Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. June 19-25, 2023.

June 19-25, 2023. Days 482-488 of war.
This week we started with a hot topic of hot weather and how my parents are fairing it. Eight neighboring cats and some new dogs with new people were featured in the stories of everyday life. We spoke about ways people adapt to different situations and learn to live with different things, agendas, professions, and weather. We spoke about languages (there was an excursion into French as we had a French-speaking family member visiting - which was a great treat for my parents). Engineering problems of the sunken submarine was Dad's favorite topic, Mom listened with horror about Messenia migrant boat disaster. But then all attention was back to Ukraine and even as russia descended into the chaos of a new kind. 

More Matilija Poppies

These native California flowers (with an unfortunate common name of fried egg flowers:) are still greeting me by the road sides. I had all intentions to do a proper negative painting in one of these but ended up slipping into finger painting and decided to leave it as is.

Bike and Sketch Adventures.

Bike and sketch with my current large (A3) sketchbook and my propensity to take all my art supplies with me (a problem which I claim is a leftover from the stay-at-home covid era*) make for some interesting choices of stops: benches are preferred, sitting on the ground is great too though I take a lot of space around me. But so far I did not find a way to work in this sketchbook while standing and holding it. It is just physically really hard. I am yet to find a pay to prop it against the bike though - this is something I will try next.
* though anything that lasts this long is no longer a leftover but a new reality - I should just give this new setup a name and then face it. Naming things is important for me - here are some options: "bring all you can paint with", "unlimited choices make you mad", "can you promise to use at least half of this?", "Imagine traveling with this all", "really? printmaking on a bike?" :)

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. June 12-18, 2023.

June 12-18, 2023. Days 475-481 of war.
This week during our video calls we tried to match views, sounds, smells, plants, and animals. For example my parents would tell me about the cat that keeps getting into their home without permission and I would tell them about a cat that decided that every evening should be spent under my window singing cat songs. We compare notes on the color of pomegranate flowers. And bird songs. Every one of these subjects sends my parents down memory lane - so I got to hear some stories too. 

My parents prepared some Ukrainian words to discuss with me and told me about a new cat that is a menace to the lizards. We spoke about our family and friends in Kharkiv and Kyiv and how tired they sounded this week from all the sirens and air raid warnings and but how everyone was telling about continuing donating and volunteering. 

New Sketchbook - Number 150!

I wanted to do something big for the nice round number of 150 - after all, it comes only once! (just like 149 and 151 ;) But the truth is I wanted to do some larger works this summer, and choosing an A3 sketchbook was a simple way of making sure that I would stick to my plan. 

A3 means it is at least twice larger than my usual sketchbook. A3 means that my backpack does not close so when I bend down sketchbook hits me on the head. A3 means that wind can get the book out of my hands. It also means some giant pain in terms of sharing images - scanning this beast takes both time and skill. There is quite a bit of cursing while I work in this sketchbook because everything is different at this scale and sometimes I want to just paint and draw and not solve a new puzzle. But I am enjoying the ride (most of the time :)

Here is the result of the very first outing with the sketchbook #150: Matilija Poppies are such an amazing subject to struggle with!

btw: I filled another A3 sketchbook almost exactly three years ago and finally made a little video of all the pages. Here is a post about it - with a link to the video.

Sketchbook #128: Page-By-Page

Almost exactly three years ago I was working in an A3 sketchbook. April to June of 2020 was a time when everything was altered by the experiences of living through pandemic. I never made a video flip-through of it but pulled together stills of all the pages now. There you will see endless blind contours, self portraits, drawing people while meeting them online, drawing places from the google maps and in the windowswap. My growing plants, my rants about challenges. Notes on my attempts to see the future and work out how to make the best out of the present. The usual - everyday life :) In fact - not that different from today :) 

Spring Cleaning and Youtube.

I am on a spring cleaning train (never mind that it is basically summer - the train is just starting!) and I found a whole bunch of little videos which got lost in the process and did not make it to my youtube and most did not even make it to instagram - though to find anything there you need to have a system (which I do) but it still is not worth it. So I will catch up on some backlog of videos and will begin with this one:

it's prequel was the very first video I ever posted on youtube (inking with Ackerman Pen):

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. June 5-11, 2023.

June 5-11, 2023. Days 468-474 of war.
This was a very tough week: The Nova Kakhovka Dam in Ukraine, controlled by russia, has been destroyed. The ecological catastrophe will be unfolding for a long time in both directions: downstream where thousands of homes are flooded and have no clean water and upstream where fish is dying because water is left and many people soon will be left without fresh water. In addition, this complicates the already uneasy situation with the cooling of the largest nuclear plant in Europe - Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant - which is also controlled by russians at the moment. And endless air raids on Ukraine and Kharkiv in particular. These events dominated our conversations all week but after going over the list of all the relatives and friends in Ukraine we would try to switch: one day to talk about flowers that Mom found (I think this is pomegranate but better photos are needed to make sure). Another day Dad's memoirs about his travels to Magadan for work. News of a new cat that is now coming to visit them. New friends, my parents met on the street - refugees, like them. A few new dogs that they met on the street. Little tasks that they set for themselves every day. 

I am so glad that they are in a safe place. I am so sad and angry that they have to live through this. 

p.s. The destruction of the dam received some inadequate and strange media coverage. I think this article by Timothy Snyder will help you see through the political side of what the media is putting out. All attempts at looking at this tragedy by giving 50-50 responsibility are done without minimum thought put in - or are blatant support for russia's actions in Ukraine. 

Grateful: Sketching Outings with Friends

I've had some wonderful outings to sketch with friends: in person and via video calls - and very grateful to have these people in my life! The top one is one of the new Google buildings which I recently painted with Suhita - this time I dragged Uma Kelkar to try and conquer its shapes. I am far from being happy with my understanding of how it works but I enjoy looking at it :) 
Here I tried to adjust colors by adding an overlay with semi-transparent paper to change color of the hill. You can see the original on the left and an alternative on the right (below).

There are some spontaneous outings and then there are video calls - I often draw during them but do not always share as I am not sure people know that I am drawing :) this one I think is a fair game to share - all participants of this call are seasoned drawers :)

Tulip portrait - unusual pattern, rogue petal, and unexpected closing and opening.

I enjoy having more plants than I have space for and inevitably end up gifting some, killing some, and re-planting some of my plants in strange new places - all with varying  results. This is how a little guerilla garden appeared in the communal area near my balcony (if you are a neighbor - please don't tell plant police that it is me). And this week I am putting one more plant there (please don't ask me about the timing). This was a tulip bulb that stubbornly did not want to start and then got out with a flare showed some very interesting color patterns on the petals and had one special petal too. It delighted me with repeated closing and opening at the times when I did not expect and I documented this bloom in my sketchbook - here are the highlights:

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. May 29 - June 3, 2023.

May 29 - June 5, 2023. Days 461-468 of war.
We spoke about all the flowers of June: from peonies to roses, and discussed the names in different languages - not all the names were easy to pull out of our heads but still - five languages are a fun combination!

There was a trash-collecting machine that fascinated my Mom and they spent part of one morning watching it work. Mom is amazing that way - I once left her and a kid next to a fire station to go get some food and when I came back in an hour both of them still were not ready to leave.

Mom and Dad found a new bread and new cheese and are making a list of things for me to try when I come to visit them :) New dog friends were made (Dad is a magnet for dogs no matter which part of the world he is in - I think if tomorrow he would go to Mars, all the Martian dogs would be running to him to get a proper scratch). More walking adventures happened this week, almost all sane. And even a swim and a half happened too. 

Peony Season 2

Did I mention Peony Season?
Well, this bouquet made my kitchen a place of the explosion of color and joy for a few days :)

Urban Sketching: A Street View World Tour / June 2023

This month the demo artist was @sue.heston - he r demo started me thinking about "sky holes"  - looking for them around me, in my photos, in a mess on my table, and even trying to make some :)

I went with stencils for all three sketches ;) Top to bottom these locations are:

Old Bridge - Mostar , Bosnia and Herzegovina
Esfahan, استان اصفهان، اصفهان،، Vank Church Alley, Iran
La Ventana, New Mexico, USA

A Street View World Tour is a fun, no-pressure gathering hosted by Jenny Adam and Eleanor Doughty via Gage Academy. You can learn more about these monthly free events and about these locations at the links above.

On My Table: Beginning of June 2023.

Beginning of June:

1. Sketchbook #149 is almost completed and I am thinking about what to do for the big 150 :) 

2. My gouache box still travels with me with some sort of mixing surface but I am almost done selecting colors for the new pocket palette with a hermetically sealed cover.

3. A set of brushes are my gouache selection. The "My island brush" is a 1/2 inch synthetic angled flat - I think it might be a strong contender for "You are going to live on an island without access to an art store - what is one brush that you will take with you?" 

4. I enjoy attending a fantastic monthly online gatherings Street View World Tour 

5. Peonies are all over my sketchbook these days - but I still did not make it to the peony garden yet - so there might be even more :)