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

Two weeks to go before Amsterdam!

[By Gwen Glotin, 2019 symposium correspondent, in Amsterdam] The countdown continues! So, let's have another walk through Amsterdam. 

I suppose most of you will arrive by plane in Schiphol, but if you come by train, you will get out at Amsterdam Centraal Station. If you take the exit leading to the IJ River, you will have a view on "Amsterdam Noord", the neighbourhood north of Amsterdam, on the other side of the IJ. The modern building shaped like a weird bird or plane (and quite tricky to sketch!) is the EYE Film Museum, well worth a visit! Next to it, the A'DAM Lookout deck at the top of the A'DAM tower offers a great panoramic view on Amsterdam (and if you need an adrenaline shot, they also have a swing situated at 100 m above the ground). A free ferry will take you there. 

View on Amsterdam North from the tiny pancake café "Pancake Amsterdam"
If you take the other exit though, towards the city centre, one of the first things you will see is the massive St Nicholas church. And because you are sketchers, you will also notice the cute pink house next to it! 
St Nicholas Church (and cute pink house!), seen from café Loetje. I had to "finish" in a hurry as the table where I sat was booked and I was asked (very politely: "please take your time to finish your drawing!") to leave. 
Another thing which will jump out when you arrive in Amsterdam is the "sea of bicycles", for example on the far left of the station, behind the tramway stops. Which gives me another opportunity to warn you again: watch out for the cyclists! I know, I know, I mentioned that already, but really, it's difficult, when you come from a country with no cycling culture, to remember not to walk on the cycle paths. Moreover, it has to be said that Amsterdam cyclists lack patience... and good manners, very often! So before crossing any street or even putting one foot (or one toe!) beside the sidewalk, check out both directions - twice!   

It's not a legend: there are more bicycles than there are people in Amsterdam.
If you rent one, always always use a lock when you stop somewhere. And be aware that nowadays,
using your phone while on the bike can get you a EUR 95 fine! 
Let's go further. The Nieuwmarkt square is worth a visit too - and convenient as it's very near to the Zuiderkerk (the central location). It has countless cafés and restaurants with terraces and in the middle, the beautiful monument called De Waag, which was a city gate in the 15th and 16th century and was later used as a weighing house.  
De Waag on Nieuwmarkt square.

A little further, you'll find the Montelbaanstoren (Montelban Tower), on the bank of a quiet canal. It used to be a defence tower. One of the things I love in Amsterdam is that you can draw by the water in many places, which is particularly relaxing (ok, sometimes it can also mean "particularly freezing" too!). The seagulls, the ducks, the swans and the very bossy coots keep you company - I just love that. And the herons are here too, of course! They are present throughout the city, but especially in parks, by the water - and also in the city markets, at closing time. You will undoubtedly have many opportunities to spot Adam, the mascot of the symposium!  

The Montelban Tower, sketched last year after the workshop of Anne Rose Oosterbaan.
Another spot which is enjoyable (but therefore also very busy!) is the small and narrow street Langebrugsteeg, extended by the Grimburgwal. Very Amsterdam! With many "ding, ding, ding" from the cyclists, as there are no separate cycle paths here. 

A spot I would enjoy sketching again! I made a mistake though, it's Grimburgwal, the Langebrugsteeg is just behind.

I don't know whether you will have time to visit museums too. But if you do, the Rijksmuseum is not to be missed! I regularly sketch there in the winter, it's "my" zen place. The art is wonderful, the building is stunning (aaah, those stained-glass windows next to the Gallery of Honour!), there are countless people to be sketched, fascinating dancing lamps - and the brownies in the espresso bars inside the museum are delicious! Moreover, they strongly encourage sketching: on Saturdays, they even give out free small sketchbooks and pencils for visitors who would want to give it a try. The official policy is "pencil only", so it's wise to at least have a pencil and/or coloured pencils, but pen is very often tolerated too. Even watercolours, although it's pushing it a bit. For the drawing below, done while sitting opposite to the Vermeer paintings, I had started with coloured pencils but couldn't resist adding watercolours (with a tiny box and a water brush), wondering what the reaction of the guards would be. Well, they actually were very supportive! That being said, I was also asked a couple of times to put my fountain pen away and use a pencil, so, you never know. 
Vermeer attracts many admirers at the Rijksmuseum. If you can, go early in the morning, it's a bit quieter!

When the weather is nice, the gardens of the Rijksmuseum are also worth a visit. Especially now: they are inhabited by the giant spiders of Louise Bourgeois, which are very fun to draw (and awesome to look at!). You can catch them there until November.

Thinking of Frodo while drawing in the Rijksmuseum gardens!
Finally, if the city life gets too hectic, don't hesitate to look for the closest park. The Vondelpark is the most famous one, but there are many others. It's actually another thing I love about Amsterdam, there are plenty of large parks throughout the city, so that you are never far from a green place where you can find quietness - and herons :) 
Flevopark, my "local" park, in Amsterdam East.

View from above in the famous Blue Tea House, in the Vondelpark



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