Before the war.

These are the last sketches from the "before the war" part of my sketchbook. I spoke to my parents during the day - their last evening before the war. I was painting the unknown bulb plant when my phone started buzzing with texts from friends expressing concern and urging me to check the news. 

Rally for Ukraine in San Francisco: Stop Putin!

I went to San Francisco to take part in the rally "Save Ukraine! Stop War!" - it was a large, peaceful, loud, and emotional (for me) gathering of people from all over the world. People sang, chanted, and gave speeches - asking for a No-Fly zone for Ukraine, for increasing military and financial aid to Ukraine, and for Security guarantees for Ukraine's territorial integrity within internationally recognized borders. I sketched. 

Staying in touch with Ukraine

I draw my parents as we talk. They are the only ones I stay in touch with the video - it helps me and it helps them and they still have power and internet - so we indulge in long conversations. A dance of changing subjects is well-rehearsed by now. This is a tiny window of respite for both sides.  
These are the human faces of the war that Russia declared on Ukraine. My parents, they are far away from me, in a country that is fighting for its life. Thank you to all who fights to protect them and Ukraine and the right to be different, independent, the right to choose your path.

Sketching Parents - during peace and now during war.

I drew my parents today - as I almost always do when we have one of our video calls. 

I want to share these for a special reason. Because these are the real human faces of war that Russia declared on Ukraine. These are people whose first language is Russian, who grew up in the Russian-dominated culture of the USSR yet who never were persecuted for their language or Russian ancestry, ties, and friends in Ukraine - since it became independent 30 years ago. Ukraine has many complicated issues but the picture that is painted by Russian propaganda is a complete lie. And today Russian army is shelling a peaceful independent neighbor under a pretense of saving Russians from genocide. 

There are too many feelings right now. But one thing keeps surfacing for me - I am so very grateful for the technology that allows me to be in touch with them - especially right now.

On Hope

The other day I was lamenting the fact that we did not have rain for a very long time. I looked at the clouds that I was drawing and wrote that the hope is futile. But at night we had a rain - not a big rain we want and need - but rain.

Today I am thinking that with the current situation between Ukraine and Russia the hope for peace is futile. But then I remember my rain and continue to hope. 

Here is a video of my sketchbook from the last trip to Ukraine:

Virtual Sketchwalk

I miss the snow :) For me, snow is joyous, mysterious, and the best part of winter. It reveals the secrets of sound and color, shape, smell, and touch - that is once you overcome the basic issues with freezing. 

So when the opportunity came up to catch up with friends via video call I found a nice cozy snow scene on windowswap and enjoyed a conversation and a chance to be in the show by drawing it.

Here is a view of the process:

A trip to Hidden Villa

Hidden Villa sent an email with some pictures announcing baby animals, and Suhita and I decided to go sketch them. Our search for baby animals was futile, but we found some glorious adults to draw:

The grounds were calling for an exploration of greens yet I ignored it all and ended up working mostly with one color.  I used sepia in Pentel Pocket Brush for the animals (some gouache on the sketch of the pig) and black and white ink for the landscape. Some of the photos will give you a glimpse into the February California spring. 
Not pictured - soundtrack: snoring pigs, chewing goats, clucking chickens, and endless songbirds in a tree above us while we painted the barn. A great day!

A tree in bloom - in black and white.

I am thinking about ways to bring color to these black and white pages but so far nothing I try rhymes - though it might just need time to learn a different kind of reading. Just as with the poetry. 

Sunny Day in Saratoga - Mostly in Black and White.

I spent a bright and unusually warm Friday morning in a very picturesque city of Saratoga, sketching with a friend. This is a charming little town filled with flowers, trees, and stores sitting next to each other as if in a conversation. I was surprised by the unseemly gray blocks that the city adopted as barriers for the outdoor eating areas. And by the number of tents that obscure storefronts now. And I was delighted to see so many wonderful characters - with paws and without - walking the streets. 

I decided that I will work without expectations and see the results as they would emerge and I was surprised by them - at first my sketches looked to be like a depiction of a cold winter day. But now I see the sunny side in these. 

Magnolias and scheduling.

Magnolias! These gorgeous flowers cover many trees in my neighborhood right now. I wanted to give them my full attention and have a special "magnolia appreciation" outing. But my schedule is especially careening these days so my idea of a solid chunk of time dedicated to magnolias slipped away from me several times already. The season is short however and I see some trees so heavy with flowers that there is no doubt that leaves are coming soon. So today I remembered that half-a**ed session is a whole half a** more than nothing so I turned a 15-minute walk into 10 minutes of walking and 5 minutes of sketching. 

A lovely hike and sketch - with an unexpected frustration.

I had a couple of brief moments of waiting for my companions on a local hike recently and I sketched. But with some unexpected frustration: both reds in my pocket palette lost the pigment completely. Both my Cadmium Red and Alizarin Crimson just fossilized.

This is a hike that in winter is very blue and green. At least that is how I think about it, so I did not need reds too much - but I missed mixing grays for the shadows and tree trunks and roads and trails! 

There was no return of pigment no matter what I tried at home - including soaking for multiple days and grinding and then soaking, grinding, and adding binding agents - nothing worked - the best I got back after a lot of work was very weak gray. 

But now I refilled the palette and hopefully am ready for the next hike!

On My Table: End of January 2022

I did not paint as much as I drew this month. I typed this and realized that I am not sure when I do what, and that is ok.