Mar 27, 2020

Today on my table.

Making gifts gets me going on any day so I am off to drop these in the mail box. 

Mar 26, 2020

What is on my table?

* Timer. This is one of the main wisdom of my life: time needs to be measured and recorded. I use the times when I am on the roll, I use it when I am in a rut. Here is how it works: turn it on - just for 5 minutes if that is all you can or all you have - and do something without interruption, without switching to other things, without questioning. Then do it again. Especially useful in the current situation.
** A little while ago I realized that I love my materials and hoard them a bit but don't use them as much as I could. As a result, I do not get as much joy out of them and feel guilty for spending money and for taking space and time on picking them. But if I get my joy out of them - there is no guilt and there is art. Here is my current solution: I created these two boxes. I put all my pens in box number one. And after I drew with a pen I would move it to box number two. This way I started rotating through all my pens, realized that some I can let go because I don't want to come back to them but others I love and I forgot about some of my pens completely! Now I go through everything in box #1 and then move all the pens out of #2 into #1 and start all over. 
I am working on somewhat similar solutions for other materials - I will try to take a picture soon.

Mar 25, 2020

Weekend or not?

One of the interesting things for me to figure out is how to differentiate weekdays from the weekends while we all are cooped up in the house all the time.
To make a weekend different I decided to not follow the schedule at all and instead of a walk around the block we went to a special place on both days - a bit further. Also - cooking something a little more special was helpful.

I sketched with just ink during the walk. Park was filled with people and everyone standing / looking at birds or just hanging there took too much space on the path for others to pass safely so added color at home.
Drawing mess on my table is one of my long-standing traditions and taking a few minutes to do this helps me to start doing things - whatever needs to be done. Motivation comes from the action - and just putting pen on paper and recording whatever is the first thing I see is the way I go.

All in all, it worked and the weekend was different. But on Monday I found out that switching back is not that easy :)

Mar 19, 2020

Today's spread from my sketchbook: lists, schedules and drawing the same thing over and over.

I always treated my sketchbook as a diary, a place where I pay attention to my life. These days are not different but with more observations about myself.

I also noticed that I return to the same sketch more or sketch the same subjects many times (I often do this - but today I scheduled breaks in my workday around drawing this cyclamen).

And I make lists - things that I need to have in my day to feel that is was a good one. Things that I have to remember to do when this is over. etc.

Spot the differences?

Mar 18, 2020

How did my "ONE WEEK 100 PEOPLE": Sketching Challenge (March 9-13, 2020) go.

Well, this year I was prepared (here is my plan).
But things didn't go as I planned.
And I did draw over 100 people but I cannot share quite a few of them. I knew that would be the case and planned to draw way more. But as coronavirus spread, the world around me was getting smaller and smaller and fewer and fewer places were available for sketching and more and more things had to be done before the inevitable shutdown of all the normal life.
So - here are a few of the 100 people:

Why I cannot share some of my sketches?
Those who follow my blog for some time probably noticed that there are no more sketches of the family members. This happened as per their request. I am drawing them daily but no longer making those sketches and notes public. (This means that I will not be posting a lot of things about my time during the quarantine - but I am thinking as to how to go about it).
Here is an example:

And I am very grateful for those who video chat with me regularly and are OK with me sharing these sketches (these people are also known as my endless supporters - my parents :)

Mar 17, 2020

My Life Under Coronavirus Quarantine.

These are unusual times. I thought that as someone who worked from home for many years now I will just continue doing what I usually do and will have an advantage of everything being "as usual" for me.
But as I found out it is not so.
  • Kids are home all the time; 
  • Parents are home all the time;
  • Whole Bay Area is under a "shelter in place" order (meaning you leave home for essential business only and to get some fresh air. But should stay 6 feet (2 m) away from other people);
  • The discipline of not checking the news, email and social media is down;
  • Worry about relatives, friends, and the world, in general, is up;
  • Ability to concentrate or tolerate weather is down;
  • Hypochondria (as well as suspicion about every cough anyone produces) is up;
I am trying to sketch through all of this but accepting whatever happens on the page, setting a timer and just making my hand move for some uninterrupted number of minutes. Also - by sketching every time I go out - even for a minute :)

Mar 11, 2020

Sketching disasters (or not so much)

Last week was filled with sketching disasters - which turned out to be not so much of disasters as experiments :)

On the first day, I forgot my tube of white gouache. But I sketched a pink tree and some single flowers too.

On the second day, I forgot my palette with actual paints and had only my mixing surface with me - on which I had some leftover paint mixes (quite a bit as I found out). I sketch another plum tree in bloom.

On the third day, I went running with my pocket gouache kit (dry gouache set, pen, red and blue pencil, and waterbrush) and found out that my waterbrush is empty (it was wet enough for one change of color basically) and then my pen ran out of ink.

On the fourth day, I forgot that the new ink in the pen is water-soluble! And I had only a mini watercolor kit (no gouache to fix mistakes!). So I looked at a clear, colorful sunset I produced a dirty gray sketch.

Mar 10, 2020

NEW CLASS (USk 10x10 series)

I am very excited to be teaching another gouache class this summer. Urban Sketchers has a wonderful series of classes (designed to introduce people to lots of techniques at a VERY affordable price) and I am honored to be part of the SF Bay Area team of instructors. Though many of the instructors are actually visiting from different parts of the USA and the world - which is even more exciting!

Here is more information about all the classes:
The 10x10 Urban Sketching Workshop Series 2020

Class: People Alive!
Instructor: Suhita Shirodkar
Date: Saturday, 30th May, 2020
More info and Tickets: 

Class: The Dance of Line and Color
Instructor: Virginia Hein
Date: Saturday, June 6, 2020

Class: Sketching and Sharing Your Travel Moments
Instructor: Bill Russell
Date: Saturday, June 13, 2020

Class: Umbrella Perspective
Instructor: Paul Heaston
Date: Saturday, June 20, 2020

Class: Travel sketchbook: How to tell the stories of your trips near and far
Instructor: Oliver Hoeller
Date: Saturday, June 27, 2020

Class: Watercolor Sketching in the Golden City
Instructor: Rob Carey
Date: Saturday, July 11, 2020

Class: Hacks for Sketching Faces
Instructor: Laurie Wigham
Date: Saturday, July 18, 2020

Class: Wearing Colored Lenses
Instructor: Farah Irani
Date: Saturday, July 25, 2020

Class: Sketching With Watercolor, Outside the Lines
Instructor: Richard Sheppard
Date: Saturday, August 1, 2020

Class: Being Transparent and Opaque: Add gouache to your watercolor sketches
Instructor: Nina Khashchina
Date: Saturday, August 15, 2020

And here is a PDF with all the information about all the classes in one neat package:

Mar 8, 2020

ONE WEEK 100 PEOPLE: Sketching Challenge (March 9-13, 2020)

I will be taking a part in the One Week 100 People Sketching Challenge (#oneweek100people2020) which is hosted by Marc Holmes and Liz Steel. I've done it before but last year I failed to complete it so I hope to do better this March 9-13th.
Here is how I am getting ready:

I made a list of my personal guidelines:
1. Stick to the same materials through the whole series but have a backup if suddenly need to change an approach. But be flexible - use other materials if you feel inspired or there is nothing else available  - don't be a slave to your original choices.
2. Prepare all materials beforehand.
3. Make materials easy to carry with you always so that you can contribute even during an unplanned slot of time.
4. Have a list of places where you plan to sketch and plan time in your day when you will be in that place.
5. Have a list of things you can concentrate on when sketching people.
6. Make a calendar where you can mark how much is done each day - cross for each of 10 sketches.
7. Schedule time to share your progress day-by-day with others.
8. Add these sketches (all of them as a single book o the best ones you choose) to the main sketchbook after the end of the challenge.

Here are my options for the materials:
- limited palette gouache - tube or two in a pocket
- pentel pocket brush pen - think about the paper!
- pencil and creamy paper - limit colors
- liquid watercolors - limit palette
- gray ink (flowy) and black felt nib pen (control) - duotone
- completely crazy brush and ink, large paper size
- iPad and Procreate or Fresco
- Pull a pen out of the bag at random and just go with it

Here is a list of places where I plan to draw people:
- Library
- Cafe
- Park (Tennis and basketball courts, dancing elders circle, playground)
- Swimming pool
- Evening TV
- Video/Classes online
- Museum 
- Doctor's office
- Video calls with people

What to concentrate on (one a day or do one from each in every day?)
- faces
- gestures
- crazy fast moving bodies
- whole figures or parts (hands, feet, hair)
- groups of people
- sketch the place, add people later

Let's see how this will go!

Feb 26, 2020

How plans change.

I planned to paint some sketches with gouache on my bike ride today: sprayed my pocket palette with lots of water, put it in a plastic bag and brought with me. But then everything changed: I found a dead seagull (passerby informed me that it's been there since yesterday) and a family of cottontails was grooming and grazing under a tree - and this is how I ended up without gouache sketch today!

Feb 3, 2020

Naming my Hyacinth.

I had a hyacinth last year and drew it as it grew - here is a post with lots of images:

And saved the bulb.

Then I found it last week - with a little white leaf trying to find light in a dark corner of the shed. I put the bulb in the water - now I have a new hyacinth to draw.

I also decided to give it a name and called for submissions on social media - on this page are all the names that were submitted for consideration - I think I have a decision but need to sleep on it :) 

p.s. I cannot wait for it see the flowers!

Jan 28, 2020

In memory of Jason Polan

I never knew Jason Polan personally but through his work - online and in this book - he became an important part of my drawing world.

I opened up my phone to the news of his passing yesterday and it took me some time to put this into words: he was a huge inspiration for me. Because of how much he enjoyed the everyday stuff, how hard he looked at things and how much he paid attention. And because of how much he worked and respected the process, the connection that drawing something creates, that fleeting moment when you reflect what you see on the paper through the pen and eye. 

He still is an inspiration of course because here is his book (and here are places where the bookmarks were when I last looked through it). They will be there when I need to believe in the world and myself again, when I will need to be humbled or kicked. I am sad because the world and his family lost Jason but I am glad we all had him. 

Jan 22, 2020

The 2 minute rule from Getting Things Done system.

The famous book "Getting things done" by David Allen has lots of good advice and they all can be converted into advice for people who want to make sketching parts of their life. For example:
If it takes less than two minutes - do it now. Which I translate as "if you are stuck/waiting/unsure what to do next 2 minutes - get your hand moving - start sketching. Here are two examples from the last week and today:

Jan 21, 2020

Upcoming Workshop: Draw From History. June 10, 11, and 12, 2020 Virginia City, NV

I will be teaching a workshop with Suhita Shirodkar and Gay Kraeger again!

Sketching Trio presents: 
Draw From History
June 10, 11, and 12, 2020 
Virginia City, NV

Virginia City is a small historical town packed with unique colors, textures, amazing nature and filled with history. 

We are bringing all the materials to make your sketchbook and fill it with people, nature, and notes. 

We will work with ink, watercolor, and gouache. 

Gay, Suhita and I will be teaching in the morning and afternoon. There will be instruction and work side-by-side, train rides, mine and graveyard visits, people sketching and sharing of tips and tricks to keep your joy of sketching going long after the class is over.

More details and registration are here:

Please note: there is a discount if you register before April 15th.