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

Achievement Unlocked at the Minnesota Fair Sketchout

[By Tina Koyama in St. Paul] Sheep, cows, butter heads. . . I’ve been to sketching heaven!

Although we visit family in the Twin Cities every year, we aren’t often able to make our visit coincide with the Minnesota State Fair. The last time the stars aligned for us was in 2016, and I was lucky enough to join USk Twin Cities at the 8th Great Minnesota Fair Sketchout. This year we had more flexibility, so we were able to do it again, and I had the time of my life sketching at the 11th fair sketchout!

She had stepped away as organizer for a few years, but Roz Stendahl was back this time as our fearless leader and chicken sketcher extraordinaire. Founder of the fair sketchout, she pulled strings to attract quite a bit of local media coverage (more on that later). But most of all, she organized a fun sketch outing (two, in fact; I went on Tuesday, and a second group met on Saturday) at what is arguably the country’s best (if not the largest) state fair.
This bunny was pure white... the color splotches inadvertently transferred from the opposite page when it started raining.

My first priority was the animals – both furred and feathered. Animals of any kind are not easily accessible to this city girl, and since they are one of my all-time favorite sketch subjects, I eagerly wandered from barn to barn and sketched whatever would stay still for me (and even those that wouldn’t, like the bantam that pecked and turned around continuously).  

Trimming a cow before competing.
As much fun as I was having sketching animals, I had a specific mission: to catch the sculptor at work on a butter head. Since 1965, the same artist has been carving the likenesses of the reigning Princess Kay of the Milky Way and her court every year. Each bust is made of 90 pounds of butter, and the sitter gets to keep the finished bust when the fair is over. (The pageant winners all seem to come from dairy farm families, so presumably they have refrigerators large enough to store a 90-pound butter sculpture of themselves. If not, I guess they eat it quickly.)

In 2016, I arrived at the butter heads exhibit just after the sculptor had left for the day, so although I saw the busts, I was very disappointed to miss the action. This time I arrived shortly before artist Linda Christenson returned to work on Princess Elizabeth Golombiecki. I warmed up by sketching the crowds admiring the completed butter heads.
The crowds admire the completed butter heads.

The challenge was a minor detail that I had forgotten about from the previous visit: The sculptor, the sitter and the surrounding completed busts are enclosed in a rotating, refrigerated platform (kept at 40 degrees). To sketch them, I couldn’t stand in one spot; I had to walk slowly around the glass refrigerator trying to maintain the same view. It was my most challenging sketch of the fair, but very much worth it to achieve my personal mission.
Artist Linda Christenson works on a butter sculptor as the sitter takes questions from the audience.
About that media coverage: After the final meetup and sketchbook throwdown, Roz led us to local TV station WCCO, where host Reg Chapman prepped us for our three minutes of fame (see the video segment). Twin Cities sketcher James Nutt represented Urban Sketchers well, and all of us got to show our sketches during the live broadcast (I’m barely visible, but you can see my sketch and purple bag toward the end).

As in previous years, Minnesota Public Radio also featured sketches (including some of mine) from the fair on its website.

We don’t get to go every year (after all the deep-fried foods I consumed that day, my arteries are grateful that we don’t), but whenever I’m lucky enough to attend, I’m convinced it’s the best fair in the country.  



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