Coming home.

These are the first two pages in my sketchbook after the trip to Europe in the fall. I love these pages because of two things: 
1. My joy for reconnecting with gouache! 
2. These pages show me how I "come home".
 These were done during busy post-trip days packed with an attempt to get back in the rhythm of things as soon as possible. I did these pages in between things, one little bit at a time. And they are depictions of the simplest things around me. 
There were other sketches but after I made these I knew I returned home :)

Giving names is important.

I find that giving things and creatures around you names is a good start of relationships. Here is a portrait of a night heron which I see at the same place almost always I pass it. I hamed it Penelope.
 And below a green heron Innokentiy. 

I also saw a family of ducks today. But they don't have names yet.

Inktober 2019: Report

I love doing 30-day projects as a way to stretch myself, learn about things and an honest way to experiment with things I want to try. And Inktober became somewhat a tradition.
In 2015 and 2016 I did a month of drawing Badger stories each.
In 2017 I did a month of exploring digital drawing on my iPad - here is a link to the report about it:
This year I decided to learn about amazing flying mammals - bats! And teach me a way to take an inked drawing and convert it into a fun informational piece using a new digital drawing tool from Adobe - Adobe Fresco.

Here are 8 things that I made this year's inktober fun learning experience that did not leave me drained:
  1. Having pre-made decisions about tools and steps of the process helped to smooth the start of the project and also lowered the everyday threshold of doing the drawing, adding text and publishing it. It does not mean that I did not change the process along the way but I always had a fallback plan in case if this particular day was not going well or my experiment got me into something too crazy.
  2. Having a list of ideas of different complexity was very helpful. It provided me with the safety net on the days when I did not have time or energy to do longer research and it allowed me to be more adventurous on other days. 
  3. I got a bunch of diverse sources, and I used a lot of children's books - it's an amazing source rich on the visuals and succinct scientific information.
  4. I saved some of the sources to pick up my enthusiasm mid-way to help with the unavoidable tiredness of doing something every day.
  5. Credit is always due. But keeping all the attribution thoughts in your head every day is a lot. I made a decision about how to cite my sources and obtained permissions, prepared tags for posting and text and links to the people whose images and facts I was using in my drawings and kept them handy to copy and paste with minimum modifications. 
  6. The decision to be open about my mistakes was liberating. For each final image, I posted original ink drawing which showed issues with the design and line quality. I made an effort to proofread everything but did not go to pieces when I sound a spelling mistake or an ink smudge.
  7.  Being flexible. I used different software, different tools and different paper on some days. I also did not post on a couple of days but posted more on the next one. I read about this concept in the Atomic Habits by James Clear"If I miss one day, a simple rule: never miss twice. Missing once is an accident. Missing twice is the start of a new habit." 
  8. Having a time limit per day helped me to avoid perfectionism and allowed me to plan ahead.

I would like to send a special thanks to the Merlin Tuttle Bat Conservation: it's an amazing source for visual and factual information and inspiration about bats, ecology and being a part of this planet.

Here are some images and additional notes on my happy inktober 2019:
And here you can find all the bats that I drew this month:

Recent trip report | part 5

In between everything that I packed in a short week in Ukraine I drew little things here and there - mostly while waiting. Some waits allow you to draw a whole collection of things you see, some are a few lines, some allow for color o story to be written around.

Recent trip report | part 4

I enjoy drawing in museums. When I have a chance to visit the same museum several times over several years it becomes interesting to see which paintings I decided to sketch and what parts of them I noticed then and now.
Kharkov has a wonderful art museum with some real treasures and amazing people who work there.
These are my notes from the recent trip:

Artists mentioned in my notes are:

Recent trip report | part 3

During this trip, I saw lots of people and animals. Most were on the planes and in airports.  I drew only some of them - which reminds me that I should draw more. 

But even these will tell you little stories.  First is about the collection of buttons that my parents gave me to look through (I opened only the first box of several but immediately my niece found buttons she urgently needed for her coat!). Also - it's not actually a collection. The correct way to describe it is "all the buttons from all the coats and dresses since the war".

Story number two: that fish was very tasty, but cleaning kitchen took two days :) 
You will find more stories in the sketches themselves.

Recent trip report | part 2

I tried to paint the city every day. Mostly these are places I remember, some looked completely new to me.  I tried to look at them to see familiar sights through the layers of change.

Lots of beautiful changes in foliage were happening from one day to another. They were making me feel as if I should stop painting different places but just come back to the same corner over and over.

Recent trip report | part 1

I spent a week in Ukraine this September.  It is always interesting to look at how things have changed from one visit to another and experience autumn which is so familiar and so different.

Pear festival in my sketchbook

I recently had a chance to spend some time painting a couple of green pears.

Sketching Trio at the Channel Islands National Park

From August 25th till 28th I had an adventure. A bunch of sketchers and some non-sketching companions came to California Channel Islands National Park with the Sketching Trio: Gaye Kraeger, Suhita Shirodkar and myself.

We spent three days on the boat with short excursions onto the islands. We hiked, learned about the history of the place, kayaked, snorkeled, made friends, observed wildlife, shared knowledge.
We sketched, drew, painted, and journaled during all three days - on the boat and the shore. And even some in the water.
The boat and crew provided us with a place to sleep, delicious food, companionship, and a unique opportunity to see the Channel Islands National Park. Our requests were met with a smile and eagerness to make it the best trip possible. I felt well taken care of.
What I try to remember most about this trip is that feeling of sharing a unique, pristine place with a bunch of people that enjoyed doing what they were doing.
The boat's name was "Conception". It was its last trip before the one that ended in tragedy on September 2nd, 2019.
Right now it feels like this trip was in a different life, in a different world. I did not know if I should post this. What for. Why. But then I did.
I would like to show you some of the sketches from this trip. Share a tiny bit of that beautiful place in a spirit of doing what I love and sharing it with others.
Map drawn on the evening when we all gathered in Santa Barbara:
Life on the boat did not agree with me but with some medicine and care, I got better. At first, all I could do was some blind contour or very quick sketches - without taking my eyes off the horizon. Click on the image to see it larger and perhaps you might be able to read some of the blindly-written things too.
I could not paint on the boat during the first two days and only an example of my fellow sketchers and their continuing support got me to do a couple of watercolors on day three.

On the shore I got my gouache kit out. 
We had a chance to snorkel and I sketched some of the underwater world and I did a super quick drawing of our boat from the kayak.

During our outings to the islands I tried to draw all kinds of treasures:

I am glad I had this chance to see the place. And spend this time with a great group of people. 
Suhita wrote a very thoughtful post with a different look at our trip and posting it on her blog - start here.