Oct 20, 2021

Detritus from my Inktobers

As I continue making my Flower Alphabet for Inktober this year, I have a lot of little bits and pieces that look like a mess and a promise at the same time. And, inevitably, all this detritus makes its way into my other projects and into my sketchbook.

Oct 19, 2021

Treasures: resilient hibiscus flower.

I saw an enormous hibiscus blossom at the garden center - but was on the run and could not sketch there. Luckily there was a completely dry flower on the ground which I got to draw later. It surprised me with the gentle yet bright colors and a myriad of beautiful wrinkles. 

Oct 17, 2021

Grateful: sketching friends and with friends.

I feel that the road to the new "with covid" normal is turbulent and it will take a lot of adjustments and time for me to find some landmarks and pathways again - but as "the best way out is always through" I am celebrating this week two chances to connect with people in person. 

I listened to a mini-lecture and participated in interesting dialogues with friends and drew some of them while devouring the atmosphere of being with people.  

And I had a great time talking and drawing next to a friend. Both the art-making and conversations were a gift. Neighborhood chickens and Halloween decorations or whatever we find to draw, Suhita's friendship is one of the lifelines that supports me in these times - be that online or in-person and for that, I am very grateful.

Oct 15, 2021

One of my Art Heroes - Hank Virgona.

I watched a fabulous documentary about an artist I never heard about before but grew to love. The title is "Nothing Changes: Art for Hank's Sake" (you will find several places online where you can watch it for free - like on tubitv with ads or on amazon - for money but without ads). The visible part of a subtitle read "How far you would go to pursue your passion? A 87-year old..." and there was a person at the art table, working and there were sketches of subway riders and still life drawings. 

That one screen contained so much for me that I swallowed the whole documentary in one sitting and keep coming back to it for almost a week now. I sketched while I watched the movie, then kept adding thoughts, quotes, and things I learned - now it is a full spread with some overlays and many steps away from the movie - but that is what makes it so treasured for me.

This is the story of the artist - Hank Virgona. And how he keeps going. The movie follows him for about a year and ends about a year before his passing in 2019. It is about his art. His practice. His path. Life in general. I saw New York through several seasons, several boroughs. I saw studios of several interesting artists and heard them talk about not their art. I took a walk with Hank and rode the subway with him. And on the way, I listened to some exceptionally appropriate music (for me). And I learned about a completely new (for me) Jazz musician from Japan - Ryo Fukui. His album "A Letter from Slowboat" is worth watching this documentary by itself. And I learned about the people who made this movie and how they raised money to complete it online - the story is an eye opener for itself. You can find it here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/nothing-changes-art-for-hank-s-sake#/

In short - Hank is my art hero. 

Oct 14, 2021

Magnolia Seed Pods Update (I blame the squirrels)

Last week I was drawing and writing about the fact that magnolia seed pods are late this year. I blamed my findings of only old pods on the squirrels. 

But today I got a present - a fresh seed pod! Its end is slightly chewed, so I think I was right about the squirrels. 

Oct 13, 2021

Fall leaves and parents.

I found some leaves and, astonished by the diversity of colors and intricacy of signs of age, drew them many times. And then left some to dry in between books and pages of my sketchbook. I like finding them later. 

And the other day I had a video call with my parents and they had a full-blown 2-minute row about which literature is more appropriate for drying fall leaves and finding them there later. 

Oct 12, 2021

Great News from Australia! (Bandocoot-related)

I can always use some good news about progress in animal protection!

Australia, which (according to WWF) has the worst rate of mammal extinction in the world which got only worse after the devastating fire season of 2019-20, made huge progress on saving Eastern Barred Bandicoot! Their status was changed from "extinct in the wild" to "endangered" - after 30 years of conservation efforts, the number of bandicoots has jumped from just 150 animals to an estimated 1,500 - here is a link to a full article on BBC

Oct 9, 2021

Fall Signs

Fall signs: Chinese Elm Trees (Ulmus parvifolia) don't drop the leaves - they drop the whole outer branches - with seeds and all. They are still green but different from summer green - these are dull and chalky but it feels like a very real fall foliage event.

Oct 8, 2021

Little Everyday Things

I picked up a bunch of dahlias at the farmers market last week and still enjoy their company. There is a little story about this particular pink one - written in the sketch.

Also, there is a shortage of magnolia seed pods this year: I looked at my sketchbook from a year ago and saw that I had plenty to draw by this time. But this year I see only old or half-eaten ones. 

A little video about me painting the seed pods here:

Oct 7, 2021

Inktober 2021: leftovers

I am making an alphabet of flowers for the Inktober this year. These will be my favorite flowers and since there are more days in October than letters in English Alphabet, some letters will gt two flowers. Or three :) I haven't decided as, apparently, I have more favorite flowers than there are days in October :)

In the process of creating these illustrations, I am left with some leftovers. I convert these into collages/experiments and messages to send to friends. Here are some agapanthuses:

Oct 5, 2021

What is on my table? End of September 2021.

September flew by very fast and was a month filled with a lot of non-art-related happenings for me but then everything is art-related - even when it is not. Some of them will sooner or later make their way to my stories here, some will not. But I am heading towards the end of the year at full speed:

  • I am making a new series for the Inktober 2021 (it will be ab alphabet of my favorite flowers);
  • Playing with acrylic markers with a new group of art friends;
  • Painting house portraits
  • Talking to people around the world on video and drawing their portraits while we chat;
  • Closing some illustration and design projects for clients. 

Happy October! 

Sep 28, 2021

The end of Sketchbook #136.

Last week I finished a sketchbook #136. It spans just about two month from mid-July to mid-September and is filled with sketches about a trip to Lake Tahoe, reports on my flowers, friends and family members -  done in person or during video conversations. It also has some of my latest experiments and lots of ink and gouache, tape art, monoprinting and stencils. 

I made a video of the flip through the sketchbook and you can find it here:

Sep 27, 2021

Last week's summary

Here are highlights from last week: 

I met a new cat and spent time drawing with some wonderful art friends, I took our Nonagenarian to get a flu shot and I had some lovely video conversations with my parents who are already experiencing fall weather.

I drew mini sunflowers many times as they wilted more and more. I was thinking about if I need color to communicate which flower it is and if sunflower needs color to communicate its identity. 

And I drew straw flowers and a bunch of pumpkins and gourds to celebrate the beginning of the autumn. Pumpkins I sent to friends and gourds I kept for myself. 

Sep 24, 2021

Blogging as a letter writing

I've been thinking about some epistolary novels recently and ways how conversations survive time and space differences and how to translate it into surviving differences in opinions. And because of all these thoughts latest spread in my sketchbook looks like a letter I would send. And what is this blog if not s series of visual notes and letters? Hence I am adding it here :)

Sep 7, 2021

Oak leaves and acorns

I spent a few days obsessively playing with all sorts of oak leaves and acorns. The more I looked at them and the more varieties I found on my walks the more colors and textures I wanted to add to my collection.

Sep 5, 2021

Youtube tricks

I use a "save" feature on youtube a lot - I keep playlists on many topics and not only go back to re-watch videos that I found useful but also just try to have a list of "to watch" and put new videos there to avoid binge-watching things when I am procrastinating - I add them there and watch later - during the special "youtube time" (things we do to trick ourselves! :) 

As I recently realized you cannot save videos that are marked that they were "made for kids". And I kept all my videos marked as "made for kids" - as I thought that watching as someone draws or flips through a sketchbook is an OK activity for kids :) But now I corrected this - and you can save the videos to your lists. 

Here is the one I uploaded today to test:

Aug 31, 2021

What is on my table? End of August 2021.

End of August found me fiddling with printing techniques in my sketchbook, drawing people and flowers over and over with liquid watercolors, drawing house portraits with gouache and adding more and more modifications to my new/old pochade box! (there is enough space there for a few thick Stabilo Woody Pencils (from Lyra) which are considered a kid's instrument but I find them an indispensable tool in so many experiments lately! 

Aug 26, 2021

Agapanthuses: a series of sketchbook pages

I've been enjoying drawing agapanthuses over and over again in my sketchbook lately.  I like working in series in general because looking is a process and by drawing objects/people/words/compositions repeatedly I can see them better. And with agapanthuses I also was trying all sorts of techniques that I am playing with at the moment: putting together printing, gouache, and crazy lines. 

Aug 20, 2021

Agapanthus galore

This week was filled with agapanthus drawings. The end of the agapanthus season is here (even though today on my walk I found a cluster of plants full of buds!). The other day I saw a pile of yard trimmings left by the neighboring gardeners and stopped my car to check if I might take some flowers home. These wonderful people had the flowers ready for me by the time I reached the pile :) 

I made a couple of time-lapse videos of painting these gifted flowers:

Aug 12, 2021

Trip to South Tahoe

I made a lip-through video where you can see my sketches from the summer vacation to South Tahoe. Glimpses of Emerald Bay, Eagle Lake, views from kayak, meeting bears and sketching in the forest. Lots of gouache and lots of drawings done with my pocket sketching kit and later added to my main sketchbook. 

And here are some process photos from the trip too.

I made some of the paintings available as prints in my Etsy Store.

Aug 5, 2021

What is on my table? End of June 2021.

I've tried and experiences some changes on this blog lately. Some were induced by higher powers and some by me (and I am still thinking about migrating). But in the middle of another redesign process, I realized that I am sitting on a lot of sketches and projects and some unpublished drafts and trying to find the best design or logistic solution instead of going back to why I have this place. Which is to have a little space to share what I am up to, to take a little step away from the everyday things and see some patterns, to be able to remember (and search for) my previous thoughts and solutions, repeating themes and interests. 

And I will start by showing you a view at my table at the end of June.

It was a very big month and a very short month for me because I was traveling! For the first time in a year and a half, I was on the airplane, I was among people and away from all my routines. 

First I got fully vaccinated. And then I went to see my folks in Ukraine. I filled 2/3 of a sketchbook, brought home lots of presents, ideas, and feelings and I am still sorting through all of them!

So the end of June looked like this:

And I will write more about the trip in a separate post :)

May 26, 2021

A trip to a magical place.

Suhita (Suhita Shirodkarand I went to the magical garden and forest to visit Gay (Gay Kraeger) and we hiked, laughed, sketched, and talked and it was so wonderfully normal. I am glad to have this again in my life. 

May 19, 2021

Illustrated Recipe: Three ways to cook beets and three salads to make with them!

Beets are a great addition to a salad when they are raw but they are amazingly versatile when cooked! These savory and dessert salads are in constant rotation in our household!

Apr 14, 2021

Apr 12, 2021

What is on my table? End of March 2021.

These are things I found on my table on the last day of March - they are spilling into April projects and there are even more layers of things on the table now!

Apr 7, 2021

Mar 29, 2021

Grateful: Noise-Canceling Headphones

Noise-canceling headphones are an amazing invention! They are interesting to draw - worn out, torn, twisted. But still capable of creating a wall around me when I want it there - so I mostly keep them on my head :)