End of 2020

It is almost last day of the year and I am looking back. 

All that was planned, what happened, what did not, how the year started with travel and guests and how my work and personal plans have changed but then when I look at this stack of sketchbooks (and the red sketchbook is 5.5 x 8.5 - so number 128 is a bit of a giant) I see that despite everything or because of everything this was another full year of sketching!

Here are some quick highlights of 2020 that I snapped while flipping through the pages: talking to family and friends in person and online, the times when mask wearing was not a normal thing, making zines, going on bike rides and walks, experimenting with printmaking, endless experiments with cooking and growing plants, blind contour portraits, horrible fires and smog, elections, more plants and more cooking and more video calls. 


Kitchen essentials

I dropped my favorite salad serving fork, and it broke into two pieces. While I am contemplating all the pluses and minuses of attempting a fix, the logical solution is to sketch the spoon in its current state and some thoughts on wooden spoons and ladles, too. 

Drawing people on zoom

It's been a year of drawing people while talking to them on video. I drew strangers posing, people I was having drinks with, friends and family during regular conversations. 

But this Sunday was different - everyone on this call (and there were more than 40 people) were drawing! Hosted by Rama Hughes this was a version of the portrait parties that he started many years ago - you can learn more on this blog

I prepared some waterbrushes filled with diluted inks and watercolors and a modified Pilot Parallel Pen with extra cartridge. Having these ready was very helpful because people were posing for 1 min and 4 min and there was not much time to think about materials because all the faces were so interesting to draw! 

A lot of participants were kids and it was a lot of fun to see all the art! But my favorite part was drawing :)

Making Candied Fruits

I made and drew some candied fruits, also known as succade, zitronat, fruit confit, fruit glace, fruta confitada, цукати, цукаты - let me know about other names for this beautiful treat! 

Let’s Iterate


Drawing things in seasons and drawing things in series are both my favorite things to draw. And when I get to make an illustration for a client doing both - it's a special treat!

Secret process behind my inktober illustrations this year.

Inktober is always an experiment for me. This year I wanted to explore a bunch of techniques to make a huge mess but have some control over it. I decided to make a bunch of spontaneous ink blobs and crazy brush strokes, explore some printing techniques, and revive some experiments that I left unfinished last year. I made a list of options and then I made a plan. And then abandoned/adjusted and transformed it on the go. But having a plan was crucial to enjoying the process and making it without a glitch through all 31 days.

My plan had two pillars: structure and maintenance.


  • Keep my subject matter very simple: plants; Have a list for all the days and go through it.
  • Use only black ink, two particular brushes that I wanted to master, and one printing technique (stencil and ink pad).
  • Stick to the same amount of time per day to make these (under 30 min) and post whatever you have within this block of time. No analyzing within those 30 minutes. 


  • I found a particular notebook with ink-friendly paper with enough pages for the whole project;
  • I put all my materials in the same box so that there would be minimum friction at the start of each day;
  • I created a bunch of tags to use on social media and copy-pasted them instead of re-typing every time;
  • I wanted to see if I can start with the plants I have at home and then see how it will go. Just in case I made a list of plants to draw and got some wonderful books from the library to use as inspiration. 
  • I planned to make some images in advance but then decided against it - the rhythm of working on this project, same amount of time, every single day was very helpful. 

Next, I started working and almost every day I would change something :) I sincerely thought that I would put all my notes on how I did my inktober illustrations in this post but now that I uploaded them all in one place and looked back - it is impossible to list every single step/technique/experiment - some I don't even remember! 

Here are somethings that I do remember:

  • I changed the subject matter to the plants that I had in my home, drew them from life in my sketchbook, and then made an illustration after.
  • I introduced other printing methods (monotype, stamps, linocuts) and other inks (water-based stamp inks, india ink, thick acrylic paint) and tools to make marks (cloths, sponges, fingers, and objects dipped in ink). 
  • I made a shortcut to make posts without opening social media sites which saved a tone of willpower and time.

And after I was done with my inktober illustrations I would normally make a variation of it (and post it with the original) and with many I kept going making more versions on the same theme, writing notes on what I like or what worked or did not work - next to my usual daily sketchbook notes. It was a great month of experimentations! 

You can find all the original inktober illustrations:

You can find all of my inktober explorations from 2020 in this folder on Flickr:

On My Table Today: A book I recommend.

This is a book about sketching. 

It is filled with lots of inspiring art (my art is there too and it makes me super proud to be in such an amazing company. I think you can buy this book it to tear our separate pages and hang on your walls). 

It is written in a very sincere, kind voice. As if Suhita is talking to a friend who wants to sketch but did not get to it yet or dropped it at some point and wants to go back.

Here are my four favorite parts of the book:

1. Using shapes to understand and capture people quickly:

2. How to create a visual path:

2. Shape as a starting point:

2. List of challenges:

You can order this book on Amazon.

And here is a link to a post where Suhita shares a free downloadable PDF and information about where you can get some signed copies!

Everyday Life: This tomato.

This tomato was pretty tasty. But before I found out that I knew that it was fragrant and shiny and reflected a lot of blue around it. 

Everyday life: a walk.

 During the walk I felt like the fall is actually coming. And that I am very rusty with some of my skills.

Everyday Life: This pear was very tasty


Little things from the day - sketched, taped, and glued in the book little notes. 

Everyday Life: Acacia Seed Pod


After I finish making my main inktober image I keep going about it with leftover materials and ideas. I also just really liked drawing the word ACACIA and the way these pods create shadows within themselves.

Sketching My Everyday Life.

Just a page with sketches from the other day: leftover inktober pear next to California Bear. By the way I checked - looks like the idea that the pear was supposed to be on the flag and then someone misheard and put a bear is an urban legend and also one of the places where we can exercise our ability to check facts and think about resources that we trust. I believe  the bear was supposed to be on the flag from the beginning.