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 Trip Through Spain in Black and White

[Guest post by Tanya Heidrich in Spain] This year I took off to Spain with a one-way ticket and no specific route in mind, eager to explore a country I’d always been drawn to. I sketched my way from Madrid, down to Andalucia and up the Mediterranean coast to Barcelona, capturing everything in black and white in a hand-made sketchbook. Over the course of 77 days of travel, I visited 14 towns and cities, and filled my sketchbook with 73 drawings of architecture, plants, patterns, and mini comics.

The Palacio de Cristal, in Parque El Retiro, Madrid

Left: The Aqueduct of Segovia. Right: Patterns embossed in the façades of buildings throughout Segovia

During my six days in Madrid, I took a day trip up to Segovia, eager to see its aqueduct, which is one of the largest and best preserved aqueducts of the Roman Empire. It turned out to be well worth the trip, as the aqueduct is so much larger and more impressive than I had expected (and my expectations were already high).
The Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba

A collection of patterns from inside and outside la Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba

After Madrid, I made my way to Cordoba, spending eight days aimlessly wandering around – and getting lost in – the small curved streets of its old town. As an avid lover of all things striped, I had been wanting to visit the Mezquita-Catedral for years to admire its white and red striped arches – and it did not disappoint! The Mezquita de Córdoba is a rare combination of a mosque and cathedral, reflecting the area’s history of rule by Muslims and Christians. The simple foundations –which are now ruins under the building – were built by Christians, but when Córdoba became a Muslim town a mosque was built over it and expanded over time. Many years later, when Christians took over the city, they wanted to preserve the beauty of the building but turn it into a cathedral. The result is an unbelievably beautiful and eclectic combination of architectural and historical styles, packed with beautiful details, patterns and tiles.

A street in Sevilla during a terrace lunch.

Next, I spent 11 days in Sevilla (which absolutely flew by), gawking at its many elaborate tiles, drawing on terraces and enjoying goat cheese tapas. Several people told me that I would love Plaza de España, so I made an effort not to look up any pictures of it before going there to take it all in at once. I’m glad I did, because it was so much more impressive and beautiful than I could’ve imagined! It’s majestic as a whole, but what makes it all the more special is how much detail and color every corner is adorned with, and how many patterns and hand painted tiles abound.

Architectural detail from Plaza de España in Sevilla

Left: A collection of things found on the beach in Cadiz. Right: Pattern based on the giant concrete cubes stacked along the edges of the coastline in the old town of Cadiz (to break down the impact of the waves and reduce erosion).

Over the next few days, I decided to take a beach break and head off to Cadiz, before making my way down to Gibraltar (and out of Spain) for 36 hours, where I got to see the only wild monkeys in Europe. After a quick stint in Malaga, I was off to spend 11 days in Granada.

The Alhambra in Granada
Architectural styles in Granada vary so much based on its history of Christian and Muslim rule, as shown through its wide variety of architectural styles, from the Albaicin neighborhood made of small white houses and cobblestone streets, to the majestic Alhambra (the most visited monument in Spain) to the detailed doors around town.

Doors of Granada

My mother joined me in Granada, where we set off on a roadtrip to Cabo de Gata, a natural park with a rich combination of dry landscapes, cacti, small coastal towns, windmills and picturesque natural beaches. We spent three days hiking, exploring and swimming, taking full advantage of the quiet nature and open spaces, in contrast to the busy cities we’d been in prior. The road trip continued up to Cuenca, a town whose colorful old town is perched atop steep cliffs.

The old town of Cuenca
We said our farewells in Valencia, where I continued my trip alone, exploring the city by bike.

Twisted trees in the Jardines del Real, Valencia.

The trip continued to Tarragona (where I spent most of my time sick and in bed), and onto Barcelona, before heading back home to Switzerland, sad to leave but eager to catch my breath and give my drawing hand a well-earned rest.

Tanya Heidrich is an illustrator and graphic designer based in Switzerland. She recently went on a trip across Spain, and you can see all the drawings from that trip here.





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