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

08. Save our Stages & Coppersmiths' Alley


February 21, 2021 "Save our Stages & Coppersmiths' Alley"

Chris Brown & Priya Krishnan Das

Today we heard from reportage proposal winners Christopher Brown and Priya Krishnan Das. Chris and Priya both responded to last season’s call for reportage proposals to present during season two of USk Talks. We also discussed the new Reportage Grant offered by Urban Sketchers. USk is offering a small monetary award to develop your idea for a project that tells a story and inspires our community, to highlight the best examples of these efforts and to inspire new artist-reporters in our community. The selected projects will be featured on USk channels, which may or may not include USk Talks. Visit this link for more information and send your proposals by 1 May, 2021.

Chris Brown / Priya Krishnan

Christopher Brown 

Christopher Brown joined us from New York City to tell us about his reportage project, Save Our Stages. Chris is a lighting designer and technician who spent most of his career in Off-Broadway theaters. He has been documenting what the performance scene is like now, after almost a year of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

He started the project in late summer 2020 after returning to work at MOMA, where he does lighting and technical support for the performance studio. On breaks he would take walks and notice all of the empty venues, many of which had messages of hope or defiance on their marquees. He began to capture these venues – their facades or stage doors, or juxtaposed with their surroundings of bodegas or the belongings of an unhoused person. The venues he selected show a variety of types of venues – some famous, some historic, some small and struggling. Chris also interviewed people in the industry and ancillary industries about how they are faring, and found some despair, some hope, and some creatively repositioning themselves to continue to work in this uncertain time. 

The theater industry was hit hard by the pandemic, with the venues originally closing on March 13, 2020, for what they thought would be a few weeks. Nearly a year later venues are still closed, but some have found creative ways to use their space. One theater has been able to repurpose as a food bank, using the organizational infrastructure already in place to help others. 

Priya Krishnan Das 

Priya Krishnan Das joined us from Pune, India, to talk about Pune’s Coppersmiths’ Alley, also known as Tambat Ali, and her reportage project about this historical place and industry. We learned that the art of coppersmithing has been a part of India for 3,000 years, and this community of coppersmiths migrated to this area in Pune about 400 years ago. 

Priya spent time with a community of coppersmiths, about 50 who live and work in one part of Tambat Ali, showing “everything coexisting” – tools, men working with copper, laundry hanging to dry, shoes, bicycles, and members of extended families working together. She also captured the women in the community and the work they do to run the households and support the efforts of their families’ handicraft. 

Priya’s sketches and stories showed us the ways that some families are dealing with the decline of traditional handicrafts – one sketch portrays a young coppersmith who quit his job at a bank to work with his father to help keep the craft alive. Another story told of a father telling his son not to continue the trade because of the low wages. 

She also showed us how the coppersmiths are a part of the community – they started a library that serves as a community space with seating for elderly patrons and low membership fees open to everyone. This very comprehensive reportage shows how the coppersmiths of Tambat Ali live, work, worship, and participate in their community.


Challenge: Sketch it Before it's Gone

Draw, document and tell the story of an endangered industry that you hope to see revived and saved.

When you share your USk Talks Challenge sketches on Instagram, use the hashtags #usktalks and #usktalkschallenge and tag Chris @cbrown_sketchhouse and Priya @purplesoulart. Follow Chris, Priya, and our hashtags on Instagram, too!

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