Hakone Gardens: playing with new inks and nibs

I went to paint at Hakone Gardens with a friend. Suhita and I spent some time catching up, drawing, and playing with some new sketching toys. One of them is a brass nib from Kakimori (I thought it is just an obtuse nail when I first saw some images - but now I know that it is hollow inside and has some grooves on the sides as well. You can see this nib and how it compares to other tools in this video. As a result, it has a very varied width of the marks that can be made with it and a liberating time without re-dipping into an inkpot. Between trying a new nib, then playing with some shimmering inks, and other pens and pencils, it was a day to experiment! 

So after I finished a sketch, I took a picture and then added water over it. And I am not sure it worked as I hoped - but it might be due to the astringent blue color that resulted from adding water. See both images and let me know which one works from your point of view.

And here is another mixed media piece from the same outing - it is impossible to see the shimmering ink but you can see how it changes color as I kept drawing. 

Painting the Gardens

Another gouache adventure - this is one of my favorite gardens in the neighborhood. It is in full bloom now but I noticed that I say that many times during the year - perhaps I should track once what is blooming when there. Right now roses and irises and foxgloves are dominating the picture. You can see my gouache set-up in one of the photos - I am constantly tweaking things and right now trying some collapsable brushes to see if I can make my plein-air set smaller.

Daily reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. April 29-30. 2022

April 29, 2022, Day 65.
There is a moth in the house and it is teasing Dad - he's trying to catch it and is "running after it" (he walks very slowly these days with the aid of walking sticks or a walker - these jokes are one of his ways to talk about his limited mobility. It was a laundry day and Mom spent some time taking pictures again - there is an apple tree that is about to bloom. Mom says that the only way to survive is by holding on to each other.   

April 30, 2022, Day 66.
This is a day when we remember my Mom's Mom - so we talk about her a bit. Our daily routine of calling and texting everyone to check on them continues. During our video calls, my parents and I compare news from all the family and friends. In normal life, the first of May would be a day for a picnic, a day to see the forest after the winter, or check out fields that are becoming green: we called it "go outside the city". But forests and fields are now filled with mines. And Kharkiv is shelled continually - for 66 days straight.

Daily reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. April 27-28. 2022

April 27, 2022, Day 63.
Dad talked mom into giving him a haircut and is bragging about it (he worked on it for many days). He complains that he shaved and we did not notice.There were some loud noises nearby and all loud noises freaked them out but we managed to change the subject quickly to the etymology of the word kantor (I have no idea what the connection was). We also discussed the book of contemporary author that they suggested for me as a good read in Ukrainian (Prohasko "Bo Take"). Mom found a bunch of horsetails near their place and is fascinated by them. We discuss how old these species are and how they should remember dinosaurs. 

April 28, 2022, Day 64.
Mom gave Dad a haircut - he thinks it is too long, and she thinks it is too short. I am glad they spent half a day working on it. Mom found a spider in a flower and spend a the rest of the day taking pictures of it. Dad is happy that they got a parcel in the mail and lists all the things in it - Cayenne pepper is mentioned several times. We talk about different parts of Kharkiv and the situation there and report to each other on the news about different friends.


I love peonies and found out about range of varieties only when I visited NY Botanical garden years ago. Every year I try to discover some peonies in our neighborhood and visit them. This bush was planted just a couple of years ago and so far it was the very first one to bloom in each season. These peonies have an amazingly hard to reproduce gentle yellow color and no fragrance. I visited them with my gouache palette and painted the bush and some separate flowers.