Flanders Poppies - Take One

Flanders poppies (Papaver rhoeas) are in full swing in my part of the world and I am having a blast painting them. This is a report about the first outing. From previous experience, I knew that I would need all kinds of reds with me and some sort of approach to not be overwhelmed by all the shades of colors that I see. But the first problem that I encountered on that day was not with the oversaturation of color but with the fact that I forgot all my brushes! So I used my fingers on the first sketch and then borrowed some lovely dagger brushes from Suhita (Suhitasketch) to paint the second and third pages. 

From the ground point of view where I was sitting a house looked like a proper castle, and I imagined myself a tiny traveler in the forest of these amazingly textured red giants! 

Some neon color influences courtesy of:

I can tell you one thing - I needed a black-and-white day after this sketching trip! :)

Lunch and Sketch Outing Under California Oak Trees

It is a time of rapid changes in color in California: greens are turning ochres, lots of fields are getting mowed, and a completely ahead of the fire season and new textures emerge in the processThis is a time when I rush to see some greens and one of these days a lovely lunch with friends was spent under a canopy of oaks with brushes and watercolors and a sandwich with the first strawberries of the season. 

Amaryllis Update in Nine Sketches

Growing an Amaryllis from a bulb was our first project together with my Mom since my parents arrived in California. I wrote about it in December and then in January, then Amaryllis appeared on the first page of my Sketchbook 155 and now I collected the remaining amaryllises from my sketchbook - up until the day it went to live on its own in the wilderness! Some of these were made with gouache, some with watercolors, some with acrylic markers, some with ink and flex nib pens, some were painted with fingers or scratched with knives. Some notes to accompany sketches. 

Did I see the Northern lights?

I saw in the news that an unusual solar storm was happening and by the end of the day was cautiously excited about the possibility of actually seeing aurora borealis on my doorstep. The idea of setting appropriate expectations is something I've been working on for some time so the plan was to "just take a late night stroll near the bay as if this is just a regular thing for me to be in a park in the middle of the night". First things first - the park was pretty packed and there was enough light to walk on the path :) Secondly - at half past midnight without any special equipment and with the application of consciously reined in imagination the sky looked lit from all the cities below and yes, there were some amorphous clouds with a possibly different shade of color (I saw red). They were moving a bit (as clouds do) and there were a couple of strangely vertical parts of the clouds. That is my honest review. With a sketch done on location
But with a little phone magic, I dot these photos.
Did I see the Aurora Borealis? 

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - An Update - May, 2024.

An update on my parents - who are refugees from Kharkiv, Ukraine and have been living in California for a few months now. Life as a refugee is one of making endless adjustments with a constant reminder that what you actually want is far away and wrapped in painful thoughts no matter how you turn it around. It is not an easy path for anyone but with the help, things get to a better place.

California provided insurance for my parents and we are making rounds to see doctors - which has not been possible for them since the beginning of the war in February 2022. My parents walk every day - exploring the streets nearby. There are lots of new plants to identify and learn about. So far my library is the main source of books for them but we are going to take a trip to a public library this summer. 

I participated in an online drawing event - pencils4tea with them. You can join from anywhere in the world via Zoom and people draw each other and each portrait is timed with a piece of music. Mom did not want to be drawn so I turned off her camera. But we drew for an hour side my side and it was a lot of fun - Mom did not have enough time to finish a drawing sometimes (see below) but I think with a little practice she will ace all the portraits. Dad enjoyed some music (whistling, little chair dancing and even singing) and did not enjoy some other pieces (eyebrows knitted, grunts) and I think he played a chess game online parallel to this all.

Following news from Ukraine is very hard for them - it is a complicated situation where they cannot do anything but so want to! Many of their friends are still in Kharkiv and the situation is not getting simpler around the city. More family members joined the army. Worry for the country and its people mixed with worry for the family are weighing on my parents a lot. 

But last week we had some really good news from Kharkiv too - a few days ago my parents became great-grandparents for the third time :) We all wished a little one to grow up in peaceful times.

few sketches to illustrate this all:

Mom's portraits from the Drawing Session: