Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. February 20-26, 2023.

February 20-26, 2023. Days 361-370 of war.
This week was tough. Losing a family friendThe anniversary of the day that forever separated our lives into "before" and "after". Reading, watching, and listening to all the accounts of the year of the war, going to the events, and holding it all at the same time. But on the other hand, we celebrated my Dad's birthday, talked about art and literature, remembered lots of great times and wonderful people, and talked about hydrogen and Lewis Carroll.

And here is how San Jose looked like on February 24, 2023:

One Year

February 24, 2023. Day 365 of war.

One year since my parents woke up to the sound of artillery and missiles hitting the city where they live - Kharkiv. One year since the full-scale aggression by russia broke our lives into "before" and "after". I've drawn over 200 portraits of my parents during our video calls. I've lost and found so many things this year. Everyone around me did. But we survived. It would be impossible without all the support - from the people who care - about the right to choose freedom, about stopping evil, about kids studying in bomb shelters, about old people who need food and medicine, about making borscht, feeding animals, and living life as full as possible - even during the war.

Please support my fundraiser for Nova Ukraine - it will run till March 7, 2023.
GIFT: If you will donate $25 or more to Nova Ukraine I will send you a link to a digital file with my illustrated recipe for Ukrainian Borscht. Make Borscht - Not War
You can donate via Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/donate/759783192379023/
Or directly at Nova Ukraine site (please send me a screenshot of the receipt via DM): https://novaukraine.org/donate/

Every dollar and every share of this fundraiser will help.

Dear friend of the family: Sergej Ivanovich Shatskiy

Two days ago we lost a dear family friend - Serezha Shatskiy - he was a friend of my parents for over 50 years, he knew my grandparents, saw my brothers and me grow up. He supported us, challenged us, teased us, fought with us, worked with us, taught us. He was a part of our large family. 
Always late to any gathering but always present at all the family celebrations, reunions, funerals, and just evening teas. Serezha was the one who was visiting my parents during the first days of the war with a tub of ice cream - it was the last thing left in the stores by then. But with his endless sense of humor, often dark, and often not politically correct, he reframed it: war or not war but girls deserve ice cream.
His apartment got damaged during the shelling of Kharkiv three times, yet he stayed in his cave of wonders filled with layers upon layers of musical instruments, equipment for repairing them, and antiques of all sorts. He stayed there until it was no longer possible to live like that. And as if that connection was what was keeping him alive, he expired just a few days after evacuation from Kharkiv. 
Many people knew Serezha as a musical master who repaired and improved an endless number of all sorts of musical instruments. I know many guitars that went through his hands and many people who are very grateful. He was a multi-talented person with an endless fascination with the world and the ability to support curiosity in himself and others. When I wanted to learn more about the cello and how much Mstislav Rostropovich changed the world of this musical instrument, Serezha combined a huge collection of cello pieces for me to listen to. He was usually working during the night and boasted that he strived to be the first one to put a "like" on my art posts from across the world. 
He is survived by family and friends dispersed all over the world and he will be dearly missed.  

I last saw him in person when I visited my parents in 2021 - he greeted me with his decades-old greeting "здравствуй, Ниночка, что не день то картиночка". 
Here is a sketch from that meeting, and below it, you will see a gift that I got from Serezha on that day - an antique pochade box that he restored for me. I asked my Dad and Serezha to make me a portable/lap easel for painting on location. When I was giving him my "requirements" he replied with the image at the very end of this post - commenting that he thinks that the bottom left corner contains just the right box as per my description - this was a typical дядя Сережа :) 

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. February 12-19, 2023.

February 12-19, 2023. Days 354-360 of war.
This week I was drawing my parents in person. It is hard to overstate how grateful I am for this.

During the week we talked about so many things that it would be impossible to list everything. I scanned most of the portraits that I drew. There might be more as I am still unpacking and reorganizing my travel notes. 

To spend this time with them was an amazing gift. To hug them, to chat and cook together, walk their walks, take pictures together, draw together, talk about hard things and everyday things, about family and friends. Be together. The time flew by too quickly. But it was great!

Paperwhite Daffodils

One of the mystery bulbs turned out to be paper white daffodils. As they opened up and filled the room with the fragrance I tried to draw the whiteness and gentleness of the flowers and strength and texture of the stems and leaves. I used diluted ink, stencils and ballpoint pen to make these. 

Hyacinth in gouache

 Two looks at my hyacinth - using gouache in my sketchbook.

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. February 5-10, 2023.

February 7, 2023. Day 349 of war.
As we approach the end of February and as war around our home city of Kharkiv intensified again, we talk about the future trying to not talk about it. In light of the horrible earthquake in Syria and Turkey, my parents told me about their memories of the Spitak earthquake which happened in 1988 and took over 25 000 lives. They told me that I made a painting in response to it and then even helped me find it! (below).  

February 9, 2023. Day 351 of war.
My parents are watching all sorts of art shows online and then we talk about them. They reported on a good walk, and that cats came to the "meeting point" to get some attention. 

My Magnolia Seed Pod Collection

As I mentioned before I picked up a nice collection of magnolia seed pods after the storm and decided that I will draw them all one by one. Slowly but surely all got into my sketchbook through some burst with berries before that happened and others got a little moldy :) 
Some were tiny sketches, some were done with my pentel CMYK brushes, and some were experiments with the texture and ink application (I am collecting a whole bunch of things to choose from for the upcoming "deck of textures" workshop). Others were made with unusual surfaces (though this is lost in the scan so you can never tell) - except if you get to flip through this sketchbook :)

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. January 31 - February 4, 2023.

January 31, 2023. Day 342 of war.
My conversation with parents on the last day of January was wonderfully void of any political, military, or personal news or opinions - it was a straight-out "here are books that we think you should read and here is why" kind-of talk - which I enjoyed in a very selfish sort of way: this is something I've been asking them to do for some time, and I am glad that they finally compiled a list :) All of these are in Ukrainian, some are old, some are new, and overall it was a great way to connect!

February 2, 2023. Day 344 of war.
Cold, windy, and rainy weather and some hard news from Ukraine meant that Mom and Dad were in a much darker mood. I tried to entertain them by telling them about my plants and my projects and even drawing myself into the picture (I keep showing them what I draw during our talks) - but I am not sure it helped. 
February 4, 2023. Day 346 of war.
My Dad proudly shared that he found some new screws and rings on the road, Mom told me about a new plant that she discovered and how she is waiting for another one to finally start blooming and told me about the irises. The neighbors were very friendly as were cats and dogs and a parrot that is now a staple of their walking route. 

Hyacinth in Progress - Using Stencils, Gouache and Pencils.

As hyacinth was growing and changing almost hour by the hour I made a series of prints using stencils, masks, gouache, and a few accents with colored pencils for details. One of the stencils looked interesting by itself and ended up glued to the back of another sketch at the end (last image in this post). 

These are sketches of the process of growing. They are done a little bit at a time time with the big shapes pre-painted based on one stage of the flower development and then some texture added with all sorts of tools. And after the background dried, I would sit down to look and see the change that happened in the plant in that time and add details. 

Two exhibits that I want to see in 2023.

There are two exhibits that are happening soon. One is talked about a lot in the press - it is the biggest exhibit of Vermeer ever! And it is running from February 10 to June 14th, 2023 in Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. There is a lot of great info online and I've been browsing scanned close-ups for all the joy of light that Vermeer paintings bring.

And a second exhibit is in Nahmad Contemporary gallery in New York and is titled "Henri Matisse and Jonas Wood" and runs from February 14 to March 12, 2023. There is not a lot of information about particular works that will be included but that is surely a juxtaposition I would love to see! The boldness of colors, graphical shapes, and all of that wrapped in an endless story filled with plants!

Vermeer's works are rather small, whereas when I hear the names of both Matisse and Wood what pops up in my head are large, expansive canvases. Vermeer has shadows and light so nuanced that you never know when one starts and the other ends and both Matisse and Wood are amazing in how they make flat colors do so much work. But I think they all are very much about everyday little fleeting moments and that is what I would love to see! 
Images above belong to respective artists/institutions and are screenshots from:

On My Table: First Day of February 2023.

Looks like February starts as a very purple month for me!

Some notes in addition to all of the above:
1. Clothespins that I am using to hold pages on my unruly sketchbook flat are really useful (and are easier to put up and leave less damage than the paper clamps I used before).
2. I am in love with the muted turquoise color of the Liquitex Acrylic Ink! 
3. My paint water is too pretty to change - so I expect everything will continue to be slightly purple for a few more days :)
4. I divided all Neocolor II crayons into "cold" (seen here) and "warm" boxes and now there is a bunch of colors that I keep moving from one section of the box into another every time the light changes in my studio.
5. I am getting close to the end of current my sketchbook and need to choose the next one. Close contenders are Strathmore 500 mixed media or Alpha from Stillma&Burn or Talens Art Creations - if my need for creamier paper wins. 
6. I carry a pocket sketchbook with me and use date stamp to separate entries. The beginning of February felt like a good time to refill my stamp with bright red Ink!  
7. My current "mostly used" pens are: 
- Muji Gel Ink Cap Type Ballpoint Pen 0.38mm - it is waterproof, thin, and durable. 
- Zig Memory System Calligraphy Marker (I like driving them into the ground - so much texture at the end!)
8. It would be impossible to list all of the semi-transparent papers that I am playing with but there are some baking and fast food sources in the pile!