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

Super Bull, Prize Dahlias, Pork Queen & More at the Iowa State Fair

[By Marcia Milner-Brage in Des Moines, Iowa]
 Dream-on is the Super Bull at the Iowa State Fair this year. He was awarded this honor by weighing in at 3050 pounds. He’s a Simmi/Angus, raised on the Brandt Farm in Corning, Iowa. I joined the constant stream of fair goers at the Cattle Barn to gaze upon his massive bovine grandeur and calm.

I’ve recently started drawing on my iPad, using the Procreate app. Until my two-day outing to the Fair, I’d dabbled in protected situations: inside my air conditioned home, seated at a table, with no other people except my husband in the house. Here at the Fair, it was challenging to draw out in the field, on site: either standing up or perched on bleachers, in the glaring sun with 95F degree temperatures, in dusty livestock barns and arenas, surrounded by crowds of people. On the first day, I struggled to get the Apple Pencil to do what I wanted. So frustrated with the lack of results, for the second day I considered defaulting to my tried and true pocket size Moleskine and 5B pencil, but with my husband’s encouragement and a few tweaks to Apple Pencil responsiveness, I persevered. On the second day, I started having fun drawing on my iPad.

There are rows and rows of long tables covered with categorized entries at the huge Agriculture Building. From hay bales to cabbages, from apples to sunflowers, from dried beans to flower arrangements. If Iowans have cultivated it this growing season, it's here to be shown, judged and lauded. Each variety of crop, flower or fruit is judged separately. Above, first, second and third place (left to right) Cafe au Lait Dahlias.

Hard to believe, but it’s true, hundreds of people vied to get a seat in the midday sun at the Susan Knapp Amphitheater to watch the 32nd annual Grocery Bagging Contest. Judged for speed, appropriate packing technique and personal appearance, the contestants had come from grocery stores across the state, from small, medium and large towns. The audience watched two finalists at a time. The emcee interviewed each contestant after they had packed.

Emcee: “How do you think you did?”
Contestant: “Pretty good. I didn’t drop the eggs.”

Emcee: “Justin, I see that you were a high school wrestler.”
Contestant: “Yup.”
Emcee: “What do you think your most notable accomplishment is so far?”
Contestant: “I haven’t lost all my teeth yet”. He then dropped his top false teeth to his tongue and showed the Emcee.

Emcee: “How did you prepare for this contest?”
Contestant: “Since April, my nine-year-old daughter has been coaching me. She timed me and told me if I just concentrated I could do better.”
Emcee: “Is she here today?”
Contestant: [pointing to the second row where everyone was wearing the same T-shirt that said Team Kevin] “There she is with everyone else in my family.” [They all wave and let out a hoot.]

The 2018 Pork Queen is Jordan Travis from Altoona, Iowa. She is majoring in Animal Science at Iowa State University and hopes to have a career in human resource management for a large swine company. She’s in the right place for such a career choice: There are more hogs than people in Iowa. And Iowa is the largest producer of hogs in the United States. Travis was present at the Big Boar competition at the Swine Barn. Pictured is not the winning boar. The winner was Itty Bitty, weighing in at 1163 pounds, beating out the next largest boar, Yo-Yo, by only two pounds. Itty Bitty eats 16 pounds of corn a day. Other boar contestants shun corn and prefer boxes of doughnuts and Oreo cookies.

Besides Turkey Calling there’s Rooster Calling, Duck Calling, Husband Calling, and Chicken Calling. We happened into the Turkey Calling Contest at Pioneer Hall. It was off to a slow start. The emcee announced that they were low on contestants (only one person had signed up) and that the judges hadn’t showed up yet. We all waited patiently (more or less) and with good humor like this man sitting diagonally from me. Finally, some more contestants were recruited and one judge showed up.

The covered, outdoor horse arena is on the outer edge of the fairgrounds. Woods and parking lots filled with animal trailers are beyond. We arrived in-between competitions. The horse in the foreground was waiting to be hitched up for the Farm Team Competition.

This year at the Iowa State Fair I wasn’t just an enthusiastic fair goer, but a participant in one of the competitions. One of my drawings was accepted to be shown in the Fine Arts Exhibit. And it won an Honorable Mention! Above: Cottonwoods on a Sunny Day and a photo of it on the wall at the Fair.

At the 2016 Iowa State Fair we went for one whole day. Here’s my 2016 State Fair blog post: Longest Beard. Fattest Boar. Biggest Tomato. This year we went for two days. Because of my beginners status on the iPad, I didn’t do as many drawings as I would have liked. Next year, we’ll go for three days.





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