Daily reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. June 2-4. 2022

June 2, 2022, Day 99.
They greet me with: "The day was great and it ended with a splendid rain!" Dad recommends to me some places where I can learn more about Ukrainian curse words. My parents never curse (in my presence at least) so I mention that this is a strange conversation - but they reply that I should know Ukrainian curses because they are different from russian. We talk about things that should be included in the education of a human. And about the cat. 

June 3, 2022, Day 100.
I was dreading today's conversation with my parents, thinking that they might be in a very pessimistic mood because it's been 100 days since this senseless madness tore their life apart. There are many reasons to be sad today. And there are so many uncertainties - for them, for Ukraine, for the world in general. But my parents proved me wrong, and we had a great conversation. They listed how the weather kept changing all day long (with sound effects). They remembered some old movies and songs and discussed how much progress medicine made in the last century and how they might use it one day. They told me news about all the family and friends, and the list now includes reports on all the pets. My aunt saved a dog from Bucha right after the horror that happened there. It was scared and sickly - but it finally started eating well - now it weighs 70 lbs and they got her registered officially. They told me about new plants and birds they found (both outside and online). I got the report that there are four cherries on a cherry tree and that herons were flying by. What more can I ask?

June 4, 2022, Day 101.
We talk about different writers and poets and how the Soviet Union made many talented people into its tools, and many more just lost their ability to write. Yet some persisted. And the way how they did it was to work menial jobs and have zero ambition in literature. The conversation turns to what additional professions these people had and we end up talking about how many professional people have in general, without often calling it that. And how one of my grandfathers had to know all the work around the village. Mom says: it is you either learn all that or drink.  

Matilija Poppies

It’s Matilija poppies season and I enjoyed drawing them and making prints with them while sitting in the bushes of these glorious flowers! 

And then I tried to recreate the feeling of fleeting beauty and transparent petals dancing in the wind at my table:

Daily reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. May 27-31. 2022

May 27, 2022, Day 93.
There is a lot of excitement about an owl who spent an afternoon on the neighbor's roof. Many photos were taken! We talk about how war touches all activities. The cat is a major topic - the eyes are getting special praise today. It is slowly getting used to Dad and is very much into resting next to Mom. 

May 28, 2022, Day 94.
Mom found new plants and tells me many stories about the cat. Dad tells me that in the old traffic laws in the Soviet Union there was a fine for hitting a goose or a turkey but no fine for hitting a chicken. We discuss Ukrainian words and last names and my parents encourage me to speak Ukrainian more often.  
May 31, 2022, Day 97.
The cat was seen leaving the Dog's house several times already. Mom found a spider and spent her day finding ways to photograph it. But the main topic is that Dad accidentally shaved his beard off :) He decided to shave early in the morning without turning the lights on and when he saw the result it was too late. So he finished the job and then spent some time hiding from Mom and sending me pictures. But all ended well - Mom was not cross with him :)   


I painted yellow peonies earlier this spring but lamented their lack of fragrance.  These beauties were full of it - and I had a blast trying my new watercolor plus gouache set-up! (I am still testing it for portability and will report when I settle on something :)

Daily reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. June 5-7. 2022

June 5, 2022, Day 101.
Parents report that there is a shortage of salt in the country but volunteers brought sugar and flour. And Dad does not eat salt so they are fine for now. There are plans to play chess with the neighbor. Mom scared Dad because she started screaming - and he did not realize that it is the happy scream of someone who saw a crane flying close by. Mom tells me all about the beak, red legs, and wings. 

June 6, 2022, Day 102.
Internet was glitching a bit and we had a shorter call. Mom is concerned that the cat is too skinny. Dad thinks that it is not since it refuses to eat special cat food that they got but is finishing all the other food that they give it. Dad talks about the differences between cats and dogs and how for dogs people are first and for cats - places. I see that Mom is not so sure (she really made friends with this cat but keeps calling it "the dog") 

June 7, 2022, Day 103.
he cat is bringing presents for my parents now. At first, it was a mouse. Now it is a bird. It also started hunting for flies. My Dad saw a mushroom and sent Mom to investigate, turns out there were several and the bounty was made anto a mushroom soup! This and our new ability to play chess simultaneously made this a day full of winnings (p.s. I lost both chess games).

Daily reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. May 25-26. 2022

May 25, 2022, Day 91.
Mom says that food and all associated with it became a major daily task - everything revolves around it, including parts of our conversations. Dad refuses to eat strawberries and we cannot get him to tell us why. I think this is his way of making sure that we are not talking about sad things - this way we spent most of the time guessing his reasons and he gives long and complicated (and completely irrelevant) answers. 

May 26, 2022, Day 92.
The cat became a part of the family - but they keep changing the name. They went to a store and got it some cat food - this is a new behavior :) And since Mom calls him mostly a dog, the name of the moment is often more dog-appropriate. We talk about family and friends in Kharkiv - there was some very heavy shelling on that day.

Publication in Urban Sketchers: Drawing Attention.

This month's "Drawing Attention" - an online the official zine of the Urban Sketchers organization published a large article filled with sketches from and about Ukraine. 

I was honored to be a connection point between the Urban Sketchers organization and artists in Ukraine, and hope that I will get to draw with every one of them in real life one day. 
Conversations with my parents are a part of the article "Diary of War." And there is another interview with an artist from Kharkiv, Ukraine in this issue - Urban Sketching in a Time of War. 

You can read the full issue here:

Daily reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. May 22-24. 2022

May 22, 2022, Day 88.
Dad is reading poems and singing areas from the operas. Mom says: "It's been a long time since we listened to opera." Then she says: "How is this relevant to what is happening now?" 

May 24, 2022, Day 90.
This day's story is not about the war at all, but to appreciate it in full, you need to know that part of the word for "lawyer" sounds like a word for a "cat". So - they start the conversation (with serious faces) by telling me that three lawyers came over. One was especially impudent and even tried to enter their home without an invitation. Then they proceed by telling me that he was completely black and had a very nice, springy tail and loved the sausage that Mom offered. And they start laughing like little kids. In short - we had a good call today :)

Daily reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. May 18-21. 2022

May 18, 2022, Day 84.
The weather was menacing, the wind was blowing, and it was raining. Dad was cold and miserable and they were in a somber mood. More shelling in Kharkiv, more people without houses, and more uncertainties in the future. But there was an unusual moth which reminded Mom about one of her University colleagues who was an ornithologist but "for himself" - he was collecting moths! Description followed :) I wonder what happened to it. 

May 19, 2022, Day 85.
Mom reports that two delphiniums are about to start blooming and I managed to make only a small drawing on that day - it was a vyshyvanka day and we spent quite some time discussing all kinds of family heirlooms that I have - so instead of drawing them I was showing shirts and pillows and asking questions :)

May 21, 2022, Day 87.
The day was full of changes: weather, nature, and mood - all kept changing. Parents received a present of the very first strawberries of the season (thank you, dear neighbor!), and we discussed the best way to eat them. They ate some with milk yesterday and just plain (Dad) and with some sugar (Mom) today. Delphiniums are about to start blooming. There is an unidentified tree that bothers Mom (Carl Linnaeus would be stomped too - there are no flowers!). There was a lot of poetry today - connected to the conversations and absolutely out of the blue. They miss their home but don't talk much about it - though every day I get an update on where Kharkiv was hit in the last 24 hours. 

Daily reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. May 15-17. 2022

May 15, 2022, Day 81.
There were a lot of poems and quotes from books for kids. Dad said that they read very similar books when they were children. To which Mom laughs and corrects him that that is not true - but they read the same books to me when I was a kid :) It always gets their spirits up when they start reading poems out loud together and help each other with lost lines. I am glad that sometimes I can help too - but not too often :) They got some potatoes and bread from the neighbor. The conversation turned to what we call the truthful person and honest one and what is the difference. Mom said that one word is related to what is inside the person and another is to the language one is using. 

May 16, 2022, Day 82.
Mom is making friends with the cat but it is still a very distant relationship. We discuss that Kharkiv restarted some public transportation. Their blood pressure requires adjustment of meds and, we keep going over the options. We talk about how many jokes are outdated these days and how many jokes are no longer funny because of the war. 
May 17, 2022, Day 83.
Dad started a conversation with the main news: Mom was a cinderella today. She was cleaning all day long. There was a lot of arguing that day but we got over it. Sometimes I wish I could control their sources of information. Then I try to think about what I would say to someone who would try doing that to me. 

A new inspiring book in my library! (and my sketches are in it too)

Virginia Hein is an amazing sketcher with such a zest for trying new things! She is an expressive and comprehensive colorist, and mark maker, and her ability to sketch in a moving car makes me so jealous! Her work is always an inspiration and despite my dislike of heat, I think I will make it to the desert to sketch the places Virginia had shown me in her works. 

In the middle of the pandemic, I got an email from her that there is a book in the making. It had two authors - and the second one is Gail Wong - whose detailed Seattle sketches I know well through the Urban Sketching community! And they wanted to use a couple of my sketches in this new book about... ABOUT NATURE!  the subject dear to my heart pandemic or not :) 

And this week I got to see the real book (The Urban Sketching Handbook Spotlight on Natureand it is filled with wonderful ideas to try and so many great examples of different approaches to sketching nature! Many sketchers I knew and many were completely new to me - and it is such an honor to be in this extraordinary company! 

On My Table: End of May 2022.

 There are way too many things on my table now and I hope to clear some of them away this month - to make space for new ones! And some of these experiments I will write more about:)

A total lunar eclipse: lessons learned

There was a total lunar eclipse on May 15th, and I went to see it (and sketch it). I learned that:

  1. The moon was read indeed but in order to appreciate the changes of the eclipse I would probably need some special equipment.
  2. White flashlight is a hazard to my eyes and the eyes of many others (next time I will bring my sketching in the night hat with the green light built it).
  3. And there were so many interesting people to sketch - I should have done that - but instead, I spent a good part of the hour meandering in the park and sketched the moon in black and white. 

Daily reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. May 10-14. 2022

We did not have a chance to do a video call for a couple of days, but we spoke on the phone and I asked Mom and Dad to draw each other so that we would not have such a large "gap" in their portraits:) 

Here is what they sent me:

May 13-14, 2022. Days 79-80 of the war.
Mom found some asparagus, and we are discussing ways to prepare it. Volunteers brought a lot of preserves and household items - very thoughtful! There is a cat that started visiting them regularly. 
My parents got a haircut - one of the neighbors is a professional hairdresser and is trying to make some money by visiting people at home. Gas is hard to find (and it is very expensive) so her services are advertised through the volunteers and neighbors, and then she catches a ride if someone is going in the way of her potential clients. They are telling me stories from their childhoods and childhoods of my brothers and me.

Recent Project: Live Illustration

I had an amazing time sketchnoting (visual representation of the verbal delivery of content or exchange of ideas). during the event at the biotechnology company, DayTwo

I drew live during the presentations and meetings and used both analog and digital formats to capture my notes with words and, more importantly - images. Analog sketchnoting was done on large paper and digital form became some images and short animations which summarize the content of the meeting in a fast and easy-to-digest form. Here is an example of the characters that appeared in my illustrations of the meetings. 

I also personalized some swag for the participants of the events. 

We finished our adventure in the kitchen of a @charlesvollmar - a popular chef of Epicurean Exchange. The team, led by Chef Charlie, created a wonderful spring Italian meal and I sketched them as they worked. The result was a concertina sketchbook filled with the team busy preparing a dinner and a wonderful feast which we shared to celebrate the end of the event.  

Daily reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. May 5-7. 2022

May 5, 2022, Day 71.
There was a lot of discussion about meds and medical offices but Mom ended it with the sentence "how can you talk about our health when this is happening around us". I tried to remind them that keeping up with the medications is helpful too as this way they will not require extra resources and we switched to the conversation about Mom's quest to conquer her smartphone. Patience was needed for all.

May 6, 2022, Day 72.
A long list of things that were accomplished - the trash was taken out, they took care of some shopping, banking, etc. It exhausted them by noon. There is a new member of the family in Kharkiv - a little black puppy that was found abandoned crying and was taken in - but a lot needs to happen for it to become a true family member. Politics is high on my list of not discussing with parents and they usually respect my wishes but today "they had to tell me".

May 7, 2022, Day 73.
There is a meme that is circulating with president Biden photoshopped in a famous painting "Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks" by Ilya Repin. There are two versions of this painting - one is russian museum in St. Petersburg and another is in Kharkiv, Ukraine in the main art museum. Ilya Repin was a famous painter who was born in Chuguev, near Kharkiv. We talk a bit about the books from parents' childhood. Dad keeps complaining that he needs a haircut and new meds.

Daily reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. May 8-9. 2022

May 8, 2022, Day 74.
Mom tells me a story about the tax that was introduced after the war (then she corrects herself - previous war). It was a tax on trees, and many people removed trees from their properties to avoid paying taxes. And many villages became bare and much less pretty. The tax was later removed and people planted trees back but the culture was changed in many places, and it says a lot about people who chose to keep the trees and people who removed them as soon as the tax was introduced. We come back often to the cultural differences in decorating houses and streets and to food preferences and the way how people in russia and Ukraine chose what to grow in their orchards and backyards. 

May 9, 2022, Day 75.
It was a cold day, and they are wearing extra layers. Adjusting medications, and discussing food. They read to me a poem I never heard - together - it always surprises me how many poems they know and read together. The day was filled with taking hundreds of photos of beautiful spiders that can be found in the flowers. They also were making a fruit punch. Mom thought that she was the one making it, and Dad thought that he was the one making it - both were adjusting it multiple times "to fix". They say it is very tasty.

Daily reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. May 2-4. 2022

May 2, 2022, Day 68.
Some days I don't make too many notes. This day has "30 eggs were purchased and that the magnolia tree was about to bloom". And I shared some stuff about a pretty package I got from France. Mom commented that her portrait is not very successful but encouraged me to not give up and draw next time. 

May 3, 2022, Day 69.
Dad lists all the places that were hit in Kharkiv during the last 24 hours. They tell me a story about a dog that \people found and took to an animal shelter only to realize that it was a scared sick wolf. I don;t know if it is true but I am glad that there are people who care about dogs and that there are, apparently wolves in Ukraine - I thought they were gone. Parents got some interesting fish for dinner - I never heard about! 

May 4, 2022, Day 70.
Magnolia opened up completely and Mom is taking hundreds of pictures. Mom is learning to use a smartphone and her obsession with the magnolia flowers means that she is making a lot of progress. There were some scary moments in Kharkiv again - some rockets fell close to where the family is - but all are ok. After the conversation I found a note about daffodils and poodles and have no idea what we were talking about to get to that topic.