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

Weathering the Drought - NSW

[By Chris Haldane in Sydney]   
Drought is a hard task master. Forty km from the Central West town of Forbes NSW, along the Bedgerabong Rd, lies the 1500 acre property of Murray Brown and his wife Katy, along with his parents Scott and Deidre. It was originally bought by his grandfather in the 1930s, and they now breed Border Leicester sheep and prime lambs, raise cattle and grow crops. Although only 20km as the crow flies from the property I wrote about in my last post, it faces different issues, largely because of its location near the Lachlan River.  Water is the limiting factor in Australian farming, but with irrigation you generally have some control over its supply. The irony is that whilst today the Browns’ sheep and cattle have to be hand fed because of the drought, in 2016 two thirds of their property was completely flooded for 2 -3 months by water from the nearby Lachlan! To get supplies from Forbes, just 40 km away, they had to drive 200 km around the flooded areas to get there. 

It’s hard to imagine the Lachlan River’s banks - currently so visible due to low water levels - completely obscured when the river burst its banks. Whilst it was a disaster at the time, resulting in the Browns having to rescue stranded cattle and sheep in a boat to get them to dry ground, those floods did help them weather the beginning of this current drought (said to be the worst on record) because their soil had retained moisture. However, things have become increasingly difficult since 2017 as rain has rarely fallen. They are licensed to irrigate 250 of their 1500 acres with water originating in the Wyangala Dam, but sadly there has been no inflow into the dam during the drought, so they anticipate no irrigation water being available for the coming summer. This is a great worry as their farm requires supplementation of their water supplies for it to function. 

Murray feels he had his apprenticeship for the drought in the 2000s when there were some bad years. He learned then about planning for dry periods by doubling on-farm storage with more silos and bigger haysheds. But even so, they still have to buy extra feed during this drought, and are hand feeding their animals. 

 Grass grows better when drought breaks if livestock haven’t overgrazed, so the Browns “lock up” some pastures to avoid permanently damaging them, and hand feed their stock in the ‘drought lot’ (see below). They are also focused on maintaining stock numbers so they can recover as quickly as possible once the drought breaks, otherwise they would need to spend another 12 months building up the numbers.

Two days after I left Forbes they received about 12 ml of rain, but the drought is far from broken. That was just enough to ‘keep everything ticking away’, said Murray. It revived some wilted crops and brought a tinge of green to some paddocks, however, if they let their sheep onto them, in a week or so the grass would be all gone, so they need to think of the future. 

As pasture and feed become harder to find, some farmers look for grazing on travelling stock routes. I’d only heard of ‘the long paddock’ before, but I got to actually see it on the way back to Forbes that day. It’s the colloquial term for the grass on the side of the road where cattle are allowed to graze during drought, but there are strict rules about getting permits to roadside graze, the distance the cattle can travel, having to supervise stock at all times, and compulsory public liability insurance, amongst other things, so it’s not always an easy option.

Even when the drought ends, farmers face huge challenges for a long time to come. Much of their breeding stock has gone (some NSW farmers have sold over 50% and even up to 100% of their breeding stock) so it's going to take years to raise more cattle and sheep to get back in the market. In many cases the pastures are dead and crops haven't been planted. Rain itself is not enough to break the drought; they need sustained rainfall over months. Local businesses are doing it tough too. It saddened me to see in Forbes so many closed businesses with “For Lease’ or For Sale signs in their windows. Recovery will be a slow process. Drought is indeed a tough task master!



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