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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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!
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).
I've been trying to write and rewrite this post this way and that way and ended up cutting it much shorter (I know how this sounds - this is a very long post for this blog :) But after all, there are no two identical trips and nobody has time to read all the details about what pencils worked best and what situation which one might never encounter again :) I will try to stick to the 5 facts:
Fact #1: I took with me more art supplies than I've ever packed on a trip! 3 lbs (1300 g) - not including any paper. And I took only one sketchbook - A5 Daler Rowney Ebony Book - this paper is not really for the wet media but it worked quite well with the mixed media which I planned for this trip mostly. In terms of paper, I also took several Strathmore Drawing Spiral Bound notebooks - which live in all the bags I have.
Fact #2: The underlying desire behind my packing was to do Everything Possible :) But to rain myself a bit I outlined that I wanted to do mixed media and work with the shapes and textures more than lines as much as possible. But my main goal in a sketchbook is always documenting my experiences - and I find it there is nothing faster than I line - so I had to be ready for some of that switching too.
I tried to think about places I would be in and make a color palette to help with the choices. Which proved to be hard - because my summer travels took me from the Adriatic Sea (bright, sunny, and arid) to the Baltic Sea (rainy, cloudy, and full of greens and grays). These color palettes did not overlap!
I also knew that I would have a lot of time and flexibility in my sketching practice at the beginning of my trip and would have to be fast and decisive with my sketching on the second part - two different requirements for sketching tools. I solved it by making my whole kit fit in one bag (see Fact #4) and resolving to pick every day a new but very limited set of tools for outings during the second part of the trip.
Fact #3: I did not take any of my favorite pen tools with me. It was HARD. But I took only the simplest "workhorses" of writing instruments which I knew I could have one in each pocket, can drop, lose, land, and easily substitute: ballpoint Bic pen and uni-ball vision rollerball pen. I later realized that I had a thin Muji pen and a lovely Tombow Brushpen in my handbag - and of course, used them too :)
But I took lots of small parts of my various sketching kits: watercolor and gouache pan with some white gouache on the side. A little stenciling tool (including a knife and some pre-made stencils). Acrylic markers. Neocolor II crayons in their case (worked great!), a few water-soluble markers, and a whole range of color pencils - colors tailored to the rest of my kit. You can see all the details and some comments on the overview below and also more details on the photos below - there you can read all the names and numbers for the pencils :)
Fact #4: I used this Expandable Handbag Insert Purse Organizer with Handles - which allowed me to consolidate all the tools for a super quick set-up of my sketching area at the moment's notice - without a need for making choices. That "everything in one glance" was useful both for actual sketching time and for the "let me pick 4-5 tools to take with me for the day.
Fact #5: Now that I am looking back I think I packed perfectly for this particular trip! Yes, it was a lot but I used all of my materials at one point or another. All of them - all the colors, all the pencils, crayons, etc. Some not as much as I thought - but others way more than I thought. I was able to reach for something particular and find it right away and enjoyed working with this setup so much that I might start using it during my local sketching outings too. Did I miss my pens? yes. But not as much as I thought I would :) (and next time I am taking at least one (or two :))
Last Friday Suhita (https://www.instagram.com/suhitasketch/) invited me to pick back up our regular sketching adventures and we headed for Villa Montalvo. It was such a treat: had a wonderful time catching up on "all things summer", checking out some new art toys and drawing one of my favorite trees in the Bay Area - araucaria.
I made a video of a flip through my Sketchbook #151: July-August 2023 - it started with my trip to Croatia, then Denmark, then Estonia and Latvia.
I will be posting some detailed sketches next week but for now, here is one that did not make it to the video - I guess I just turned two pages at a time:
this is center square in Tallinn, Estonia. There was so much going on there that I ended up concentrating on the sky :)