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

A VIP Pass to Two of Porto’s Famous Attractions

[By Rita Sabler, Symposium Correspondent, in Porto] On July 17 most of the Symposium instructors were settled in Porto and were treated to two exclusive sketching opportunities before the start of the symposium.

The view of Porto outside of the main Symposium hub, the Alfandega
Shortly after lunch a big tourist bus took all of the instructors to Porto Poças, an established port winery celebrating its 100 year anniversary this year. Portuguese port is a stronger sweeter fortified wine produced in the Douro Valley and usually served during desert.

Faculty during the tasting and the oldest barrel of port
Initially everybody assembled in a large dark room with stone walls and treated to some samples of port produced at Poças. One of the wine makers discussed the history of the winery, the distinctive characteristics of each wine, its aromas and the process of making famous Portuguese wine.

Poças philosophy is there are three main ingredients to each glass of splendid port–soil, grapes and people. It is noticeable how the family grown business is a source of pride and great care by all of the employees.

We learned that wine makers here are not allowed to make wine from grapes that are not Portuguese, say Pinot Noire. The two main types of port–Tawny and Ruby– produced here differ by their aging process and aging time. Poças family advice–you have to pick a side between the the two and can’t be a fan of both equally.

Later in the aging and filtering production room and cellar I got introduced to the oldest barrel of port at Poças. This centenarian beauty is hidden all the way in the darkest corner and sealed for safety to preserve it for future generations.

Filtration apparatus–one of the last steps in the process 

I also learned that bottles have to be aged for at least 15 years before they are available on the market. The oldest one on the market currently is 1960s bottle of Ruby.

After the tasting the instructors settled down to sketch giant barrels, wine, and the beautiful facilities of Poças. Thank you for the Tour!

Livraria Lello–Porto’s famous bookstore

This fixture is on the list of any visit to Porto. The bookstore is the oldest and most elaborate in Portugal. Typically during the day it is packed with tourists and shoppers who are not deterred by the entry fee and a long line to get in.

The instructors entered the bookstore late at night when it closed to regular visitors and were treated to two hours of sketching inside.

I sketched the handsome employee/ticket checker who was wearing a a leather vest with buckles–special uniform that he says he dislikes. He jokes that it looks like bondage wear. I make a mental note that it would make a good Urban sketching uniform as it is full of pencil pockets.

Johanna Krimmel and Inma Serrano (center) and Ketta keeping her boys occupied (center) 

Inside instructors quickly got to work. Lello bookstore is full of amazing details like lamp posts, elaborate stained glass lining the back wall and the ceiling. Just like with the rest of this amazing city it is hard to pick where to focus one’s attention.

Faculty sketching at Lello bookstore after hours
Most of the faculty went upstairs and gathered around the structural and visual centerpiece of this unique bookshop–a giant red staircase that looks like a cascading waterfall taken straight out of some magic kingdom Disney film. The great maestros of perspective Lapin, Rob Sketcherman, and Paul Heaston appreciated the challenge to flex their sketching muscle in drawing something so complex despite the late hour and fatigue. We finished at 11:30 and left this magical place very content.




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