Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. August 21-27, 2023.

August 21-27 2023. Days 543-549 of war.
Every once in a while I think that I should stop counting days here. After all this week we crossed 18 months since the russian full-scale invasion changed our world. 18 months is a lot of days to count. 

But then I think about these 18 months as a series of single days. I think about endless air raids. Bombs exploding not two streets over from the house where I grew up. People living in the subway. My parents not being able to go to a bomb shelter. I think about 18 months made out of days and days of artillery hitting the city where my parents, family, and friends were. Out of surviving through uncertainties and cruel realities of war. Out of discovering what horrors russian army brings with it. And then again. And again. Out of panic attacks. Exploding mines. Faces of people lost. Growing cemeteries. Daily minute of silence. Bombed power grid and reality of a winter during the war. Out of a long road to safety, to a new normal. And then again and again. Out of building a life as refugees. 

This all continues and this is why I will keep counting the days. 

This week my parents celebrated Ukraine's Independence Day as refugees in Europe, with cabbage soup and calls from family and friends from all around the world. I am grateful to all who defend Ukraine, to all who support Ukraine's independence, and to all who help us in this fight for freedom and the right to exist. Thank you to all who are not indifferent!

Nova Ukraine is a non-profit organization in the United States that does some important work of supporting real people in Ukraine, medical facilities, and animal shelters. You can help them by donating or sharing a word about work that they do. 

Kharkiv City Day 2023.

August 23 is a city day in Kharkiv, a city in Ukraine where my family is from. It's like a birthday for a city. The date is linked to Kharkiv's liberation from German occupation during World War II. As far as I remember the city celebrated this day in one way or another - fireworks, new flowers all over the city, fountains, and new sculptures. This was the date to which many construction and overall city beautification projects were tied - there is a phrase that I heard many times: "This will be finished on the 23rd". 

I've been thinking about Kharkiv as it is today, about my family and friends from Kharkiv, those who still reside in it. There are so many things to tell about the spirit of the city, and how it helped it to survive so far. About people. On this day I pulled some photos from my visits over the last few years - photos that immediately say "Kharkiv" to me. And drew an old notebook that belonged to my grandfather - commemorative to Kharkiv - made in 1960. It is made of plastic and one is supposed to use pencils and then erase the pages and use them again. There are several layers of family notes and drawings in it - almost invisible yet present - it was such a tender thing to see on that day. 

Playing with Materials: New and Old.

I had a lovely invitation for an art date with friends and spent some time catching up, trying a new set of watercolors and new paint sticks and mixing it all with my favorite gouache and watercolor set and pentel pocket brush and stencils - a lot of mess and fun at the same time. Can you guess where is what? You can see some notes on the second page below.

Morning of experiments turned into plant portraits

I've been working out some problems in my sketchbook and ended up with these three portraits of the same plant that is a part of a garden on my work table. The problems require more work to get to a new place - but I can say for sure I am enjoying some interesting combinations of materials here. This is Spot - a Rattlesnake Calathea

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. August 15-20, 2023.

August 15-20 2023. Days 538-542 of war.
Horrible attacks on Chernihiv this week. More attacks in the Kharkiv region. How little we used to know about some of the parts of the country and how much we are learning during this horrible war. An intense conversation about which book I should read next in Ukrainian. Some wonderful encounters with dogs on the streets from both parts of the world. Some hard questions (what is victory?) and some very mundane - (where to get medicine, how to organize help). 

Wrong Date and Other Mistakes in My Sketchbook.

Last week I posted a sketch on Instagram - and even made a little video composition about the process of making it. And I wrote the wrong date on it. Whether because I was thinking about a different date or because I just wanted to draw 7 more than to draw 6 :) Or for any other reason. I also smudged a page on the same spread. Luckily I had more ink on my sponge and used a stencil from the left side to make another impression of the stick. And then someone special found this praying mantis for me - sitting on a beige wall near the entrance to our home - and I added it to the spread - though in a different color from the original - I just grabbed the first color that I found on my desk. In real life it was beige. Another mistake - or not a mistake. But the Mantis sketch had a correct date on it - the one with the 7, the one I wanted to draw from the start :)

Bike and Sketch - Tree in a Garden

Gouache in my A3 sketchbook, some truth about my gouache palette in the photos below. I know I keep promising to fill a new palette with fresh gouache but somehow always end up with this old pencil box as a palette - and at this point, I think it is ok :)

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. August 7-14, 2023.

August 7-14 2023. Days 530-537 of war.
I will make a special post with sketches from my trip to see my parents - this week I am back to talking to them through the screens - for which we as a family are always grateful. 
We often talk about how contemporary technologies make wars today so different from even 20 years ago and on so many levels. Especially the level of information access. How we cherish the fact that we can send and receive a message from a friend or family member who is in the army within minutes. And how we get used to having an immediate response and then cannot justify a delay in an answer. How much we want to have updated information about the situation on the front and how much harder it is to have so much information and the strategies to handle the quantities, check the sources, and sometimes how to take a break - and what works as a break for different people.
This week's conversation touched on where cats and dogs are allowed in the park (and Dad's opinion about it:) And a story of a dress that Dad brought from Uzbekistan for my Mom many years ago and how pattern that Dad saw recently reminded him of that present. I hope to get to talk to him more about those visits to Uzbekistan (where one of his sisters lived most of her adult life).  

Bike and Sketch Summer: Purple Bush Near Library in Gouache

The school year is upon us and I am catching up on scanning and posting about summer filled with lots of sketching and biking and all sorts of adventures around our home. 

This was a lovely outing on a very bright and rather hot day in July - and another page from my A3 Sketchbook #150 (some of the previous adventures of this sketchbook can be found by the #Sketchbook150 tag on this blog), painted with gouache on location. Sketching from a shade helped but taking a photo of the process was a nightmare - as you can see from some examples below. I am still yet to identify the purple bush - which I think calls for another visit to this place to make another sketch - perhaps when the seasons change? 

Recent YouTube Uploads

I keep cleaning my hard drive and uploading little clips of my sketching process to youtube
Here are a few recents:
- Time Lapse Working with Stencils
- Time Lapse Sketchbook Painting Bulbs with Liquid Watercolor Brushpens
- Time Lapse Sketchbook Painting Hyacinth Watercolor

Sneaky Art Podcast: A Conversation in Two Parts

In April 2023 I spent a little over 3 hours talking to Nishant Jain also known as a Sneaky Artist. We covered many topics - from my experience growing up in Ukraine while it was still part of the USSR,  sketchbook preferences, drawing underwater while scuba diving, books, nature, learning and re-learning languages, Ukraine, russian aggression, war and not war in conversations with my parents. I feel like we covered so many things that we barely touched them and I don't know about Nishant - but I left with a list of questions for the next conversation!

We also drew each other while we talked:

If you want to give it a listen - here are links to Spotify. However this popular podcast is available on all the platforms so by searching with my name Nina Khashchina and SneakyArt you will find it.

Episode 64: Growing up in Ukraine with Nina Khashchina

Episode 65: War and Not-War with Nina Khashchina on Spotify

Nishant has a newsletter on substack and you can learn more about these episodes  and listen to them right there:

Ep 64 - Growing up in Ukraine with Nina Khashchina

On My Table: Beginning of August 2023.

This is a special - travel edition of "On My Table" as I was traveling at this time and this is a photo taken during one of the evening "sketch sorting" sessions at the kitchen table in one of the places where I stayed. 

I will do a more thorough post about tools that I took with me, what worked and what did not - but for now - here is a photo with some comments: