Portraits of My New African Violet

My new african violet is tiny and has flowers of a marvelous astringent burgundy color. It lives on my art table and is often a subject for my experiments. Here is a couple:
 (as always click on the image to see it large :)

From The Summer Trip: Sunrises on Adriatic Sea (Part 2)

Images below are the second half of my experience of following the sun getting out from behind the mountain. (Part 1 is here). 

I shared these sunrises with my parents (who continue meeting the sun regularly), people sleeping on the beach, people cleaning the beach, many birds (pigeons, seagulls, crows, and some I did not identify), several serious cats, and a few agile kittens. After the sun would get up and I would get my swim, locals would arrive for their swimming time, many already knew my parents and greeted them in Ukrainian, and others got a reply from my parents in Croatian. Then dogs and their walkers. First shop owners and farmers arrive at the market. It was amazing - seeing a town waking up slowly. Now I am thinking that I should have drawn all of that - but by that time the temperature was scorching! You cannot have it all - and I had my sunrises :) 

Starting the Orange Season Early

I never could choose which season I like the most because each of them has some amazing things happening :) But for someone whose color palette always has to contain some version of orange color, fall is a special time of the year :)
I recently heard an interesting sentence while listening to a podcast interview with Mark Hearld: he said (about standing in a field in fall) that it is "one of the great color experiences of my year". I've been thinking about my personal set of "great color experiences of the year" ever since :) And fall is filled with them! Yet there are almost no hints that colors are going to change here in California (yet) but there are pumpkins everywhere!!!
So - I put on an orange shirt and went sketching with Suhita at a pumpkin patch at a local farm! Cosentino Family Farm is located in the middle of Silicon Valley and has been cared for by a lovely local family since 1945! They have some very tasty local fruit, an orchard where you can see how it grows, with people who care for it right next to it and they organize some interesting food events - you can learn more on their Instagram: CosentinoFamilyFarm.   

There was so much orange!!! I had to do another sketch and concentrate on greens :) Figeater beetles were circling us (I want to catch one now to draw!) as we packed up our sketching gear, picked some apples, and made plans to come back. 

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. September 18-24, 2023.

September 18-24, 2023. Days 571 - 577 of war.
My mom continues writing her memoirs and this week told me that she found a new trick for remembering dates for some of the events: she corresponds them with my changing teeth and my artwork :) She tells me: "I remember you did not have front teeth on that trip and painted this and that". I remember different things from that trip - but that is what makes these memoirs such a rich topic!

We spoke about people who are returning to Kharkiv and how some are finding new life possible but others find that they are not capable of living with the continued bombing. This week was hard for Kharkiv again. Some schools in Kharkiv are working online but others bring kids in. We talk about how scary this is for kids, parents, and teachers. Yet it also becomes a new normal. Which is scary by itself. 

From The Summer Trip: Sunrises on Adriatic Sea (Part 1)

Sunsets are amazing! Never-ending attempt to see everything and notice simultaneously all the changes, enjoy the view, and try to put it on paper. It is a challenge that you can rely upon. Even when it is cloudy and looks like there is no change in the light - there is so much to see. In short: I love sunsets. But as I learned on my summer trip - sunrises are just as amazing :) Not that I never saw a sunrise - but this time I saw a whole bunch of them in a sequence. It added such a glorious rhythm to my days and a relished layer of memories about the trip! I would walk through the dark streets, sit on the beach, and enjoy painting up until the sun would blind me and make me go for a swim. I divided my sketches into two parts - here is the first of them:

A True Story with Owls and Ink.

My friend is following a couple of owls in the park and sent me some really cool photos and videos. Another friend gave me a tiny bottle of ink with glitter - to try. This turns into a whole bunch of sketches. True story. I hope to see the owls for myself and get that glitter to show up but actually really happy with what I have so far. 

Reading Notes: The Joy of Drawing

I've been thinking about a name for this post for an embarrassing amount of time. First I thought of using a simple "reading" tag - but there are hundreds of sketches of kid's reading on this blog which are a totally different thing. Book readings posts are linked to the book readings I attended and took part in. Marginalia is a word and activity I like a lot - but these sketches are mostly from my sketchbook - not from the margins of the books (especially since I am still working on letting myself write in books). But as my Mom keeps reminding me - that having any solution is better than none if it helps you to start moving - so here I am - calling these Reading Notes with the idea that I can always find posts and change text if decide to :) 

These notes are about books. Reading for me includes all kinds of things: for example reading online counts too. So does scanning, skimming as well as "eye candy" reading. The eye candy reading is the one where I look at pictures - be that a large exhibition catalog or a zine made out of works by my 5 year old neighbor. I like to remember what I read. And sometimes I would add what I thought about the stuff that I read. And some of these I like to share - so those are Reading Notes - like the one below :) 


This was a book I argued with quite a bit (part "what is right") but I am on the same page with the "Conclusion". What is most important is that I really wanted to go make things as I read it. I want to remember books that have such effect on me. 

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. September 10-17, 2023.

September 10-17, 2023. Days 563 - 570 of war.

This week we discussed some old language constructs in both russian and Ukrainian languages, and talked about how time and politics play a role in the ways languages grow - parallel to each other, intertwining and growing apart. We talked about how many new words appeared during their lifetime. And how war right now war makes us choose words. 

Kharkiv is bombed daily by russuan army again - three to four explosions a night. Power was absent in some parts of the city but was restored later, friends and family all accounted for. 

Drawing pigs (and goats) with friends!

There are quite a few gems in the Bay area but some have a special place in my heart - one of them is Hidden Villa with its trails and animals. Somehow I feel like time runs on a different plane there and I can transcend all sorts of worrying thoughts while I listen to the sounds sleeping pigs and piglets make while I draw them - especially in good company :)

Thank you for making a trip, Suhita! I loved the colorful and fuzzy pig sketches you created so much that now I think we should go there again soon so that I can make more colorful observations!

And we got to see the goats! This time none of them were interested in chewing our sketchbooks - many were super small - but all had a character! 

And this quick landscape is how we closed the sketch outing - by sitting under an olive tree and trying tempera sticks in a bunch of new ways:

You can see (and more importantly - HEAR) some of the process at these two links:

A Great Reason to Paint Apples

Apples are one of my favorite things in the whole world. And Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) is an excellent reason to eat (and draw) apples. 
So - Shana Tova Umetuka! to those who celebrate and all around them!

I made a list of things I want to get rid of,  reorganized a big part of my working space and started a few new projects - all while eating apples.

From the Summer Trip: Rivers

A big chunk of time during this summer vacation was spent on the water. We hiked the banks of several rivers, visited waterfalls, kayaked /canoed, jumped across, swam intentionally, cooled off after a proper sauna, and just sat by the moving water of several wonderful rivers. I tried to sketch every time there was a chance - and here are some results. Markers, watercolor, and gouache, printmaking with stencils, some color pencils - all were used to make a selection of sketches below. And on the bottom, you will see some photos of the process. 

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. September 3 - 9, 2023.

September 3 - 9, 2023. Days 557 - 562 of war.
This week spoke about our family and friends who are in Ukraine and discussed some winter preparations and how to support whom. People are getting portable stoves, gas tanks, power banks, and flashlights - expecting a repetition of the russian attacks on the infrastructure.
Another discussion was about all sorts of new (for me) Ukrainian words - I had a good stash as I was reading a new book. The book choice was based on Mom's recommendation and I tried reading it a year and a half ago and then my Ukrainian was not enough to survive it. This time I am enjoying it very much! Dad also recommended a book - but it was a book of poems which does not work for me as:
a) I am not capable of reading poetry on a Kindle and
b) I have a limited capacity for poetry in general - meaning I can "overeat" if I read too much in one sitting and the point is to have a consistent time spent with the language - so poetry is not the best match for my goals.
Dad still disagrees with my choice. But he enjoyed our conversation about words nonetheless. 

From the Summer Trip: Shores of the Baltic Sea

I experienced all sorts of weather on my trip and saw the Baltic Sea on a very sunny, warm, and calm day, extremely windy, quite cold and gray day, and everything in between - which only means that I had a typical summer interaction with it. I sat on a dune to sketch, hid from sun under a beach "mushroom" contraption, hid from wind behind a large boulder, and tried to sketch on the run while escaping a horde of mosquitoes. The sketches below are a result of these adventures.

On My Table: Beginning of September 2023.

This month I am playing with the new toy: tempera art sticks! This is a kid's art supply and I am unequivocally sure that you should not ask about lightfastness pigment stability and other characteristics but the fun component is high for me! These are buttery, bold, and easy to apply. I can cover a large surface densely and quickly but also can have an interesting dry brush effect if I use them lightly. They dry to a lovely surface which is a joy to work over with dry media or ink. They re-wet well - so you can do all sorts of wet media things with them (including getting some pigment on a thin brush to do detail work). They are delightfully smudgy :) And I plan to do some stencil experiments with them! 

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. August 28 - September 3, 2023.

August 28 - September 3, 2023. Days 550-557 of war.
This week I brought a whole bunch of new Ukrainian words to discuss with my parents - including some that are related to my last name. And parents told me about their weather, and latest worries, and all the conversations with family and friends. How the school year is starting for kids in Kharkiv, how there are classrooms now organized in the subway so that if there is an air raid kids would be safe. How nature is going wild and birds are making nests inside kitchen cupboards because windows were blown by bombardment (a story from one of the friends who went to check on his apartment).