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 Amsterdam 2019: It's About The People

[By Róisín Curé in Amsterdam] The 10th International USk Symposium has just wrapped up. It took place in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. The 9th USk Symposium was held in Porto, Portugal, in July 2018. One of the organisers, Nelson Paciencia, stood up to say a few words about the experience during the introduction one morning.
"The Symposium is not about the drawing," he said. "It's about the people!"
Then he said it again for emphasis.
Nelson's words hit home with me. We all love sketching, but we love getting together more.

Two nights ago we said goodbye to a sweltering Amsterdam. It was a bit warm for comfort in Amsterdam for many, but that didn't dampen the fantastic time we all had. Nelson was right. It was about the people. It was very special to catch up with old friends and to make new ones. Clichéd perhaps, but true.

On our last evening the urban sketching gods showed mercy and the weather cooled down enough that we all stopped looking quite so bedraggled and red (speaking for myself). Next year the 11th International Urban Sketching Symposium will be held in Hong Kong, and we are all very excited.

It was a super few days. I only made four sketches: all were done at my sketching location in Rembrandtplein, but what a location. A statue of Rembrandt stands on a plinth and is surrounded by shiny black soldiers who turn out to be the very subjects Rembrandt depicted in his famous painting The Nightwatch.

I had been quite playful with my proposal - the fun element of sketching is the best bit for me - and so I had promised to make the same ink and whittle the same feather quills that Rembrandt would have used when he sketched in the 17th century for my workshop.

The recipe for the ink is not precise. You can alter it until it's right.
Make sure to get the blue-green iron sulphate and not the light brown one.

Once I had committed to making ink and quills, and my proposal was accepted, I had to do it. And I did, and it worked, and as stood in Rembrandtplein and looked around me at fifteen sketchers scratching away with white goose feathers and ink made from my oak trees I felt a surge of pride. My garden, my ink, my feather quills. They were having a really good time, give or take swapping an inexpertly-carved feather for a better one, and to see the beautiful sketches they made was a special sight indeed. Without those 45 sketchers (three mornings of fifteen each) using my quills and ink, they were just feathers and black water on a table in my studio.
It's about the people.

It was astonishing to me that it worked, sort as if I'd invented a machine and it worked - which is ridiculous, because iron gall ink and feather quills were used successfully for well over a thousand years of writing and drawing (albeit not by novice feather-carvers). The knowledge that I could chuck the feathers on the grass after we were finished and it would not even count as litter - not really - felt pretty cool too. (We didn't. They work, and I will let others have a go.)

The playful bit done, we moved onto the main thrust of my workshop, which was to get my students familiar with using a 55-degree fude pen, and using it with confidence. I showed them its secrets - which aren't very secret - and they all fell in love with the pen, just as I had hoped.

That done, I wanted to show them how much can be done with a single colour: from the white of the page to the most dilute colour to the very deepest it can go. I wanted them to see how it applies to any colour, and how conserving the whites and building up darks makes a subject spring into life.
Tourists come and go. One person's head is joined by another's torso, and another's legs.
Frankentourist, as Marissa, one of my sketchers, coined it. 

In the above sketch from my first day, you can see the entire workshop, really - how to become familiar with the different line widths of the fude pen (top left), how to get different strengths of colour (left) and how to use layers of ink to build up colour.

I loved the contrast between the tourists acting the clown and the seriousness with which the soldier-statues are taking their job. Tourists took photos all day long: shaking hands with the statues, women embracing them, men pretending to fire their make-believe guns.Two burly Spaniards even climbed the statues, making them wobble under their weight. It's tempting to think we live in sillier times - but then didn't many painters of the Dutch Golden Age depict people acting the fool? Plus ça change, I guess.

This sketch shows how the same layered wash technique can be used for any colour.

I brought my family with me this year, as my youngest turned fifteen on Thursday. No-one likes the crowds in Amsterdam, but we urban sketchers were part of that.
"You know in a movie when there's a fight scene, and then you look over the hill and there are thousands of soldiers coming," said my son Paddy, who is nearly 18. "That's what the sketchers were like in Amsterdam."

Look out, Hong Kong!



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