surroundings. This time I followed Highway 99 (I-5’s Canadian counterpart) north to Whytecliff Park, on the west tip of West Vancouver. I appreciate the light drizzle that helped soften the distant hills.

Day 4: Stanley Park and Vancouver Skyline

While I was away, a new bike lane was constructed right next to my apartment, linking it with Vancouver downtown/Stanley Park in an almost unbroken path. This was the reason I hauled my bike in the car all the way from California: to enjoy the city in true Vancouver fashion (during the summer months of course). So once I'd arrived in Vancouver, I cycled. The view of the coastal mountains framing the fresh green foliage caught my eye just as I was rolling into Stanley Park, so I couldn’t resist doing this one (detail, top image). The cherries on top were, of course, the seaplanes swooping in and out of the harbour.

Just a five-minute cycle later, I had to stop again because the setting sun was creating wonderful colors and shadows on the Vancouver skyline.

Day 6: Mount Shasta Lookout - Southbound I-5 (California)

Because of a delayed departure on my drive back south to San Francisco the previous day, I was on a tight schedule. Despite that, when Mount Shasta appeared on the horizon again, I stepped on the brake and pulled into a rest area for a final sketch. From the observation area, the busy truck traffic underneath was still visible, so I included two for some added reality.

How the scenery changed from dry yellow grassland to lush green forest and misty hills as I drove north into the Mount Shasta region was definitely the highlight of my trip. Maybe I’ll do the trip again when another opportunity comes along.

Barbara Gao is an engineer from Vancouver currently living in San Jose, California, USA. You can see more of her sketches and stories on her blog and on Flickr. Her previous guest posts featured Australia, Japan and California.





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