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

Book review: Reportage Illustration by Embury and Minichiello


[Book review by James Hobbs] What are you drawing, and why? Reportage drawing is “event-based”, the authors of Reportage Illustration, Gary Embury and Mario Minichiello, explain, “meaning that it is an art applied to things of significance happening in the world”, with the artist acting as a “particular kind of visual journalist, capturing the dynamics of unfolding events through their artwork”. Its focus is on working on location and standing around with drawing materials to get the story, whether it is found at musical events, war zones, political demonstrations, film shoots, courtrooms, and whether it is carefully planned and budgeted or simply spontaneous.

Audrey Hawkins, Washington Square Arch with Protestors, 2015

There’s a hands-on approach to their book: its seven chapters all include interviews with artists and case studies with insights into work processes, and sometimes include exercises and tips. There are chapters on the origins of reportage drawing and the influence of the war artist, the materials, media and methods that are employed, and the development of a visual language. Other chapters focus on location, capturing a sense of place, and narrative.

The final chapter, Becoming a Visual Journalist, offers practical advice on the nitty-gritty of becoming a professional, such as creating a portfolio, finding work, arranging interviews, and ethical aspects. A conclusion looks at the future of reportage with an interview with Martin Harrison, a former senior art director for the London Times and a champion of reportage drawing.

Olivier Kugler's multi-layered, digitally coloured visual essays reflect one way that new technology is having an impact on reportage. Left: Tahrir Square, Cairo, 2012, and right, Ahmed, Domiz Refugee Camp, 2014

The authors, Embury, who is a lecturer at the University of the West of England, Bristol, and editor of Reportager, which showcases and supports reportage illustration projects, and Minichiello, a professor at the School of Design Communication at Newcastle University, Australia, who has worked for the BBC and the Guardian, have, unsurprisingly, pulled together a great bunch of artists to feature in the book. Some, including Veronica Lawlor (whose work features on the book’s cover) and Melanie Reim, will already be familiar to urban sketchers, as may the likes of George Butler, Lucinda Rogers, Jedidiah Dore and Olivier Kugler (above). The book reflects the way new technology is playing a part in the revival of interest in reportage through new ways of production, recording and distribution. Tim Vyner, for instance, used an iPad when working as the Times’s Olympic artist in 2012.

The artist and activist Jill Gibbon is interviewed about her series of works drawn undercover at arms fairs

The book is excellent in encouraging readers to continue to experiment and explore, even when they may have found their own hard-won visual language. Different situations call for different approaches, and the ability to improvise, perhaps by using whatever paper or mediums are at hand, can lead to new directions and ways of working. Embury and Minichiello are both experienced reportage illustrators and educators, and the artists whose work they feature in the book through revealing interviews and case studies are drawn from a broad "bandwidth" of drawing techniques and methods that implore readers to find our own approaches.

Rachel Gannon, Luton Airport, from a month-long residence at the UK airport, and Dan Zalkus, Rooftop,  showing New York's skyline

Butler tells the story of how the late artist Ronald Searle once wrote him a letter, which ended: “A pen and pencil and paper is nothing if you have nothing to say. Otherwise do pretty watercolours and forget it.” This is a book that challenges us to confront what we are saying in our work and how we are saying it, and perhaps change the way we approach what we are doing. It's about getting out and drawing with a more critical and exploring eye. As the authors say: “Allow your visual language to find you. Make mistakes and learn from them, but try not to beautify your drawings or erase for the sake of aesthetics. You are on location to capture information, it is primary research you are after.”

It’s well worth bearing in mind that the work of USk’s founder Gabi Campanario regularly appears in the Seattle Times: Urban Sketchers all started with reportage.

Reportage Illustration: Visual Journalism by Gary Embury and Mario Minichiello is published by Bloomsbury Visual Arts (ISBN: 9781474224598).

Opinions expressed by our correspondents and guest contributors don't necessarily represent an official view of Urban Sketchers.


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