April 18-22, 2023. Days 419-423 of war.
This week we spoke about many Ukrainian words. My practice now is to write down all the expressions and words that I am not sure about and (before looking them up) - discuss them with my parents. So far this is an exciting process as they laugh a lot at my mistakes but also talk a lot about where I might find that or this expression. And they mime many words to help me guess what they mean :) We spoke about their experience learning languages and how different teachers at different times had different approaches to the process.
The weather is changing a lot and sometimes it affects their mood and health quite a bit. But of course, news from Ukraine, the war, and the status of all the family members and friends are ever present in our conversations. Kharkiv got bombed again. Artillery shelling of the suburbs continues. Tulips are coming out of the ground - and the city is planning to plant lots more in May. Chestnut trees (not far from my parent's home) are beginning to think about blooming. War or not war - the spring is in Ukraine. Mom says: we need to work to improve: the state of our physical bodies, our language, our mental state - and our souls of course.
I've been thinking about how to share the war-time works of illustrators and comic book artists from Ukraine for some time. The issue of course is that of language - many things would be lost without the text. Then two comics appeared in the New Yorker and New York Times - both by Zhenya Oliinyk and I decided to start there and just gather some of the comics that stayed with me the most and share them as is - in hopes that pictures will help with the missing language bits.
Now that the spring is really here I went back and scanned some sketches that I did during the crazy winter month when we had a whole bunch of atmospheric rivers wash over the Bay Area. With all the water that we got California is enjoying a super bloom this spring and hills are wonderfully green all over the area.
April 10-16, 2023. Days 411-417 of war.
This week was filled with various important occasions in Eastern Orthodox Church - none of which we follow but some of my grand and grand-grandparents were following in their time. This started a whole chain of memories - how great-grandma would take my Mom for a walk to "look at the lights" but had to make sure not to go to church as it would create some serious problems for the careers of Mom's parents. The kinds of "Paski" (Easter bread) she was making. Colorful eggs, painted eggs. How my father's family avoided all mentioning of religion completely and how he suddenly became quiet when I asked if he remembers anything.
We spoke about spring arriving in Kharkiv and how people are sending each other photos of flowers and the first green shoots. Many places that people usually go to during these first warm weeks (and on Easter Sunday in particular) are off-bounds. For example, many cemeteries and parks on the outskirts are still not clear from the results of bombings (many cassette bombs don't detonate until someone walks by) and mines that were left by the russian army.
This week our Ukrainian language conversations were based on me asking a bunch of questions about words that I found in literature and wanted to get a better understanding of small differences in meanings. My parents went for their walks and watched some interesting lectures that brought us conversations about viruses, time, and chronobiology.
One of the great things that resulted from putting my art online is a community of friends. I made a lot of wonderful connections with people over sketching - people all over the world! And with most of them, I never met in real life - however, when the opportunity presents itself I jump at such an occasion. That is what happened this spring when Jenny Adam - an urban sketcher, designer, and illustrator from Hamburg was visiting California.
Suhita Shirodkar (@suhitasketch), Uma Kelkar (@umapaints) and Jenny Adam (@ronkiponk) invited me to join them at the Stanford University where we spent some time sketching, walking and talking together and ended up almost running out of time - hence my last sketch (or others sketching) was super fast! See a photo of all out works in a "throwdown" - below.
Process shot and final spread - from the quad:
April 3-9, 2023. Days 403-410 of war.
This week my parents were determined to do at least one walk a day despite some crazy weather and managed to do so every day. Mom tried making a ponytail and I tried to sketch her to show it. We talked about how we name colors thinking that we all mean the same thing but in truth, we all have our own set of names for colors. I reported about our spring and some interesting outings - an art show, a nature museum, and the animals we visited. They gave me more new Ukrainian words to ponder. We talked about friends who are returning to Ukraine and the obstacles that they are facing.
I've uploaded a video of a flip through my sketchbook number 147 to my youtube. Some screenshots below. Many of my flowers make an appearance there, a whole story of a pink and purple bouquet. My parents (portraits of war in Ukraine), experiments with stencils and printmaking and of course - gouache. A barrage of sketches from everyday life.