Daily reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. March 28-29, 2002

My conversations with my parents.  They are in Kharkiv, Ukraine, the city is being shelled by russian army for over four weeks.

March 28, 2022
They got food from two sources, many people called today to check on them. The day started without the internet and with many more loud attacks on the city. Mom could not teach, and we were not sure if we would be able to talk. But curfew is a little later after switching to the summertime and by then internet returned and I did not hear even one explosion during our call.

March 29, 2022
They went for a walk despite the continued shelling. We discuss some destructions in the city and how the Shevchenko monument is now covered with sandbags to protect it. This leads us to some of his poetry and more conversations about Ukrainian language. Water flow got better in the apartment and now the water heater works more often.

The statue of the national poet Taras Shevchenko in Kharkov, protected by thousands of sandbags (from 247newsbulletin.com/world/180784.html)

And here is an article in Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/26/we-decided-to-be-useful-ukraine-the-kharkiv-citizens-who-stayed-behind

The end of a sketchbook number 139.

I started sketchbook number 139 in the middle of January - in a different world and at a different time. So much happened since then. Two months later, plus 365 grams (a little over 3/4 of a pound) were added with paint and tape, and drawings. A lot of disjointed pieces are not connected in this book. As usual. 

I will think about how to make a flip-through video (there are way too many things that are private for now) but I will make one - soon.

Daily reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. March 25-27, 2002

My conversations with my parents.  They are in Kharkiv, Ukraine, the city is being shelled by russian army for over four weeks.

March 25, 2022.
I spoke to many people today before we had a video call with parents. People were tired, unbalanced, not sure how to make any plans. But everyone commented on the fact that spring is coming to Ukraine, told me about a sip of coffee in the sunshine or unbuttoned jacket or a flower bulb that is starting up. Parents told me that tomorrow they are hoping for a little walk and are planning a mushroom soup.

March 26, 2022.
The biggest news is that my Mom saw the first batch of snowdrops near the apartment building, and it made their day! There was one buttercup too :) There was rain at night but it was impossible to see as there are no lights in the streets and no lights are allowed in the apartments - they are using a tiny flashlight to move around after the curfew starts. Mom is looking forward to the time when she can have as many lights on as she wants - this life in the darkness is really hard for her.
She was a child during WWII and she has a document that allowed her to ride the subway in Ukraine for free - as a "child of war". Dad says - we need another document now - grandparents of war. Wait, great-grandparents.

March 27, 2022.
The weather was challenging all day long but Mom got out for a little walk. And there were new icicles to photograph. We talk about her teaching which is supposed to start on Monday. They tell me about special foods they tried at different points of their lives - all over the country and all over the "old country". Neighbors made some bread with herbs and brought it over to share.

One month since the war begun

My conversations with my parents.  They are in Kharkiv, Ukraine, the city is being shelled by russian army for over four weeks.

March 24, 2022.

One month since the senseless atrocity of the war changed our lives. The night was hard (large explosion nearby) but the day was lighter, there were bad news and good news. We talked about Ukrainian chalk mountains, classical Ukrainian voices (I found some on Spotify!) and then switched to Pushkin, and his ugly stance toward Poland, and a wonderful and so timely poem by Adam Mickiewicz

Here is an English translation of the poem (from here): 

Adam Mickiewicz

To my friends Russians

You - do you remember me! I, whenever I dream

Of my friends' deaths, exiles, prisons,

And I think of you: your foreign faces

Have the right of citizenship in my dreams.

Where are you now? The noble neck of Ryleyev,

Whom I clasped like a brother, by Tsarist sentences

Hangs to the disgraceful tree;

A curse to peoples, who murder their prophets.

This hand that Bestuzhev stretched out to me,

The bard and soldier, this hand from pen and gun

The Tsar pulled it into a wheelbarrow;

Today is chained in mines, next to the Polish hand.

Others may have suffered a heavier punishment;

Maybe one of you is disgraced by an office or an order,

Sold his free soul into the mercy of the Tsar

And today bows on his doorstep.

Perhaps he praises his triumph with paid tongue

And rejoices at his friends' martyrdom,

Maybe in my homeland he bleeds with my blood

And before the Tsar, as of merit, boasts of his curse.

If to you, far away, from free nations,

These mournful songs will come, to the north

And call from the above to the land of ice, -

Let them herald to you freedom as cranes herald spring.

You shall know me by my voice; while I was in the fetters,

Crawling silently like a serpent, I deceived a despot,

But to you I discovered the secrets locked in my feelings

And for you I had always the simplicity of an angel.

Now I pour out this cup of poison on the world,

The bitterness of my speech is corrosive and burning,

The bitterness sucked from the blood and tears of my homeland,

Let it tear and burn, not you, but your fetters.

Whoever of you raises a complaint, for me his complaint

Will be like the barking of a dog, who will be so disposed

To the long-suffering and long-wearing collar,

That at last he is ready to bite the hand that grips it.

Daily reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. March 21-22-23, 2002

My conversations with my parents.  They are in Kharkiv, Ukraine, the city is being shelled by russian army for over three weeks.

March 21, 2022
They went for a tiny walk even though shelling of the city intensified today and they heard explosions during this 30 m (100 ft) promenade. Their argument: “It was sunny and we decided that we should not postpone our life - this is what we have. We have this and the will to win. And the phone calls: people asking each other ”Are you alive?”.

We talked about neighbor's dogs that are suffering from the loudness of war. And about life that people had before the war and how they find ways to live and try to be useful now.

March 22, 2022
Another walk outside with even louder sounds of shelling. Tomorrow will be a warmer day so they are planning another walk and pancakes with apples (our family favorite). Mom swiped the floor in the big room and said "If you search you can find positive moments in this life".

March 23, 2022
 Warm day so they went for another walk outside but rushed back soon - too many loud explosions. We talk about events of the day - their neighbor was interviewed by a French newspaper and they ask me to find an article. Mom says: "We are not made for this life of course. And that's good news - it would be so sad if we were. It is just hard that this happens to be our life now."


Daily reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. March 19-20, 2002

My conversations with my parents.  They are in Kharkiv, Ukraine, the city is being shelled by Russian army for over three weeks.

March 19
We talked about how we now have time to read poetry and have lengthy conversations about Ukrainian proverbs. They listed all the events of the day and told me about food that was delivered by the city: 2 carrots, 2 little packages of milk, 10 bags of tea, and a jar of preserves. They told me about a jar of food that they opened today - it said “fish” but inside was meat :) Mom said: it is quiet now and we can talk - how nice of them. And we laughed. At the absurdity of this and at the sadness and at the sincerity of the gratitude for this break. 

March 20
Kharkiv's water supply system was bombed by russian aggressors and large parts of the city were left without water. But brave and devoted city workers are making miracles happen and my parents had water returned by the end of the day. Meds arrived too and my mom got to stand in the sun for a little while with a friend who made this happen and delivered meds. We are so grateful to all the people who keep Kharkiv running as a whole and for every single individual helper who supports people who are still inside - be that from afar or from within. Thank you!

New Project

One of the projects that I wanted to make this year was a series of animal illustrations. I spent some time trying to decide whether I will make an alphabet or just some number, whether animals will be chosen by geography or classification or books I read, or some other obscure or thorough research reasoning. And with all these preparations I haven't started on this project yet - until I realized that in my conversations with parents we often talk about different animals. This is how I will make my list now :)

So here is the first one: Kangaroo. 

Daily reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. March 16-17-18, 2002

My conversations with my parents.  They are in Kharkiv, Ukraine, the city is being shelled by russian army for over three weeks. 

March 16
They had a nice dinner with the neighbors. And before that, they called all together to check on the neighbor’s newborn grandson - both he and mom are fine. Shelling continues. We discussed various Ukrainian proverbs and went back many times to the incomprehensible state of mind of people who support or even accept putin’s lies. Dad said that the norm is not for everyone to be alike but for all to be different. And those who do not understand that end up with putin.

March 17
Destruction of the city by russian army continues and today a huge fire in the other part of town sent so much smoke in the air that they thought it was a thunderstorm. We discuss the dinner that they had with the neighbors and all the other food plans. They cook and clean together with the neighbors and spend time before and after the meal. Dad voices a question I’ve been thinking about: how can someone lose connection to humanity enough to drop a bomb on a house where kids are. It is not putin who is pressing the button to bomb the city, hospitals, shoot at the cars with civilians, he is not the one refusing to send humanitarian aid - these are people, or at least we thought they were. How do you tell who is who?

March 18
If you look at this image you will see yellow circles - each time I heard an explosion during our call I wrote it down.

Their day was full of events. A light dusting of snow overnight helped with the air quality and also made everything prettier. The highlight was a visit from their grandkid who has a birthday tomorrow. She brought meds and food and one of the neighbors made a special cake for her! Happy birthday, dear niece! Thank you!

Daily reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. March 14-15, 2002

Daily conversation with my parents. (They are in Kharkiv, Ukraine). These are days 19, 20 and 21 since russia invaded Ukraine, their city is under shelling from day 1.

March 14
The connection was much better and they could see us all the time which was a gift to all. The day had a motley of events. The Center of Kharkiv was bombed, very close to where they live which was very scary and loud. But there was some good news from the part of the family that left the city and they decided to limit time spent near the TV and took care of some chores, cooked and hosted dinner with the neighbors. My Dad congratulated me on Pi day :)

March 15
The neighbor’s grandson was born during the night! Many thanks to the medical personnel as a c-section was needed. This was a reason for a celebration and another feast. Medicine was delivered by the Red Cross - not the one we hoped for but useful for other people in the community and there was a bag of potatoes, toothbrushes, and crackers in the package too. I learned that one of the neighbors (who evacuated earlier) left his cat and chinchilla and the remaining neighbors are taking care of these animals now. Chinchilla already managed to run away once but not too far - took only two hours to catch it. Too bad my parents did not participate in that expedition - I think it would be a good physical activity. Mom said that the fact that she does not hear well sometimes helps her in life. Like she slept through some air raids during the night but Dad was up all night.

Daily reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. March 12-13, 2002

March 12.
This conversation was hard. (my parents are in Kharkiv, Ukraine). The connection was poor and they almost never had enough bandwidth for video. Bombing which started in the night was so loud they both did almost did not sleep and then did not have much energy during the day. But the weather was gorgeous and neighbors came over for another feast together. Volunteers brought crepes with meat and they made soup out of fish that was delivered earlier so the food was abundant and unusual which helped a little.

March 13.
Today’s conversation with my parents was better than yesterday. (They are in Kharkiv, Ukraine). The connection was still poor, and they mostly had audio but I saw them all the time. The bombing continued on and off. But there was a long enough break during the day and the weather was so sunny that they went outside to stand in the sun for a few minutes. Mom got to walk a tiny bit but then the air raid siren sounded and they rushed back inside. Mom says that all the disagreements and misunderstandings are forgotten now between people. There are those who wish Ukraine to survive and those who don’t. There is only one goal - to make sure that Ukraine survives. And then she suddenly says: “We always were lucky and had good people in our lives.”

Thank you for supporting my dream of stopping this war!

Many people reached out to me with words and actions of support during this difficult time. I read and appreciate them all, and if sometimes my answer is delayed, please know - I feel the strength of so many people behind me and my dream of stopping this war! 

I am making this print available with the custom painting over it on my Etsy. All the sales proceeds will go to supporting people in Ukraine. 

I went to draw outside!

The war in Ukraine takes a lot of space in my life right now. But I draw with friends online and even went to draw outside when my friend stopped by - it was such a wonderful break!

Daily reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. March 9-11, 2002

March 9
It was their neighbor’s 80th birthday - nobody knew about this but she arrived in the morning with a bottle of wine and a proposal to celebrate in their apartment. So they called other neighbors and had a party for the second day in a row. The day was quiet in this part of Kharkiv but other parts were under fire and the bombing got much closer while we were talking :( Mom says that while she was cooking carrots for the party she almost forgot about the war. It is Taras Shevchenko’s birthday - he is probably the most known Ukrainian poet but he was also a wonderful artist, illustrator, and folklorist, and a very prominent public and political figure, a champion of personal independence and independence of Ukraine.

March 10
The bombing of the city continued, sometimes closer to them, sometimes further away. I heard the sounds of explosions many times today during our call. Neighbors decided that from now on one meal a day they will be spending in their apartment and they even discussed the menu for tomorrow! They lost the water for the part of the day and were very concerned about it but then it was restored and number of times they told me many times how much joy it brought to them to have water again. And the heating still works (it was -9C when I called and will drop to -18 this weekend). Mom said: It is so nice that we have people to share with - food or knowledge or stories. Sharing is a basic human need I think.

March 11
Dad got his main meds! The bombing continued - but their part of the city was not hit today. Two woodpeckers came to the tree nearby. More people brought food and some paper products and eggs! Mom remembered some polish curses that she heard from her mother-in-law who was Polak (from Poland) and used it when a loud military airplane started flying over. "Will they never answer for this?" Asked Mom.

International Women's Day


8th of March is an international women’s day. My family never celebrated it because it was a soviet holiday and not supporting soviet holidays was our way of “being in opposition”. I know it is a puny thing and looks funny from afar but it was a signature thing for my parents. They did it politely and not everyone knew about this - but my Mom would raise an eyebrow if Dad would joke about celebrating the 8th of March. So it is especially interesting that today they had a celebration. It was a relatively quiet day, “nothing flew into the center part of the city” as my Dad greeted me when I called. And they invited all the neighbors and had a celebratory feast and then spent time with the people - just talking about little things, remembering. Some of these people they know for 70+ years, some are “new” (meaning they know them for about 30 years ;) and some are “very new” - people I don’t know :) They said that it felt good and they looked much stronger today. People are amazing and I am so grateful for all who support each other - during these days especially. Mom said: I am glad that we don’t know what will be tomorrow - it would be sad to know for sure. But today was a good day.

Another rally for Ukraine

San Jose, March 6

It was great to see the crowd, see so many other countries supporting Ukraine, to connect with the people I haven't seen in a long while.

Daily reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. March 4-6, 2002

March 4, 2022
Day 9 since Russia invaded Ukraine. Today’s conversation with my parents. (they are in Kharkiv, Ukraine). Volunteers brought them food today! 3 apples, some potatoes, 10 carrots, a few onions, boxes with prepared sausages with some porridge, pack of milk. The bombing continued all day and into the night. I heard loud explosions many times during our conversation. Beautiful snow fell overnight in Kharkiv. The garbage truck came and their neighbor helped them take out the garbage to the bin. Thank you to the people who organized food for my parents! This help is priceless - but I am working on getting you support from me personally and if possible, from others. Please continue helping people in Kharkiv. Thank you to the city workers for trying to keep it running under the non-stop shelling. Thank you to all who defend Ukraine, all who stand with it against a dictator and murderer Putin. And against the people who believe in his lies.

March 5, 2022
Today’s conversation with my parents. (they are in Kharkiv, Ukraine). Many people call them throughout the day. We found a place that might have dad’s meds and waiting for a reply. We discuss Ukrainian anthem which is optimistic but is told from a tragic place. There was a sighting of a squirrel in their yard. Birds are very scared of air raids. Snow is beautiful - they take pictures for me as they know I miss snow.

March 6, 2022
Today I drew my parents twice during our video call. (they are in Kharkiv, Ukraine). There was no internet connection for part of the day and the landline was not working so spirits were low. But then we got lucky and both were restored! Neighbor is leaving and brought them more food. Snow is melting but freezing temperatures are expected during the week. Heating still works - the city services should get medals. Mom does not know how to curse but she wants to - so she tries to find an animal that she would use to curse the people who bomb the city. Alas - she finds something nice to say about each animal she tries, but not about the people who bring war.

One week since the war started.

I continue drawing my parents. 
Today marks a week since the war started.
They are talking to me from a dark room again because the air raids are continuing. Hence the lamp on Dad’s head. I hear bombing in the background. Then a different sound. Dad tries to explain to me what weapon makes what sound. They tell me about their day, food reserves, neighbors, and friends who keep helping one way or another. I tell them about all the messages that I get from people around the globe. About flowers on my table and a sudden rain we had this morning. Mom says that she can agree to live like this - as long as it is not worse, as long as the building is still intact and we have a connection. 
Then I draw them again. We say good night. First portraits are better but I will keep them all. Sketchbook is not filled with these. It's been only a week. Feels like much much more. 

Daily war reports in the form of portraits.

I keep drawing my parents in Ukraine - these are days 4, 5, and 6 of the war. 

They list people who call on them, tell me about food that is left, how all routines are not working now. They tell me about places in Kharkiv that I know that are now destroyed or damaged. The air raid alarm goes off during the calls regularly. We talk about amazing people that surround them - a neighbor brought some potatoes, garlic, and dry bread. And they had some preserves to share. Friends and relatives checking upon them. People organize support for each other. We talk about some Ukrainian words, I tell them about all the friends and strangers that send their support in any way they can. 

Thank you to all who care about them close and far. Thank you to all who defend the city of Kharkiv which is now shelled multiple times a day and the country that Russia invaded 6 days ago on a false pretense of liberation. Ukraine is a free country and Russia is drowning in lies, following the rule of dictator, murderer, and war criminal Putin.