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

Report from Tokyo: Urban sketching in the age of COVID-19

[Guest post by Momoko Takada in Tokyo] 

(Editor Tina Koyama’s note: After publishing my own post about how I felt at the beginning of Seattle’s COVID-19 outbreak, I contacted sketchers in USk Japan to see how they are coping. Momoko Takada is an administrator for the group. Here’s her report.)

Since mid-January, when media started talking about the novel coronavirus in Japan, it’s been affecting our society more and more. Every day new cases are reported. In late February, the government requested people to refrain from going out unless it’s really necessary and to cancel events/meetings having a number of people in order to prevent the spread of the virus. From March 2, (not all but most) schools throughout Japan are closed upon the prime minister’s request, as well as many public facilities such as museums and libraries.

In this situation, Urban Sketchers Japan has decided not to organize official meet-ups for a while. I don’t think the risk of the virus spreading in a sketch meet-up is high though. It happens outdoors and only has 30 people at most (in Japan’s case). Then, what I worry is that we can’t get the full picture of how much the disease has spread in Japan due to quite a limited number of tests and thus we don't know how/where we could be infected. Our members use public transportation to come to sketching in/around Tokyo. . . you know how busy the city is. As an admin, to be honest, I was afraid of making people take a risk and couldn’t come up with a better idea than cancelling meet-ups.

Personally, however, it’s time to get out to see and draw the world. As urban sketching is about documenting what’s happening around us here now, I think I should record what our life is like with the virus and all the confusion along with it. I’m trying to be as honest and sincere about what I see as I can because it will be the most reliable record.

On February 29, I took a train to Tokyo and sketched people there (top of post). 90 percent of them wore masks. In the rest 10 percent, to my surprise, I found quite a few elder people who looked 70+ years old. I don’t know why they didn’t wear masks. Perhaps they just didn’t want to. It’s understandable many younger, healthy-looking people covered themselves in masks though it’s said you don’t need them as long as you’re healthy. Regardless of age, now we all are afraid and want to feel protected. Also, it’s kind of socially required to wear a mask in public space. But there’s a worldwide shortage of masks. Then we need to set priorities. Who needs them most?

Sketch by Casey Toriumi

As of March 8, the situation has somewhat changed though. In Japan, it’s quite difficult to find masks out there. You might find some online, but with an insanely high price. People are running out of their stock and I’m seeing more without masks these days. Some (including me) don’t really care about that. Others seem desperate. One of USk Japan’s organizers, Casey Toriumi-san, sketched people lining up for a drugstore to get masks the other day. The store had a notice on the shutter that masks were out of stock and they were not going to receive new ones. Yet people kept lining up and soon left the store once it opened and they knew they couldn’t get masks.

Sketch by Momoko Takada

Here is another train sketch of mine, which was drawn on March 8. They were tourists probably from Europe. They caught my eye because we’ve seen fewer and fewer tourists from overseas for this past month. I heard a bunch of sketchers were planning to visit Japan and join us for sketching, but they cancelled their trips. What I love about the USk community is that I can meet and sketch with sketchers from all over the world, so this is really a sad thing for me (and probably for all of us). I don’t know whether the tourists I saw on the train just arrived or were leaving. Hope they have a safe trip anyway.

Now the virus is spreading across the globe. I’m somewhat afraid of it, but our life goes on. Then, I think it’s better to go see the world and tell stories of it through my eyes and hands than to just be worried and keep away from everything. I’ll keep observing and drawing what I see, hoping in a few months or a year I’ll flip through my sketchbooks and remember the days without fear.





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