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

Namesake lives on in Ferney-Voltaire

[Guest post by Leslie Akchurin in Ferney-Voltaire, France] From age 65 to 85, Voltaire kept one home in Geneva and another just a few miles away in Ferney, France, so he could slip across the border in response to whichever government was angry with him. This great Enlightenment thinker and proponent of civil liberties (and community infrastructure) is still a towering presence here in “Ferney-Voltaire,” where he is credited with transforming a swampy, sickly hamlet into a prosperous and hip destination for free thinkers and society figures. A big Voltaire fete is held here every year, and there are several statues and busts of him around town—like this one I sketched last summer at the Le Patriarche cafe (top of post). 

Meanwhile, his chateau languished in disrepair for decades – that is, until this year! When I climbed up the hill last week, I was so pleased to find that what had been cocooned in scaffolding a year ago has emerged in pink and white splendor. Not only the house but the extensive grounds have been renovated.  

Voltaire's chateau

I came back to visit for the next two days. The big, airy building feels stately but also idiosyncratic and festive, perhaps like the witty, unconventional man himself. 

Another view of the chateau

Inside, some of the rooms have been furnished with period-appropriate pieces, and a few original pieces have been restored and returned. The woman in the painting here is out of place, however. She’s Empress Maria Theresa, the mother of Marie Antoinette, and is known to have disliked Voltaire. But the painting is a valued gift to the museum, and her dress nearly matches the brocade on Voltaire’s restored bed, so she’s currently stuck here looking at it. 

Voltaire's bedroom

From the lovely rear gardens, you can see Mont Blanc if the day is clear, as well as many planes taking off from the Geneva airport, just a stone’s throw away. Apparently, Voltaire cherished his views of both the Alps on one side and Jura mountains on the other. 

View from the gardens

Although Voltaire believed in God, he was a famously free thinker and a thorn in the side of religious hierarchies. He originally transferred this town chapel to his property with the idea of converting it into a kind of study, but he ultimately bowed to church pressure and rededicated it to God instead.  With his typically sly wit, he decreed that his name be chiseled larger than God’s on the plaque. 

Voltaire's chapel

Leslie Akchurin is a Connecticut Yankee who lives on the Texas Panhandle. She drew these sketches with an Apple Pencil in the Tayasui Sketches Pro app on an iPad Pro. Her work is consulting at a university writing center, and she sketches in her free time, when possible, accompanying her husband on trips he undertakes as a high energy physics researcher. She has served as an administrator of the USk Lubbock chapter and writes articles for Drawing Attention. Leslie has contributed several guest posts to the blog. More of her work can be seen on Flickr.





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