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

06. Madrid's Shopfronts


February 7, 2021 "Escaparates de Madrid/Madrid's Shopfronts"

Ulysses Jackson from Golden/QoR paints & Lydia Puertas, Joaquin Dorao and Angela Morales from USK Madrid  

Episode six was two shows in one, featuring Golden/QoR paints and USk Madrid’s reportage project. It was also in two languages – Spanish and English! 

Golden and QoR 

First, Ulysses Jackson joined us from Upstate New York (US) to tell us all about QoR, Golden’s watercolor paint. He gave a brief chemistry lesson about their watercolor binder, Aquazol, and how it differs from the traditional watercolor binder gum arabic, with more controllable properties that enable you to use watercolor in different ways. 

We learned about some special colors, such as their titanium white; it stays white because it does not contain gum arabic, which can give white paint a brownish tint. Ulysses suggests mixing QoR titanium white with any color to achieve a gouache-like effect. 

Learn more about QoR watercolors and their properties, as well as other Golden products, at their newsletter site,

USk Reportage Grant 

USk Education Director Rita Sabler joined us to help translate for our USk Madrid guests, but first told us about an exciting new opportunity, the Urban Sketchers Reportage Grant. USk is offering a small monetary award to develop your idea for a project that tells a story and inspires our community. Visit this link for more information and send your proposals by 1 May, 2021. 

USk Madrid – Historic Storefronts 

Lydia Puertas, Joaquin Dorao, and Angela Morales, members of USk Madrid, joined us to talk about their reportage project documenting the disappearing historic storefronts of Madrid. It’s an important project that captures the local culture of Madrid and shows what an Urban Sketcher community can do when we work together. 

Since November 2019 the group, consisting of about 40 to 50 people, sketched at least 50 locations around the city. They wanted to show how these historic businesses contribute to the look and feel of the city. 

They showed their sketches of unique storefronts of some businesses that have been passed from generation to generation, some painted a characteristic red that originally showed where red wine was sold, and most of the stores that they captured were at least 100 years old. Each of their sketches tells a unique story, like a sketch of chocolateria San Ginés, in operation since 1894 and open 24 hours (in non-pandemic times), and the historic popularity of hot chocolate. Visit USk Madrid’s Instagram account, @USkMadrid, for many more sketches and stories. 

Interviewing Shop Owners 

As part of this project, Angela interviewed shop owners to learn more about the businesses and their history, such as a 101-year-old art supply store, Bellas Artes, one of the few remaining artisanal paint stores. Angela talked about how visiting these shops and talking to shop owners her whole life contributed to her understanding of the local culture and helped shape who she is. You can see these interviews on YouTube

USk Madrid’s project – looking at and documenting historic places and making others aware of them – is an important part in preservation. Since the pandemic started, three of the bookstores they sketched have closed. They documented the memory of these places in their sketches, and they are working with others to preserve the historic shopfronts that remain.

Challenge: Hunting for Historical Shop Fronts

For their challenge, they want you to find the oldest shopfront that you can in your community, a place that is part of the cultural history that you can sketch safely and weather permitting. 

When you share your USk Talks Challenge sketches on Instagram, use the hashtags #usktalks and #usktalkschallenge and tag @USkMadrid
Go to Instagram to follow the #usktalks and #usktalkschallenge hashtags, and all of our guests: 
Ulysses Jackson @Goldenpaints
Lydia Puertas @PuertasLydia
Joaquin Dorao @JoaquinGonzalezDorao
Angela Morales @GarciaAngelaMorales

Watch again




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