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

The Dragon's Heart Hospital


[by Dan Peterson, Cardiff] 

The Dragon's Heart Hospital was the name given to the Coronavirus Pandemic Field Hospital built on the pitch of the Millennium Stadium (currently known as the Principality Stadium) in Cardiff, Wales. 

As we moved into lockdown I read much about the situation around the globe. As a War Artist, having spent time with the Army in Afghanistan and the Navy in the Mediterranean, one term stood out. NHS (National Health Service) staff were on the ‘front line’. Key workers were at the ‘front line’. It occurred to me that the work I did, documenting, with art, the experiences of the military on the front line may have a place during these extraordinary times.

I wrote to the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board (CVUHB) and eventually received a call from Simone Joslyn, Head of Arts and Health Charity. I was commissioned to capture the changes the NHS was going through – to provide a legacy. One of the most unusual projects was the building of a temporary 1500 bed field hospital within the grounds of the Principality Stadium. The home of Welsh Rugby Union. The largest temporary hospital in Wales, second largest in the UK, was given the name Ysbyty Calon Y Ddraig – Dragon’s Heart Hospital.

I first drew a picture from across the river Taff. From this angle there was little to suggest the enormous transformation that had occurred inside. Just a large white marquee where ambulances came and went along the walkway that hangs over the river.

The first thing that struck me once inside was the smell. Not the scent of beer and rugby fans but of a hospital. As I walked round the enormous scale of the development became apparent. Corridors, normally thronged with fans, were filled with boxes of medical supplies and countless pieces of hospital equipment.

I wanted to illustrate as many aspects as I could. It was just as important to sketch the cleaners as it was the doctors and nurses. I sat in the stands trying to capture the scale of the construction, drawing the pitch area covered by four vast tents with colossal meccano style air conditioning systems placed tetris style in two corners and umbilical pipes trailing between the rows of seats feeding water and power to the construct (see first drawing).

Dressed in scrubs and mask I visited a ward squeezed into a conference suite, meeting and drawing patients and staff. Most patients were elderly but I did meet a man in his forties. Mark Bryan had gone to his doctor with a numb foot. It turned out he not only had the virus but had an arterial clot and sepsis. After weeks of intensive care he was now in recovery phase, having lost a leg. Glad to be alive but contemplating the rest of his life in a wheelchair. Just one of many stories from the hospital.

A week later I was in the vast, airy, wards on the pitch. The patients, recently moved, could now enjoy their lunch in a day room and take trips to the outside, sitting in the sun on the walkway by the river. The staff explained how incredible the experience was. All departments represented at all times. If a doctor, therapist, or dietician was needed there was one nearby. The staff had time to spend with patients that they were not normally granted. Summed up by one saying they actually had time to brush the patients hair, as they had done when hospitals were different, when hospitals were as they should be. 

Hopefully the drawings have captured something of this time for the NHS. Drawings provide us a with a visual and mental perspective that photographs do not. The work of projects such as the Arts for Health and Wellbeing project will no doubt be much needed as we deal with the long reaching mental health repercussions of this pandemic.

These drawings are a sample. The others can be found at 





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