Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. May 21-28, 2023.

May 21-28, 2023. Days 453-460 of war.
Mom continues to work on her memoirs and is writing about her first visit to the USA. The ending of that trip went not as planned as Mom was supposed to fly out on September 12, 2001. Which obviously did not happen and instead she flew a week later. She still has (back home - in Kharkiv) newspapers from those days - she wrote about all of that as well as lots of little details which she picked up as her travel was through New York. 

Cats are being very loud lately and there was a "sneaking and entering" when one of the blue-grays jumped between Mom's feet into the room, got up to the sink, spent a little time sitting there drinking, and ran away. Mom put some water out for the cats. 

Dad found a pretty bead during one of their walks and gave it to Mom as a present. He spent a night fighting mosquitos (they always prefer him to Mom) but looks something was found to help with the mosquito attacks so hopefully night sleep interruptions will go back to the previous number of reasons :)


Peony Season

It is Peony season! I got a bouquet and lots of people are sharing their peonies with me these days. I think my sketchbook might explode with these a for a while - but after all that is a big reason for my sketchbooks to exists - to catch all the explosions :)

Here is a link to a little shaky timelapse of the process:

Mixing Custom Colors in Acrylic Paint Markers

I enjoy working with acrylic markers as a supportive media - meaning I rarely make a whole drawing with them but their opaqueness and willingness to cover whatever mess I already had on a page make me reach for them more often than not. Between my markers and markers I used for running classes I accumulated quite a collection of colors that were... "not that popular". And then I saw a video where Emma Carlisle was mixing some custom colors in acrylic pens and thought - why don't I try and do that with my existing box of "no way" colors from all sorts of brands? This experiment was quite a success and I got some requests to share my process for making some Custom Color Posca Markers - here it is:

Click on the image to see it larger - it should be readable :)

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. May 14-20, 2023.

May 14-20, 2023. Days 445-452 of war.
This week my parents found some new routes around their new temporary home. Which lead to meeting new cats, dogs and discovering new plants. We talk about friends and family in Ukraine and outside, talk about how people are fearing, how they are making decisions, and finding ways to help each other. 

One of the conversations happened during the evening meal - so I got an unusual angle to draw. We talked about latkes and how the same dish is cooked in Ukraine and other countries and how they all have little different names. I brought up some of my new Ukrainian words and told them about vyshyvanka day - I got a new vyshyvanka and wore it to a meeting with friends :) 

Flanders Poppies on my mind

After last week's encounter with a field of Flanders Poppies, my mind was quite occupied with the ideas about depicting the folds and wrinkles, capturing light and transparency of the petals without losing either color or texture and at the end, I not only experimented with some cardboard cutouts, string, and paint printing options but also did some ink sketches of one flower that was drying on my table and then ended up back at the field for one more quick sketch at the location. 

Video flip-through my Sketchbook #148

I finished Sketchbook #148 quite some time ago and finally made a video of a flip through - it is below and on my youtube. Some screenshots are also below. 

This sketchbook started with my trip to Croatia to see my parents and their portraits of war in Ukraine are threaded through the sketchbook after that too. There are several outings to sketch with friends, lots of everyday life sketches, and of course, gouache and stencils.

This was a 8.3" x 5.1" Art Creation Sketchbook from Royal Talens which I kept from February 11, 2023 till April 11, 2023 and in these two months time it gained 160g of ink, paint, glue and paper!

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. May 8-13, 2023.

May 8-13, 2023. Days 439-444 of war.

My parents did not talk about the WWII victory day this year - did not even mention it. It used to be a huge topic, but not anymore. All the conversations were around the latest bombings in Ukraine and the complicated situation in different regions, around their dear Kharkiv in particular. And around people - people who hold Ukraine together with their good deeds - every tiny thing helps.

I learned that cats still have no names but are differentiated by their color. It is important to mention that my parents disagree on the names of some colors so I cannot be sure if it was a blue cat or a gray-blue cat that boldly tried to get inside their apartment and hide under a blanket on the bed. But one of them did!

The subject of what people take with them when they run from the war is something I think about a lot. There was a short video by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency that I saw several years ago. It is called "What They Took With Them" - where actors from around the globe read from the list of answers from refugees. When I saw this video first I remember that I was surprised by how many times I heard "home keys". Nothing on that list surprises me now. 

My Mom took her diary from the last two years with her. And she is illuminating me sometimes with little quotes and comparisons. This week she noted that they are definitely walking more now. But the density of life cannot be compared. She did not say anything else. 

Flanders Poppies - sketching outing with a friend.

My friend sent me an amazing photo of a field of poppies the other day and I wanted to sketch there right away! This is a wonderful private property with some fields and some hills - many of which are covered with poppies. Some were California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) and some were Flanders poppies (Papaver rhoeas). There are many other things to sketch - but I got only to a few poppies during this outing - and their dancing shapes and wrinkled colors are still all I can draw :) 

First I did several takes with printmaking to separate my amazement with shapes from my shock from the colors. But then I tried to look at them with gouache. One thing is for sure - I will have to go back!


Things I found, things I was given, things I saw on my walk or run :) These are all plant-related treasures - it is spring, after all, and my phone is bursting with pictures of plants and birds to identify! 

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. May 2-7, 2023.

May 2-7, 2023. Days 433-438 of war.
Getting used to a new apartment is not an overnight event but things are slowly moving along. My parents got lost only a couple of times this week, and both times found their way home quite quickly. A whole bunch of new cats were befriended but none made it to the point Mom would give it a name. Thought I know that one of the cats does not have a tail. A bakery was discovered nearby and now a long process of getting to know their assortment of baked goods is happening. We talked about Mom's progress with memoirs and my idea of drawing a map of friends - sort of like a family tree but friends (family too :) 

Mom said: Life is full of joy - if you are looking at it from the right angle. Sometimes it is hard to find that angle though. 

Urban Sketching: A Street View World Tour

Urban Sketching: A Street View World Tour is a fun, no-pressure gathering hosted by Jenny Adam and Eleanor Doughty via Gage Academy. There are usually 4 locations united by a theme, and last Thursday - May 4th, 2023 I was a guest artist. This meant that I could pick a place where we would be traveling virtually and we went to Kharkiv, Ukraine! After a quick warm-up sketch of the Mirror Stream, I did a 25 min demo of the DerzhProm building using the stencil technique. And after that, we sketched Yaroslava Mudrogo Street and Poetry Square. 

It was a very moving experience to bring people to the streets where I grew up, talk about some of the things that I remember from my childhood, and about the city as it is now - after about 430 days since a full-scale russian invasion started. To see these places from the eyes of other skechers was a gift. 

Here is a recording of my demo:

Below you will see some photos from the city as it is now - all sent to me by a friend and an amazing photographer from Kharkiv Alexandra Bolotina who takes these photos of Kharkiv and people who live in it as the war continues. Her ability to search for beauty even when places she loves are in ruins is one of the reasons why I think Ukraine will prevail in this evil war.  Alexandra organizes help for kids and older adults and is endlessly working on supporting simple humans. And while at it - she is taking bright and moving photos of them all - you can learn more at her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/bolotina.alexandra

Every time you see a yellow window - it is a window covered with plywood because it was destroyed during one of the many bombings of Kharkiv

Stencils Tag on this blog and Tools Overview

I've realized that I go back to printmaking and the idea of stencils with the regular intervals. But the first tag "stencils" and the first blog post here on this blog is from October 2020 when I decided to do the whole Inktober with this technique. You can view all of stencils-related posts by searching for stencils or clicking on this link.

October 2020 was approximately the time when stencils became a part of my regular sketchbook work - in black and white, in color, mixed with all sorts of other techniques and materials - since Sketchbook #130 and up to today's Sketchbook #149 I work on some form of printmaking every week, and more often than not - in stencils. I've answered many questions, taught classes both in person and online, and spoken about stencils in groups and individually yet never made a comprehensive post about my tools here on the blog. 

So today I will try to add some information about basic tools that I use. I am intentionally not including links to specific items or more intricate tools as I want this particular list to be as adaptable as possible to "let me grab what I have already" approach. I will probably make a more detailed post about particular brands at some point - as I am preparing one for the "Deck of Textures 2023" workshop handout.


Paper for Making Stencils:

- Printer paper is the main paper I use - just your ordinary Multipurpose Copy Printer Paper. 

- Semi-transparent paper (aka layout paper or tracing paper).

Tools for Cutting:

- Cutting Surface - often it is just a cardboard back of my drawing pad, but I am also a big fan of using cutting boards.

- Cutting tool: scissors and or cutting knife (box cutting / exacto knife - A).

Tools for Printing:

- Ink - any ink would work - the one you draw with, printing ink, marker with ink - they all would act a little differently and give you different results. The simplest way to work with ink is to pour it into a shallow plate or use a sponge soaked with ink and dip your tools in - B.

- Printing tools: I make printing tools out of erasers (C I) and use kitchen sponges cut to different shapes (II), sometimes taped to the back of the pencil (C IV). And also use a 2" mini foam roller (C III).


- Pencils or pens to add details and sketch your shapes (D).

- White marker or white gouache (E).

- Artist's tape/washi tape to hold my paper (F).

- Wet rug / wet paper towel to clean your hands - you will get ink on them.  

On My Table: Beginning of May 2023.

Beginning of May:

1. My large project left lots of gouache stains all over the table and a few parts can be shared - like the crab below :)

2. I am making lots of works with stencils and they are all over my table. The knife with a yellow handle is the one that gives me maximum control of the shape I am cutting - this is an OLFA Designer Graphic Art Knife

3. My gouache palette is in flux - I am trying several things at this time and judging by the fact that I go back to carrying some tubes/jars and a mixing surface, none of the options are working right now. 

4. This month I mixed some custom colors with the POSCA markers that were not being used and made myself a new warm steel gray, lovely olive, light pink, and gently-pinkish purple. 

5. My current favorite pen to draw with is a modified pilot parallel pen - I wrote about it being in rotation before

6. My violets stopped producing new buds and are happily changing into the later stages of their lives - ochre and burnt sienna spots on their petals are just now getting to be more visible.

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. April 23-30, 2023.

April 23-30, 2023. Days 424-431 of war.
My parents moved from one apartment to another during this week (endless moving is an inevitable part of living as refugees). It was very stressful for them but we tried to hold on to important things: talking about upcoming family birthdays, family history, and many Ukrainian words that we brought to each other to share and discuss how to use them in sentences. There will be news about new cats in this neighborhood and new routes for walking but for now - they are resting. We spoke about russian aggressors bombing apartment buildings in Uman and Dnipro. About artillery attacks on the Kharkiv region. And about what victory might look like for Ukraine.