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

Day 3: It is Raining Workshops while the Sun is Scorching in Porto

[By Rita Sabler, Symposium Correspondent, in Porto] 

Discovering Porto with Jim Richards 

Jim started by talking about how his family moved a lot when he was little, which forced him to pay attention to things that make the place what it is and become a keen observer of his new surroundings. Throughout the workshop James invited us to keep our eyes open and make a list of things that make Porto so unique. Is it its gorgeous and omnipresent azulejos? Or the intricate web of ironwork present in the railings and balconies? Or perhaps the way the city is laid out in rows of cascading streets that descend to the river making our strolls so strenuous? 

“Drawing as Discovery: Revealing Porto’s Rich Sense of Place” with Jim Richards
He showed us a way to compose the page that is very conducive of this method of discovery. The main area is occupied by what mostly catches your attention, perhaps a prominent architectural landmark. In composition this is called your hero. Flanking your hero on the sides are little thumbnails of very special objects that make this place what it is. They could be something like a closeup of a lamp-post or a snippet of an entire scene. Finally you could use “found objects” things like tickets, business cards and other travel trinkets that you have collected on your trip. 

He promised that looking back at a spread of your sketchbook composed in this way will instantly bring a flood of memories from that moment including sounds, smells, and joy. 

I tried to imitate Jim’s discovery spread before it was time to move on to the next workshop. 

Capturing People and Space in the Same Gesture with Marion Rivolier 

I am always stunned by every watercolor painted by Marion but “straight to watercolor” method is not something that I could ever do myself with any amount of success. I was ready for a challenge but quite a bit intimidated. 

Marion has a fantastic way of teaching layering her exercises in the same patient and deliberate way as she does with her paintings until the final result is revealed, and it is fantastic. By the time I arrived her students had already mixed a palette of cools and warms and did a few warmup exercises to loosen up. 
Non-dominant hand exercises with Marion
5 minutes to capture a person in one gesture, another 5 minutes to do the same but with your non -dominant hand, or as Marion calls it “bad hand”, 4 minutes to do 20 silhouettes, 4 minutes to alternate shapes and lines, and so on. 

Once they were warmed up Marion challenged her students to paint people and background together and showed very effective tools for separating the two before your drawing becomes one big colorful mess of runny watercolor. 

Capturing People and Space in the Same Gesture with Marion Rivolier

Here is my drawing of Marion coaching her student not to use a water brush pen in her soft French accent: "I see your brush is starting to dance..." 

I was starting to really get into it, but it was time to look for another workshop. 

Chasing Shadows with Inma Serrano
Inma’s style is another example of something I admire from a distance because I absolutely lack the ability to convert reality into the playful quirky vision that Inma is able to convey. 

I arrived in time for the very last exercise when Inma was teaching her students to focus on shadows cast by buildings over narrow streets. The sun decided to be playful in that moment hiding behind a cloud every 5 minutes. “I live in Sevilla where the sun is always shining” said Inma. Here in Porto we had to make do with shy sun. 

Inma Serrano: Calma e Fúria 

Here is the best I could do imitating Inma’s joyful whimsical style of seeing. 

Róisín Curé “A page of Porto Petiscos! Signs and Their Setting for a Sense of Place 

Róisín is a lovely, animated sketcher from Ireland. After I saw her sketchbook at the workshop I realized I had seen her work in one of the videos she made about her book of sketches on her trip to Nice. I instantly felt like I knew her. We got to chat Irish politics waiting for her students to show up at the Largo Sao Domingos, and I was even more charmed. 

Róisín got straight to work  and talked about how she likes to look for meaning and stories in places that she visits. She encouraged us to draw things that interest us personally instead of feeling obligated to sketch main architectural landmarks. “Pick one or two strong colors and use them throughout your sketch to tie things together. “ “Have the artistic freedom to change colors if it suits your color scheme better. “

Róisín Curé's workshop–I took her advice and changed the color of her skirt

To build a story about Largo Sao Domingos–a lively place with human statues, restaurants and beautiful architecture Róisín invited us to start with a sign that would occupy a third of our double page spread. Students got to work drawing their signs. I wanted to fill the rest of the spread with the story of Largo Sao Domingos, but it was time to move on.  

Just sketching and enjoying with Mike Daikubara
By the time I finally found my last workshop for the day–Mike Daikubara’s “Sketch Now Think Later” I was grateful I didn’t have to think. Faced with the gorgeous panorama of the Porto’s center across the Douro river there was nothing left to do than just sketch and have fun. Mike is just the most relaxed and sweet guy to have as your last workshop of the day instructor. 

Sketch Now Think Later with Mike Daikubara
The sun was getting particularly intense in that hour, the screams of the teenage boys jumping off the neighboring Ponte Luis I bridge into the filthiest part of Douro were matching it in intensity. Other participants were also grateful to be allowed to just draw the beautiful view in front of them. A sketcher next time me noted: “This is the best drawing I did the whole symposium!” I almost have to agree myself, at least for today. 





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