Sketchbook Thinking Between the Rains

I got to go to one of the local gardens between the rains and, even though there were endless insects in my bag after this outing, I remembered it fondly as I got to figure out some things. I've been taking a lot of materials with me on location lately and that is always a complication as part of the time ends up spent on making endless choices. And I prefer drawing to making choices. I wanted to simplify my kit again and be more mobile with my sketching. And during this outing, I got to think through what it is that I want to do more of and what I want to do less of. 
These are done with color pencils, ink pen, ballpoint pen, stencils, and gouache (see what I mean by too many options?). Still - it was a great day :)

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. March 21-26, 2023.

March 21-26, 2023. Days 391-396 of war.
We had some serious conversations about computers, phones, social media, and banking systems and how everything keeps changing, mostly needlessly changing looks though - and asking for logins - endlessly :) 
The parrot that my parents befriended some time ago returned. This time they had a chance to take pictures much closer. Mom found some 
Caddisflies! And we talked a lot about different types of cases that they build and how cool the whole transformation process is. And that at the fly stage of their cycle, they live only a day or so. 
One of my Dad's favorite expressions is "For a moth who lives only one day the weather is quite important". 
And through all of these everyday conversations about weather, living arrangements, meals, walks, caddisflies, logins, and such - always goes - how terrible the war is.   

Odds and Ends from Sketchbook #147

This is a mixture of odds and ends from the recent sketchbook - little notes, page overlays, and such. I use semi-transparent sheets of tracing paper or vellum to protect pages and often get too carried away by the paper and add drawings on them too - you can learn more about why I do this and how in a series of posts Layers in my sketchbooks. And some of these were done with the CMYK pens experiments.

Magnolias and Camellias with a friend.

I went to a charming little garden with a friend and enjoyed some hot camomile and lavender tea from a real mug that she brought, an interesting layered conversation parallel to drawing next to each other. And also a view of magnolias and camellias and little kids splashing in puddles. It was a gift!

An Odd Year for Magnolias: watercolor, gouache, stencils in my sketchbook.

Seasons can be measured in many ways - and one of my favorite ones is by thinking about what plants would be doing at what part of the year. Since my arrival to California, I enjoyed getting to know many kinds of magnolia trees. They feel very comfortable here and you can find all kinds of magnolias on the public streets, in private gardens, and everything in between.  Their flowers and seed pods visit my sketchbook frequently. There are several trees in the area that I know quite well and know when they usually start to bloom when they reach a peak flower coverage, and when I should go hunt for some magnolia cones. 

But this year all the rules were broken! The tree that I enjoy visiting around Christmas time and send pictures of to my friends in much colder parts of the world as a promise of spring to come was bare on New Year's. The spider magnolia that I often run by did not get the first flower till February seventh. Yet one of my favorite magnolias with dark burgundy flowers was in full bloom at the end of January when usually at that time it was only getting its first buds out. 

I started sketching magnolias in January and just recently say that my neighbor's young tree got the first bud out - this week! I put some comments about materials that I used:
Watercolor and gouache.
Stencils on a tracing paper.
Shadow of a magnolia tree on a fence.
Watercolor in a pocket sketchbook.

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. March 13-19, 2023.

March 13-19, 2023. Days 385-390 of war.
We had some wonderful conversations this week. My parents told me stories about my childhood conversations with dogs on the streets, elephants in the zoo, and a picture that one of my brothers drew on the door. We talked about the difference between Ukrainian words for the frog and toad and how Google translate is failing sometimes with Ukrainian one way but works the other way. 
Tрey sang me a song (which is always a treat!) - it is called a Hutzulka Ksenya - and is a version of the Ukrainian tango and is mentioning a Ukrainian musical instrument which my parents' claim is the longest musical instrument in the world - Trembita :) 

Trip to Croatia (2023) - Sketchbook - Part 3: Process Photos, Sketching Materials and Sketchbook Flip-Through

I started telling a story of the trip to Croatia in my previous posts:
Trip to Croatia (2023) - Sketchbook - Part 1: Cities 
Trip to Croatia (2023) - Sketchbook - Part 2: Views

And this is Part 3 - where I will share some photos of the sketching-in-process, as well as a list of my materials which I made to start the trip and some thoughts on what materials I used the most at the end of the trip. And to combine it all - a video of a sketchbook flip-through where you can see how it all look in real life.

Trip to Croatia (2023) - Sketchbook - Part 2: Views

I started telling a story of the trip to Croatia in my previous post: Trip to Croatia (2023) - Sketchbook - Part 1: Cities and continue it with a Trip to Croatia (2023) - Sketchbook - Part 3: Process Photos, Sketching Materials and Sketchbook Flip-Through
Apart from the old cities, the places I enjoyed the most were the mountaintops. To me, there is no better way to get a feel for a place than to get as high as possible and try to make sense of the general idea of the land. And the seashore with views of endless islands and water of colors that change while I try to name them, captured my heart for good! I will have to come back and sketch these again! 

Trip to Croatia (2023) - Sketchbook - Part 1: Cities

In February of this year I went to Croatia to visit my parents (I've uploaded a bunch of portraits from the visit here) - and now I scanned and sorted out a bunch of sketches to share here. 
First and foremost - February is an amazing time to visit Croatia - we were lucky with the weather of course but having all the historical places to ourselves was such a treat! Taking a tour guide (which we did for Split) is always a great idea! We enjoyed a curated approach to a city where one can spend years researching things and connecting epochs! The nature was stunning and I got my feet in the Adriatic sea even if for just a minute :) We tried some local fish dishes, famous lamb roasted on a spit, both red and white wines, and some gorgeous desserts! Here are some sketches from the visits to the old cities:
Trip to Croatia (2023) - Sketchbook - Part 1: Cities 
Trip to Croatia (2023) - Sketchbook - Part 2: Views

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. March 6-12, 2023.

March 6-12, 2023. Days 379-384 of war.
This week started with a conversation about one of my parent's friends. They finally got in touch with him and found out that he was ok but had to take his wife to the hospital. My parents were in a good mood about it because a) he was not only alive but restored his computer which was damaged when russian missile exploded in his backyard in 2022.  b) the hospital on the outskirts of Kharkiv was still working and taking non-war patients c) his wife was alive and, hopefully, getting some help! Unfortunately by the end of the week, all of Ukraine and Kharkiv in particular were shelled badly. The city was without power and water for a few days and my parent's friend lost his wife. The overall mood went down. Mom said: we feel like we are a suitcase without a handle.

We also talked about international women's day and some new Ukrainian authors that were honored (though my parents disagree with the choices, it is always great to hear about their alternatives). I shared a tulip that is growing on my table and Mom told me about an interesting new plant that she found but we haven't identified it yet. And they prepared some new Ukrainian words for me to learn. 

Getting back in the rhythm after a break

I was a little slow getting into a rhythm with regular personal sketching time after a trip and was looking for something special to help me. So when I heard that @umapaints was demo-ing a painting at the #streetviewworldtour (which I meant to join too many times but kept missing) - I decided that this is a sign.
Street View World Tour is a monthly two-hour drawing session organized by Gage Academy, Eleanor Doughty, and Jenny Adam and attended by people from all over the world on zoom. 
We did a warm-up, then had a demo from Uma, and then did two more 20 min sketches from online maps. This session was very much about seeing layers and painting greens (and I enjoyed seeing all the colors that a wonderful group of people painted) - but I went with my stencils, inks and black and white printmaking attitude - which only means that I can re-watch the demo and do it with color later! I had a blast!

Another exhibit I would love to see in 2023.

A few weeks ago I wrote about two exhibits that I want to see in 2023. It started a little avalanche of things I would suddenly notice and think about as "what if that would be an exhibit to visit? How far would I be willing to travel to see it and what else would I do in that place? Who would I love to go with? What would be the title of that show and what other artists would be cool to add to that experience - art/audio/video/dance/fragrance/food etc.? What would I draw there?

One of these daydreaming sessions was inspired by a new book "David Hockney. My Window" - a very much overpriced collection of 120 works by one of my art heroes and it contains his latest works done on his iPad and iPhone - views from his window in Yorkshire. And then I saw that there is a new immersive performance that he put up in London - David Hockney: Bigger & Closer (not smaller & further away)" (which by the way is very much a manifesto I would like to adopt!) 

This article in the Guardian will show you some stills and tell you more about this - but in short - I think it is a retrospective, a moving way through  Hockney's thoughts on looking, it is a new kind-of exhibit with animation, video, multiple points of view, multiple screens surrounding viewers in 3D space of the room, it has its own score of music and yes it is probably overwhelming but also exciting! It looks like a celebration of the joy that humans get from making things. 

I would love to experience it!

All this meant that I pulled my Hockney books (see below, and more are waiting for me at the library - hurray for public libraries!). And went back to my notes on the exhibit that I saw in San Francisco some years back - "David Hockney. A bigger exhibition" (it blew my mind then) and now I am knee-deep in thinking about my own curated version of Hockney exhibition :) 

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. February 27-March 5, 2023.

February 27- March 6, 2023. Days 371-379 of war.
This week we talked a lot about exercising and all sorts of supplements and routines. Cold weather, rain, and lack of movement due to various reasons, meant that on both sides of the ocean muscles and joints were a hot topic.  My mom continued interesting conversations about hydrogen inspired by the "Hidden Hydrogen" article in Science Magazine. I shared some names of the new (for me) artists that I found and hope to discuss them with my parents next week. We talked a lot about family and friends - checking on who shared what news with whom and discussing how to support them.