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

09. How a Ship starts her Life


February 28, 2021 "How a Ships starts her Life"

Charles Ackerman (Ackerman Pens), Shari Blaukopf and Esther Elisa Monti

On our ninth episode of season two, we were visited by reportage proposal winner Ester Elisa Monti about her project How a Ship Starts Her Life. Elisa gave us an insider’s look at large ship construction through her sketches and discussion with our host, Rob Sketcherman. We were also joined by Charles Ackerman of Ackerman Pens and urban sketcher Shari Blaukopf to tell us about how Ackerman Pens are great for sketching.

Ackerman Pens

Charles Ackerman joined us from California to tell us about Ackerman Pens, today’s show sponsor. Charles got started in pen-making as a sketcher – he was unsatisfied with the pens he was trying and after getting good feedback from Grumbacher about his suggestions for improvements, he started working towards making his own pens. To do this, he researched how pens were made 100+ years ago when they were primarily for drawing rather than writing. He ended up making a pump pen – a fountain pen with a little button that you press to pump more ink onto your nib, and a fountain pen (without the pump). He offers a wide variety of nibs and accessories for his pump pens and fountain pens.

Shari Blaukopf joined us from Montreal, Canada, to talk about her experience with the pump pen. She demonstrated the flexible nib and how it responds to pressure, and showed samples of the thick and thin lines she is able to get with the Zebra Manga G nib. She described her Ackerman pen as a good replacement for a dip pen, which can be difficult to deal with when urban sketching.

Shari and Charles discussed some of the technical details of the pens. When asked about cleaning the pens, Charles said, “You can field strip the pen in 30 seconds.” You can disassemble it, flush it, and even scrape it out with a toothpick as it is made to be very durable.

Esther Elisa Monti

Ester Elisa Monti

Elisa Monti joined us from Genova, Italy, and shared the sketches from her reportage project, How a Ship Starts Her Life, about cruise ship construction. She works in the industry designing cruise ship interiors, giving her unique access to construction.

Her work in watercolor, ink, and on the iPad shows her understanding of perspective and command of scale and includes drawings of construction “blocks,'' large parts of the ship turned upside-down for easier welding access (“like Legos”), and construction cranes that slide along a track.

When asked what she focuses on to tell the story, she said often something catches her eye, such as a detail or interesting perspective. She includes little thumbnail sketches on her larger drawings that show how a part of the process works to help tell the story. Perspective is very important to capture the scale of the construction, and she looks for angles that will help show an exaggerated view of her subject. When working on paper, she starts with the largest of her subjects to make sure it will fit, and works big to small.

She started this project in December but doesn’t consider it finished – she wants to sketch the wheelhouse and propellers when they are added.


Challenge: Pushing Extreme Perspective

Squeeze dizzying heights onto a single page by using extreme perspective in your sketches.

Watch this week’s episode for great tips from Elisa for using three-point perspective – with two vanishing points at the horizon line and the third vanishing point above the horizon (zenith) or below the horizon (nadir). She also suggests that if you can’t venture out, try laying on the floor for an exaggerated view of something in your home such as a bookcase, a window, or a refrigerator.

When you share your USk Talks Challenge sketches on Instagram, use the hashtags #usktalks and #usktalkschallenge and tag Charles @ackermanpens, Shari @sharisketcher and Elisa @elisajustsketch. Follow  Charles, Shari, Elisa, and our hashtags on Instagram, too!

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