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

Kopiko Aotearoa – bikepacking across New Zealand

 [By Murray Dewhurst in New Zealand].      

I put my name down for a cycling event called the Kopiko Aotearoa last year. I'd been working 7 days-a-week on a work project and it had just been abruptly cut thanks to COVID19. My frustrated mind wandered, and for some reason the idea of riding 1200kms across the widest and most remote part of New Zealand seemed to appeal. All I had to do was send and email and I would be entered. It was a deceptively easy step and one that made me instantly feel better!

As the weeks ticked over some questions would pop into my head... The obvious one was 'Should I really  be leaving my partner and kids for a 2 week cycle junket?' 'Can I even afford the time off work (if I have any work)? these rational, sensible worries turned to; 'Can I actually cycle 1200km?' 'Could I cycle AND sketch and how would I do that?' 'Could I afford to take an hours break once or twice a day to do nice finished sketches?' 'Maybe I could do multiple 5-10 min sketches throughout the day?'. I settled on this option as I figured it wouldn't slow me down too much – the sketches would have to be quick and loose though. This turned out to be a great option as my mate Ian signed up to join me for the ride and I didn't fancy slowing others down.

I needed to test the process so I spent a few weekends before the event trying a couple of sketchbooks and tool options. I found the A6 Moleskine concertina book fitted easily into my riding shorts, and the concertina pages lent themselves nicely to creating a sketch narrative – I hoped this would make a more engaging read for someone if the days sketches proceeded in the order they were created, telling a story as the days progressed. My plan to use a fude nib fountain pen went out the window, replaced by a 3.0 Artline calligraphy pen, when I realised that fiddling with ink refills on the road would be messy and potentially disastrous. I would take my tiny Cotman watercolour kit and water brush in case I had time to add colour to the day's sketches at night.

Day 1. 
So here we are, the Kopiko Aotearoa start line! Things suddenly 'got real' in the last week or so and I feel like it's been a mad rush to get here – and it almost didn't happen with Auckland coming out of a week of lock-down just in time for me to leave. We're starting at the Cape Egmont lighthouse, It's 6am on the western-most extremity of the North Island, it's dark but you can still see and hear the Tasman Sea waves crashing on the rocks below. Ian and I were riding west to east, and at sunrise the west to east riders would be starting at the East Cape lighthouse on the other side of the country (about 20 minutes earlier than us and the first place in the world to see the new day). 

I heard around 300 people would be taking part in the event and the starts were staggered over 3 weekends, with up to 50 leaving each Saturday and Sunday from both starting points. My plan was to create a sketch reportage of the ride across the country, so I bashed out a 5 minute sketch with cold fingers as the sun started to rise above spectacular Mt Taranaki and the historic lighthouse. 

A small, particularly un-chatty bunch of riders waited at the road end. The event is not a race, yet the other riders take off like it most definitely is! This could be a long, lonely 1,100km ride I thought to myself! 

I needn’t have worried though as we met so many friendly cyclists and locals along the way it didn’t matter. The day took us straight up the side of the mountain, past Parihaka (site of the infamous 1881 raid on the pacifist māori community), and winding over the densely bushed Pukeiti saddle. Then down to New Plymouth, riding this cool trail along a stream that drops you off at the beach front. Organisers the Kennett brothers have designed a superb course for us on this event, we're riding every kind of trail you can imagine, secondary tarseal, gravel road, 4 wheel drive road, single track and footpaths - usually waaaay longer than taking the main road but also waaaaay more interesting. 

We meet fellow sketcher Brian Gnyp and he steers us to the tasty Federal Cafe for breakfast. I get to see Brian’s excellent sketches in the flesh for the first time (much more finely detailed than I realised!) over an enormous breakfast, then, back on the bikes he guides us out past instagram favourite Te Rewarewa bridge to Bell block where we leave Brian and head inland. 

We finish the day about 12 hours and 110km later at Pukeho Domain, a tiny rural community paddock which surprisingly, has a swimming pool. Great to have a swim on such a long, hot day of riding! The swim was fantastic but both legs cramped up and I must have looked very odd hobbling around the pool painfully in wet cycle shorts. We meet a couple of west to east riders (they’d started the weekend before) and a lady who was walking the Kopiko – now that is a long walk!

Read Day 2 here




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