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".
Blog
Flickr

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 as a Question: Connecting the dots

[by Suhita Shirodkar in San Jose, California]

In my USk Talk last weekend I spoke about my favorite subjects to sketch and of two recent sketching projects. The theme of the talk was Asking Questions Through Sketching. Here is the gist of it.
I love drawing. I’ll draw just about anything, but if I have to pick what I love sketching best, I’ll pick drawing the hustle and bustle of a city, drawing people and drawing in markets.



Golden domes, in Singapore and in Mexico City.
Mehendi ceremony, Indian wedding. Cambrian Symphony, Peter and the Wolf.
Farmer’s Market, California. Flower Market, India.

Drawing is a language, one in which you can ask questions, explore and discover. My project documenting the vintage signs of San Jose began as a simple quest to find deeper connection to San Jose, a city I now call home. In the signs I sketched and researched I found fascinating stories leading back beyond Silicon Valley to the Valley of the Heart’s Delight. I discovered architectural movements that are quintessentially American, and I learnt a lot about neon and the fine art of neon-bending.




I ran into more questions than answers: Why does history matter? What do we lose when we lose our small stories: those of a collective of small businesses and mom and pop stores? What happens when all that gets preserved is grand monuments and public buildings? How do we balance preservation and development?
My vintage signs project grew into a websitea book and a show at History San Jose.
One of the most valuable things that came out it were the people whose paths crossed my life like Heather David, a local history expert (among many other things) and an incredibly generous human being I learnt a lot from. Equally important were the men and women I chatted with as I sat on sidewalks and in parking lots, sketching these signs. Often homeless and panhandling near where I was sketching, they told me their stories as I sketched.
The high rate of homelessness and poverty in San Jose is a hugely sad phenomena. I had been reading about it to try and understand it. But facts, figures, reports, and data, while all very useful, didn’t put a face to the issue for me. The articles I was reading broke down poverty by race and region, they looked at addiction, education and rent in the city. But the stories I was hearing on the streets told a different story. One of resilience and of hope, one with a human face.

And that led me to think: What if I drew and shared the faces and stories of homelessness and recovery? Would a different picture emerge from this reportage collection?
And this led me to my next project, Faces of Recovery, a project in progress.




The continuing need for social distancing might have interrupted this project, but I will come back to it as soon as I can.
Through my talk, I hope to inspire more sketchers to think of sketching as a language and to use it to look beyond their own lives. To ask questions and seek out answers and explorations that they can share. Because the language of drawing has the power to tell stories in a universal and very human way.
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Listen to the whole USk Talk here. It includes a fantastic first half with Gabi Campanario, who shares stories of his methodology and explorations as a reporter for the Seattle Times.

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