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

Symposium, day 4: Farewell to Porto, Hello Amsterdam!

[By Paulo Mendes, Symposium Correspondent, Porto]
 These were four wonderful, intensive, rewarding, amazing days!
Work was hard, yes, but exciting and challenging; There was no much time to sleep, to eat or to catch up with friends at the Drink & Draw after a long day, but motivation is a battery like any other: What a feeling it was to wake up in the morning with the expectation of a new adventurous sketch journey as a Symposium correspondent!
Then suddenly, the last day comes: Early morning, you walk through Rua das Flores on that familiar traject towards Alfândega, and realize that longer you will greet those familiar figures on the way, their badge hanging from the neck, rushing in the same direction or seated in their stools in great concentration.
But there is still one full day ahead, and work to do. And to speak the truth, although standing instead of seated, I was myself the figure in concentration on this last day, after having decided to arrive a bit early in order to make a quick sketch for the Silent Auction.

Those nostalgic antecipations were soon to be obliterated, as there was still a great deal of correspondent work to do. Three workshops to visit, the first of them being “Playful composition exercises with Notan sketches”, by Renato Palmuti. I joined the group for one more steep ascent towards Leões square.

Renato started with explaining the Japanese origin of this sort of practice, formerly a work of collage, currently a helpful silhouette painting study that can be used, among other things,  to position elements or balance lights and darks.

Using the rule of thirds, a demo by Renato was taking place at the moment I had to move away, back down to Ribeira for my second workshop.

At Terreiro square in Ribeira, Cheang Jin Khoo was also in demo mode in his workshop “Leaving white in watercolor”, although I  wasn't sure if the stunning masterpiece coming out of his easel could actually be called a “demo”.

Cheang was constantly leaving his easel to check and assist his students spreaded by the square, and I decided to sketch a good handful of these.

For my third workshop, I just had to head back to Alfândega, as it was happening just next to the venue room: “Gray matter: Using gray to tie two contrasting colors in two washes for lively and quick sketching”, by Uma Kelkar. Being a concept completely new to me, I was amazed and inspired on how Uma makes such great paintings out of two watercolor washes. 

At the end of workshop, all sketchbooks were reunited and Uma offered tips and remarks in each one of them. And this was all for workshops in this Symposium. At the venue, the art supply market was already giving room for the late afternoon activities, leaving in the air a certain sense of an ending feast. Meanwhile, after a break for lunch and small rest, all sketchers would gather for the final sketchwalk and the big group photo.

The sketchwalk departed from Alfândega, but most of the people was already at Praça da Liberdade, extending their presence to the City Hall at the top of Aliados avenue. Wherever you looked, you could see sketchers! If I looked into the avenue treetops, I certainly would have spotted a couple of them, and they would be part of this composition.

You may have seen already the unbelievable photo taken in front of the city hall. A vision not to be forgotten, and being part of it is unspeakable. Yes, I'm that guy wearing a black t-shirt with a little hole, courtesy of my cat.

Back to Alfândega for the final strecht. The silent auction was already taking place, and in the middle of truly amazing works of art I was pleased to see that my modest contribution would also find a new home.

I took a seat to have some rest while paying attention to the raffles draw. There was always some hope for the little blue square inside my wallet, but destiny has chosen otherwise: Congratulations to all the happy winners!

The closing reception was already happening, with people socializing while having a drink, and a correspondent at the final chapter of his work picking a bit of everything into his sketchbook. Finally came the countdown for the most expected announcement: Amsterdam will host the 10th Symposium in 2019! Harteljik Gefeliciteerd Amsterdam!!

It was the last convivial moment before leaving for good that large but cosy whitewashed room we called home for these last few days. For many, it was now time to say goodbye, last conversations, last pictures together, reencounters promised for next year. While some were leaving, others resisted, still chatting lively or sketching each other and anyone around, as it was the case of three correspondents almost free of their duties.

The Alfândega building was finally left behind, the convivial atmosphere moved into a nearby cafe terrace, and from there elsewhere, although this exhausted correspondent of yours, no longer a 20 years old lad, had really no other choice than taking the way back home. Time for the last handshakes, kisses and hugs. Shall we see each other in Amsterdam? I really, really hope so!

Overlooking this amazing and unique city of mine, this last sketch of this series is from the day after, catching up with local sketcher friends with whom I had little chance to be with on the busy Symposium days.
Thank you to all for having been here! Hope you had so much fun as I did! And thank you to all USk people, from organizers to volonteers, for all the support, advice, feedback and for making these days and this challenge the unforgettable experience of a lifetime! You took me to a level never hit before in the scale of happiness!
Thank you to all Urban Sketchers, old and new friends: Many of you may still in Porto, others may be trying to sleep in the middle of a long plane journey, others may be travelling to other destinations in beautiful Portugal, and a few of you, like me, may now be back already to the comfort of your homes. 
Wherever you are, be sure that each one of you has also a place in my heart!





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