On My Table: Last day of October 2021

All these things on my table will tell you about the month that passed and the month that is coming. There are several layers of Inktober detritus under them all. I hope to work them into my November projects - somewhere design and illustration projects, making soups, and walking in the woods. 

Painting Fall Colors at Villa Montalvo

On a clear, warm fall morning I met with Suhita to paint at Villa Montalvo. It was a brilliant day filled with a lot of sun and conversations, searching for a perfect angle to paint the barn, for an intact araucaria seed and yellow ginkgo leaves. My palette had some freshly refilled yellows which helped to catch the brightness of that grass field and I had a lot of fun fighting the shapes of the barn.

This is one of the places where you can spend a whole day or a week painting - especially when colors are changing and you have a friend with you.

Grateful: nonagenarian update.

I am well aware of the perils of doing several things at the same time. And I am a big champion of doing several things at the same time. Though not simultaneously, but rather by batching tasks. So when we got to do a routine thing for our nonagenarian, getting a covid booster without extra trip was a win. I also got to draw human beings from life. And learned a lot about the history of one very interesting blanket that used to be a pillow that used to run around the yard and then turned into a soup. What a day!  
I am so grateful for vaccines - especially for elders!

How I didn't paint the first winter storm

We had a lovely rain the other day. The media covered it as an atmospheric river and there were some record numbers in terms of inches per day and gusts of wind, some areas of California suffered much more than others. But if you ask me - we just had a lovely winter storm. I was looking forward to drawing it but spent most of the time curled with a book under a blanket listening to the rain. I went outside to watch clouds as they were approaching though:

And tried to draw some rain images on tiny sheets of paper in between books. It looks like lots of trees are feeling the season finally. 

Back to Baking

The rain and wind and shorter days and lower temperatures - all this means that baking begins in my household. We already baked several times and this is the second load of whole wheat bread. But this is the first time there was something for me to draw after the first inspection of the results. 

Perpetual Pen Maintenance and a Change of Seasons

As I cleaned and refilled some of my pens, I tried to remember when was the last time I did. Is this is something that happens suddenly? or something I plan to do? Am inspired to do so when I acknowledge that I want to go back to a distinct tool? Or when it finds its way back into my toolbox by accident? Or perhaps this is something that is a part of my seasonal adjustment - like listening to certain music, baking almost every day, or wearing a particular jacket is? And how much it would change were I to live again in a place where there are more pronounced seasons - or even less?

In any case - my flexible nib (G comic nib) of the Ackerman Pump Pen is gliding again and both parallel pens (one is standard and one modified) are filled with ink and I am off to start some bread and soak beans for the soup (another seasonal thing!). 

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.

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. 

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.

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. 

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. 

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. 

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

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.

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:

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:

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!