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 in 2020: Why Sketch?

[T.K. Justin Ng from Vancouver]  

'The Vancouver Sketchbook' was recently published.

A quick backstory: I recently published my second book, 'The Vancouver Sketchbook'. Rather than just sharing drawings, I spent months researching the city to tie together the evolution of the city’s urbanism and its pictorial identity. In the process, several unexpected and somewhat tangential themes surfaced. While my first manuscript of the book included pages dedicated to these topics, most of them were omitted in order to keep the book’s content succinct and appealing to a broad audience. I have recently begun to piece these ideas back together to share with you.

So why did I start on-location sketching?

The desire to represent and communicate to others the world around us is human nature. Before we are able to write or speak clearly, drawing was the only accessible form of representing our surroundings. While I have been drawing since kindergarten, it was only in 2013, at age 17, that I picked up a copy of Gabriel Campanario’s ’The Art of Urban Sketching’ and began to set aside time each week for on-location sketching. That was the year I took a deep-dive and plunged into the world of art and design.

Instead of kicking a ball or picking up a guitar, I chose to sit in the intimidating gaze of the public and draw what I saw. When people asked me why I prefer sketching over other extra-curricular activities, I would bring up one of three reasons. Firstly, in the process of recreating what lay before my eyes on paper, I become intimately acquainted with my subject, forcing me to observe, rather than gaze. Secondly, the patience and time taken to sketch exposes me to the nuances of light, sound and smell, which give meaning to the world around me. Furthermore, sketching is a forgiving way to make art. ‘To sketch’ traditionally implied the notion of a speedy snapshot of a work in progress, where perfection (be it conceptually or technically) is not important. If intimidation dissuades many people from drawing, the freedom of sketching is sure to pique their interest once more. While all three of these reasons are valid, they are qualities of sketching that have stayed largely consistent over centuries. They do not explain why people sketch in today’s world, where other mediums of expression appear more convenient. So what has changed?

In the past, sketches were seen as work-in-process because they were iterations made in preparation for a final piece. Each sketch was an improvement of the previous and the success of the sketch relied on how the final painting turned out. Today, most urban sketchers do not intend to translate their sketches into larger works, but sketches continue to be seen as part of a collection - often in sketchbooks. Unlike iterations, each sketch tells a different snippet of a story and it is only through flipping the pages of a sketchbook that a larger narrative is revealed.  When one sketchbook is filled, the story moves on to the next. No notion of a final piece is there to disrupt the story. As such, the project of sketching is not about the drawing but about the process itself.

By focusing on the endless process, sketching is ritualized. This ritualization enables the emergence of a community on the increasingly visual internet, allowing the group to strengthen its influence globally. For example, @urbansketchers has more than 200,000 followers on Instagram. Not only do its members help and rally one another, but they also sketch together at ‘sketch-crawls’. The stereotype of a lonely artist sketching in the street corner is no more. Like yoga and spinning, sketching has become social and commercial.

These communities democratize sketching by making it accessible far beyond the small circle of professional artists. It is this fundamental change in the demographics of sketchers that have revived the art of urban sketching.

I still remember when I first started sketching, when sketches were only ever on display at museums. It was as though on-location sketches were reserved for a world I don’t recognize. But that has changed. Today, Toronto subways are plastered with sketches drawn by commuters. Urban sketches have become commonplace in advertising in Hong Kong. In bookstores across the globe, there have been more published sketchbooks and an army of ‘how-to sketch’ books encourage people to draw their surroundings. Even within the field of architecture, where hyper-realistic digital renderings are easily generated, pseudo-en-plein air sketches - drawings that look like urban sketches but are drawn from imagination - are experiencing an unexpected revival. Even at a time when most people carry a camera with them at all times, sketching has gained new relevance. Through its transformation into a movement, sketchers have evolved sketching into a contemporary mode of understanding and representing the world.

Read more about my book, here.




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