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 14: Secrets of a Successful Chapter

What truly distinguishes Urban Sketching from other art movements is the power of our community. This force is expressed in local USk chapters (over 300 and counting) and the work that chapter administrators do day after day to make them thrive.
Patrick Ng and Tia Boon Sim

Tia Boon Sim and Patrick Ng joined us to talk about the very successful Singapore chapter. USk Singapore started in 2009 and has grown very large, always attracting a crowd at their monthly sketch walks.

Tia and Pat talked about their sketching habits and preferences, such as Tia’s love of concertina sketchbooks and sketching panoramas. Pat talked about seeking out rustic places to sketch, and seeing out people to sketch who are normally in the background: people serving other people, such as the barista serving you coffee or the person cleaning the streets. This inspires our first challenge for the week:

Challenge 1: 

Highlight an Everyday Hero! Sketch someone performing a duty that usually isn’t noticed or might not be appreciated. If you can, share your sketch with them to show them your appreciation.
Post your drawings and tag with #USkTalks or #USkTalksChallenge, and tag Pat @synchopat and Tia @tiastudio.
Follow them on Instagram, too!

Tia and Pat talked about some of the things they do that make their chapter so successful. One of their secrets is empowering members to take on something they want to do, such as starting an Instagram account, organizing an exhibit, or even planning and hosting an alternative sketch walk. Recognizing different strengths helps them to be more inclusive, while offering more ways to participate brings in new sketchers.

The group has many ways of creating an atmosphere of acceptance and love. They are always welcoming to new members, making sure to acknowledge new attendees. “After one sketch walk you’re no longer a stranger.” Members of the group make a point of eating together to help form and solidify bonds.

Tia and Pat also discussed successful projects organized by their chapter. They have published two books of USk Singapore member sketches, with a third one coming out soon. Creating the book involved finding a sponsor to secure funds, and reaching out to the group for skills such as photography, layout and writing. One member served as a “project manager,” organizing the volunteers and gathering sketches from the group.

When projects come up, think about what you want the project to do for your chapter. Will the results outweigh the effort? These projects help to get the word out about the chapter. Pat also said, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly.” Often the need for perfection keeps us from wanting to try things. The first step is just doing it, and if you try you’re only going to get better. Also get a core group together for your project to spread the load but also to lean on. And don’t forget to eat together!

Challenge 2: 

For chapter administrators, the Chapter Brainstorm Challenge. Get together with members of your chapter to brainstorm and plan a sketching event. Share your ideas to inspire others!
Post your ideas and tag with #USkTalks or #USkTalksChallenge, and tag Pat @synchopat and Tia @tiastudio. Follow them on Instagram, too!

Watch again:




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