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

My first steps and watercolor brushstrokes in Benin, Africa

[by Marion Rivolier in Cotonou and Ouidah, Benin]

I arrived in the middle of the night in Cotonou, Benin. The next morning, I discover the landscape through the window of my hotel. This is my first watercolor in Africa. The colorful range of the journey begins to emerge. It is very green, lush vegetation masks buildings under construction and various work near the hotel. We leave for our meeting by taxi; through the window, I discover the district of the ministries and expatriates. All the concessions are surrounded by a wall, an enclosure. The buildings are rather low, merchants of "everything" are installed along the roads. When I get out of the cab, I am choking as my colleagues tell me it's pretty good... I can not imagine what it's like in February!
The next day, I wish to visit Ouidah, an important city in the history of slavery in Benin. The sky is gray, there are some showers and the highway is shiny. The roadsides are full of shops of all types. On the road is the slalom between cars, mopeds and motorcycle taxi, drivers in yellow T-shirt.

Arriving towards Ouidah, the earth changes color, it becomes red-orange. The houses are colorful, yellow, red, orange, blue, a range of ocher and land unfolds to infinity. Some villas and houses are of Afro-Brazilian style, architectural style of Agudas, freed slaves. We visit the Zinsou Foundation in the beautiful Villa Ajavon which features free contemporary art. I paint the view through the darkly framed windows. I work with a range of red-orange-gold with brushstrokes of green that make singing colorful harmonies. I'm sweating heavily... it's really hot. We now follow the Slave Route, punctuated by cement sculptures of Cyprien Tokoudagba. I discover the lagoon, that's wonderful. On the beach is the Gate of No Return. These different monuments are places of recollection for the descendants of slaves. The lights are sublime, colored gray, ocher, orange and blue-green water.

We can not stay longer, we must take the road. At the entrance of Cotonou, a small unpleasant episode in a gas station requires us to stay an hour. I take the opportunity to quickly capture the moment; the night falls, in the end, I do not see much.

The next day, in Cotonou, I propose a walk to my colleague. We are heading towards the sea. We have the impression that many buildings are under construction. We never know if the work is interrupted for a moment or forever... we walk on Obama beach, we dribble, but it's really good to feel the wind, the ocean and see the vultures flying off!
Huts offering shadows allow me to spend a few moments painting: tree stump, barriers, buildings and the port in the distance.
There is not really any shade on the way back, the street sellers are watching us and make fun of those Whites who walk in the sun!

Delayed the plane, we are wandering a bit like souls in pain at the idea of ​​taking off at 2:30 in the morning.
At the airport, not to sink, I sketch the travelers in the waiting room. Everyone does what he can to keep going until boarding. After a last search, in the night, on the tarmac, we finally embark!
Then it's the take-off and the return to the Parisian cold weather.
It was a short journey but so intense and rich!





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