Report about "Deck of Textures" Workshop in Asilomar

Deck of textures workshop ran from Friday till Sunday (September 23-25, 2022) in the Asilomar Conference Grounds - which is located in the California State Park. Uma Kelkar, Suhita Shirodkar, and I ran three parts of the workshop consecutively. Everything was included - from inspirational surroundings to lodging, to food, all the materials, and an amazing glass room where we worked and which we filled with our artworks to the point that it became our home by Sunday afternoon. 

We drew with music, we drew from life, we created lots of textures and patterns with inks and all sorts of drawing tools. We did some experimental printmaking and collage, worked individually and collaboratively, but most of all, we tried to let go of the expectations of particular results and enjoy the process. 

I relished working side by side with my unstoppable co-teachers and such an enthusiastic crew of participants. Their discipline of sticking to doing hard things of trying new approaches and innovations which they showed during our work together inspired me immensely.

In the photos below you will see some glimpses of how things went. And we are already planning a revised version of this workshop for 2023 - if interested - drop me a line!

Team photo:

Sketching at the Asilomar with friends.

I spent a weekend with a group of likeminded people - teaching a "Deck of Textures" workshop alongside two wonderful friends and fantastic teachers Suhita Shirodkar and Uma Kelkar. We did not have much time to draw outside of the teaching agenda - but carved a little time here and there and went to the beach a couple of times. We braved the wind in the face and sand on the palettes to try and capture a little bit of the magic of the place:

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. September 18-22, 2022

September 19, 2022. Day 209 since the russian invasion in Ukraine.
My parents were in a reasonably good mood and were singing songs when the call went through. Dad is still not going outside, but Mom does. She tells me about changes in the trees and about the new version of the book that she is reading/re-reading now. Dad gives me some questionable advice about restoring power batteries. 

September 22, 2022. Day 211 of the war.
Dad told me about his childhood activities of capturing tarantulas. Mom told me about soaps that they had in her childhood and how hair was washed with the soap but then rinsed with the vinegar. Special vinegar was sold as a "beauty product" in pharmacies. And for some time after washing hair, people smelled like pickles. Unseen to me, cats were participating in our conversation: chasing after the moth. We exchanges news about all the friends and relatives. Dad is excited about tomorrow's fish for dinner.

I have a new plant

This is Rubik. It is a ruby rubber tree or ruby fig tree. But it is small now and I hope it will like it on my table. So far it lost one leaf and I cannot get it to be shiny but the patterns on the leaves are driving me to draw it often! This is an acrylic markers version.

Sketching while waiting

Little things that happen everyday - waiting here or there, sometimes outside, sometimes inside, sometimes with people, sometimes without. These little glimpses into my everyday life took just a few minutes but I enjoy looking back at them. All of these were drawn with uniball pen vision (gray barrell) on a 4x6 strathmore drawing pad - by current pocket setup that is always with me. 

Adventures with Acrylic Paint Markers

I accumulated a stash of acrylic markers (mostly leftom from classes that I no longer run). Then I got a few more of the less conventional hues - because colors are candies, and I could not resist. These are quite blut and often unruly tools that can be delicate and precise with some planning and a little bit of patience. I've been exploring them in different ways lately. I think I enjoy them as background makers or masters of adding accents. But mixing colors with these is still not working for me. Next I will do some texture filled experiments. But for now - here are some examples of what I've done:

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. September 13-17, 2022

September 13, 2022. Day 202 of the war.
Mom was full of energy. We talked about African violets that my grandma used to grow on all the windowsills. She told me about people she worked with in Kyiv and Kharkiv, and how her thesis defense went all those years ago. We remembered some family members from the generation before her. Dad was having a medical procedure and was away.  

September 16, 2022. Day 205 of the war.
Mom told me about some "fat emails". I asked her: what does it mean - "fat emails". She replied - they wanted me to buy something. I am still not sure why she called them fat :) 
She feels very much uprooted and spoke about home a lot on this day. Dad is still away. When I called him on the cell phone, I got a message that he is on the other line. The way it was phrased was approximately like this: "Please be patient while the person you called is on the other line. Perhaps this is a call that is bringing our victory closer. Together we will prevail." This small touch made my day.  
September 17, 2022. Day 206 of the war.
Dad is back. We discussed two different poets (my parents were quoting, but I was not fast enough to write the text). The conversation turned to what haircut I might get - typical for me, I said that I might shave my head. Typical for my parents, they did not say "NO" - they started telling me how I will become a good find for someone practicing phrenology and how I might not enjoy that. We remembered some people who are no longer with us, and Mom said: they are lucky that they do not see this horror in our country. But we are lucky too - because we are alive. People in both groups are lucky - just in different ways.    

Fragrances of the season

The other day we had rain - which is incredibly rare - but it smelled heavenly. I wanted to sketch this fragrance, and I am not sure it worked. But there is another smell of the season which I think I got about right (I am eating one of these as I type).


I drew this plant with a dip pen and then painted these with my watercolor and gouache palette and then added some color pencils and neocolor II crayons. It was a much longer sketch than I am used to. Many times I felt like this is going nowhere. I started filming the process (see below) but as frustration grew I turned the camera off. And many times I thought that this will never work out. I am not happy about the final result - but I learned quite a bit about not giving up while I made this and some colors turned out really close to what I wanted - so here it is - to share the experience and to remember to keep going.     

Heatwave Aftermath

After the heat wave, decorative pear trees in my neighborhood started dropping the most amazing leaves. All of my marigolds died but I found some seeds germinating - not sure if I would be able to keep them alive - but I am giving it a try. All the dead leaves are trimmed, and all the dead plants are gone. Temperatures are back to very pleasant.

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. September 5-11, 2022

September 5, 2022. Day 194 of the war.
Dad and I were discussing his exercise routine and Mom told me about some berries that are turning orange and almost red but not yet "real red". With the first chill nights, they will become truly red. The weather is quite chilly for early September and Mom got a cold. They were remembering all sorts of weather anomalies that they witnessed - but nothing can be compared to the snow we experienced once in June - all three of us were in Moscow on a trip and I remember the bright green and blooming trees covered in snow like some sort of dream. 

September 7, 2022. Day 196 of the war.
Now, Dad is sneezing and coughing too. But blood pressure is much more stable. We are discussing all the news from all the relatives and friends. Mom was telling me more about the department of biochemistry at the University. She is not going to teach this year and this is a huge change in her life that I am not sure she had a chance to process yet. Though this has been a year for things like that. 

September 9, 2022. Day 198 of the war.
Mom is almost back to normal, but Dad is still coughing quite a bit. They told me stories about the department of Chemistry at the University and all sorts of crazy chemicals that they got to work with over the years. Another shelling in Kharkiv left the school where my sister-in-law works partially without windows. Shelling of the city of Kharkiv continues non-stop for 198 days.

September 11, 2022. Day 200 of the war.
Hard to believe the number - 200 days. Dad was asleep as he is still working through his cold and I had a great time talking to Mom - remembering her Mom, my Grandma, and how she was able to grow amazing violets. How hard it was for her to stop working when Soviet System pushed her out of the University and how she tried to find herself in other things, none of which could compare to her interest in biology and learning. We talk about old books which are left in their apartment. And about the healing powers of cats who are bringing more "gifts" for my parents these days. The last one was a weasel!

Hot weather sketching

Hot weather means everyone is cuddled around one source of cooler air in the house. I took just my iPad, pen and sketchbook but then ran back to the hot studio to get something else (many times). By the third day of this weather I gathered an assortment of sketching tools in my "first Aid" bag. And then I sketched it. 

Wishful Sketching

We had a heat wave. I kept summoning fall weather with drawings of fall leaves and acorns and such. It definitely helped with expressing my feelings about the weather. Wishful drawing. 

Summoning fall with my sketches

These are some treasures that I picked up on a hike and drew in my sketchbook with acrylic markers and some neocolor II crayons. It is so hot in my area now that I am not powering up any additional equipment to scan drawings of how hot it is :) And I am drawing all sorts of things to summon cooler weather and fall foliage!

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. August 30 - September 4, 2022

August 30, 2022. Day 188 of the war.
We had some difficult topics to discuss and I was doing a lot of talking so I ended up with a lot of small sketches which I later combined on this page with some notes. Uncertainty in all areas is putting a lot of pressure on everyone and decision-making is a process. So far - without results. 

September 1, 2022. Day 190 of the war.
Conversation with my parents was about Traditions around September First - it is the beginning of the school year for all educational institutions in Ukraine. I always liked that the whole country has this day in common. My parents read me some poetry and suggested more to find online. I realized that my Dad is not receiving my weekly newsletter and quickly signed him up. We gave each other reports about people that we were in contact with during the last day or two, about Kharkiv and the latest damage. Mom managed to catch a cold but hopes it will clear up by the time of my next call. 

September 4, 2022. Day 193 of the war.
Mom was feeling a little better but still ill. Despite her cold she found several mantises with eggs and spent some time hunting for the best angle to take good pictures for me. She told me that the first mantis she saw in her life was yellow as her Mom found one for her in Eupatoria (Crimea). But all the mantis that she shared with me were green. We used to build tanks and keep them when I was a kid.  Mom also remembered how she went to Leningrad with her friend for the conference, and they got two irons there and were walking with a super heavy bag between them. If you are interested why anyone would buy iron in another city - in the Soviet Union many things were available in central cities but not in smaller ones - but this I knew as I grew up with this. What I did not know was why two. My parents laughed and explained: electricity was expensive and gas was cheap - so everyone used gas to iron - with two irons. You would heat one on the stove and start ironing while the other one is heated. 

Bread, Textures, and Friends

A friend recently told me about a bakery nearby. The bread, the walk to it, the conversations during the walk - all are precious. 

Dibs on the corner piece.

Video of a Flip-Through - Sketchbook Number 143

I've made a flip-through video of the second part of my Sketchbook 143 and here you will find links to both of them: Part one was about our family trip to Europe in June 2022 and Part 2 is about coming home.  

Part 2:

Part 1: