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

10. Passion for Pencils


March 7, 2021 "Passion for Pencils"

Michael Klampfl, Sandra Biskup & Paul Tathagata

Today we learned about Austrian art material manufacturer Cretacolor, met artists who use their materials, and had a fun and interactive tour of the factory, complete with Urban Sketching Set prizes for correct guesses about the production process!

If you are one of the winners, congratulations! To claim your prize you can send an email to with your full name, address, and phone number, and we’ll send the prize to you!

Michael Klampfl from Cretacolor

Michael Klampfl joined us from Vienna, Austria, to tell us all about the Cretacolor brand, some of their new products, core products such as graphite and charcoal, and some popular tool sets. We also learned about the history of Cretacolor. “The knowledge of graphite production we have today goes back to 1863,” when it started as the Zues graphite pencil factory by Carl Brevillier. Cretacolor’s current owner, Hans Wolfgang Hromakta, has a private collection of 35,000 pencils and originated their slogan, A Passion for Pencils.

Sandra Biskup and the Urban Sketching Set

Sandra Biskup also joined us from Vienna to talk with Rob and Michael about how Urban Sketchers Vienna helped develop the Urban Sketching Set that is being given away as today’s prize. Members of USk Vienna and representatives from Cretacolor met in a coffee shop where they sketched with Cretacolor materials, gave feedback, and made recommendations for the set. The Urban Sketching Set includes a variety of materials – graphite, colored pencils, calligraphy markers, and accessories. Rob noted how thoughtful the whole set is, offering a nice range of materials.

Sandra showed a demonstration video of an urban sketch she made with a reduced color pallete of cretacolor pencils. She said she likes the texture of pencils, and the variety of being able to use the side of a pencil lead to cover larger areas, and being able to get a range of values.
Cretacolor Factory Tour and Quiz
Michael and Rob had fun with our viewers as they showed pictures from the pencil production process and asked viewers to guess what the step was. We had so many responses and winners for each step and a couple of bonus questions!

Congratulations to all of our winners! You can claim your prize by sending an email to with your full name, address, and phone number, and your prize will be sent to you.

Paul Tathagata, Cretacolor Brand Ambassador

Paul Tathagata, a hyperrealist artist based in Kolkata, India, showed a demonstration video of how he uses Cretacolor’s charcoal pencils and the range of Nero pencils (soft, medium, and hard) to build up layers in his hyper-realistic artwork. He prefers Cretacolor pencils because they smudge very little, and suggests using the Nero range for urban sketching.

Challenge: Savor the Sweet Life

Rob and our guests indulged in some sweets to introduce this week’s challenge, Savor the Sweet Life. Michael had a traditional Viennese chocolate cake called Schwarzwalder Kirsch, and Sandra also had a Viennese dessert, a homemade Apfelstrudel. Paul had a traditional Bengali dessert, Rasgulla, balls made with paneer and cooked in sugar syrup, beautifully light and spongy! Rob’s “humble” desserts were Hong Kong’s pineapple bun and cocktail bun.

What local dessert do you love? Using only pencils, sketch and share the story of your favorite local dessert, and don’t forget to list tools and brands!

Be sure to share your USk Talks Challenge sketches on Instagram using the hashtags #usktalks and #usktalkschallenge. Tag our guests in your challenge sketches, and follow them on Instagram: Cretacolor @cretacoloraustria, Sandra Biskup @sandfarbe, Paul Tathagata @tathagatapaul_art, and our host Rob Sketcherman @robsketcherman.

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