Drawing lilac with a friend.

I almost missed the lilac season - but thankfully, my regular drawing with a friend came to the rescue! We had a few days of warm weather during the week of this outing, and lilacs wilted faster than I expected. But I still got a couple of pages of them in my sketchbook! I enjoyed mixing gouache colors and painting with a dip pen and fingers. Also - having a good hour of chatting with a friend, being sniffed by passing dogs, smelling the flower of my childhood (my grandparents had a large white lilac bush, and my other grandmother planted a purple lilac bush for me under her window when I was little).






Daily reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. April 17, 18, 19, 2022

Kharkiv is being shelled every day by russian army since February 24, 2022. 

April 17, 2022, Day 53.
We are remembering funny expressions in the Ukrainian and russian languages and discussing how our perception of poets and authors is based on their works and probably has nothing to do with the real people. The sky on this day was beautiful but foreboding. Dad saw a stork! 

April 18, 2022, Day 54.
More shelling in Kharkiv, very close to their place now (part of the family lives there now), they lost power and internet for some time, but heroes of the city restored everything within 24 hours. Conversation returns to the parts of Kharkiv that are destroyed, and we agree that one of the most positive ways of thinking about it is to imagine how much better the new city will be: smarter logistically, greener. Framing is everything!

April 19, 2022, Day 55.
My parents are making friends with the locals: two cats came and ate what was prepared for the dog (everything but the carrots). Parents tell me about their day - it looks a lot like mine: we start by checking with people - how is everyone, our large family and many friends. We check on all inside Ukraine first, starting with those in the worst places. Then we move to those who are outside - everyone is displaced. Kharkiv is shelled non-stop, my school building got hit two days ago, my Dad went there too. It is raining and the weather is cold. We talk about why wet rocks and leaves look prettier than dry ones.


Daily reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. April 15-16, 2022

Kharkiv is being shelled every day by russian army since February 24, 2022. 

April 15, 2022, Day 51.
Ther report on the house plants and how many circles Dad made around the house. We discuss which parts of Kharkiv were bombed and exchange news from family and friends. The weather is supposed to be bad - but they hope that it means that russian army has a hard time going on the offensive. Mom says that when she wakes up it takes time to bring back all the new reality - it comes in layers.

April 16, 2022, Day 52.
We discuss upcoming holiday celebrations, and Mom remembers how my grandma (who was now allowed to attend church all her adult life) took my Mom to look at the lights on Easter. We talk about how hard it is to read books now and what are our requirements: light, no violence, short, easy. We discuss how much reading news and social media squeezed our literature reading time, and parents argue about some bloggers and their influence. Mom can cry now - a little more. It was very hard before - a little easier now. 



A family of tapirs or a family who loves tapirs

I am making a series of illustrations with animals that come up in my conversations with my parents. Many of these start while we are talking so I end up with many versions - some of them even become stickers - see my latest sketchbook cover below! 


Somehow tapirs got a lot of votes! Text on the page says: With the nose like this one you cannot be a carnivore",  Mom.

And another page contains parts of our conversations about the war - during our video call. 





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

These were the first conversations and first portraits I drew of my parents after they temporarily relocated out of their apartment in Kharkiv, Ukraine. 

The city is being shelled every day by russian army since February 24, 2022.

April 12, 2022, Day 48.
Though they are not that far away, the road took a long time and was complicated by destroyed bridges, anti-tank hedgehogs, and many block-posts. But it was also filled with good people who tried to help. One of the things that don't stop amazing me in this whole situation is how much people are trying to help each other.

April 13, 2022. Day 49.
They report that the day went well and list all the things that they decided to bring with them (on top of the list that we discussed before) and all the things that they are missing now. They tell me a story about a friend who was no longer a friend because of his love for putin - and how a rocket in his backyard changed his opinion completely. "He needs new windows - but at least the brains are getting less foggy!" - says Dad. 



Wisteria this year

I've missed some bloom times this year, but wisteria got some time and a few pages in my sketchbook. Some found flowers were brought to me as presents and went outside to paint with a friend. Gouache with its varied applications available was my friend in trying to capture an elusive color that would convey all the brightness yet not get to the point of being lurid. 





The Komodo dragon!

I will have to come back to the Komodo dragon - this one looks too sweet I think but based on what I read they are pretty serious creatures and I want to draw a proper representation of the komodo character!


California Poppies - and my gouache palette.

There is a wonderful little house in my neighborhood with a mesmerizing field of red poppies in front of it. Of course, there are some California poppies in the mix too. Painting these with gouache was pure joy! But my palette needs a major overhaul - so I spent some time trying to choose what colors to keep and what to let go of. 




Daily reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. An update on my parents on the 50th day of the war.

Day 50 of the war.
We were able to relocate my parents from Kharkiv to a quieter place for now. And the change is felt by the whole family spread across the globe. In this new location, they do not hear the continued shelling of the city of Kharkiv and can have some light in the evening. A new set of volunteers and neighbors are supporting them, and it is much easier to go outside for little strolls as there are fewer stairs. We resumed our video chats. They saw a butterfly today. And the dog that they know stopped by to visit.


Museum Visit: Alice Neel: People Come First | de Young

I went to see Alice Neel: People Come First at the de Young. She is an astonishingly astute looker at things but firstly - at people. Shapes, textures, expressions, and blue outlines jump at you but parts of the canvas are left untouched and it is very appropriate somehow. I am a big fan of "unfinished" works and I consider those more important and interesting works than "completed" words - for many artists. But here this did not look "unfinished" - it was very much conclusive and fitting the narrative of capturing the fleeting moment.
What got a hold of me and now follows everything I make or look at is the freedom and expressiveness of the depiction of hands!
I made a bunch of notes. My company for this visit and I enjoyed finding hidden images in many paintings. And on the way back we spent some time comparing highlights and planning our next visit - I think this show requires at least one more run for us! 


I went to draw outside: California Poppies!

I did not have a chance to scan the pages of my sketchbook yet - but these photos taken with my phone will tell you about the amazing presence of color due to the abundance of poppies in my neighborhood now. I painted with gouache and used it both as watercolors wet-in-wet and as a solid, opaque medium. 




Daily reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. April 9, 2002. I am changing the frequency of these updates.

–°onversations with my parents. They are in Kharkiv, Ukraine, the city is being shelled by russian army since February 24, 2022.

Day 45 of the war. The artillery attacks on the city intensified and I am going to take a break from drawing these daily portraits as other tasks require my attention. My parents are ok at the moment and I will post updates when I have a chance.

Mom said, " I would like to go to sleep, wake up and find that the war is over".


Daily reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. April 7-8, 2002

–°onversations with my parents. They are in Kharkiv, Ukraine, the city is being shelled by russian army since February 24, 2022.

April 7, 2022
They made fried fish for dinner and did not go out - there was some construction on the street. We talk about how different literature and other art (and foods) serve at one time and do not work at other times. And how sometimes there is a line or two in a poem that speaks to us and the rest can be thrown away but without the rest, there is no whole.

April 8, 2022
It was a loud day - russian artillery continues to pound the city. Their street was swiped by municipal workers today and it was raining when we spoke so it will look fresh and clean tomorrow. Economical questions and memories filled conversation today - the evolution of the price of Mom's favorite baked product is as interesting as Dad's indignation about current broom prices.



Daily reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. April 4-5-6, 2002

–°onversations with my parents. They are in Kharkiv, Ukraine, the city is being shelled by russian army since February 24, 2022.

April 4, 2022
Dad is questioning the sanity of everyone. Mom relies on poetry when things are hard to express. We went from Akhmatova to early Tychyna. Yesterday Shakespear. What will tomorrow bring? Mom says: "No matter what - we are a happy family. They can never take that from us."

April 5, 2022
There was a lot of rain and wind during the day and something was making loud noises in their apartment building. Was it an open window in one of the now-empty apartments? Roof tile got loose? Door? War? We talk about an old tradition of cleaning carpets in the snow: you put a carpet down on a fresh pile of snow or hang it on a tree branch and beat it up with a stick (or tennis racquet). It was a part of every winter, a ritual - a chore but one that could be a lot of fun if you add a snowball fight. A loud activity! Nobody likes loud noises these days - especially unexplained loud noises. We say "Good Night" - it now has a lot of meaning. I hope they will find what was making that noise.

April 6, 2022
We talk about the animals that were evacuated from one of the zoological parks (it was bombed badly again and now is destroyed). Dad remembers a bear who got into their food storage during one of his many travels. Today's poetry is mostly poems that they read to me when I was little. We talk about how we think that Greece and Rome were different in spirit and whether it is right to compare them. More memories. But no matter the time - the war is a senseless and merciless nightmare.



Axolotls are amazing!

 


Daily reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. April 1-3, 2002

My conversations with my parents.  They are in Kharkiv, Ukraine, the city is being shelled by russian army since February 24, 2022.

April 1, 2022
Lots of people checked on them today. The latest soup was forgotten on the stove and became a porridge but Dad ate two portions. We discussed the very first music records that my grandfather purchased and how his collection grew with time. Remembered some neighbors' dogs and how no matter the century but the dogs look and behave the same. The weather is turning to the usual "last kick of the winter" moment which always feels like a betrayal and both bodies and minds are fighting it. Mom decided to use the very last portion of the ice cream to fix the situation.

April 2, 2022
There was a thunderstorm in the city, and at first, they could not understand if this was another shelling or not. But were happy that it was not. Mom went for a walk before the storm and saw a beautiful magpie - it was alone on the street. The rain continued during our conversation. Mom called it peaceful.
April 3, 2022
There are things that we do not go deep into in our conversations. To stay afloat mentally, to live another day. Today there were several - close and closer. Tomorrow's forecast is predicting wet snow and Mom is planning mashed potatoes for dinner. Days are getting longer.






Daily reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. March 30-31, 2002

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

March 30, 2022
We discussed letters that were part of the alphabet before reforms in russian language (two little portraits on the bottom are my Mom miming two different Fs that existed at that time). They tell me about damage to different parts of the city, tell me about volunteers and city workers who tirelessly clean the streets and repair utilities. We discuss the poppy seed cake that I would like to make (Mom promised me the recipe).

March 31, 2022
The night was quiet - the first one without air-raid sirens, I believe. Still a lot of shelling during the day. Another delivery of food. They are planning tomorrow's walk and mushroom soup for the communal dinner. Dad organized a new phone for the neighbor and now learning how to use it to teach her. Mom says: ”Sometimes I forget and think this sound is thunder before the spring storm. And I am so glad that I still remember that there is thunder in this world and don't think about the bad thing automatically".



On My Table: End of March 2022. Grateful.

These are the things that you would see on my table at the end of March 2022. These things will tell you what my March was spent on. 

Not pictured here but very important this month was a lot of love and support that I got from people from all around the world. Some of these people know me for ages and some know me only from the online world and everything in between. I wanted to thank you all - for thinking about Ukraine, thinking about my parents and me, and for thinking about the big and complex things in this situation, and small and everyday things. For being there for us in this trying time. Thank you!