Oleander Flowers

The other day I found a bunch of very different oleander flowers on my walk! Not only astonishing diversity of colors but also shapes of the flowers and buds were varied! The most unexpected was the fluffy one with multiple petals - cream colored on my sketch. And I think I need to do a separate dive into white oleander flowers!

Emotional Agapanthus Season

This year my agapanthus season begun with a lot of anger. Some people (whom I did not catch at it) started to bend long stems and as a result there were many almost broken agapanthuses. I tried to catch perpetrators, I tried to change my route or walk past without looking at the unhappy flowers, I tried to think why this makes me so sad and give it names. But at the end I started cutting dead yellow stalks and bent flowers and made bouquets to draw. This helped. 

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. July 20-24. 2022

July 20. Day 146 of the war.
We talk about another series of horrific deaths in Kharkiv. I read a lecture about cloud storage and how to use it. They tell me about their childhood profession aspirations (Mom wanted to be a cleaner and Dad wanted to write encyclopedias). Mom reported that the snail (that she was photographing) ran away from her and asks why am I laughing so hard :) The best thing in their day? A double rainbow!

July 22. Day 148 of the war.
The runaway snail was discovered by Dad who walked 6 circles. Mom wrote three pages of memoirs - both are great accomplishments! Mom says that writing is easier than talking because nobody interrupts her (I read her memoirs every day and discover so many things I never knew!) Dad got a package with some of his instruments and it made his day. The fact that mail still works despite the war baffles me in the best possible way. I will try and see if I can send them something - to check how true it is!

July 24. Day 150 of the war.
It's been five months since the lives of so many people changed forever. Five months of asking endless questions: when will this end and how? Will someone be punished for all of this horror? How can we live when this is happening? How to help? How to make people see this for what it is: open aggression and endless, shameless lies.
My parents told me today about another attack on Kharkiv, our dear friend was very close, the apartment lost all the windows on one side. He is ok -for whatever stands fot it these days - he is not hurt physically. Mom said: he sounds less scared now than earlier in the war, and is already working on fixing the windows situation - but he curses way more!

Cough diary

It's been a while since I was ill, and I am learning how healing works again. Here are some notes that will tell you about my experiences:

Two birthdays this week: Thoreau and Klimt

The internet told me that two birthdays of the two people whose books were on my kitchen table happened this week. I was in bed with a cough that keeps me from running and biking and pretty much everything else - so I drew them from memory - with some notes as to why I have their books on my table. 
As a result: I am reading an interesting article about Klimt and Telescopes, I am re-diving into Thoreau's diaries and I know what I should work on. Also, I think I should draw more of my art heroes. 

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. July 12-15. 2022

July 12. Day 138 of the war.
My parents looked very much alive and happy - telling me about pancakes and all the mischief that the Cat managed to do since we spoke last (it gets a lot done in 24 hrs!). But then some loud aircraft started flying above them - so loud that I was able to hear it on my end of the world. And suddenly they were back to the horror of their life in pieces, their home far, their family dispersed, their city bombed daily, their country fighting for its life. 

July 13. Day 139 of the war.
It is the day of my parent's wedding anniversary. They had a guest - their neighbor stopped by. There was wine with the dinner, and the cat brought a grasshopper, as a present. Mom consults me on some mending projects. The weather was ghastly but beautiful: one storm was chased away by another, and there were several waves of hail. It was so cold that Dad did not go beyond the doorstep during the whole day. Mom said: if only we did not have the war.

July 15. Day 141 of the war.
Dad reports on Mom's progress with learning all about the new (for her) phone. We talk about the horror of the Vinnytsia attack. Mom says that waking up is very hard because the dark memories come in waves. And the only way she sees to live now is to think about one day - today.  

Sketchbook Leftovers: Tools and Flowers

Sketchbook leftovers: little things that are in front of me. Like the bottlebrush flower which I picked up on my run or peonies that I purchased impulsively, and which never opened despite my attempts to follow the youtube advise of warm water soaks, gentle massages and full sun exposure. And sometimes sketchbook leftovers happen when there is a table in need of a cleaning - but who cleans before documenting details about the glorious mess of art supplies? Not me :) 


Sketches from a trip to Northern Europe (2022)

I scanned them all and will blog more about some but here is a flip-through:

Getting back into rhythm

Coming back from a relatively-long vacation is always an interesting experiment in finding out what you think about the life you come back to :) My return to "normal life" is wrapped in endless coughing (multiple tests continue to be negative) and a realization that the normal to which I thought I used to return does not exist. So I am building a new normal - between trying to nap enough times to be awake in the evening, catching up on the projects and plans, and doing what makes me happy - looking at things and drawing them! 
This is a spread from my sketchbook this week. I was making a list of best moments from a trip and drew this place from a photo while catching up with a friend on a video call. And I drew flowers while on a shopping outing with my family, done in the best possible way: with some frozen yogurt, good conversations, and me drawing while others did the shopping part.


Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. July 6-8. 2022

July 6, 2022, Day 132.
There was a storm and power was going out many many times during our call. So there was not much of a flow of conversation - more a flow of curses. Curses about the weather, russian invaders, loud sounds that are scary, and an overall unpredictable future. 

July 8, 2022, Day 134.
The Internet connection was spotty, electronic equipment was misbehaving and we were trying to troubleshoot it from half the world away. My parents prepared some new Ukrainian words for me to learn. Mom noticed that the Cat lost a tooth - but Dad thinks it is not a new development. Dad had a dream about talking to Rembrandt - they were together in the Night Watch and there was a chicken in that conversation. Unfortunately, many details are lost :) They switch to an argument about a proper emphasis on the name of Rembrandt. But agree that he was a genius painter and quite mad - "which is also normal" :) Mom says that Kharkiv is being shelled mercilessly and this unpredictable life is not life at all. 

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. June 29-July 4. 2022

June 29, 2022, Day 125.
On that day I had just returned from a trip and could not find my sketchbook. Hence, I grabbed "whatever" paper (there is a shopping list on the back of this page :) Quick update about friends and what activities now are taking up most of their time: Dad can open the water and Mom can water the plants. Dad prepared a new proverb for me but they disagreed on the exact wording. The simple translation is "you arrived the way you were going". 

July 3, 2022, Day 129.
We discuss all the news. From Kharkiv, which is still shelled daily by the russian terrorist state. News from all the friends and relatives spread around Ukraine and Europe. News from their cat: it slept through one mouse walking by but later brought another mouse. News from the garden: there were two types of currants and mulberry in their breakfast. Today was a good day: their neighbor brought them food and picked up a post with meds for them.

July 4, 2022, Day 130.
This conversation was mostly about all the adventures of the Cat and a lizard: in short - it filled the day with unexpected excitement! They remembered some poems by Sasha Chorny - a russian-speaking poet from Ukraine. We talk about his complicated life: his parents converted him to Christianity to get a chance to educate him (he was Jewish and it meant that certain types of professions and educational opportunities were closed for him in russian empire). Dad talks about how he wrote under a pseudonym (very russian sounding) and ran away from the Soviets to Europe where he created some beautiful poetry for kids. 

On My Table: First Day of July 2022.

 I just returned from a trip - and my table is a total mess as I am:

Flowers in between other things and oil pastel experiment.

My last sketchbook had several projects going but in between I tried to draw my flowers - here they are. The last sketch is an experiment with using oil pastels in my sketchbook. I love oil pastel as much as I hate smudging it so it was an attempt to find a solution to both feelings. And I think I found it - good (non-smelling) fixative is an answer but it should be sold with a nice pack of patience.