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

03. 1H1KM & Explosion in Beirut

January 17, 2021 - "1H1KM & Explosion in Beirut"

Marielle Durand, Thierry Chehab 

Building on last week’s discussion of reportage drawing, this week we were joined by Thierry Chehab and Marielle Durand, two of the USk Talks Reportage Proposal winners, to talk about their reportage projects. 

Thierry Chehab and Marielle Durand
Thierry Chehab 

Thierry Chehab joined us from Beirut, Lebanon, and shared his experience during and after the explosion in Beirut on August 4, 2020. He felt the shock of the explosion in his apartment outside of the city, and first sketched from an image of the mushroom cloud caused by the explosion to post on social media to let others know he was okay. He described himself as “not a reporter, not a reportage artist,” but says reportage came to him. 

He documented the damage to his grandmother’s apartment after having to actively make the decision to do so, saying that it almost didn’t feel right to take the time to sketch while others were working and cleaning, but he knew he had to tell the story of what was happening. 

Thierry sketched the site of the explosion and continued documenting the effect on his friends and neighbors, and sketched the recovery process as work began to restore buildings. As a new reportage artist, he tried to be fair to the whole look and feel of a scene, to convey emotions, and included a few words of description. He was able to convey the look and feel of the event by incorporating the personal aspect as well as the effect on the whole city. 

Marielle Durand 

Marielle Durand joined us from Paris, France, to talk about her reportage project, 1HR 1KM. During Paris’ initial pandemic lockdown in early 2020, Marielle was sick and stuck inside, unable to do much drawing. When the second lockdown was announced, she made a plan to draw outside every day, working within the constraints set by the government of only going outside for one hour a day within one kilometer of home. 

Whether it was nice out or dark or rainy or cold, Marielle goes out every day and tries to find and document where people are working; she is staying creative and staying connected to others. Her work captures the look of Parisian neighborhoods, but there is a story under that of shop owners trying to make a living during difficult times - restaurants adjusting to take-out only, flower shops shifting away from weddings, new shops struggling to survive. 

Marielle spoke openly about the difficulties of this time and how it affects our mental state, but also offers this insight, “Drawing is magical, it can save people, it’s healing. It saved me from craziness.” She and Rob discussed how we, as urban sketchers, have a superpower to see beauty in the everyday, and that it is our duty to use that ability to bring this energy to people and to make connections with our sketches. She said that after the frustration of the lockdowns, she realized that drawing is the thing she has that can make herself and others feel better and feel connected. 


For approaching people when sketching, Marielle says to not focus on the result; make your sketch using tools that you’re comfortable with. Keep it simple. Thierry added that you have to “make yourself invisible;” be the camera that is observing. 

Rob asked how they are able to capture things when there is tragedy all around. Theirry suggests detaching yourself from what is happening with an imagined barrier or filter and saying to yourself, “I am here to record.” Marielle added that focusing on the one space you are drawing and making the decisions that go along with sketching can help with that. She added that you might feel like it is inappropriate, as Thierry mentioned about documenting destroyed buildings, but you are recording it for history and for yourself. 

Be sure to watch the full video for more great tips from both artists! 

Challenge: Beauty in the Beast 

Document an example of joy amidst adversity, within one kilometer of your home, in one hour. By sketching the story you’re telling, you give the scene a certain grace and a certain energy. Being present and noticing the little things gives us that boost to get to the next day and the next.

Don't forget to share your USK Talks Challenge sketches on Instagram using the hashtags  #USKTalks and #USKTalksChallenge. You can follow Thierry Chehab on Instagram at  @atary81 and Marielle Durand at @marielledurand.artist.

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