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
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.
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.
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.
A trip to Hidden Villa
A tree in bloom - in black and white.
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.