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

I owe a lot to a man named Brueghel

[By Róisín Curé in Vienna] When I heard that there was a huge Brueghel exhibition in Vienna, the largest collection for 450 years, I resolved to go. Never mind that I have three kids who need me around, no family in the vicinity who could look after them, an over-spent credit card and a deadline for a book - I would leave no stone unturned to get to it.

You see, I had one piece of art on my wall as a child: a poster of Brueghel the Elder's Peasant Wedding. It was all the art I knew at seven years old and for many years, and since my very first oil painting when I was about 10, and in everything I drew in any medium after that, the stamp of Brueghel could be seen under varying numbers of layers of, well, me.

I had had a big birthday the previous February and between losing family members to illness, worrying about others with various serious illnesses, sick relatives and more worry, it just wasn't a festive-feeling year. But all of those situations had come to a conclusion, some happy, some less so, and it seemed there would be a chance to go after all - IF tickets could be found.
They were not yet sold out online when my husband and I went to buy some (despite having no idea how we'd get to Vienna) - but the system was buggy and wouldn't let us purchase. We phoned the gallery in Vienna.
"I'm sorry, Madam, but it appears there is an issue with the server. No one in Britain or Ireland can buy tickets. You may email us, and we will arrange for you to purchase them over the phone."
That was a Friday. They did not answer our email (please allow two working days etc.) and by the time Monday came around, all the tickets were gone.

It was time to call in the big guns.

My husband Marcel has family in Vienna. His mother is Viennese. I had never met his cousins. It was the perfect opportunity to meet them for the first time - would they be able to call in to the gallery and buy tickets for us? There were some available to buy in person. turned out that one of the cousins' wives actually worked in the very gallery where the exhibition was being held, on the actual Brueghel exhibition, and a few days later there in the family WhatsApp group was a photo of four tickets. Two of the family were coming with us. Oh happy days, oh joy...we bought plane tickets and after more mishaps (car and house keys left somewhere in the UK the day before we were due to fly to Vienna) we left the teens alone at home and arrived in Austria on 3rd January.

It started to snow gently...Marcel and I were in heaven, on our own abroad for only the second time since we got married nearly 20 years ago. Here are my sketches from the trip.
This is Entler, a wonderful restaurant that we found after much trudging through deserted snowy streets. I think Sasha, our waiter, is going to join Urban Sketchers. He said he's loved drawing as a kid but had stopped when he hit his teens but wanted to go back to it. Everything was cooked to perfection and couldn't have been more delicious. 

 This Delia's Café where I had to sketch to get over my nerves: I had been persuaded, nay, cajoled into climbing the 365-step tower in St Stephan's Cathedral, which was a trial as there was no handrail, a narrow spiral stone staircase with people coming down as well as up at the same time. Terrifying.

The next day we met Marcel's cousins. Not only did they look after us like royalty, taking us to the most wonderful places - as their guest - but they even put us up in their home, were charm personified, and funny with it - and family! I have just enriched my life by meeting these lovely people.

 Marcel's cousins took us to Heuriger Steinklammer, where we ate pork with crackling, sauerkraut and potato dumplings, and drank wine from the vineyards in the hills above the city. A heuriger is where you find the soul of Austria: carved wooden furniture, kachelofens, waitresses in white blouses and aprons, gorgeous traditional Austrian food and drink.
Left to right: Cousin Ulli, her boyfriend Wastl, Cousin Susi, Marcel.
 This is Café Klimt where we went to recover after the exhibition. Those cakes were sorely needed but the cousins' and husband's cakes were eaten too fast for me to sketch them so I put them in afterwards floating in the ceiling. The only reason there was a bit of mine left to sketch was because it's hard to gobble and sketch at the same time. None of my family made their way in to the sketch either which is a shame.
I bought lots of these for the kids left alone in Ireland (our great frinds and neighbours Lorraine and Sean looked after them as their own while we were away). Now my youngest is googling where to find them in Ireland but the only place that showed up was the Austrian Embassy. Of our three children she is the inheritor of the Austrian soul: lively, funny, and very, very together.
When Marcel was a child his aunties would shower him in Mannerschnitten, these delectable hazelnut wafers.
"Didn't anyone ever say you'd had enough?" I asked.
(My mother is Canadian and brought us up not too overindulge in too much sugar.)
"No, never," said Marcel. "They said. "You like these! Have more!" "

The exhibition was amazing: it was like being transported to another world, not just one 450 years ago, but into a world that really represents my very soul as an artist. Mind blowing and incredibly inspiring. (Weirdly, I recently put together a proposal for a huge mural for my city: it was only after the mock-ups were done that I realised the concept was straight out of a Brueghel "busy picture". I kid you not.)

I love Vienna and my family and I intend to get to know Austria better. And as a sketching destination...who knows what's in the planning?




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