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

USk Workshop: The Sacred and The Profane, in Rome!

Join this workshop in Rome to find the Sacred and Profane locations that were always there but you never saw them!

When we think about sacred and profane our mind links almost directly to religion. However, nowadays, a lot of other things are assuming the “sacred” title. For example, tourists! When they go to a city, it’s almost impossible not to have a checklist of the most famous places to visit. That list becomes, in a certain way, “sacred”. For me, the most interesting part is to find the profane in those places, because it’s there, living side by side, and we tend not to see them…

In this workshop, we will explore this idea of sketching the sacred and the profane. The workshop is not about doing gorgeous postcards of a city, but an opportunity to think and see a city, its history, through sketching. The final result should be a compilation of studies developed in the sketchbook.

  • Learn how to use the sketchbook as a tool;
  • Learn how to see and select what to sketch;
  • Improve your drawing skills;
  • Learn how to use the sketchbook as a laboratory to do experiences;
  • Experience the advantages of group learning and seeing the many paths to success;
  • Combine different perspectives in only one drawing composition.


DAY 1 - Top Known and The Unknown 
The sacred checklist of Rome: the places you have to visit. At the same time, in the same place, the sight no one is looking at, the unknown places. Everything living together on the same page of your sketchbook, side by side. 

Morning path: Piazza Navona + Pantheon + Fontana di Trevi 
Afternoon path: Museo Capitolino + Foro Romano + Colosseo 

9h30 - meeting point at Piazza Navona. Group and instructor presentations. 
9h45 - Exercise 1: Sketching Piazza Navona in watercolor, using paper tape to create two separated vignettes in the same double page of the sketchbook. One vignette will be used to sketch the “sacred” view of the place. The other will be used for the “profane” view. 30 minutes for each drawing. 
10h45 - Sharing the results, feedback from the instructor, and walk to Pantheon (5 minutes walk). 
11h00 - Exercise 2: repeat the first exercise trying to improve based on the feedback provided by the instructor 
12h00 - Sharing the results, feedback from the instructor, and walk to Fontana di Trevi (10 minutes walk). 
12h15 - Exercise 3: repeat the first two exercises, trying to improve the page composition by mixing part of the sketches (views). 
13h15 - Final feedback about the morning exercises. 

13h30 - Lunch 

15h30 - Meeting point at Piazza del Campidoglio 
15h45 - Exercise 4: Sketching the view to the city from Piazza del Campidoglio in a loose watercolor wash. After that, on the top of the watercolor shapes, sketch with pen and using only lines, the “profane” elements (doors of the museum, sculpture details, vendors, among other options not so appealing). 
16h45 - Sharing the results, feedback from the instructor, and walk to the junction between Via del Campidoglio and Via Monte Tarpeo (1-minute walking). 
16h50 - Exercise 5: The view from this place to the Foro Romano it’s so amazing that everything else around almost disappears. We will repeat the exercise 4: loose watercolor to sketch to Foro view and, on the top of it, line work about the opposite view or other elements around. 
17h50 - Sharing the results, feedback from the instructor, and walk to Colosseo (15 minutes walking). 
18h05 - Exercise 6: The Colosseo is, probably, the most iconic/“sacred” monument in Rome. It’s difficult to move our eyes away from it and it’s difficult not to be attracted by its scale, colors, lines, and how he invites our mind to travel in time. We will repeat the exercise by sketching the Colosseo only in watercolor and, after that, on the top of it, the Constantino Arch with lines. 
19h15 - Conclusion of the workshop with feedback about the work accomplished during the day.

DAY 2 - Inside Out: On the Path of Caravaggio 
Michelangelo Ceresi da Caravaggio is the major example of sacred and profane themes. It’s paintings connected the life of the eternal city of its time with the religious themes he was invited to paint. The relationship between the city life and the bible episodes he painted will be explained and will serve as inspiration for the work of this day. 

Morning path: Piazza San Pietro + Basilica di Sant’Agostino 
Afternoon path: Chiesa San Luigi dei Francesi + Basilica Santa Maria del Popolo 

9h30 - Meeting point at Piazza San Pietro, Vatican City 
9h45 - Exercise 1: How to sketch the entire square using watercolor as a draft pencil sketch. Start with the light and soft colors, adding medium values after that and finalize with the shadows. Proportions are not the most important thing, but the relationship between the open/public/private square where people go to pray, and the outside areas where we can find vendors, police officers, tourists. We will sketch the people using only pens with different colors: blue to sketch people praying; brown to sketch the vendors; green to sketch tourists and/or others. 
11h15 - Sharing the results, feedback from the instructor and walk to Basilica di Sant’Agostino (25 minutes walking). 
11h40 - Exercise 2: In this church, we will be able to find Caravaggio’s Madonna with the baby. A brief explanation about the painting will be done by the instructor and, after that, we will sketch the painting figures using only pencil and watercolors. The limits of the canvas will not be included, only the figures. After that, we will go outside to sketch the Basilica’s outside on the top of the figures sketch, or behind the figures to give them an outside background. The main idea of this exercise is to bring those figures to the street, just like Caravaggio did when he picked his models from the street to do the religious paintings. 
13h00 - Final feedback about the morning exercises. 

13h15 - Lunch 

15h00 - Meeting point at Church San Luigi dei Francesi 
15h15 - Exercise 3: In this church, we will be able to view one of the most famous Caravaggio’s paintings: St. Matthew Vocation. A brief explanation about the painting and the chapel will be made and, after that, we will repeat the exercise 2. 
16h45 - Sharing the results, feedback from the instructor and walk to Basilica Santa Maria del Popolo (16 minutes walking) 
17h00 - Exercise 4: In this church, we will find another famous painting from Caravaggio: The Calling of St. Paul. The drawing process will be the same, repeating the same steps in order to improve the final result and composition. 
18h30 - Conclusion of the workshop with feedback about the work accomplished during the day.

  • Sketchbook (minimum A5 size) with sewing sheets of paper (not metal rings);
  • Blue, brown, green, and black waterproof pens;
  • Graphite pencils;
  • Watercolor pan set, water brush and watercolor brush.
  • 100€ (two full days workshop)
Please send an email to if you are planning to attend this workshop. 
There is also a scholarship sponsored by Urban Sketchers to a student. Send me an email with a letter of interest and proof of student situation to apply.




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