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 :) 

I have a secret way to watch painting classes.

I am a big fan of taking classes - there is an absurd number of them on my radar, I start many, finish some but I recently realized that there is a secret that helps me get more out of the learning. 

And that secret is: going back and watching the video without commentary. By cutting audio out of what I am focusing on I can notice the movements of the brush on the page, patterns of brushstrokes, and see as the painting comes together in phases. It gives me a different perspective.  

I got this way of watching videos from working with kids. No matter how much you prepare your instructions, how you plan the class, kids can listen to you talk only so much and they move at their own speed. But DOING will get them GOING. When you work with them side by side - the dynamic changes. That is when you can sync with them when they pick up your little tricks and use them in their way, on their projects or modify in some new and interesting ways and then you learn from them.  

So this week I was super excited about taking the latest of many classes from Shari Blaukopf.

It is called "Luminous Colour for Sketchers" and it is exactly that - an amazing opportunity to learn about making your watercolor sketches sing with light. And this class builds on her wonderful book "The Urban Sketching Handbook Working with Color" that came out almost two years ago. 

Shari is showing in detail how much water and how much paint goes into each mixture and how she makes colors luminous by mixing them on the page. There are many close-ups where you can see details very clearly (images below are screenshots from one of the class videos).

With Shari's class on my second pass, I slowed down the video, turned audio off, and tried to predict which area the brush will go to next, think about what I would do, and compare it to what she does.

I watched this class as if I was a kid - mimicking what is going on on the screen/page, mocking with my own interpretations, running ahead, then slowing down. I imagined that it is me making those color decisions and moving brush. 

And it was a lot of fun!

Illustrated Recipe: Layered Chicken Rice Pilaf

Layered Chicken Rice Pilaf! This is one of the staples in our household though we change the number of carrots and raisins based on the season and we used to make it with other dry fruits and nuts and not only raisins. But right now this is what's in my oven. Also - I like adding all sorts of spices to the rice - but since it changes every single time there is no way to put it in the recipe :)

One Week 100 People: 2021

This challenge was organized and curated this year (again) by Liz Steel and Marc Taro Holmes. The idea of this little race is to give your people-sketching skills a boost. 

I think about it as an opportunity to remind myself how much I enjoy sketching people - even when they are not too excited about it :) 

Most of the people I interact with these days I see on the video calls - so I've done some of those:


And I did most of my work from the crazy-wonderful collages of Pelle Cass - trying to follow the story that he is weaving through the mash-up of these sporting events. I had a timer every time and did my best to look at the image more than at the paper. I tried find some rhythm in the way I re-shuffled figures for my collage, looking for simplified bodies.

I also found some people to draw from real life:

All in all - I did more than a hundred but I hope to work completely from life next year. Goes without saying that I miss the days when going to a cafe or library or standing on a street and sketching was easy and simple and something I would do in between other things. 

Sketchbook #132 Flip-Through

I shared earlier sped-up version of this video on my instagram - and this is a normal speed flip-though.

Recipe: Mushroom Soup

Mushrooms are amazing - they are not plants and they are not animals - they belong to their own kingdom of Fungi and the part that we eat is what a huge and very happy organism produces - a fruit. I love drawing mushrooms, looking at them, learning about them, gathering them - and eating them too. This is a soup that I make out of dried mushrooms or fresh ones. 

Anniversary, sketching and friends.

I've been thinking about upcoming anniversary of the beginning of all the things that defined last year of our lives: pandemic, lockdowns, new social norms. And one of the last "normal" things I did before this happened was go on our annual "blooming mustard and trees" outing with Suhita. So almost exactly a year to the date after we went to the same spot and sketched the field and garden again, talking and sketching side-by-side, we met again. Masked and all - but it felt almost normal. So nice!

Here is a link to a blog post I did about the same outing in 2019:

Check out Suhita's Instagram for her amazing long panorama of this view.

And here are my sketches from 2021:

My sketchbook video set-up: what currently works for me.

I enjoy watching other people flipping through their sketchbooks and paint, be that a slow step-by-step or a timelapse of a longer session. And I wanted to share more of my process too. But I did not enjoy making these videos because it would take a long time to set-up before and a long time to put away after the video session. 

I tried different solutions and here is what works for me pretty well now: I can keep this on the table and it takes only popping my phone in the holder and adjusting of lighting situation to start making a video!