Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. November 21-26, 2023.

November 21-26, 2023. Days 634 - 640 of war.
This week my parents arrived in the United States.

This is a big and complicated step which was not an easy one for them but at this particular moment returning to their home in Kharkiv is not an option. Ukraine is being attacked daily on multiple fronts. Kharkiv, Kyiv, and other cities are being bombed almost daily and winter brings another layer of complexities to the situation. We are very fortunate that the United States continues to support Ukraine via the United For Ukraine program which allows my parents to apply for medical insurance and be close to us so that we can support them with other needs. 

So we had a very unusual and happy Thanksgiving - with a larger family present, lots of tasty food, and great stories all at the same table instead of through the screens and video calls. 

We all are very grateful to so many people who supported my parents through these complicated times and continue to do so. We are grateful to all who support Ukraine and its fight for freedom against barbaric aggression from russia. And we are grateful to all who are fighting on the front and those who help them in Ukraine. 

Annual Mushroom Sketching Post

Mushrooms are amazing! They are everywhere, they are visible and hidden, have complex lives, come in multiple forms, and play many roles. They are fascinating and beautiful and many of them are really tasty! Like these Chanterelles :) 

How I discovered a new life hack!

The other day I felt very much disconnected when I realized that sounds of loud gardening equipment in my neighborhood are driving me nuts. No amount of noise-canceling headphones was helping my whining self and I resolved that the only way to deal with it was to take a walk and see what was going on and, perhaps, sketch this activity. However, by the time I got outside people were mostly gone. That is when I went foraging in the gardener's trash and found enough beauty for four bouquets! I am logging this as a win and a life hack :)

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. November 13-20, 2023.

November 13-20, 2023. Days 626 - 633 of war.
This week my parents and I spoke about travel plans and about waves and wind. And about flowers that need repotting or plant food and how to tel when is what needed. There was a bunch of birthdays of friends and now Mom’s birthday is here. For over year and a half most of the birthday wishes I send begin with the wish for peace. I wish for the war to end - happy birthday, Mom!

Sketching Practice as a part of cleaning practice. Or the other way around :)

I usually need a clean table to work with concentration. But within a few minutes of beginning work, I create an unbelievably layered mess and then I continue adding to it during the day: notes to myself, books, stickers, treasures, sketches done on stray pieces of paper, etc. Then next morning I sort through all sorts of things I find in my work area and add them to the story. Apparently I keep making these posts:

Video Tour Through Sketchbook Number 150

I started telling a story of my adventures with the large (A3) sketchbook during the summer but never finished posting all the sketches from it! I still may add more scans with stories to the blog - but for now, here is a video of a flip-through of the whole sketchbook (with some reduction for privacy as usual).

This sketchbook has over ten separate posts with stories of biking and disasters - you can find them here:

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. November 6-12, 2023.

November 6 - 12, 2023. Days 619 - 625 of war.
This week I almost did not draw my parents - but then we got to some complicated topics and I grabbed the first paper that was near me and started drawing. It was still there when we spoke the next time so I continued working on it and added it to my sketchbook with some notes. So this is a collage-like portrait in the sense that it is made out of several layers of paper and several layers of conversations. The approach of winter and with it a fear of russian attacks on infrastructure in Ukraine were important topics. Different strategies of thinking about life during war were another. But, thankfully, there were dogs and plants to discuss too.   

Bird Situation (Sounds, Identification and Sketches)

There is a certain change in bird activity in the area as migration season is in full swing. Some birds are just passing by, others are arriving to spend winter here. With the changes in weather throughout the world many birds are migrating less or skipping the whole ordeal altogether (for example some turkey vultures are no longer leaving during summer - our neighboring family still does though, and they are back). 

I noticed how much more bird sounds we have by the end of September and since then it just continues to multiply and change. I am using an app to identify birds by call (Merlin Bird ID is my current choice - though there are many) - simply make my phone listen and then I get a list of birds with some additional information. Then I can look them up, find them in my photos of the trees, draw them, and wonder about their names too :)

But for some of the birds I do not need an app to identify them by sound or otherwise. And the other day there was a huge argument between two groups of them which lasted for several hours. I wish I knew what it was about! 

Halloween Leftovers

For this year's Halloween festivities and decorations, I had a solid plan of checking out a whole bunch of famous places around the Bay Area. But little by little my plans had to be adjusted and my circle for sketching got to be very narrow - just in my neighborhood. It was less grandiose compared to my plans - but very personal and quite fun as all of these places are my neighbors! 

Drawn reports in the form of the portraits - war in Ukraine. October 31-November 5, 2023.

October 31 - November 5, 2023. Days 613 - 618 of war.
This week after we went over status of all the friends and family spread through Ukraine and around the world my parents gave me a round-up of their opinion on some of the grandkids' and great-grandkids' educational progress. And then told me about some new movies that they decided to watch. They made their choices based on where the movie was made as they wanted "something not necessarily with the happy end - more like in real life - so no American movies". I told them that I need some happy end movies these days very much.

On My Table: Beginning of November 2023.

I am experimenting with kids' aerograph (aka blow pen) and some diatypia and oil pastels. My recycling bin is very well fed :) But some little wins find their way into my daily sketchbook. The world is crazy on so many levels - but looking at light and drinking tea helps me keep going.

Reading Notes: The Shabbat and The Whole Picture

Some time in late summer I checked out these two books from the library. I read one of them twice and did not finish the other but they both sent me in a spiral to seek all sorts of information and both resulted in some serious work in my life.

The first book is: "The Shabbat" by Abraham Joshua Heschel with an unexpected number of amazing and very appropriate illustrations by Ilya Schor. TThe art of Illya Schor was the very first thing that surprised me and that I went after. After an initial google search of his other works, I found his daughter - a contemporary artist Mira Schor - who has a tag with his works on her blog (https://ayearofpositivethinking.com/tag/ilya-schor/). The idea of having a space in time, a pause, a cathedral that is built throughout one's life - every week is an image I left with after reading this book. And every week one begins building a new cathedral and treats this cycle as a holy practice. That is what I am thinking about and working on. 

The second book is "The Whole Picture: The colonial story of the art in our museums and why we need to talk about it" byAlice Procter. I was surprised because this book had no images of art inside it. It was very interesting to see how I went from complete surprise to confusion to researching if I got a defective book (I really thought so!) Then I went to find podcasts by the author (The Exhibitionist and Historical Friction). And then I got to collecting artworks mentioned in the book and I got eventually tired and overwhelmed and had to take a break from the book. The book talks about important subjects by looking at the art spaces as four concepts: The Palace, The Classroom, The Memorial, and The Playground. Each of these is illustrated by the history of particular artworks. 

These are both books I will go back to.