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

13. How to Sketch a Country


April 4, 2021 "How to Sketch a Country"

Mário Linhares, Luís Araújo, Filipa Cardoso, Jenny Adam, Suhita Shirodkar and Peggy Wong

In this episode we discover what happens if you let a group of sketchers showcase a country to the world. Imagine what could happen when a local chapter forms a partnership with a Travel and Tourism Commision, such as Sketch Tour Portugal. We talk with the main visionaries, organizers and artists who took part in this inspiring project and hope the project inspires chapters and members worldwide.

Mário Linhares
image credit: Arthur de Paiva e Pona

Peggy Wong and Mário Linhares

Peggy, Events Director for USk, reminded us about how USK is a grassroots organization and everyone can organize an event. It all starts with an idea and daring to do something with that. Although no format is the same, USk has organized a lot of events in the past years and has built up tremendous expertise that we like to share with you if you want help with your project. Contact Peggy through

Keeping in mind the current COVID-19 situation, Peggy recommends to focus on smaller regional and national events. Yet, as bigger international events also take time to plan, it would be smart to start thinking about that if you’d want to organize something for 2022.

Mário emphasized that as a network we can do much more than we think. As an organized group we are stronger and we bring added value, not only to our sketches but to the way we and others see the world.

Luís Araújo

Luís Araújo

Luís, President of Tourism of Portugal, the European Travel Commission and also as a sketcher, described the project as combining his two big loves: sketching and traveling. The project started as an idea to show Portugal in a different way - sketching offers just that. It adds a level of creativity that we need so much these days, he said. He feels the project showed the country with great passion, because the artists have put so much of themselves in the sketches and have actually really internalized Portugal.

The host Rob Sketcherman and artists Suhita Shirodkar and Jenny Adams couldn’t agree more. During Sketch Tour Portugal they were all teamed up with a local sketcher, which allowed them to see and sketch authentic Portugal. Each pair of artists was sent to a different region in Portugal, Luís told us.

Suhita Shirodkar

Suhita Shirodkar

Suhita joined us today from San Jose, California. For Sketch Tour Portugal she was partnered with João Catarino, who took her along the coast line. She showed us her atmospheric sketches of the surf life and explained how much she learned by just taking the time to sketch it all: what would be a right surf wave, what the surfers do (surprise: it’s not just chilling on the beach all day long).

Jenny Adam

Jenny Adam

Jenny joined us from her hometown Hamburg in Germany. Sketch Tour Portugal gave her the opportunity to discover the Azores, a group of islands in the Atlantic Ocean, together with the local artist Alexandra Baptista. She told us about how urban sketching, combined with food, was a universal language during the tour. As she showed us her sketches, she explained that sometimes she was so overwhelmed by all the beauty that she could only do line drawing. One of the examples of this was an old shop in Angra do Heroísmo, the capital of the island Terceira, where ‘the owners were as old as the store’ and the store itself functioned as the central meeting point of community life. Sketching this allowed her to see this.

Jenny also shared with us that all of the artists had used a Laloran sketchbook, a sketchbook made in Portugal with great watercolor paper.

Filipa Cardoso

Filipa Cardoso

Filipa is the Communications and Digital Marketing Director of the Tourism of Portugal. She shared with us that planning this kind of project took them 6 months and that the biggest challenge lies in coordinating the chaos, as there is a lot of input and a lot needs to be managed at the same time.

Filipa showed us what they did with the sketches and how they were used: in an exhibition, on travel fairs, a published book and a great website. She told us how these sketches put humanity and emotion into otherwise often dry content such as maps.

She also elaborated on how to create an experience around these sketches. She gave several examples, such as real live sketches on wine labels, adding sound to sketches, and even augmented reality. These techniques will be explored further in the second edition of Sketch Tour Portugal: Reload! starting this April.

Filipa shared some tips on organizing a covid proof event like
  • Managing events near its data
  • Following protocols
  • Testing a lot
  • Plan along the vaccination schedules of the artists you invite
Luís and Filipa concluded that travel will come back and that sketching offers a way to showcase the authentic Portugal instead of the touristic death traps.


Challenge: A Must Sketch when You Visit Me

See your neighborhood with the fresh eyes of a tourist, and recommend a top spot to visiting sketchers. Suhita suggests to sketch the place that you would take a guest to, Jenny challenges you to sketch what you only see at second glance and Mário makes you look for that one place in the city where you can find back all that matters to you.

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: Mário Linhares, Luís Araújo @visitportugal, Filipa Cardoso @visitportugal, Jenny Adam @ronkiponk, Suhita Shirodkar @suhitasketch, Peggy Wong @urbansketchers, and our host Rob Sketcherman @robsketcherman.

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