Little changes in the green.

I noticed a very slight shift in she shade of greens around me. So far, this summer was very nice. The hottest part of the year is still ahead of us - as we have at least two more month of summer weather. But on my walks I noticed that some greens are getting yellower. 

This has nothing to do with this attempt to tackle a complex branch of oak leaves with acorns. At first I really did not like how I started this sketch but I kept going and looking and trying to connect some things and separate others. And then I noticed some little parts where I know that I paid attention. I am glad. 

The fun of making a promo video

I've made a promotional video recently for the class that Uma, Suhita and I are running in September. I used Instagram Reels to put it together as we mostly are promoting this on instagram. And because Instagram has a bunch of things built in - I was able to string together a series of still shots and short videos, add music and text and all of this without special software. It was a lot of fun, a lot of frustration, and I learned a lot. 

This is a post for me to remember the fun and the lessons. I will start with this overview of my table after the video was completed:

I knew that I wanted to give the right feeling for the class that we are running. We are building it around the idea of creating iterations as a way to learn to see and then as a way to make things. We are opening up about some of the processes that we use to get from what we see before us to what you then see on the paper or on your screen. So not a clean and pretty instagram feed - real life mess and making what you have into what works for you. 

Here were the steps for my process (with the lessons in parenthesis):
1. I made a list of things that I will need to say in the video - on a piece of paper. (Type the text at this stage next time)
2. I collected all my materials on the drawing table and started making short videos (having phone fixed in the same spot was a good idea, taking stills between the videos was a good idea)
3. I wrote the text using some of the techniques that we will be doing in the class (next time plan how the text will go on the page before you run out of space and, perhaps use fewer techniques / runs - to save time BUT the play and spontaneity of this part carried me through some of the tedious stuff later - so maybe not). 
 4. I cleaned photos and videos and uploaded them all into one folder with all the portraits, pictures from Asilomar etc. (next time I should select photos in advance - there were way too many gorgeous views of Asilomar and I lost quite some time trying to select "the right one").
5. I uploaded all the videos and photos onto my phone and then put it all together using Instagram. (Next time I will use post-its to plan the sequence so that making changes is easier than copy-pasting in the text file. Having music pre-selected was a great bonus but unfortunately I was not able to download the video with music).  

Here are stills of some bloopers that did not make it to the vinal video :) Just imagine some laughing and cursing :)
Here is the final reel (without the music - which I liked because there was the sound of ocean and a beat). (and a link to the one with the music:

Real Cucumbers!

Real cucumbers - with a prickly, thick skin, with a bitter, darker end, and with so much taste in a salad! In my sketchbook - painted with watercolor and gouache and some wild brushes. I got them from someone who grows them (Thank you, U!) and enjoyed painting them, not to mention eating!

And here you can find a real-time video of me painting these with my watercolor + gouache combo portable palette that I am still fiddling with.  

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. August 2-6. 2022

August 2. Day 159 of the war.
We had some serious conversations on this day. I got tired of my Dad evading my questions and asked Mom how she survived with him for so many years together when even a simple question does not get a straight answer. She very seriously answered me that she is never bored with him and that he mostly behaved on this day - so he needs to get his "joking energy" out of his system during our call. Dad immediately changes the subject and tells me that he is training Mom to train the neighborhood cats. Mom reports: it goes quite well - they listen to me while I have food in my hand and tell them to follow me.

August 4. Day 161 of the war.
Mom tells me who called on this day and all the news from different parts of the family and all their friends scattered around the world now. Dad reports on his schedule and progress with the exercises that he is trying. He is playing a lot of chess online these days. We started playing during some of our video calls and then stopped because I felt that we are leaving Mom out. But Dad continued to play online and I am glad he found a way to keep going. He stopped playing chess several years ago when one of my aunts - with whom they used to have epic chess battles - died. He was refusing to play ever since - even with the grandkids. But now he plays - and it tells me that despite everything that is happening in his life, some wounds can heal. 

August 6. Day 163 of the war.
There was no air raid warning for them on this day - it is a good day. They tell me about the new cat that is now visiting their cat and trying to win my Mom's heart. They teach me different words for different drinking vessels in Ukrainian. And sing me a Ukrainian folk song.

Sketching at the Farmer's Market!

People sketching is not quite back to my sketchbook life - there are many reasons, main one being pandemic. It first caused the lack of large spaces filled with people and then changed all the routines. So when the opportunity presents itself - I jump on it! This quick visit to the San Jose farmer's market with Suhita was a chance to draw some colorful produce - and people. And I found some mushrooms which I am always happy to draw :)

Lankaran Acacia Tree in Gouache

I had a sunny afternoon outing to paint this gorgeous tree. It has many names - from Lankaran Acacia (this is the most familiar for me) to Albizia julibrissin, the Persian silk tree or pink silk tree. You might know it from the fan-like flowers that go from yellow to white to pink and cover the whole tree. The tree is not too tall but has a large canopy and often branches make it into an interesting shape to paint. I usually know where the tree is from afar because of a lovely distinctive fragrance that lingers even when the flowers are dry, ochre and cover the floor. I think gouache is a perfect medium to paint it!

On My Table: First Day of August 2022.

I took this photo on Monday August 1 and dove into all sorts of my “new month rituals”. 

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. July 27-31. 2022

July 27. Day 153 of the war.
I did not draw Dad because he was in a different part of the room - talking to a guest. Mom reported that she fed all the animals - including a wild hedgehog who stopped by almost every day. He had a bit of an accident and got stuck in a jar but managed to get out. She is reminiscing about all the people who are gone from her life and says she missed them dearly. But glad that they don't see this ugly war. How long will it take to rebuild the country and the mind?

July 29. Day 155 of the war.
The previous day was very hard - horrible news and such a heavy heart. But they are concentrating on the fact that after the rain they were able to fix the internet and their neighbor stopped by, the cat brought another mole, and thee collected another half-a-cup of mulberry.
July 31. Day 157 of the war.
We had an unusual conversation with another family member joining in on the video call. Parents were explaining to us why is it that butter dough is tastier if you bake it after putting it in the fridge. I want to ask them some hard questions, and Dad immediately makes it into a joke asking me what kind of conversation I want to have - and then he goes into explaining to me the difference between three French verbs for different kinds of talking. Mom corrects his explanation in the middle. They end up singing a song and I stop asking my questions. We talk a bit about weather-related events in the world and Mom says - how nice it is that nature does not depend on people - it will survive without us very well. I leave them plotting how to buy and carry a watermelon (it is too heavy for either of them - but I think they have a plan :)

Sketching with a friend

I went to sketch with a friend this week. It was pretty warm, the squirrels were running around us, the shade left our bench pretty quickly. But we had a good time - exchanging some news on the kids and parents, dismaying at the current state of the world, discussing latest set of favorite sketching tools and some plans. I picked up a branch of interesting-looking seed pods on the way home. These oaks are asking to be sketched again!

New Sketchbook - my rituals.

With time I accumulated a bunch of rituals around beginning and ending of my sketchbooks. For exmaple - I always put a number and the date I started it in the beginning - immediately after I crack it open. Then I add my name and contact information on the inside cover too. I usually record what are my favorite tools on the first spread. This is always helpful when I want to remember "what was that color that I liked" 

And I also like to weigh my sketchbooks - at the beginning and at the end - to see how much stuff I added (how I add stuff is described in this series of posts: Part 1 is about the reasons for adding all the layers to my sketchbooks and Part 2 is about the evolution of it. Part 3 is about materials that I use and has more examples).  And this post will show you some weight gained on the covers:

It's a fun way to measure how much happened in this period of time, an attempt to take an objective measurement of something that is quite subjective.

Here is a short video about beginning of the Sketchbook number 144. I will make another one - when the sketchbook is finished to let you know how much it "grew".