My interview for the "Artists' Journal Workshop" Book by Cathy Johnson

 Interview # 14--Meet Nina Khashchina!

Hi all!  This interview's been derailed a couple of times...both Nina and I have been busy, and she traveled in between there!  Believe me, it was worth waiting for...

Let's jump right in and let Nina speak for herself!


I started drawing very early and had a lot of support from my parents - until I stopped. I also kept a diary of sorts since I was a little child - but never consistently. There was a period in my life when I did not draw at all, I became a graphic designer and got completely computerized. Drawings were on little post-it notes, napkins, separate pieces of paper. And then the whole hand-made painting and drawing thing came back and I discovered a pleasure of keeping it all in one place - my sketch book.

Since summer 2005 I filled 57 journals - large and small, some I made myself (my favorite kind of
journal). Some I love for the paper, some for the cover. Some journals were filled in one breath, others took a long time, some became my friends as we went through life together, others I conquered with time :)

Another of Nina's wonderful sketches of her little boy in the park...

I draw in the park while my son unwinds after a day in preschool, while taking a breather when hiking, when chewing my lunch, while cooling down after the jog, in doctor's office, waiting in long line, waking up before everyone else does - the perfect time is right now :)

I seldom have time to finish things to the perfection or even correct mistakes but I enjoy the process – mistakes and all. This way I see time, I feel alive, feel the changes and notice beauty everywhere.
Drawing things helps me understand, slow down and see what's important for me and make choices. I think about sketching as a way of life. Way to travel. Way to think. Way to explain.

The purple ink makes a wonderful, colorful vibration in many of Nina's sketches.
It would be impossible for me to choose one medium as my favorite, mostly because they change a lot. Anything works if I NEED to draw, but I often have cravings for certain things to try. Just like with food - you can stop the hunger with ... WHATEVER but some food combinations work better with each other and a little variety always is an adventure ;) Right now I am a lot into a purple ball point pen and a diluted ink in Niji waterbrush plus some dip pen experiments.

Little watercolor set and brush pen are always in my backpack :)

I just came back from the Roatan island in Honduras. This trip came when I was in the middle of a power struggle with a sketchbook I liked at first sight and hated later. Store purchased 8.5 x 11 soft cover spiral bound book with some glossy paper. Surface very much like illustration board – smooth and slick. Pens and Markers were fine.

Paper was refusing color pencil after just two layers of application.
And working in watercolor was very frustrating since there was no chance for color to flow – only paint with brushstrokes and color was changing dramatically between the moment of application and when dry.

My first thought was to take different sketchbook but after some consideration I took this situation as a sign to try different things and it worked out great! 

 First – I decided to take more supplies with me than I usually do (the good thing is I can share it with my son – so it does not look like I took THAT much:)

Here are examples of what I usually take:

This time, I took a nice large palette of watercolors with a couple of real brushes, a tiny set with gouache with 2 waterbrushes, about 20 color and watercolor pencils and 10 Pitt color brush pens, plus my regular pens (purple ballpoint, Pentel Brush Pen, UniBall Vision Micro pen and Niji waterbrush filled with the diluted black ink). Plus tiny spray bottle, scotch tape and an old film container. This all fitted within a small first aid bag :) In retrospect I think I could have done without pencils and markers – but my son used them a lot – so I think this was the right choice!

Second thing I did to conquer this sketchbook was to take some small cold press 100 lb watercolor sheets, place them in an envelope on the back of the book and try to incorporate them whenever I could. This allowed me to work on several pages at once (humidity is very high on Roatan so there was a lot of waiting) and gave me a break when I wanted to enjoy real watercolor washes.

Third thing was that I had a little Moleskine Cahier book with me almost at all times – I was drawing at any opportune moment – while waiting for dinner, waiting for boat to load, sandcastle to be finished… This provided me with sketching time without interrupting activities of other company members. And every night I was tearing filled pages and posting them in my main book with some comments if needed. This way my tiny book was almost always empty and I was free to take it with me even when I knew it might get wet: I’d put one pen, gray waterbrush and my book in zip-lock bag and be ready for anything :)

Many of my pages are scanned and can be found here:

One of the projects I am working on continuously is a Badger Log.

Both the idea and inspiration came from my wonderful family and they support this log from the very first thought till today’s drawings.

Badger Log is about my interactions with a little badger I know, who happens to be related to me - how he is looking at the world and how I look at things because of him. I keep it as a sort-of a diary but only a few drawings so far made it to the scanner – so I am thinking about collecting a whole bunch together and making this log more public - how - I'll tell you later! :)


Nina, thanks much for this wonderful, useful interview!  Can't wait to see more of the badger's adventures--and yours!
It seems I never posted this interview here - and now found this topic in an old "to do" list - so here you go - better late than never ;) 


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