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

04. Sketching Venice with John Ruskin


January 24, 2021 - "Sketching Venice with John Ruskin"

Mário Linhares 

Mário Linhares
image credit: Arthur de Paiva e Pona

For our fourth episode we were joined by Mário Linhares from Lisbon, Portugal. Mário is a Phd Drawing Researcher, and former USk Education Director, and shares “sketcher history” with us so we can apply it to our own work right now. Last season he told us all about 19th century artist Eugène Delacroix’s trip to Morocco and the sketches he made. Mário joined us today to talk about 19th century British artist, writer, art critic, and educator John Ruskin and the drawings he made in Venice throughout his life. 

In 2018, the Doge's Palace organized the first big exhibition about John Ruskin's work in Venice, which inspired Mário to conduct a workshop there, and in the process he learned more about Ruskin and his work in Venice. He shared the strong connections of Ruskin and his work to what we do now as Urban Sketchers. 

Ruskin practiced on-location drawing. Even though daguerreotype, the first publicly available photographic process, was available at the time that Ruskin was working, he preferred sketching on location. 

As he returned to Venice over and over (a total of 11 times), he could see changes being made to restore buildings and worried about the changing character of the city, so he began sketching the older, Gothic features before they were changed. His drawings seem incomplete because he focuses only on the older, untouched parts and does not include any areas being worked on in his sketches. 

The changes he could see also caused him to reflect on the connection between the changes to the appearance of the city with the changing values of the city and the times. It inspired him to research the history of Venice and the history of certain buildings. Often he could not find information about the history, so he sketched the details of those buildings and recorded them himself. 

Mário organized a USk Workshop in Venice in 2018 to coincide with the exhibit, working directly with the Education Department of the Doge's Palace. The exhibit’s educational materials included a map that identified locations that Ruskin sketched, and workshop participants were able to find these locations and sketch in the footsteps of John Ruskin. 

Book Recommendations and Advice 

Mário recommends these books by and about John Ruskin: 
  • The Elements of Drawing by John Ruskin — This is available free online but can also be ordered through your favorite local bookseller. 
  • Ruskin in Venice by Robert Hewison 
  • John Ruskin, Le Pietre di Venezia/The Stones of Venice — The exhibit catalog from the Doge’s Palace is available in both Italian and English. 
Rob asked Mário what advice he would give about learning from the masters, and Mário suggested picking one thing to focus on — an image, a trip (in the case of Ruskin or Delacroix, for example), a subject that interested them — and study that one thing as much as you can.

Challenge: Map your Sketches

Image credit: Filipe Pinto @filipe_nok_pinto

Draw a map of your city to show the spots you have sketched. You may start to see a pattern around what you’ve concentrated on most or you may see that you are missing important places. You can sketch from your original sketches as you make your map. There is a lot to learn from our own sketches, and this challenge can give you insight into what you’re sketching.

Don't forget to share your USK Talks Challenge sketches on Instagram using the hashtags  #USKTalks and #USKTalksChallenge. You can follow Mário on Instagram at

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