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

Episode 15: Engineers Make Great Artists

"Engineers Make Great Artists" July 12, 2020

Ben Luk - Uma Kelkar

As children, we all reach an age when we start to believe we are “good” at some things and “bad” at others. For some, that means abandoning art, while for others it may mean giving up on math or on writing. These ideas are often backed up when we are taught that our pursuits are mutually exclusive, such as, good mathematicians aren’t creative enough to be artists and artists are too chaotic to excel in math. In this episode we explore how our brains are capable of doing both – engineers can problem-solve like artists and artists can paint like engineers. This episode is for anyone who feels that labels should not define who we are and for those who, because of their chosen profession, feel they need permission to draw.

Host Rob Sketcherman surprised us with an in-person guest, Ben Luk, a structural engineer who also lives in Hong Kong. Uma Kelkar, an electrical engineer from India, joined from her home in San Jose, CA, an area of the US known as Silicon Valley with a high concentration of tech companies. Both guests talked about how working as an engineer helps with being an artist, and vice versa.

Uma brings her engineering brain to sketching in two ways: discipline and a process of tweaking. She says of discipline that it means making art is not about being in the mood, rather about putting in the work. Ben added to the description of tweaking by saying that engineers are trained to solve problems, and therefore trained to criticize their own work to discover parts of a project that aren't working. Both Ben and Uma bring this process to their sketching as well.

For instance, Ben initially started urban sketching by using his technical drawing ability but got bored making black and white sketches of straight lines, so he taught himself how to use watercolor, saying, “If you can’t do something, go and learn it!” This concept inspires his challenge of working “backwards,” or opposite of your instincts.

Ben’s Challenge: Loosen Up Your Lines with Different Directions 

Start your sketch by drawing on the opposite side of your dominant hand, working your way only from left to right or right to left. This approach takes away your reliance on muscle memory, forcing your brain to rewire itself.
Post your drawings and tag with #USkTalks or #USkTalksChallenge, and tag Ben @sketcher_ben.
Follow Ben on Instagram, too!

Uma’s challenge is based on her approach to her work, which is to keep learning, knowing that painting is an up-and-down process. If your sketch is not working, identify the problem area (your materials? your mark-making?), make a change and try again. If you’re happy with the outcome, can you repeat it? Uma says, “This is how you invest in yourself.”

Uma’s Challenge: Engineer a Path to Your New Skill 

Pick a skill you wish you had and develop it through focused repetition and objective evaluation of your process.
Post your ideas and tag with #USkTalks or #USkTalksChallenge, and tag Uma @umapaints.
Follow Uma on Instagram, too!

Our guests left us with advice for technically minded people interested in urban sketching. Start now, because you already have skills that you are bringing to sketching, such as technical drawing and the ability to tell the story of the work you’re doing (a skill needed in the sciences!). Learn by looking at other sketchers’ work, and by becoming a part of the USk community. Join your local chapter, and post on the Urban Sketchers Facebook Group where you will find positive feedback that will boost your sketching confidence.

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