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

Sketching Big: Venice to Croatia, Part 1

[Stephanie Bower, Seattle] Picture the most perfect weather possible, in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Venice.

My third (yes, you read that right), third trip to Europe this summer to teach started in Venice. The group from last year's Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy workshop enjoyed it so much, they organized another trip with mostly the same group. We all showed up in Venice the second week of September, then went to beautiful Rovinj, Croatia.

I LOVE teaching--there's nothing like seeing the face of someone as they have that "ah-ha" moment! But as every instructor knows, before and during the workshop, we are focused on the participants and can't really do our own thing. So I'm trying to factor in some time to do my own sketches, and I'm also discovering just what my own thing is!

On this trip, my own thing was sketching big, and on a paper that is new to me. It's a bit of a gamble, as changing any of our sketching variables (paper, paint, palette, brush, even location) changes everything about how we work! But I brought along a stack of Winsor & Newton 140lb. Cold Press watercolor paper cut into 8" x 16" sheets, that I taped to a board (using Japanese Nichiban tape. It's the BEST, and you can even find it now on Amazon!)

Most expensive sketch ever! I sat at the Cafe Florian in the piazza with my friend from
The Philippines, Ektad Dueñas. We met in Taichung, Taiwan last year at AsiaLink Sketchwalk.
So wonderful to sketch together, and your sketch was amazing, Ektad!

Figuring out new paper is will it take the paint, can I layer paint without the color lifting off, can I draw on it? As I figured things out, I found I like this paper! It's hard enough to draw on with my trusty .5mm mechanical pencil and 2B lead, but soft enough that it can take multiple layers of watercolor. It made for softer sketches than I'm used to, but I started to like that effect. 

I also realize I can't escape doing vast scenes. About 10 minutes in, I panic. Every time. But I plod ahead and hope for the best. There is a long awkward teenage phase in which I hate the sketch, but once the darks go in at the end, it's often saved.

Here are some of my big sketches in Venice. Yes, the larger size takes more time, but it allows me to go into my sketching trance, that flow in which time stops and you just focus on what's in front of you. I love that feeling!

This sketch was done over two evenings. I sat on the bench at the base of the tower in Piazza San Marco, did the linework one day, then came back and did the color. I am a firm believer in drawing AND painting  on location! And best of all, a trio of friends from Australia joined me--Judy Salleh, Sally Black, and Chris Haldane! It was SOOOOOO fun to see you three!

Campo San Giacomo di Rialto, near the bridge.

The sketches got better as I figured out this paper! Stay tuned for Croatia!!





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