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 Workshop: Where is my focal point?

Regarding the circumstances around COVID-19 we have postponed these 2 workshops (May & September 2020) to next year: May & September 2021! It will be the same period, place, topic and arrangement though with new dates (and with reservation for possibly new guest teachers). Please stay tuned and don’t hesitate to send your expression of interest or questions to:


Plein-Air Watercolor Workshop with MAJID MODIR 
September 13-20 – 2020 May & September 2021
In association with Urban Sketchers 

Join a creative adventure in the historical town of Volterra located in the heart of Tuscany and bring a lot of pleasant memories and some vibrant paintings back home!
You will learn different watercolor techniques and plein-air sketching & painting methods with focus on capturing the perfect Motives and finding the Focal Point in your chosen scenes.

We will explore various locations every day: the old Etruscan town as well as surrounding hills with cypress trees, nearby picturesque villages and pine woods at the seaside. In order to capture the essence of moments and spaces you will discover the stunning views and give them eternal life by bringing them into your drawings. There will be a lot of demos, instructions, exercises and reviews, both individual and in the group, so you will feel confident to find your own way and express your feelings.

Meanwhile we will experience spending time and sketch with like-minded participants, meet interesting local artists, taste the Tuscan food & wine and have a touch of Italian lifestyle, maybe even a swim in the Tyrrhenian sea. Simply a joyful and rewarding adventure and a memory for life!

A whole week within 5-days workshop arranged by The Watercolor School IL PUNTO, in collaboration with the Volterra-Detroit Foundation, hosted by Villa Mascagni and in asssocation with USK. Lead by the Swedish visual artist, urban sketcher and watercolor instructor Majid Modir, and accompanied by guest teachers for a day:

Catalina Rodríguez from Madrid and Marion Rivolier from Paris!

Watch a glimpse of our latest workshop HERE!


We see a lot of sketches & paintings which looks fine but we actually don’t know where to look and focus our eyes on. It’s a common thing -out of habit- to report everything we see with the same value overall which don’t give the viewer attention to any particular area of the sketch or painting.
"The focal point of a painting is an area of emphasis that demands the most attention and to which the viewer's eye is drawn, pulling it into the painting. It is like the bullseye on a target, although not as overt. It is how the artist draws attention to the particular content of the painting and is often the most important element of the painting."

Primary aims & Learning goals 

    Capturing the soul and beauty of a certain place by finding a unique angel and interesting point of view, and putting it in a good composition. 
    Discovering the most interesting spot in the chosen view and focusing on it by studying its structures, dynamic lines and transforming these on the paper as a sketch. 
    Finding the Values in it and working on Contrasts as the basis and going on with colors by making different level of contrasts in the focused area and its surroundings. 
    Thinking “out of the box” and working “selectively” with a “tailor made” image by minimizing the details and removing unnecessary elements. 
    In order to use the watercolor technique, keeping pure transparency and making a good balance between wet-in-wet and dry brush -by varying the amount of adding water and also the waiting time between each wash. 

Volterra sketches

Workshop location & accommodation 

Historical town of Volterra, Tuscany, Italy.
Workshop hosting (for in-door activities): Volterra-Detroit Foundation 
Accommodation hosting: Villa Mascagni



Number of participants 

Minimum 10 participants, Maximum 15 participants All levels are welcome (preferably with basic experience of water color painting).

Supply list 

Each participant will be provided with a basic water color kit: Paper block, Paint box, Brush set and drawing pen & pencil. And a list of suggested advance supplies will be send to the registered participants.


7 days of accommodation including 5 workshop days. 
6 hours session per day with a lunch break.
Morning: 3 hours (10-13) / Afternoon: 3 hours (14-17)

Daily Workshop Schedule / Learnings & Exercises 

  • DAY 1 – ARRIVAL:
    Registration & Installation at the Villa Mascagni, Welcoming Dinner 
  • DAY 2 – INTRODUCTION (at studio Volterra-Detroit Foundation ): 
    •  Lecture with the topic of the week, followed by looking at some helpful examples  
    • Basics in watercolor technique, materials and devices for plein-air works, followed by a demo 
    • Group exercise, practicing in watercolor basics & color palette 
  • DAY 3 – VIEW-FINDING & FOCUSING INSTRUCTIONS (Volterra town sketch walk): 
    • Training ”the hunting eyes” to capture the best subjects & angels, from a different point of view or perspective 
    • Exercises on how to bring attention to a specific point within a view 
  •  DAY 4 – COMPOSITION & CROPPING INSTRUCTIONS (Trip to Mazzolla -or nearby): 
    • Exercises to achieve the best compositions by drawing some fast thumbnails on sketch book 
    • Continuing with the selected sketches as paintings on watercolor paper 
  •  DAY 5 – VALUE-FINDING METHODS (Trip to Lischeti -or nearby): 
    • Exercises how achieve the best Contrasts, Color selection, Sharpness etc, in order to get the best Focus 
  • DAY 6 – FOCAL POINT (Trip to Livorno and seaside, A day with the guest teacher): 
    • Using all previous learnings and exercises of the week to achieve the optimal focal point in our works. 
    The final show with a selection of all works during the week for public in Volterra-Detroit showroom. 

 *With reservation for changes regarding the weather condition! 

Workshop Fee: 

1.950 € * (payable through PayPal or Bank Transfer)

  • 7 days of accommodation (apartments in Villa Mascagni)** 
  • Transfers between Volterra and Pisa Airport (arrival & departure), and daily trips 
  • 2 exclusive dinners (first and last suppers) + 2 picnic lunches (in traveling days) 
  • 30 hours tuition (5 days of lecture, demos, instructions and critiques 
  • Four days by Majid Modir and one day by the guest teacher) 
  • Watercolor supplies of quality brands 
  • Final show 

* 1.250 € for a non-participating partner (including the first 3 points)
** Rooms are with 2 single beds to share. Limited single rooms with twin-bed are available with extra cost of 350€.

Pay in full by 31 December 2019 to get 10% off the price!

Apply by sending mail to:

About the instructors 

Majid Modir

Majid Modir is a visual artist artist, photographer and graphic designer, born 1961 in Iran, moved to Sweden 1986 and 2016 to Italy. He graduated in Graphic Design & Illustration (MFA) at The Swedish University College of Arts, Crafts and Design (Konstfack). As creative director he runs his own design studio and also teaches motion graphic at The College of Art & Design (Nyckelviksskolan) in Stockholm. He is a member of Swedish Artist’s Association, Swedish Center of Photography and a jury member of the European Broadcast Design Award (BDA & Promax). Multiply awarded, he has been showing his works and watercolors in a number of separate and group exhibitions in Scandinavian countries during the last 30 years.

Artist website:
Selected watercolors:
Watercolors by Majid

Catalina Rodríguez Villazón (guest teacher, May edition):

I’ve been fascinated by art since I was a child. In the last few years I´ve been focusing in nurturing my creativity and knowledge on this field. I am very attracted to colours and I love watercolor painting. I am also into experimenting with black ink and oriental drawings since I want my paintings to be fresh, inpatient and experimental. My curiosity for the unknown and my reflection on the quotidian aspects are my main source of inspiration. I am convinced that creativity is contagious. I enjoy collaborating with other creators and I believe this brings a huge artistic and personal growth. At the moment I live in Madrid, where I am alsostudying a Master´s program in Fine Arts at the “Circulo de Bellas Artes”.

Artist Website:

Watercolors by Catalina

Marion Rivolier (guest teacher, September edition):

Marion began with stage scenographies with young directors she met at C.N.S.A.D for which she imagines sets and costumes. She collaborates on more experimental projects that bring her to Novgorod in Russia or to the North of France. After an internship at the Louvre Museum, she is interested in the museographic part of her job and collaborates with several agencies where she develops permanent projects (museums, entertainment, leisure parks) and temporary projects.
In parallel, she paints. At the corner of a street corner, in a workshop, on a notebook, on a canvas, alone in nature or with a model. She detaches herself from the form to go towards sensation, without being trapped in her know-how.
She exhibits her work regularly in Paris and France. In 2018, she published "Croisée de regards", a chronicle painted and written around artists, works and artistic installations, from here and elsewhere.
Artist website:
Watercolors by Marion





USk News$type=blogging$ct=0$au=0$m=0$show=


[Workshops Blog]$type=two$c=12$ct=0$m=0$show=