Chanterelles in gouache and sour cream.

I spent some wonderful time in a forest where we found some luminous chanterelles! I enjoyed sketching them with gouache and then cooking them with sour cream :)

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. November 19-27, 2022. Days 270 - 278 of war.

November 19-27, 2022. Days 270 - 278 of war.
This week we marked 9 months since the day when my parents and many people in Ukraine woke up to shelling from russian invaders. It was also a week when my Mom celebrated her birthday - her first time celebrating a birthday away from her home since she was evacuated from Kharkiv during World War II. As usual, celebrations continued for several days as phone and video calls from family and friends kept coming. Mom had a big chunk of the family to celebrate with in person - which was the main present. She reported feeling safe, warm, and grateful. Also - furious about the war, concerned about "ours back home" (which includes approximately all of Ukraine), and determined to see Ukrainian victory.


Sketching while waiting

These are random drawings from my current sketchbook. I drew while waiting in line or at DMV or waiting for a meeting or video call to start. Usually these are fillers on pages otherwise filled with other things - and sometimes whole spreads are filled with these little moments. 

Art and War in Ukraine. Part 2. Artist - Fanny Lechevalier and Varvara Logvyn.

Continuing with the topic of art and war in Ukraine. 

French artist Fanny Lechevalier creates a series of works where she combines famous paintings with photos from the war in Ukraine. She makes these astonishingly seamless combinations that make two worlds collide. For me, these works highlight a big part of my life now - the impossibility of what is happening with the reality of it and with the existence of the things beyond this. I suggest browsing through Fanny Levhevalier's instagram:
I took a few screenshots from her instagram to share some of my personal favorites:

Ukrainian artist Varvara Logvyn (Варвара Логвин) uses traditional folk motives to paint anti-tank defense hedgehogs placed all over Ukraine. Washington Post ran an article about her work in August of 2022: "Ukrainian artist turns antitank ‘hedgehog’ into symbol of resistance". And in her instagram she shares instructions as to how to paint on the hedgehogs and you can see the process in her video (I always enjoy looking at how people work, share their process!). 
For me in this simple act of making the world around you a little prettier, a little better - despite everything that is happening, out of whatever is available, over whatever circumstances, in time when thinking about making pretty pictures seems futile and out of place - but still making them - this is one of the reasons why I believe that Ukraine will win. Because I see so many people showing this wonderful human quality - of this and for this - to continue doing this - Ukraine will win. 
Following screenshots are from Varvara Logvyn's instagram:

Thanksgiving 2022

Thanksgiving is an amazing holiday - everything rushes before and then stops spinning. The streets are the quietest - just for me to sit and paint. Plus it is one of the most colorful months in California. 

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. November 12-18, 2022.

November 12-18, 2022. Days 263 - 269 of war.
This week was filled with many conversations about relatives and friends in Ukraine - under another attack from russian fascist.  Many people lost access to heating, electricity, cell service and we lost contact with some of them for a little bit. The story of a raccoon which was stolen from Kherson zoo by russian soldiers got some special attention in our conversations too. My parents prepared a fresh batch of words in Ukrainian for me to learn and discuss. They told me about meals that they are cooking these days (pumpkin porridge is one of their favorites). They walk as much as they can when the weather is good. They found some good things about art and history to watch on YouTube and almost learned how to get the air conditioner (which doubles as a heater) to do what they want. We are getting ready to celebrate my Mom’s birthday and it is a gift of and by itself.

Video flip-through my Sketchbook #145

Video of a flip through my sketchbook number 145. Experiments with stencils, printmaking, gouache, portraits of war and everyday life sketches. And the snow leopards I did for the stencils online class available through etchr studio.

Sketching California Hills from the Top of the Hill

I went to sketch the hills from the top of another hill - with my “Deck of Textures” co-teachers and friends Uma and Suhita. I did two takes on each view. A grayscale version made with three different grays: liquid charcoal, ink stick, brush pen filled with diluted ink. Second - gouache. My attempt to not pay attention to the only two trees with the bright autumnal foliage resulted in completely ignoring them (these hills are mostly covered in California oaks). Second pair is stencils and a smidge of gouache and gouache in my toned paper sketchbook.

Art and War in Ukraine. Part 1. Street artist - Banksy and Hamlet.

The topic of art and war in general and art and war in Ukraine in particular is something I think about often. And since a lot of that thinking is prompted by some interesting examples I thought that I will collect them here for me to go back to and to share them too. 

I will start with two examples of street art.
The most recent one received a lot of light in the press lately - Banksy confirmed seven murals that they created in Ukraine. This is a screenshot of the article with my favorite of the murals - an elderly gentleman taking a bath despite the war raging around. You can see many of the murals at the link to the full article below: 
For me the power of these images comes from their  locations - they are painted on the buildings ruined by war or include a war attribute (two kids riding an anti-tank obstacle defense - see the article above). And I think that this particular image is unique in the line of wall graffiti that Banksy created over the years. And I am just plain grateful for the support. And the joke of a little kid throwing down a big martial arts figure. Aga in - see images in the article above.  

There is a rich culture of murals in Ukraine and Kharkiv has a wide range of street art by various artists. I've visited some during my visits but not all (and saw way more than this site shows). 
But one artist (from Kharkiv) has a legendary status among street graffiti artists - Hamlet Zinkovskyi (known as Gamlet). His work has important text elements that make it even more interesting for people who can read it - but less accessible on the world stage. However, I am a big fan of including text with images and enjoyed finding his little gift sprinkled in the city center a lot. Here is one of the war-time examples: The text says: "your blood can fight in the war too. donate."
Screenshotted image from this link:
In Hamlet's instagram account you will see many works created after February 2022 and with the war, he, like many other russian-speaking Ukrainians switched to the Ukrainian language and continues to work in Kharkiv and is quite prolific. 
The text below says: "the keys are missing their doors"

Screenshotted image from this link:

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. November 4-11, 2022.

November 3-10, 2022. Days 253 - 261 of war.
My parents are continuing their life as refugees these days we talk a lot about all sorts of exotic plants that my Mom finds on their walks. There are citrus trees, pomegranates, and a lot of things we haven't identified yet. Some seeds that Mom picked up opened overnight and were photographed 100 times. Leaves are drying in between pages and a little bouquet is on the table - I see it when we talk. Every day they are walking a little bit further, sometimes a little too much, but mostly progressing with caution. Just a couple of days ago they made it to the apartment where they stayed during the first week and had a chance to talk to a friend they made there. 

In the first of these portraits, I did not get a chance to finish Mom's face as they had guests over and the screen was filled with a lot of people. We had a blast talking as a group! And it played a huge role in lifting the mood of my parents. My parents are surrounded by wonderful care and this together with being in a safe place made a remarkable difference in both their physical and mental health - even within these little three weeks since they started their journey.

Dad is talking about getting back on the bicycle. We discuss ways in which Ukraine will be rebuilding itself, Mom thinks that people will have to share housing for some time, and Dad thinks that there will be an initiative to build something temporary. So much of the housing and infrastructure is damaged! But people are fixing things even now. 
I get a set of new Ukrainian words every time we talk, my parents speak in Ukrainian only during their walks and also often at home. Re-building a habit of using a language is not easy but they are making visible progress and are making me work even more. Which is wonderful. 

Persimmons and CMYK experiments with Pentel Pocket Brush Pen

The persimmon season is here and I attack the fruit with my brushes and pens as much as I do with my teeth! Below are some that I scanned already - but there is one sketch I would like to start with:

This image is made with the experimental technique that both Suhita Shirodkar and I are playing with. A limited palette of primary colors (pigmented Higgins inks - Carmine Red, Yellow, and Blue) filled in a pre-cleaned partridge of the pentel pocket brush pens. Plus the standard black cartridge.  

These are water-proof, pretty flat colors that are lovely in little quantities on a page filled with other things but might bore you to death on large surfaces. However, if you add some dynamics with water sprayed on the page, wet mixing, with the dilution of inks, overlaying colors, and using them with pointillism technique varying patterns and brushstrokes - the results are a lot of fun! 

I encourage you to look at what Suhita is making here: More on that triad of inks

Right now I dilute both blue and red - the current proportion is 40% ink, and 60% water but I think I will go to 30:70 on the next refill. Also, I am going to make purple and, possibly, orange pens as stand-alone tools - but continue playing with the CMYK separately. The illustration of these adventures are not scanned yet - so here are some persimmons done with acrylic markers, watercolors, and ink. 

The Joy of Looking at Dry Plants

Dry plants have their special beauty and I find a lot of joy in the complexity of textures and lost and found contours of dead leaves, branches, and flowers. Here are two examples - with stencils and with pencils, both finished with brushpen and ink. 

It's a season for pumpkins and persimmons

This is my favorite pumpkin (when cooked) - Kabocha. Technically it is winter squash but I like the word pumpkin. It has an amazing variety of greens outside, the skin is delightfully knobby and the insides are my favorite orange-yellow becoming bright orange when cooked. It has a lot of individuality in the way it tastes and I like baking it - each slice covered with different spices. This particular beauty I sketched with acrylic markers in my sketchbook. 

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. October 25 - November 3, 2022.

October 25 - November 1, 2022. Days 244 - 251 of war.
During these days my parents moved from a temporary place to a little more permanent place. Mom is collecting leaves, pine cones, and sticks and taking photos. She finds lots of interesting plants on her walks and tells me about them. Dad bravely started to swim. And he is working with the photo archives to support Mom's memoir-writing. 
Their days start and end with getting in touch with relatives and friends, with everyone who is in Ukraine at the moment. I think this is true for all Ukrainians around the globe these days. They are still checking air raid warnings but not as often. The most important topics are how to get backup plans for power and heating. Also - how people are supporting each other and the country. But we are also receiving some amazing photos of a beautiful fall - in Kharkiv in particular.

Magical Forest and Persimmons

It's that time of the year again - when my sketchbook, windowsills, and snack plate are all filled with persimmons! I will share my growing collection of drawings soon but right now I am still reeling from the wonderful trip up to the Santa Cruz Mountains to visit the magical garden and forest of Gay Kraeger

Suhita and I packed out bags full of the latest art toys to share and had such a wonderful time drawing with Gay who, as usual, is growing an art community around her - an incredibly generous teacher and friend and always a watercolor journaling inspiration!

This is a look at a persimmon tree while sitting under it. One is done with my stencils and masks and another is a free-flowing use of the gouache as watercolors.

For the second sketching session, we went up the hill where the cold wind got us sitting close to the ground behind a fence and I sketched two views from the same locations.

And here is a link to Suhita sketching the same tree and then sketching Gay and me sitting next to her.

I name my plants

Well, perhaps don;t name all of my plants but some I do. This is Spot. Rattlesnake Calathea. Goeppertia insignis. Nah - I like Spot better. 

On My Table: First Days of November 2022.

A few words to add to the picture:

I am enjoying Kuretake Zig Memory System Calligraphy Marker in black a lot these days. Haven't tried it in other colors but might. After all - the holiday season is upon us :)

I am painting with gouache, working with stencils, and using lots of other media in a new sketchbook. That white bottle in the middle of the sketchbook contains white gouache - I wrote about it and that sketchbook here

I have some new pencils and enjoy making palettes with them. Thinking about sharing some details - interested?

I voted early. Please vote - wherever you are and whatever your position is - it is important to not be indifferent to what is happening in the world! 

It's a persimmon season here in California and I plan to draw them (almost) all! 

I wish you a wonderful November.